Panic attacks are frequently seen as a sign of weakness or mental instability; though the truth is that many of the people who have them live otherwise normal lives. Those who dismiss the idea that they too may one day experience such an event should think twice about it. They can happen to anyone. Following are five of the main reasons panic attacks occur.Panic attacks are often symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. When PTSD is the cause for panic attacks, there can be any number of events that trigger them. When there is a perceived threat, whether it is conscious or subconscious, the body responds in kind. The heart beats faster, breathlessness occurs, and the feeling of something being severely wrong is overwhelming. The trigger may be anything that triggers a traumatic memory or causes fear. Panic disorders such as PTSD can be extremely life altering due to the constant concern over panic attacks. Sometimes it is the thought of the attack itself that triggers it rather than an outside cause.
Panic attacks may occur when a person is under a good deal of stress. When stressful events and responsibilities get to be too much for a person, they may not consciously be aware of the toll it is taking on their bodies. Seemingly out of nowhere, a panic attack occurs. People often mistake a panic attack for a heart attack and with good reason. Panic attacks can cause chest pain and feeling that the body is under “attack” (it is, in a way) is good cause for those who have never experienced one.
Anxiety disorders are behind many panic attacks. There is a range of anxiety disorders. Social anxiety or “agoraphobia” is a major trigger for panic attacks. Generalized anxiety encompasses many different forms. People with anxiety are often plagued with irrational fears. The knowledge that they are irrational does not stop the fear from occurring anyway. In such cases, being on an elevator, driving a vehicle, or being “trapped” in a crowd are common triggers for panic attacks.
When a panic attack occurs out of nowhere, that is, when there seem to be no known underlying conditions involved, it can be a sign of a medical problem. Problems with the endocrine system, respiratory system, cardiovascular system and nervous systems may manifest with panic attacks. Not only do biological conditions trigger panic attacks in these cases, but the fear of something going wrong when you have such an illness can bring them on as well.
Medications and drugs can be the catalyst for a panic attack. It can be a side effect of an anti-depressant or another drug that acts on the chemicals in the nervous system. Certain types of hallucinogens, amphetamines and other kinds of illicit drugs can trigger a full-blown panic attack as well.
The important thing to know here is that panic attacks can happen to anyone and people who have them frequently are the same as everyone else – only they have a debilitating condition. You cannot stop someone’s panic attack by insisting that he or she is wrong to be fearful or somehow being unreasonable. Most know this already. You cannot stop a panic attack by telling someone to stop having one, either. A gentle approach of love and support is the only way to talk someone down from a panic attack. Let the person know that you are there to help them get through it. Panic attacks happen for many reasons and not one of them should be dismissed as a choice.