Understanding Panic Attacks and Anxiety Disorder Causes
Stress and anxiety are normal parts of everyday living. Both of these may cause panic attacks, which are the body's innate reaction to danger. Present since prehistoric times, man's brain triggers a set of reactions when faced with danger to prepare the body to either fight or flee. Called the "fight or flight" response, this reaction causes the brain to send signals to the rest of the body and ready itself for physical exertion. Some physiological responses to danger include increased heart rate, dilated pupils and faster breathing. Our bodies return to its normal state when the danger has been overcome.
Today, these chain reactions are triggered by non-life-threatening things such as exams, work and even traffic. The symptoms of panic attacks may disappear after 10 minutes, although some people may often experience more intense attacks, which can develop into anxiety disorders. There are a lot of anxiety disorder causes, some brought about by traumatic childhoods and others by drug or alcohol abuse. Although this disorder can be debilitating for most people, it can be treated and prevented, and the first step to stopping these attacks from developing into a serious disorder is to understand the underlying causes.
1. Family history and genetics. Most people who have anxiety disorders have first-line relatives who suffer from panic attacks. Various studies have proven that those with immediate family who suffer from anxiety disorders have a bigger probability of developing this disorder before they turn 20. Studies also show that women have a genetic predisposition to anxiety disorders.
2. Traumatic experiences. Although losing a job or even a divorce can trigger extreme stress and cause anxiety attacks, these are seldom anxiety disorder causes. More traumatic events such as a car crash may cause recurring attacks and make a person fearful of vehicles and driving. Abuse can also lead someone to display panic attack symptoms simply by just smelling the perfume of their abuser.
3. Chemical imbalance in the brain. Neurotransmitters in the brain send signals throughout the brain and the rest of the body. These neurotransmitters control emotions such as fear, joy, anger, depression and pain. When there is an imbalance in the neurotransmitters, such as low levels of serotonin, the brain gets mixed up and may cause you to feel fear and anger even without any danger or stressor present.
4. Certain drugs and alcohol. Drugs such as Amphetamines or Cocaine are anxiety disorder causes because they can trigger panic attack symptoms such as hyperventilation, increased heart rate and palpitations. Likewise, stimulants such as caffeine and the substances found in asthma medicine can cause symptoms similar to those of a panic attacks. Those who are withdrawing from certain drugs such as Barbiturates may also experience panic attack symptoms such as sweating, nausea and chills. It is, therefore, ill-advised for people to try to remedy the symptoms of these attacks by taking illegal drugs or by abusing alcohol.
5. Other medical conditions. Hyperthyroidism, epilepsy and asthma (particularly those who take asthma medicine regularly) can cause panic attack symptoms. Studies show that mitral valve prolapses, a heart condition characterized by the poor functioning of the valve between the upper and lower left chambers of the heart, may also cause panic attacks.
Stress, as mentioned before, happens to everyone and all of us have experienced anxiety attacks at some point in our life. Although they don't often lead to serious disorders, recurring and intense attacks can become debilitating. One method to prevent an anxiety attack becoming debilitating is by understanding the different anxiety disorder causes. Congratulations, you have just taken the first step to managing and controlling panic attacks.