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Panic Attack Causes - What Causes Panic Attacks

While science has yet to determine any definitive panic attack causes, enough research has been done to support the theory that heredity plays a major role in determining who will suffer from panic attacks. A 1997 study done at the University of Milan's Anxiety Disorders Clinical and Research Unit, for example, looked at sixty pairs of identical and fraternal twins who suffered from either panic disorder or panic attacks.

The study found that among the identical twins, 57% of the pairs shared panic attacks, and among the fraternal twins, 43% did. The percentage of adults who suffer from panic attacks in the general global populations is estimated at about 1.3%.

Other research has shown that significant life changes, such as marrying or losing a spouse, becoming a parent, or obtaining or losing a job is also related to a higher incidence of panic attacks. It's also possible that panic attacks have a biological cause, although no biomarkers have yet been established for one.

Anyone who experiences what they think is a panic attack would be well-advised to see his or her doctor, because there are specific medical conditions which can mimic the symptoms of panic attack, even though they can't be accurately labeled as panic attack causes. These medical conditions include low blood sugar (hypoglycemia); overactive thyroid (hypothyroidism); and a cardiac condition known as mitral valve prolapse.

panic attack causes

Whatever the panic attack causes may be, they all have the same result: a triggering of the body's natural response to stress, known as the "flight-or-fight" reaction. It's this response which puts all your physical systems into overdrive so that you can either defeat or escape from an imminent threat. You know the response well, you simply stop to recall any time when you felt threatened. Your heart automatically started beating more quickly, your breathing became more rapid, and your muscles tensed.

You may also have experienced tingling in your extremities, a heightened sense of awareness, and other physical signs that your entire body was on high alert. All of those physical changes are good when there is an imminent danger. But if you experience at least at least four of them in the absence of danger, you are suffering from a panic attack.

There are times when your thoughts themselves can the most powerful panic attack causes. Suppose, for instance, that you have spent the morning guzzling coffee to get you through a heavy workload. Your overdose of caffeine starts your heart pounding, gives you the shakes, and as you perspiring excessively. Because you previously experienced these symptoms as part of a panic attack, you automatically leap to the conclusion that they are signaling a new one, even though it's simply the caffeine at work.

The more convinced you are that you're in the throes of an attack, the higher your anxiety level goes, and the more aggravated your symptoms become until you’ve created a self-fulfilling prophecy!

Caffeine is not the only substance which can produce symptoms that lead you to think you are having a panic attack. Alcohol can do the same, as can certain medications. The only way to distinguish panic attack causes from substances which simply mimic them is with your doctor's assistance.

Perhaps the worst they about being a victim of panic attacks is that until all panic attack causes have been isolated, you'll never know when your next one will occur!

Identifying The Causes of Panic Attacks

Identifying the causes of panic attacks in the early stages can help quell the agitating effects and keep the situation under control.

A panic attack is like an alarm mechanism setting off in the brain. It is a automated reaction in a crisis or some sort of intense situation. It is also possible for some people to have the alarm go off without being triggered by any form of emergencies. The most perturbing thing is a panic attack’s instability and unpredictability.

Normal anxiety blowing over the top will result in a panic attack, which will peak in a few minutes. It is usually coupled with sudden physical symptoms like an escalated heart rate, difficulties in breathing, disorientations, sweating, chest discomfort, nausea, and numb or tingling sensations.
An ongoing high level of stress is one of the major factors contributing to panic and anxiety. When a person is experiencing persistent overwhelming stress, the body reacts automatically by pumping itself with adrenalin and cortisol. This causes the body to become sensitized to stress so much so that even day-to-day events will be seen as threatening or precarious. The person’s mindset will be thrown out of perspective and may see most events as a grave crisis that seem irresolvable or too much to handle. Past grievances and traumas can also resurface, adding more distress and anxiety for one to take.

There are usually some warning signs a person would show prior to a panic attack:

  • Withdrawal 
  • Loss of incentive 
  • Over eating or Loss of appetite 
  • Restlessness 
  • Irritability 
  • Communication difficulties 
  • Easily exhausted 
  • Insomnia 

The above causes of panic attacks may vary in the degree or extend of anxiety the person is going through. It is also notably different in how each individual person would function under such an instance.

Panic attacks are said to occur when the “flight-or-fight” response is triggered even if there is no real crisis. A person may undergo the effects of a panic attack even in the most peaceful environment or activities, such as reading a book or even being deep in slumber.

The fear of physical or emotional collapse during the “flight-or-fight” response comes as a defensive instinct. Many people with panic disorder will avoid situations in which they imagine help would not be available, or escape possible, should they have an attack.

Listed below are also some causes of panic attacks known to inappropriately trigger the “flight-or-fight” response:

  • Chronic stress 
  • Acute stress 
  • Traumatized by an event 
  • Habitual hyperventilation 
  • Strenuous physical activities 
  • Excessive caffeine intake 
  • Illness 
  • Claustrophobic 
  • An abrupt change of environment 

A common thought experienced in a panic attack is: am I going crazy? People who experience panic attacks often believe they might lose their minds but this fear is baseless. This mental breakdown will induce more disorienting and disturbing thoughts, thus causing them to be more distressed.

For most people, the feelings of panic occur only occasionally during periods of stress or illness. A person who experiences recurring panic attacks is said to have panic disorder, which is a type of anxiety disorder. They generally have recurring and unexpected panic attacks and persistent fear of repeated attacks.

Some people may be predisposed to having panic attacks in some situations. The attack is not necessarily always triggered by the particular situation or place - it may happen on some occasions and not on others. People with spontaneous panic attacks may go on to develop this type of attack.

Studies have shown that the increase in the number of people experiencing panic attacks is due to the escalating pressures and demands of life. It is advisable to detect early signs and causes of panic attacks prior to a full blown one before the situation gets out of control or too hard to take. The best way out of this is to get diagnosed and stop living life with nerves and constant anxiety.

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