What Causes Panic Attacks?

Often, the first thing that comes to mind when someone is experiencing a panic attack is that they are going crazy, losing control, having a nervous breakdown, or whatever you want to call it. One moment they are standing with others or sitting at their desk and the next moment they are on the floor, immobilized, clutching their chest and gasping for breath.

Embarrassment is the second thing most people feel. It’s hard to recover gracefully from such a sudden and unexplainable reaction.

But, how does it all start?

What Causes Panic Attacks?

There is not a single root cause for panic attacks that can be named as a usual suspect. Through studying those with panic attacks, a few suggestions for causes have come to light.

Let’s look at some possible causes of panic attacks:

Family History of panic attacks

Genetics is often responsible for our physical and mental conditions. A family history of mental issues or panic or anxiety disorders may predispose you to the same type of condition. This doesn?t mean that you will develop the same conditions, but it is a possibility. It’s often difficult to get honest answers to probing questions about such a delicate situation. Family members may not be willing to discuss conditions and disorders that were once ostracized and seen as weaknesses. But, it’s important that you have as much information as you can to develop a strategy for treatment, so be persistent.

Panic Attacks During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the hormones are raging out of control. Hormones that are out of their normal balance can cause thought patterns of irrational fears and confusion. The worry about your child being born healthy and how you will care for that baby can escalate into full-blown panic. Discuss your worries with your doctor. Some worry is normal, but feeling panicked is not, and should be treated.

Undisclosed Abuse in Childhood

As children, we are learning our future coping mechanisms for difficult situations. The mind may simply shut out certain memories to protect it. These memories can come to light later in life and result in panic disorders. In other words, the ?fight or flight? reaction experienced during times of abuse, can be hidden away and resurface during later years, sometimes with a trigger, a similar event, and sometimes for no apparent reason.

Panic Caused by Poor Stress Management Skills

While stress in itself is not dangerous, not having healthy stress management techniques to handle stressful situations can lead to a physical response. Small problems can escalate when avoided or denied, leading to panic attacks. When these small problems are perceived to be big problems because coping skills are lacking, the reaction may be out of line for the situation. This perceived danger is the set up for a ?fight or flight? reaction, and when there is no true danger, the physical components cause the body to go through a panic attack.

Nutritional Deficiencies Can Cause Panic Attacks

It is sometimes difficult to get all of the vitamins and minerals you need in a day. However, for some people the problem is even more grave. These people can actually be deficient in nutrients that affect brain functioning. This deficiency may lead to panic attacks as well as other conditions. A doctor can assess what types of deficiencies you may have with a few simple blood tests.

If you think you have suffered a panic attack, talk to your health care professional to rule out any physical conditions and health concerns. Then take time to investigate the possible causes of panic attacks discussed here to see if any may apply to you.



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