Put simply, a panic attack is the quick occurrence of intense anxiety. Most often characterized by deep feelings of fear and apprehension and accompanied by heart palpitations, shortness of breath plus a number of other symptoms including sweating and trembling.
Whilst the medical profession is not in agreement about what is the exact cause of a panic attack there are certainly several things that they do agree about that indeed play a role in bringing one about — this includes a whole combination of factors to do with a person’s biological make up, their environment, way of living and inherited traits.
There are ongoing investigations in which some experts are looking at genetics to find out if they play a role in the cause of panic attacks for some sufferers. It has been shown that anxiety and these type of panic-attacks can run in families in the same way that eye and hair colour are inherited from parents. Researchers have found in many cases where they been investigating someones predisposition to anxiety or panic disorders that they have a family member who either has had a panic disorder or suffers from some other type of emotional disorders such as depression.
An additional cause of panic disorders can be brain abnormality.This is because panic disorders can change the function of certain parts of the brain. As a result of a number of recent research projects it’s been suggested that panic attacks may occur in people who have psychotic disorders such as post-dramatic stress disorder and schizophrenia.
They have concluded that psychotic symptoms such as these can lead to somebody having a panic attack and that these psychotic episodes may happen before the onset of specific anxiety disorders, often playing a part in post-dramatic stress as well.
Medical investigators have also come to the conclusion that as a throwback from our more primitive primitive days — which gave us the fight or flight response — maybe one of the causes of the onset of panic episode. This is because our bodies natural “alarm system” is made up of an involved set of physical and mental mechanisms which operate when we think are in danger. Put simply, the way these work is to put the body on high alert which has the effect of increasing heart rate and breathing so giving the body the resources it needs to either fight the danger or run away from it.
However during a panic attack these emotions and feelings are triggered unnecessarily even though there is no danger.
Increased levels of stress are commonly found in people suffering with panic disorders — although it’s not just certain types of stress that seemed to be the cause. Stress, generally has the effect of causing intense anxiety and panic and can come from major events such as the death of more separation of someone close. In these cases medical investigators have noted that when stress decreases your resistance the underlying physical predisposition to our primitive response comes into play causing an attack.
The environmental causes of panic attacks can be down to things like addiction to alcohol or drugs. For some people, either intoxication by, or with-drawl of drugs or alcohol can contribute to a panic disorder.
Frequently, both biological and environmental causes of panic disorder will work in tandem. Even though someone may be able to stand strong against one or the other problem, they may not have the strength to stand against two together.
Typically, panic attacks occur all of a sudden. However, studies have shown that after having a panic disorder over a period of time, sufferers can bring them on themselves by responding to the physical symptoms associated with the attack. By way of example, say a person suffering from a panic disorder has a racing heart caused by taking some medication — they could see that as being a symptom of an attack.
It could be that this might actually bring on an attack as one of the principal cause of panic attacks is the worry about when the next one will happen.
One of the main things that a person suffering from anxiety or panic disorder should do — at the earliest possible moment after diagnosis — is to ponder about the cause of the panic attack itself and about what circumstances most regularly come before the onset of a panic attack. This indeed is one of the most important steps in getting rid of panic attacks and it should not be missed.