Panic attacks do not come from nowhere, though the possibility of them coming out of the blue cannot be discounted. Nonetheless, there is always that something that triggers the occurrence of such attacks. Experts believe that the causes are multi-factorial and pre-disposing factors are many. Included are the following:
Genetics. Panic attacks run in the family. If you great grandfather had it, there is a relative possibility that you might develop the disorder as well. In typical cases, those people who have relatives with panic attacks are twice more likely to experience either acute or chronic but intermittent episodes of panic disorder than normal people. Nonetheless, there are people who have family history of panic attacks that do not develop the disorder.
Medical causes. There are several medical conditions that could allow for the development of panic disorder and panic attacks. Among them are mitral valve prolapse, hypoglycemia, hyperthyroidism, abrupt withdrawal from medication usage, and use of stimulants. Mitral valve prolapse, otherwise known as MVP, is a heart disease that affects the mitral valves, the part of the heart that prevents the backflow of blood. The symptoms of this disease are shortness of breath and chest pain along with others. Not only do these symptoms resemble those of panic attacks but research by the American Heart Association confirmed that there is a direct link between MVP and panic attacks.
Hypoglycemia, on the other hand, is a condition characterized by a lower level of blood glucose. Meanwhile, hyperthyroidism is also a condition that is somehow linked with panic attacks. This condition is marked by the overproduction of thyroid hormones namely T3 and T4 hormones. Abrupt withdrawal from certain medications is also believed to be a cause of panic attacks since this triggers sudden changes in the body. Another factor that may lead to the development of panic attacks is the use of stimulant substances such as beverages with high caffeine content and marijuana.
Medications. The body's reaction to foreign materials with medical properties is not always necessarily positive. There are cases when the substances found in the drugs produce the right conditions in the body conducive to the arousal of panic attacks. For example, methylphenidate which is more commonly known as Ritalin is used for patients of ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder as well as narcolepsy could cause panic attacks for some people.
Gender. This seems to be a predisposing factor towards the development of panic disorder. According to studies females are 50% more likely than their counterparts to develop the disorder.
Major life events. Substantial events in life that lead to extreme changes can create the right environments for the occurrence of panic attacks. This may be because such drastic changes create tensions in the homeostasis of a person's life, thus upsetting the previous order of things and forcing the person to confront the changes. If the person fails to respond accordingly, the tension may persist and he might be overcome by it. Thus, producing a number of symptoms that could be characterized under psychological disorders, panic attacks included.
Phobias. Although the statistics are not established yet, it seems clear that people who have severe cases of phobias are more susceptible to developing panic disorders. This could be due to the fact that phobias cause elevated levels of fear to start with.