Panic is a sudden terror which dominates thinking and often affects groups of people. Panics typically occur in disaster situations, such as during a fire, and may endanger the overall health of the affected group. Architects and city planners try to accommodate the symptoms of panic, such as herd behavior, during design and planning, often using simulations to determine the best way to lead people to a safe exit.
In sociology, precipitate and irrational actions of a group are often referred to as panics (e.g. "sex panic", "stock market panic"), see also hysteria.
The word panic may derive from the name of the god Pan in Greek mythology, who supposedly struck fear into the enemies of his subjects.