What Causes Panic Attacks
There is no hard scientific evidence of what causes panic attacks symptoms. But there has to be underlying issues or conditions that can help trigger the symptoms of a panic attack. And there are several potential causes that many professionals seem to agree on. You'll discover what these are here.
Panic Attacks Causes
1. Life Experiences / Upbringing
Any traumatic event or situation in a person's upbringing or later life, may lead to anxiety and panic attacks at some point in the future. This is especially true where the person hasn't been able to confront the event and accept the change that such an event brings about. This could be things like a death of a loved one, parents' divorce, etc. In these circumstances the person who is unable to accept these changes retains their angst, fears, stress, and anxiety over a period of time, so that it can take over their lives. When this occurs they are often diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, which is an ideal platform for causing panic attacks.
2. Your Gender
Studies have shown that the female population is 50% more likely to suffer anxiety and panic attacks than men. There is no obvious reason for this, but one could argue that, because of their more nurturing nature, they react to events more deeply and in a different way. In other words, the basic primeval differences between men's and women's psyche come into play.
3. Medical Conditions
The American Heart Foundation have found that there is a link between panic attacks and mitral valve prolapse. MVP is a disease of the heart whose symptoms are similar to a panic attack (see 'Panic Attack Symptoms' below). So although the symptoms of the condition are similar to a panic attack, someone with MVP can have an actual panic attack. Other medical conditions are things such as, using stimulants, suddenly stopping certain medications, hyperthyroidism, and hypoglycemia.
Some medications contain chemicals that can provide the underlying conditions in the patient to make it more likely that a panic attack can occur. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder patients, for example, who are prescribed Ritalin, can suffer panic attacks as a result of their medication
5. Fears and Phobias
People with fears and phobias seem to be more likely to suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, because they already have increased levels of stress and anxiety in their lives. In other words it only takes a relatively small increase in stress (e.g. caught in an elevator, stuck in traffic, etc.) to trigger a full-blown panic attack.
6. Family History (Genetics)
As with many other conditions, it seems that your family history may have an influence on your predisposition to anxiety and panic attacks. For example, if someone in your family had anxiety disorder and panic attacks, you are more likely to have the same, compared with somebody who hadn't had such a history. Some numbers seem to suggest that, where it 'runs in the family,' you are twice as likely to suffer anxiety and panic attacks. On the other hand, there are many people who fall into this category who never suffer panic attacks.
At the heart of most, if not all, of the above is that, whatever the underlying condition, the person concerned is likely to have higher-than-normal levels of anxiety. And it usually only takes a relatively small increase in stress to trigger a panic attack.
Panic Attack Symptoms and the Fear of Panic Attacks
But let's look at someone who already has had a panic attack. The symptoms; tightness in chest / throat, hyperventilation, sweating, palpitations, dizziness, tingling fingers, the real feeling of impending doom, are just so terrifying that they don't want to experience those symptoms again. Perhaps this is you. So this 'fear' of having another attack is imprinted on the psyche. The fear is then built on an already increased level of anxiety, so that all it takes is a relatively small increase in stress to trigger a panic attack.
Basically you are in a vicious cycle of anxiety that goes something like this: anxiety > fear > panic attack > anxiety > fear > panic attack, etc. And as long as this psychological fear of another attack persists, you are more likely to have such an attack and keep on having them. You need to break the cycle of anxiety to prevent further attacks and to then cure your general anxiety.