ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Causes of Panic Disorder

Updated on August 5, 2009

Causes of Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is absolutely no fun. Coming from someone who has personally experienced many panic attacks, I can tell you that it’s one of the worst feelings you could ever imagine. For those who may not be aware of what panic attacks are (also known as anxiety attacks), it’s basically a sudden feeling of absolute fear, anxiety, loss of control, and disorientation. You can feel somewhat like you’re having an “out-of-body experience”, as if you’re detached from reality or in some kind of altered state of reality. It comes on you like an avalanche, and it’s somewhat of a “rush” (in a very negative connotation). It even produces physical symptoms such as increased heart rate (a person undergoing a panic attack can have a heart rate of up to 200 beats per minute), breaking out in a sweat, a “tingling” sensation in hands and feet, ringing ears, and shortness of breath or (conversely) hyperventilating. A person experiencing a panic attack can feel like they’re going out of control or going crazy, and they may even feel like they’re going to die. Many times panic attacks (oddly enough) can come from the fear of having another panic attack. You remember what the last one was like, and it’s almost like you feel you “barely escaped”, so it can add an undercurrent of stress and/or tension to your everyday living condition, to the point where you want to avoid any thing, person, place, or situation that could possibly bring on another panic attack. This is why a lot of psychologists believe that panic disorder is actually an offshoot of agoraphobia (fear of open spaces or public settings). One thought that often goes through the mind of a person suffering with panic disorder is the thought of being embarrassed in a social situation if they were to have a panic attack in a place where it would not be easy for them to escape the situation quietly. I remember back when I was going through a series of panic attacks, I would base my whole seating arrangements on how easy it would be for me to get in & out of a public place. I was uncomfortable sitting in the middle of a row of a movie theater or at church, because I thought about how embarrassing it might be if I had to get up and try to scoot out over a bunch of people’s legs just to deal with the panic attack in private. Sadly, many people who have been victimized by this type of anxiety disorder often end up structuring their entire lives around the negative anticipation of having another panic attack in the near future, and “being ready for it” when it comes.

Image courtesy of Microsoft Office Clip Art
Image courtesy of Microsoft Office Clip Art

As to the causes of panic disorder, many times they can come from a life experience that was tragic, traumatic, or overwhelming. Examples include the death of a loved one,   

being the victim of a violent crime such as robbery or carjacking, or any type of negative experience that left a somewhat indelible mark on a person’s subconscious. Major life changes or transitions can also be a cause of panic disorder; events such as getting married, having a baby, getting a new job, moving to a new state, getting laid off from a job, etc., can be a catalyst for panic attacks. There have been several cases of people suffering from panic disorder due to religious guilt; they may have done something that they feel God can’t forgive them for, and thus carry the weight of guilt around with them, and many times that guilt can produce a self-accusing attitude that turns them against themselves. This is the type of mental environment that can cause a panic attack or anxiety attack. Also important to mention is the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on a former serviceman’s (or servicewoman’s) mental health; PTSD can often include regularly occurring panic attacks, due to the horrors of war that a serviceman or servicewoman may have experienced. It was interesting when I started thinking about possible causes of not only panic disorder but other various phobia-related conditions such as social anxiety disorder, OCD, and the like; I was reminded of a movie I saw a long time ago called “Matchstick Men” with Nicholas Cage. In the movie, Cage’s character had a bunch of nervous “ticks”, and he had a horrible case of OCD, to the point where he would lock his doors three times in a row (lock, unlock, lock again, etc.) just to ensure that they were locked, and do other things like that to “confirm” in his mind that the thing was done. He was a con-artist by trade, and he basically lived a life where he ripped people off through various schemes. He was seeing a psychologist for his phobia issues, and the psychologist told him something that was really stunning to me when I heard it: He told Cage that the reason why he had so many phobias and issues is because he was “hiding something”, or not being true to himself, living his life as a deceiver. He told Cage that it was basically because of guilt that he had those different disorders. That was actually very profound to me, and it was one of the main reasons why I included guilt as one of the possible causes of panic disorder in this hub. I’m sure that there are more, but time nor space nor motivation allow me to delve further into them at this time; I will have to tackle another aspect of panic disorder with a subsequent hub.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • SteadyHubs profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Thanks, tamron. Yeah, panic attacks totally suck. Thank God I'm no longer experiencing them.

    • tamron profile image


      6 years ago

      I can totally relate to everything you said. I don't have them to much anymore.

      I had them panic attacks every day. I don't now but I still get panicky in crowds.

      Vote Up


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)