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Panic attacks - Causes and treatment suggestions.

Updated on December 12, 2011
Sufferers often feel helpless.
Sufferers often feel helpless.

The causes

The principle trigger of a Panic attack typically vary from one person to the next. Aiming to understand the 'trigger' or 'triggers' is a really important element when trying to control this condition. The number of occurrences an individual might suffer also vary widely - a person might only ever suffer one attack where by another may suffer many attacks in one day. Panic attacks are often considered terrifying, sufferers often mention the feeling of having a heart attack or even dying.

In broad terms a panic attack is either triggered emotionally or physically. The symptoms of an attack are typically the same regardless of the primary trigger; the vast majority of sufferers experience hyperventilation and an overwhelming sensation of fear. Most attacks reach a peak after approximately 10 minutes however the more unfortunate sufferer can have attacks which extend for considerably longer periods of time.

Physically derived panic attacks are often caused by inner ear disturbances such as labyrinthitis, mitral valve prolapse and hyperthyroidism. Vitamin B deficiencies are also proported triggers and occurrences of tape worms are recognized as potential causes. Other associated conditions include Heart palpitations and dizziness which are often aligned to other symptoms like paresthesias, blurry vision, sweating and uncontrollable shaking.

Attacks which are triggered by emotional causes have a huge number of potential culprits; post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and mental health issues often present as a panic attack as does sudden loss or bereavement.

Phobias can also trigger attacks, primarily due to the fear induced as a direct result of the phobia. Other types of induced stress such as those which occur in high pressure situations either at work or in an emergency situation, can contribute to the occurrence of a panic attack.

Further Reading


Oral medication is available to mask the initial symptoms of a panic attack, allowing sufferers to control their reactions more easily. A common method of controlling hyperventilation is for the sufferer to breathe into a paper bag. This technique has been long held as extremely successful however concerns have arisen more recently regarding the temporary reduction in oxygen levels.

As with all medical conditions, particularly those which are so unique to the sufferer, it is important to seek advice from a qualified medical practitioner. For emotional triggers mental health therapies and counselling are available via referral.

Relaxation and exercises such as Pranayama and Yoga serve to release and balance hormonal chemicals - the hormones typically associated with good feelings. The postures adopted through deep breath yoga are said to be beneficial in the fight against panic attacks. The fundamental principle is for the sufferer to remain in a calm state; research has proven that the onset of an attack can be stopped when these techniques are mastered.

Experts in the field of panic control identify that the primary requirement when trying to lessen the frequency of attacks is to identify the causes. it is suggested that the sufferer should note down where possible the specific causes which lead to an attack. a sufferer should continue to do this as it allows the eventual identification of the triggers. Once the triggers or causes have been identified, it becomes easier for those effected to recognise the panic signals and ultimately develop behavioural attitudes which act to specifically prevent an attack.


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    • profile image

      IN2deep 6 years ago

      I actually get panic attacks and anxiety often. Stress of any kind can trigger's crazy To Worry about things like my son getting his permit & driving for his 6 hours behind the wheel with a complete stranger. My daughter having her first baby ect ect.. and love and loss and so many other thing like the economy..writing is good way for me to escape sometimes. I created a nice pond with a waterfall in my back yard with a fire pit and a bench sometimes just sitting there is theraputic and helps me to relax. I believe alot of people suffer from panic attacks and so many are not even aware that is what they are. Breathing excercises and meditation- or just a quite happy place all help.Very informational read thank you for sharing

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 6 years ago

      A very Interesting and Informative Hub on "Panic Attacks"...and who hasn't had one in their Lifetime. Wonderful Ideas, to Bookmark for Future Reference, as well as share with Friends

      I look forward to Following your Hubs and a big Thank You for becoming a Follower of mine.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      It must be terrible to suffer through a panic attack. Good to know that there are treatments out there which can alleviate symptoms and perhaps even prevent them.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      You write extremely well and with professional authority about your subject. You provide no peek into your profile, however. I for one, would be delighted to know you better. Your mention of Pranayama and Yoga suggests you may be familiar with Indian culture, though, of course, their popularity and valuable use in relaxation techniques have reached everywhere and are a logical choice in helping the sufferers of panic attacks, I should think.

      Thank you for this informative hub. I'm not subject to panic attacks, but it is well to be aware of what they are in the event someone might be having one in my vicinity. Sounds horrid.

      Welcome to HP and thank you for following me, too!

    • franciaonline profile image

      franciaonline 7 years ago from Philippines

      Very informative hub!

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 7 years ago from US

      I use to get them in heavy traffic and I would want to just jump from the car and run. I had some really bad ones a couple of time when on interstate and my husband driving and there would be a traffic stop, I would get in the back seat and lay down, shut my eyes and then think of anything but where I was. Haven't in years now though. Very strange.

      Great topic.

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 7 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      This sounds so debilitating. Interesting read.

      Thank you for the follow - I primarily write humorhubs - and a good laugh is great way to reduce stress and anxiety,