Understanding What Causes Panic Attacks

Reviewed by Whitney White, MS CMHC, NCC., LPC

Published 12/10/2020

Are you one of the millions of people who have problems with panic attacks? Anxiety attacks are fairly common, but some people have more issues with them than others. If you have suddenly started having panic attacks, you might be unsure why this is happening to you. You might even be thinking, “why do I keep having panic attacks?” It’s normal to be confused about why this is happening, but there are actually a number of different factors that could be causing you to feel panic like this.

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Keep reading to learn about panic attacks so that you can understand them better. You will learn more about what causes a panic attack and some options that you have to stop them from being so problematic. You can get through this situation in your life even if it feels like things are very hard right now. Having panic attacks will make many things in life more difficult, but many people have learned to control them over time. Hopefully, once you learn more about the causes, you’ll make some changes that will help you out substantially.

Panic Attacks And Genetic Factors

It’s thought that genetic factors can play a role in panic attacks. If you have people in your family who have experienced anxiety disorders or had panic attacks in the past, that could make it more likely to develop those problems. This situation is still being researched, and not everything is known about how much genetics will play a role in developing panic attacks. More studies need to be performed so that scientists can learn to recognize genetic information that is related to panic disorder.

Over time, scientists might learn more about how genes play a role in panic disorder diagnosis. However, it is just known that genes do seem to play a role at this time. A family history of panic disorder and anxiety issues seems to make it so that you will be much more likely to have panic attacks at some point in your life. This isn’t absolute, though, and some people with a genetic history of panic disorders in their family will never have a single issue. It’s just good to know that this is one potential cause of panic attacks, among many others.

Stress Factors For Panic Attacks

Stress factors are very much involved in causing panic attacks in people. If you are going through a very stressful time in your life, then it’s more likely that you will experience things such as panic attacks. Very stressed people will also be more at risk for issues such as depression and anxiety. You’ll often find that anxiety is closely related to panic disorder, and it makes sense that these two issues would be tied to stress levels. If you’ve had things happen in life that have caused you major stress as of late, then those issues could be to blame for your panic attacks.

It can help reduce your stress levels to make the severity of your panic attacks more manageable. Many people have had success by reducing stressors in their lives, but this isn’t always easy. For example, one of the biggest sources of stress in your life might be your job. You need to be able to earn a living, which means that you can’t just stop going to work in most cases. Some stress is to be expected in everyday life, but it is good to try to limit your stressors when it’s practical to do so.

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Developing methods to reduce your stress levels can be very good as well. You might need to focus more on stress reduction methods, such as getting enough exercise and spending time doing enjoyable activities. Simply spending some time reading a good book, working in your garden, or laughing with friends can help your stress levels to go down significantly. If you can better cope with stress in your life, then your panic attacks may be less problematic. Stress isn’t always what triggers anxiety attacks, but it is often to blame.

Mood Issues

Mood issues can actually play a role in your panic disorder as well. If you seem to be more irritable than usual, you might have more extreme responses to certain life events. Some people also seem to be more sensitive to negative emotions than others. This could be tied to other mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders, and other such problems. Knowing this, it might be helpful to look into fixing other life problems so that you can try to bring your panic attacks under control.

Anxiety Triggers In Life That Might Cause Panic Attacks

Anxiety triggers in life can also cause you to have panic attacks. What can trigger a panic attack? Many things in your life could cause you to feel nervous and have a panic attack. You might feel a panic attack start to happen when you’re in a large crowd if that type of thing scares you. It’s also possible that you might experience panic attacks in particular situations, such as working closely with a stranger or being at the checkout lane in a grocery store.

Some people have specific things in life that seem to trigger extreme anxiety responses. What causes a panic attack in one person might not cause you to have a panic attack. If you can learn to recognize your anxiety triggers, it’ll actually be quite easier to avoid having issues moving forward. The only problem with this is that you can’t avoid all of your anxiety triggers while trying to live a normal life. Much like stress, life will also throw things at you that will cause you to feel anxious.

Getting panic attack help can make it so that you will have fewer problems, though. You can learn how to cope with anxiety attacks so that they won’t feel quite so extreme any longer. There are coping mechanisms and medications that you can turn to that will make a difference. Consider going to your doctor so that you can talk about your options sometime soon. Knowing what you can do to bring your anxiety issues under control will make a massive difference in your life.

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Seeing A Doctor For Panic Attacks

Seeing a doctor is imperative when you have been experiencing panic attacks. You can take an anxiety test ahead of time if you want to know whether you’ve been dealing with substantial anxiety symptoms. These tests aren’t meant to diagnose issues, but they can drive home the point that you need to make an appointment with your physician. Once you’re ready, it’s going to be good to have an honest chat with your doctor about panic attacks and how they have impacted your life. You’ll determine what is going on, and your doctor can diagnose you properly to begin your treatment.

Panic disorder is a treatable condition, just like any other type of mental illness that someone might have. Many people who have panic disorder will also need to be treated for standard anxiety issues as well. Once you have figured out what you’re dealing with, your doctor will recommend various treatment options that can help you to control panic attacks. Anti-anxiety medications can help many people to feel less anxious in their daily lives. You might also be prescribed medicine meant to be taken when you feel a panic attack coming on.

These medications can be very effective at helping you to alleviate panic attack symptoms. If you have something like this to count on, then you might be able to get through your day without having too many issues. Of course, what types of medications will be right for you will be at your doctor's discretion. You will need to work with your doctor overtime to find the perfect treatment options to get you feeling better. Just don’t fret when you’ve been dealing with panic attacks because you can turn the corner with the help of dedicated professionals.

Therapy Also Makes a Difference With Panic Attacks

Therapy is something that you should consider looking into as well. This has made a difference in many peoples’ lives, and you could wind up feeling much better if you go this route. Therapists can help people work through anxiety issues, and they can also come to understand panic attacks better. You can learn about the causes of panic attacks in your daily life while also coming up with better coping mechanisms that you can use. Over time, you’re going to become so much better at dealing with panic attacks.

It’s also just comforting to know that your therapist is there for you. You can make an appointment with an in-person therapist, or you could choose to pursue online therapy. Both options work great for helping people with panic attacks, and you’re going to find that it’s nice to have the option to get therapy from the comfort of home. Don’t hesitate to get the help that you need when you have panic attacks.