Guest Author - Ryan Rivera
This week, Ryan Rivera is a guest author. Ryan provides valuable information about panic attacks - what they feel like and what causes them. Thank you, Ryan!
When Panic Attacks Have A Physical Cause
Panic attacks are a notoriously misunderstood type of anxiety. The experience of having a panic attack is not unlike suffering from a heart attack. Your heart races, your mind feels cluttered or cloudy, you feel short of breath (sometimes as though you're about to feint) – many people even legitimately believe that they are about to die.
Yet in general, panic attacks are not caused by a disease, or something that could be life threatening. Panic attacks, like most anxiety disorders, are caused by imbalances in serotonin, a neurotransmitter that controls mood. Many people are born with the propensity for this low level of serotonin, and so panic disorder isn't indicative of something being "wrong with the body." It's simply indicative of misfires in brain chemistry. It's unfortunate, but it's not dangerous.
Yet panic disorder causes a cascade of physical responses that are partially psychosomatic (physical experiences caused by the mind, especially anxiety), partially adrenaline related (due to the intense anxiety), and partially due to over-sensitization (completely normal and/or healthy lightheadedness feeling as though something is terribly wrong). Rarely – or at least infrequently – is there something dangerously wrong with the individual that is experiencing the bout of panic, or something that indicates a real change in the person's body.
Panic Attacks and Real Physical Problems
But although panic attacks rarely indicate something is wrong, that doesn't mean that there isn't a physical cause. One such example of this is with hyperthyroidism. Those with panic disorder are constantly on edge, worrying about the next panic attack. As a result, any small, normal physical sensation "feels" much more serious than it would normally feel, and then triggers the dominos that create a full blown panic attack.
With hyperthyroidism, not only are you more likely to experience the sensations that can trigger panic attacks – these sensations may be far more pronounced, because you naturally experience problems such as:
• Rapid heartbeat.
• Stomach pains.
• Shortness of breath.
These are very common panic attack triggers, and so those with hyperthyroidism may find it far more difficult to control panic disorder. Similarly, it's possible for these experiences to feel like a panic attack, but may not be a panic attack at all – rather, they're simply another bout of problems as a result of hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroid is just one example of potential reasons that panic attacks can have a slight physical cause, despite being a mental health problem that usually is not directly triggered by a change in the body. Some additional examples include:
• Heart Conditions
• Vasovagal Responses
Even with those conditions, most panic attacks are very likely to have no physical trigger. But it does become much harder to treat panic attacks when even if you control your panic attacks, there are still health issues that contribute to the experience. It's much harder to convince your mind and body that nothing is wrong when something is wrong – even if that particular bout of it isn't necessarily something to be concerned about.
About the Author: Ryan Rivera was a panic attack laden agoraphobic whose attacks often convinced him that he had a serious physical health problem. He eventually learned to control his panic attacks, and shares this type of information at http://www.calmclinic.com/