Risk Factors For Experiencing A Panic Attack
Although anyone may be affected by a panic attack, a range of factors may increase the likelihood for certain individuals. People who have a disorder that leads to elevated levels of anxiety are more likely to experience a panic attack. This includes:
- Generalized anxiety disorder . A form of chronic anxiety that is often unrelated to a particular cause.
- Obsessive compulsive disorder . In the case of OCD, a person experiences recurrent unwanted thoughts and compulsive behaviors. This can lead to panic attacks in some people, although, according to DSM-5 criteria, OCD is no longer listed as anxiety disorder.
- Post traumatic stress disorder . Although PTSD is a trauma and stressor-related disorder rather than an anxiety disorder, panic attacks may relate to anxiety from PTSD, that develops after first or second-hand exposure to a traumatic event.
- Social phobia. In people with social phobia, everyday situations regularly cause debilitating levels of anxiety.
Other mental health conditions, such as depression, can also cause the anxious kinds of thinking that may precipitate a panic attack.
Other factors, which increase oneâs likelihood of experiencing a panic attack, include:
Conditions which increase the likelihood of experiencing a panic attack include:
Treatment Of Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder
Antidepressants and/or antianxiety drugs
Psychotherapy, including exposure therapy
Without formal treatment, some people recover, particularly if they continue to confront situations in which attacks have occurred. For others, symptoms wax and wane for years.
However, if people have had frequent attacks and have changed their behavior to avoid future attacks, treatment with drugs and/or psychotherapy is usually necessary. People with panic disorder are more receptive to treatment if they understand that the disorder involves both physical and psychologic processes and that treatment can usually control the symptoms.
Tips For Helping Someone With An Anxiety Disorder:
- Make no assumptionsask the person what they need.
- Be predictabledon’t surprise the person.
- Let the person with the disorder set the pace for recovery.
- Find something positive in every small step towards recovery.
- Don’t help the person avoid their fears.
- Maintain your own life so you don’t resent the person with the disorder.
- Don’t panic when the person with the disorder panics, but realize it’s natural to be concerned with them.
- Be patient and accepting, but don’t settle for the affected person being permanently disabled.
- Say encouraging words such as: “You can do it no matter how you feel. I am proud of you. Tell me what you need now. Breathe slow and low. Stay in the present. It’s not the place that’s bothering you, it’s the thought. I know that what you are feeling is painful, but it’s not dangerous. You are courageous.”
- Avoid saying things like: “Don’t be anxious. Let’s see if you can do this. You can fight this. What should we do next? Don’t be ridculous. You have to stay. Don’t be a coward.” These phrases tend to blame the individual for the anxiety.
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A Lifestyle Thats Not For You
Are you living someone elses life? You shouldnt.
Remember? Panic could be your inner voice telling you your current lifestyle isnt for you whether its a career path, a relationship, unrealistic goals and expectations, or dealing with fake people.
A life thats not meant for you could be the main cause of your panic attacks, so trust your intuition if you want to improve your mental health.
Thank you for reading this article! I hope it helped you have more clarity, and understand what are the common causes of panic.
I have created a list of these thirty triggers, which can be downloaded for free here:
What Causes Chest Pain
It is always a good idea to visit a doctor at least once to rule out any potential heart health issues. Anxiety can cause chest pain, but an important factor in reducing the stress of that chest pain is by making sure you are confident that your heart is in good health. Visiting a doctor is never a bad thing!
Often those living with anxiety and panic attacks will experience chest pain caused by any number of different factors. Some of these include:
- Hyperventilation – Those with panic attacks and anxiety are prone to hyperventilation, or breathing in too much oxygen. It is often due to rapid muscle contractions and excess air in the lungs. Hyperventilation contracts blood vessels and causes considerable chest pain.
- Bloating – anxiety can be connected to excess gas or bloating. Hyperventilation disorder can contribute to this as well. Bloating can cause an increased amount of pressure on the lungs, which in turn leads to chest pain.
- Psychosomatic – most people don’t like to believe the idea that the problem is in their head, but those with extreme anxiety and panic attacks, that are worried about their health, may feel genuine pain even though no cause of pain is present. Psychosomatic means that a physical ailment is aggravated or caused by their thoughts. The anxious mind actually convinces the body that there is a symptom, in this case chest pain.
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What Causes Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder
Experts aren’t sure what causes panic attacks and panic disorder. But the body has a natural response when you are stressed or in danger. It speeds up your heart, makes you breathe faster, and gives you a burst of energy. This is called the fight-or-flight response. It gets you ready to either cope with or run away from danger. A panic attack occurs when this response happens when there is no danger.
Some people are more sensitive to anxiety and panic than others. Panic attacks and panic disorder may be more likely if you have a family history of panic disorder. They sometimes happen with no clear cause.
Panic attacks may also be brought on by:
- A health problem such as an overactive thyroid , or heart or breathing problems.
- Depression or another mood disorder.
- Heavy alcohol use.
- Using too much nicotine or too much caffeine.
