Panic attacks strike thousands of people each year, many of which have never had one before. You can be driving down the road or in your bed asleep when a panic attack begins. Women tend to be more prone to panic attacks than men, and once you have one, there is a pretty good likelihood that you will eventually have another. Panic attacks are more likely in people that already are suffering from another type of mental problem, such as depression, or unrealistic fears. No one has been able to find out for certain what causes people to have panic attacks. Some researchers think there are some genetic links to panic attacks, and that of course stress is also a trigger. If someone in your family has had panic attacks, you are more likely to have one too.
Currently, panic attacks are divided into three categories, spontaneous panic attacks, situational predisposed panic attacks, and specific panic attacks. Spontaneous panic attacks are usually found in patients who suffer from panic disorder. Panic disorder is a disease in which patients have many panic attacks, go through significant behavior and personality changes due to those attacks, and constantly live in fear of the next panic attack. There are no specific triggers that cause these spontaneous panic attacks. They can even occur while the patient is in bed sound asleep. Spontaneous panic attacks, and panic disorder can be very devastating to a person’s life and can greatly impact every aspect of their day to day living.
Situational predisposed panic attacks also affect people who have panic disorder. In this case, there are certain locations or events that trigger the panic attack, even though the patient may not be afraid of or normally experience fear at that particular time. They do not have a panic attack every time they are at that particular location, or every time they participate in that particular event. Predisposed means that they have had an attack there in the past, and that it could happen again, but may not necessarily happen at any given time.
Specific panic attacks occur when a patient comes into contact with something he fears, or goes a specific place that he is afraid of. Going back to the scene of a bad car accident, or visiting the house you grew up in if you had a bad childhood, those would be times that might trigger a specific panic attack. These attacks are the easiest to deal with, as you simply try to avoid the places and situations that you know seem to trigger the onset of a panic attack.
Some theories suggest that certain panic attacks are caused due to chemical imbalances within the brain. They also state that panic attacks often start after a catastrophic life event or gradual increase in stress levels overtime. They can be caused by the abuse of certain illegal drugs, or can be more prone to occur after someone has suffered from a major medical illness.
Other theories believe that incidents that occur during out childhood could be the cause of panic attacks as we grow older. We learn appropriate behaviors as children; we also develop self esteem, confidence, and the social skills that we need to be a successful, happy adult. The theory indicates that those of us who did not gain the support and skills we needed as a child, are more likely to develop panic disorders or attacks as an adult because we don’t know how to deal with situations in the grown-up world. When we are under significant stress for long periods, the stress of trying to be successful, healthy, and keep up in today’s fast paced world it often builds up and ends up in a full blown panic attack. Things build up after a while until you reach a point that your body and mind has to say enough.
There are many treatment options that are successful in helping lessen the frequency and severity of panic attacks, so that you don’t have to live your life in fear of the next one. Talk to your doctor, and see what options he can give you. Evaluate your life, and try to eliminate anything that you think may be a trigger, or help in causing your panic attacks.
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