Risk factors Panic attack with Symptoms and Causes

Panic attack Symptoms and Causes

When you have a sudden episode of intense fear which is triggering several physical reactions when there is no apparent cause or real danger, then you have panic attack [1]. It is known that the panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attack happens then you can think that you have a heart attack, you are losing control or even that you are dying. There are many people who have just 1 or 2 panic attacks in their lives and this problem goes away when the stressful situation ends. If you have had recurrent and unexpected panic attacks and you spent a long periods in constant fear of another attack, then you can have a condition which is known as panic disorder. The panic attacks are not life – threatening. They can be frightening and they can affect the quality of your life. The treatments for panic attack can be very effective.

Panic attack Symptoms and Causes

Symptoms: It is known that panic attacks are typically beginning suddenly and without warning. Panic attacks can strike you at any time – in the middle of a business meeting, sound asleep, at the mall or when you are driving a car. You can have occasional panic attacks or you can have frequent panic attacks [2]. The panic attacks can have many variations but the symptoms of it usually peak within minutes. You can feel worn out and fatigued after a panic attack subsides. Here are some symptoms of panic attacks:

  • Feeling of unreality or detachment
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness
  • Headache
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nausea
  • Hot flashes
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sweating
  • Rapid, pounding heart rate
  • Fear of loss of control or death
  • Sense of impending doom or danger

The intense feat that you will have another panic attack is one of the worst things about panic attacks. Also you can have a panic attack so much that you will avoid situations where they can happen.

Causes: It is known the real cause for panic attack or panic disorder but there are some factors which can play a role in it, such as

  • Certain changes in the way parts of your brain function
  • Temperament that is more sensitive to stress or prone to negative emotions [3]
  • Major stress
  • Genetics [4]

It is known that panic attacks can start off by coming on suddenly and without warning but over time, they are usually triggered by some situations. There are some studies in which are suggested that the natural fight – or – flight response of our bodies is involved in the panic attacks. Here is example, if the grizzly bear came after you, then your body will react instinctively. Your breathing and heart rate would speed up as your body is getting prepared itself for a life – threatening situation. Many of the mentioned reactions can happen in the panic attack. But it is not known why the panic attack is happening when there is no obvious danger present.

Panic attack Symptoms and Causes

Panic attack Risk factors

Risk factors: The symptoms of panic attack often start in the late teens or early adulthood and they are affecting women more than men. There are some factors which can increase the risk of panic attacks, such as

  • History of childhood physical or sexual abuse
  • Smoking or excessive caffeine intake [5]
  • Major changes in your life, such as divorce or the addition of a baby
  • A traumatic event, such as sexual assault or a serious accident [6]
  • Major life stress, such as the death or serious illness of a loved one
  • Family history of panic attacks or panic disorder

Complications: If you leave the panic attack and panic disorder untreated, then it can affect all areas of your life. You can be afraid or having more panic attacks which means that you will live in constant state of fear and this is running the quality of your life. Here are some complications that can be caused by panic attacks:

  • Financial problems
  • Alcohol or other substance misuse
  • Increased risk of suicide or suicidal thoughts
  • Depression, anxiety disorder and other psychiatric disorders
  • Problems at work or school
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Frequent medical care for health concerns and other medical conditions
  • Development of specific phobias, such as fear of driving or leaving your home


[1] Burkhardt A, Buff C, Brinkmann L, et al. Brain activation during disorder-related script-driven imagery in panic disorder: a pilot study. Scientific Reports. 2019;9.

[2] Medical News Today. Panic attacks: How do I stop them? Retrieved from www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/290177.php

[3] PLOS. Anxiety disorders linked to disturbances in the cells’ powerhouses: Anxious mice and humans with panic attacks undergo changes to the mitochondria. Science Daily. 2019.

[4] Na HR, Kang EH, Lee JH, Yu BH. The genetic basis of panic disorder. Journal of Korean Medical Science. 2011;26(6):701–10.

[5] Moylan S, Jacka FN, Pasco JA, Berk M. How cigarette smoking may increase the risk of anxiety symptoms and anxiety disorders: a critical review of biological pathways. Brain and Behavior. 2013;3(3):302–26.

[6] Joscelyne A, McLean S, Drobny J, Bryant RA. Fear of memories: the nature of panic in posttraumatic stress disorder. European Journal of Psychotraumatology. 2012;3:10.


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