What’s a panic attack, and what causes them?

Why can you get such a sudden burst of anxiety?
08 October 2019


A stylised screaming person in front of a swirling void.



What’s a panic attack, and what causes them?


Olivia Remes is here to answer Katie's question...

Olivia - A panic attack essentially, is this sudden burst of intense anxiety that you feel coursing through your body. It peaks within minutes and you don't know what is happening with you, you might feel like you're going mad, losing control or about to have a heart attack. You might also have symptoms like sweating. You might feel faint. You might have heart palpitations, you might find it hard to breathe then you may feel like you're choking. So it's something very difficult to deal with. And the more that these panic attacks happen to you, so let's say for example that you're on the bus, and the first panic attack happened to you on the bus, next time you might feel more scared to go on a bus again or using public transportation because what if you will again get a panic attack on a bus. You know, the more these happen to you sort of start avoiding places in which these panic attacks occurred, and then you also start to worry well if I go out in public and if I have a panic attack happening to me then, is there anybody that's going to be able to help me.

So it might limit you from going outside, and this intense fear that might develop the more often that these panic attacks happen. So fear of you know, what's going to happen to me once a panic attack arises, where am I going to get help. The fact that this can kind of limit the places that you go to and can make you want to stay inside the home this can lead to agoraphobia. So it's it's something really really tricky and really difficult to deal with. And you know the second part of the question, what causes it, so a lot of times a panic attack isn't caused by anything, it can just arise out of the blue for absolutely no reason, but sometimes certain events or situations can trigger a panic attack. So for example, let's say you're about to have a stressful meeting at work. You might have this panic attack coming on to you because you've already kind of got this stress going on in your body. So then the anxiety can just course within your your body within minutes, and all of these symptoms can take hold and manifest in a panic attack


My book, <spammy link removed> uses this to control panic six times better than Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

And your supporting (peer-reviewed) evidence for this is...

Our emotional regulation system - the autonomic nervous system - is supposed to operate automatically. Just look at the first part of the name,

Panic comes out of the blue when a subsystem - the parasympathetic nervous system - fails to automatically calm us when we need it to.

Neuroscience has discovered how the parasympathetic system is activated. My book, <spammy link removed> uses this to control panic six times better than Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Take a look at it on Amazon, and to read some free, click on the photo of the cover.

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