- Taking certain medicines, such as those used to treat asthma and heart problems.
- Drug use.
- Living with high levels of stress for a long time.
You have a higher chance of getting panic disorder if you have a parent with depression or bipolar disorder.
How To Prevent A Panic Attack
To prevent a panic attack from happening, you need first to figure out what triggers your panic attacks. When you figure out what triggers your panic attacks, you can avoid them or eliminate them from your life.
Other tips that can help you prevent a panic attack include:
- Avoid bad habits like smoking and consuming alcohol and caffeine excessively. These habits can increase the frequency of panic attacks or worsen them when they occur.
- Exercise as often as you can. Adopting a regular exercise schedule can improve your mood, cut down stress and help you live a generally more healthy life. This, in turn, can help to lessen the frequency and severity of your panic attacks.
- Try out some stress management methods. One of the triggers of panic attacks is stress. When you are stressed, you are more likely to have a panic attack than when you are not. Stress management methods like meditation and yoga can help you cut down on your stress.
- Ensure that you are getting enough sleep. A panic attack can often feel like your body is on the fritz. These feelings will only be heightened when you are not getting enough sleep and your body isnt fully rested.
- Make breathing exercises a part of your daily routine. While breathing exercises can help you calm down during a panic attack, you dont have to wait for one to happen to benefit from them. Doing daily breathing exercises can help you prevent panic attacks.
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Anxiety Disorders Are Linked To Alcohol And Drugs
There is a strong link between alcohol and anxiety. Research shows that people with anxiety disorders are two to three times more likely to have problems with drugs and alcohol at some point in their lives than the general population. But thats not all: Alcohol and drugs can often cause panic attacks, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America .
People with social anxiety, in particular, may turn to alcohol in order to lessen their symptoms, but alcohol can actually make anxiety worse. About 20 percent of people with social anxiety disorder also have an alcohol or substance abuse disorder, notes the ADAA. No matter which problem comes first, the combination of drugs, alcohol, and anxiety can become a vicious cycle.
Diagnoses Related To Panic Attack
For some individuals, experiencing a panic attack may be an indication that they have an ongoing mental health condition.
According to the DSM-5 Manual, the principal conditions which may be diagnosed after experiencing a panic attack, include:
Recurrent panic attacks that are not related to another condition will be diagnosed as panic disorder, which is treatable with psychotherapy and/or anxiolytic medications.
To be diagnosed with panic disorder, an individual must have experienced frequent, full-symptom panic attacks, which are not caused by a concurrent health condition or chemically induced. The extent to which oneâs panic attacks impact oneâs daily life between episodes will also be considered â most people with panic disorder present with debilitating anxiety about the possibility of future panic attacks.
People with panic disorder are likely to experience panic attacks in situations which replicate or resemble the circumstances of a previous panic attack, such as being in a crowd or before public speaking. This can have a negative impact on a personâs day-to-day routine, as many people choose to avoid situations which may provoke a panic attack, thereby experiencing a diminished quality of life.
Panic disorder usually occurs concurrently with other anxiety disorders.It is fairly rare for panic disorder to occur on its own. Conditions which most commonly co-occur with panic disorder include:
- Other anxiety disorders, in particular agoraphobia
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Different Types Of Anxiety Have Different Triggers
Every type of anxiety is different. For example, the triggers of obsessive-compulsive disorder may be unwanted thoughts or environmental challenges. The triggers of panic disorder may be physical sensations or a passing fear. The triggers of PTSD may be loud noises. Each type of anxiety may have different triggers, just as each individual may find that their triggers are unique.
The Relationship Between Alcohol And Anxiety
It is very common for people who experience anxiety to self-medicate by consuming alcohol, which can offer a temporary fix. In fact, research suggests that around 25% of people with panic disorder also have an alcohol dependence.
This connection between alcohol and anxiety is problematic. The two often create a cycle that’s hard to break, whereby the onset of one is a trigger for the other.
This is particularly evident in panic attacks. Drinking is commonly used to numb anxious thoughts, and yet paradoxically alcohol can cause more panic attacks to occur.
Up to one third of people will experience at least one panic attack in their lives, according to clinical psychiatrist Cindy Aaronson. They usually start when people are in their twenties but can also happen to teenagers.
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Can Caffeine Cause Anxiety And Panic Attacks
April 1, 2012 by Russ Pond
Over the past decade, there has been a substantial increase in the consumption of caffeinated drinks. These include coffee, sodas, tea, and energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar and 5-Hour Energy. All of these include stimulants that can increase your heart rate, blood pressure, triggering that fight or flight condition in your body.
Without a doubt, caffeine is one of the key culprit in triggering anxiety and panic attacks.
Here are four things to keep in mind about caffeine:
Natural Triggers Of Anxiety
There are also several natural, understandable triggers of anxiety. A stressful job, for example, is a common natural anxiety trigger. Long-term, persistent stress can make it very hard to cope with life, and that can create long-term anxiety issues. Living with cancer or a disease can also create anxiety, as can trouble with your relationships or social life. These types of anxiety triggers are very common and may create anxiety in the short or long term.
