What Is a Panic Attack And What Causes Them?

What Is a Panic Attack And What Causes Them?

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  • February 18, 2018
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If you experience panic attacks, there is a good chance that you often feel like the whole world is closing in on you. For some people, these attacks are quite infrequent, for others they occur every day. It doesn’t matter how often the panic attacks occur, they can be devastating. Consequently, it is very important that a sufferer seeks treatment as quickly as they can.

Panic attacks normally come on very suddenly as a very intense anxiety. The patient becomes afraid, unwell and extremely uncomfortable. Panic attack symptoms are varied and they are also dependent on the patient’s mindset and physiology.

In a panic attack, your body pumps out adrenaline, as it thinks you are in danger. You will likely feel upset, anxious and very scared. Your body is preparing itself for “fight or flight” ; your heartbeat will be elevated, your mouth may be dry and your stomach churning. You will likely be very agitated and probably trembling visibly. These attacks can last from less than a minute to over 30 minutes.

In a panic attack it can feel as though you are experiencing a heart attack or some other major health problem, and many sufferers are of the mistaken belief that they need hospitalization. In fact, a panic attack in itself will not actually hurt you. However, you do feel as though you are under attack and in immediate danger.

There isn’t one cause of panic attacks. Some are hereditary, some illnesses increase the propensity for panic attacks in some groups, eg. post traumatic stress disorder sufferers. Even diseases like hyperthyroidism can trigger attacks.

As well as biological causes, panic attacks may also result from experiences in your past. Something that scared you in a particular situation many years ago may still result in you being afraid in similar situations now.

Panic attacks can also be the side effect of some medications. Ritalin has been known to cause panic attacks in some people. The SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, Paxil, Lexapro) group of antidepressants are thought to increase anxiety levels.

So getting to know the cause of your panic attacks is the first step to take in learning how to deal with them. There is no question that panic attacks can be devastating, and interfere with all aspects of your life. If you take action today, you can begin to lead a normal life, free from panic, again very soon.