By Dr. Stephen Antony, MD (Psychiatry)
Why do i have panic attacks? Suffering from a panic attack can be terrifying, you can’t catch your breath. Your heart is beating so furiously you can feel it pulsating through your entire chest, your hands and feet turn cold or go numb, your thoughts are racing and you fear losing your mind.
It is estimated that more than 3 million people in America suffer from panic attacks, it takes a toll on their productivity and puts restrictions on their life style.
Why Do I Have Panic Attacks? Panic attacks can be cause due to a number of reasons. These include:
Brain dysfunction: It has been found that people suffering from panic attacks have a hyper-arousable amygdala. The amygdale is the emotional center of the brain and it produces emotional responses to the stimuli it receives. You may find that some people are very emotional and some people are not at all moved by emotions.
The amygdala is predominant in overly emotional people, in people suffering from panic attacks the amygdala is hyperarousable and can be triggered off more easily. This doesn’t mean that they are emotional people, except that the emotional center of their brain fires rapidly during a panic attack.
The frontal lobe of the brain is the center for executive function, it helps us human plan for the future, it helps us think through situations and make good decisions. However during panic attacks the blood supply to the frontal lobe is decreased and this phenomenon takes away the individual’s ability to think clearly during panic attacks.
It should be noted that these brain activities are not permanent and the areas can be retrained to function normally through cognitive techniques and relaxation therapy.
Research studies have demonstrated that cognitive therapy improves frontal lobe function, during these sessions the therapist works with the patient and trains the patient to take an objective and effective overview of his/her situation and problems.
Repeated cognitive therapy sessions and practice are known to increase blood circulation and activity in the frontal lobes of the brain.
In addition to cognitive therapy, relaxation and other various panic attack treatment techniques help the patient achieve thought control and relax in the face of a panic attack, with repeated training the patient becomes more confident about handling the panic attack.
Why do i have panic attacks? There are many other causes of panic attacks, these include stress in personal life, neurochemical imbalance, family history of psychiatric disorder, increased intake of stimulants such as caffeine, over-consumption of alcohol, smoking tobacco, substance abuse etc. Also there are very effective treatment techniques which can help you get rid of panic attacks.
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