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Mice With Gastrointestinal Problems Stress And The Vagus Nerve
A December 2019 study published in the journal Neurogastroenterology and Motility lead by doctors at the Vagal Afferent Research Group, Centre for Nutrition and Gastrointestinal Disease, Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide made a mechanical connection between the gastric vagal afferents and stress.
Here are the learning points
- Stress exposure is known to trigger and exacerbate functional dyspepsia symptoms.
- Stomach pain, bloating, belching, and nausea
In this study, mice were subjected to stress. The had exacerbated functional dyspepsia symptoms. Gastric vagal afferents mechanosensitivity, which may contribute to the gastric hypersensitivity in functional dyspepsia.
Types Of Anxiety Disorder
There are several different classified anxiety disorders. Each one features different types of symptoms that can, in some cases, be triggered by specific situations.
Panic disorder : This involves at least two panic attacks accompanied by the constant fear of future attacks. People with panic disorder may lose a job, refuse to travel or leave their home, or completely avoid anything they believe will trigger an attack of anxiety.
Generalized anxiety disorder : This is a constant state of worry about a number of events or activities in the persons life.
Phobic disorder: This features an incapacitating and irrational fear of an object or situation, for example, a fear of spiders or open spaces . Most adults with phobic disorder are aware that their fear is irrational.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder : This condition is marked by unwanted repeated thoughts and behaviors .
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Signs And Symptoms Of Panic Disorder
While many people experience just one or two panic attacks without further episodes or complicationsand theres little reason to worry if thats yousome people go on to develop panic disorder. Panic disorder is characterized by repeated panic attacks, combined with major changes in behavior or persistent anxiety over having further attacks.
You may be suffering from panic disorder if you:
- Experience frequent, unexpected panic attacks that arent tied to a specific situation
- Worry a lot about having another panic attack
- Are behaving differently because of the panic attacks, such as avoiding places where youve previously panicked
While a single panic attack may only last a few minutes, the effects of the experience can leave a lasting imprint. If you have panic disorder, the recurrent panic attacks take an emotional toll. The memory of the intense fear and terror that you felt during the attacks can negatively impact your self-confidence and cause serious disruption to your everyday life. Eventually, this leads to the following panic disorder symptoms:
Anticipatory anxiety Instead of feeling relaxed and like your normal self in between panic attacks, you feel anxious and tense. This anxiety stems from a fear of having future panic attacks. This fear of fear is present most of the time, and can be extremely disabling.
When Might I Have Panic Attacks
Panic attacks happen at different times for everyone. Some people have one panic attack then don’t ever experience another, or you might find that you have them regularly, or several in a short space of time. You might notice that particular places, situations or activities seem to trigger panic attacks. For example, they might happen before a stressful appointment.
Most panic attacks last between 5 to 20 minutes. They can come on very quickly. Your symptoms will usually be at their worst within 10 minutes. You might also experience symptoms of a panic attack over a longer period of time. This could be because you’re having a second panic attack, or you’re experiencing other symptoms of anxiety.
“My panic attacks seem to come out of the blue now. But in fact, they seem to be triggered mainly at night when I want to go to sleep but cannot stop my mind racing, experiencing worry and panic about anything that may be on my mind.”
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Where Emotions Live In The Neck And Upper Cervical Spine And How Emotions Can Be Impacted By Runaway Vertebrae
The vagus nerve cell bodies are primary in the nodose ganglion which sits right at the level of C1. Upper cervical instability in the C1 area can cause compression on the vagus nerve.
In this image, we see the closeness of the glossopharyngeal nerve , the main function of which is swallowing, the gag response, and movements of the tongue. The Spinal accessory nerves control the shoulder muscles and head movements, and the Vagus nerve is said to control everything. The Vagus, glossopharyngeal, and spinal accessory nerves can be easily damaged, compressed, and function altered by the excessive motions of the upper cervical vertebrae.
Can Stress Cause Panic Attacks
December 30, 2014 by Dr. Carlo
Video by Jenny, text by Dr. Carandang
Hi, its Jenny at AnxietyBoss.com. Our question today is from Robert in Burlington, Vermont. Can stress cause panic attacks?
Yes, stress can trigger or exacerbate panic attacks. When your stressors are unmanageable and you start developing panic attacks, its time to seek help. There are excellent resources available which offer support and guidance.
Some people become so petrified of having another panic attack that they withdraw from going out whenever possible. Apart from going to work, they dont leave their homes for anything else and the effects of the panic attacks then may lead to agoraphobia, where they avoid places for fear of having another panic attack or fear they may not receive help. The person with panic attacks also may develop anticipatory anxiety, where they wait in fear for the next panic attack to occur.
Panic attacks are treatable. First line treatment is psychotherapy. If the anxiety is severe or if psychotherapy fails, then the doctor can prescribe a medication for anxiety. For more information on how to deal with a panic attack, please click here.
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