There are many different panic attack causes, and it’s impossible to tell which one is the main reason people have panic attacks. Some people are more anxious than others (could be inherited, could be learned behaviour) and have a higher chance of getting a panic attack. If these people experience a lot of stress, have many negative thoughts and worry a lot, then they may have panic attacks. Other panic attack causes could be a traumatic experience or a phobia. But such experiences alone would not predict a panic attack. A panic attack can be triggered by such events (traumatic experiences, closed spaces, and so on), but it all happens inside yourself. Click on the image on the right sight to see how panic attack causes can lead to a real panic attack.
Certain locations/situations: having a panic attack causes you to connect the location or situation with the panic attack. Going to that same location or being in a similar situation will make you pay more attention to your body. An increased heartbeat or sweating can be wrongly associated with a panic attack (in stead of climbing 3 stairs) and this will make you more afraid, which makes you sweat more, worry more and so on… In other words: worrying about a panic attack causes a new panic attack.
Environmental factors: having an overly cautious view of the world or accumulating stress over time are correlated with panic attacks. This means that people who have panic attacks often have an overly cautious view of the world, and experience a lot of stress. This does not mean that panic attacks causes you to have an overly cautious view of the world. Nor does this mean that having an overly cautious view of the world and experiencing a lot of stress causes you to have panic attacks.
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Hyperventilation syndrome: breathing from the chest may cause over-breathing. This can result in panic attack like symptoms, such as a pounding heart, dizziness and light-headedness. The fall of the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in arterial blood (Paco2) causes an unpleasant feeling and that may make someone afraid of getting a heart attack or sudden death. For someone with panic attacks this can trigger a panic attack.*