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What leads to panic disorder?

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What actually causes someone to have panic disorder? Why do some people get it and other people do not?
asked Jul 29, 2015 in Panic Attacks / Disorder by anonymous

1 Answer

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Panic disorder comes about from the way you think about changes in your body, and the way you behave to maintain the anxiety symptoms. If you have panic disorder, you have a hypersensitivity to anything that happens to your body. In other words, you are too sensitive to anything that occurs with your body such as changes in your heart rate, changes in your breathing, body pains, etc.

So let’s say you are somewhat stressed or worried, and you experience some physical anxiety symptoms, such as increased heart rate, palpitations, and chest pain. Instead of realizing that you are just stressed and worried, and that these physical symptoms are just part of your body’s response to stress and anxiety, you start to worry that these physical symptoms may be a heart attack. So the thoughts that you may be experiencing a heart attack induces even more anxiety in you, so you get even more increase in heart rate, palpitations, and chest pains.  So then you start avoiding places where you had panic attacks, and avoid situations where you might have another panic attack. This avoidance maintains your belief that you are experiencing a heart attack, and this continues the vicious, negative cycle of panic disorder.

In addition to avoidant behaviors, you also resort to anticipating when the next panic attack might occur. This is called anticipatory anxiety, and this can make you even more anxious between panic attacks, spending much of your time in fear of the next panic attack coming. With your thoughts leading to anxiety symptoms, you then engage in avoidant behaviors and you wait for the next panic attack to occur- this is the recipe for the development of panic disorder. Eradicating your anxiety and panic attacks involves addressing your thoughts about your physical body changes and addressing your avoidant behaviors and your anticipation of the next panic attack occurring. Oftentimes, medications is needed to take the edge off, in addition to addressing your thoughts and behaviors.
answered Jul 29, 2015 by drcarlo (294,430 points)
selected Sep 11, 2015 by drcarlo
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