Written By: Harry Livesay, LCSW, Division Head
Experts really don’t know exactly what causes panic attacks. Some research indicates that a trigger could be messages from childhood that made the person view the world as unsafe place. Dealing with the early death of a loved one, growing up in a home with anger/fighting/abuse, or simply the role modeling of parents or caretakers who themselves who were “anxious” and “panicky” who taught us to be overly fearful.
The onset of panic attacks can also occur in adulthood as the result of a traumatic event, a major loss or as a response to a series of negative events that have resulted in a cumulative stressful impact of not being able to cope with life stressors “the way we used to.”
Whatever the reason, blaming yourself or feeling bad about yourself is not the answer. According to noted anxiety specialist, David Carbonell, Ph.D.:
“These are all developmental events in life which happen to some people. The factors which cause panic attacks are not something you could have controlled. There is no reason to feel guilty, ashamed, or apologetic about having panic attacks. They are not the result of living badly; or of making bad choices; or of being “stupid”, or cowardly.”
It is also important to note that many people experience panic attacks without further episodes or complications. In fact, a majority of people will experience one or two panic attacks during their lifetime. However some people who’ve experienced multiple panic attacks go on to develop panic disorder.
Researchers have found that panic disorders can run in families, but no one is sure how much of that is because of your genes or the environment you grew up in. Panic disorder is characterized by repeated panic attacks, combined with major changes in behavior or persistent anxiety over having further attacks. We do know that people with a “panic disorder” may have brains that are especially sensitive in responding to fear.
If you suffer from panic attacks or would like to talk to someone about Panic Disorder, consider visiting with a Behavioral Health professional. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker or Licensed Professional Counselor can help you with screening and evaluation of symptoms and provide you with helpful skills to cope with anxiety and panic attacks. A psychiatrist or mental health nurse practitioner can also provide information on medicines and treatment options that can reduce the symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks.
To find out more about Lone Star Circle of Care’s Behavior Health services, checkout the Behavioral Health pages of this website or contact us at 877-800-5722.
Carbonell , David A. “What Causes Panic Attacks?” Anxiety Help: Practical, Powerful Solutions for Panic and Anxiety, David A. Carbonell , 26 Aug. 2017, www.anxietycoach.com/causes-panic-attacks.html.