Causes of Panic disorder
Common Causes of Panic disorder
Following is a list of common causes of Panic disorder:
Panic disorder Causes: Male-Female Gender Ratio
Gender of Patients for Panic disorder: About twice as many women as men in the US (National Institute of Mental Health, NIH)...more »
Panic disorder: Related Medical Conditions
To research the causes of Panic disorder, consider researching the causes of these
these diseases that may be similar, or associated with Panic disorder:
Panic disorder: Causes and Types
Causes of Types of Panic disorder: Review the cause informationfor the various types of Panic disorder:
Causes of Broader Categories of Panic disorder: Review the causal information about the various more general categories of medical conditions:
What causes Panic disorder?
Article excerpts about the
causes of Panic disorder:
Facts about Panic Disorder: NIMH (Excerpt)
Studies in animals and humans have focused on pinpointing the specific
brain areas and circuits involved in anxiety and fear, which underlie
anxiety disorders such as panic disorder. Fear, an emotion that evolved to
deal with danger, causes an automatic, rapid protective response that
occurs without the need for conscious thought. It has been found that the
body's fear response is coordinated by a small structure deep inside the
brain, called the amygdala.
The amygdala, although relatively small, is a very complicated
structure, and recent research suggests that anxiety disorders may be
associated with abnormal activitation in the amygdala. One aim of research
is to use such basic scientific knowledge to develop new therapies.
(Source: excerpt from Facts about Panic Disorder: NIMH)
Understanding Panic Disorder: NIMH (Excerpt)
is a description of some of the most
important new research on panic disorder and its causes.
Genetics. Panic disorder runs in families. One study has
shown that if one twin in a genetically identical pair has panic disorder,
it is likely that the other twin will also. Fraternal, or non-identical
twin pairs do not show this high degree of "concordance" with respect to
panic disorder. Thus, it appears that some genetic factor, in combination
with environment, may be responsible for vulnerability to this condition.
NIMH-supported scientists are studying families in which several
individuals have panic disorder. The aim of these studies is to identify
the specific gene or genes involved in the condition. Identification of
these genes may lead to new approaches for diagnosing and treating panic
Brain and Biochemical Abnormalities. One line of evidence
suggests that panic disorder may be associated with increased activity in
the hippocampus and locus coeruleus, portions of the brain that monitor
external and internal stimuli and control the brain's responses to them.
Also, it has been shown that panic disorder patients have increased
activity in a portion of the nervous system called the adrenergic system,
which regulates such physiological functions as heart rate and body
temperature. However, it is not clear whether these increases reflect the
anxiety symptoms or whether they cause them.
Another group of studies suggests that people with panic disorder may
have abnormalities in their benzodiazepine receptors, brain components
that react with anxiety-reducing substances within the brain.
In conducting their research, scientists can use several different
techniques to provoke panic attacks in people who have panic disorder. The
best known method is intravenous administration of sodium lactate, the
same chemical that normally builds up in the muscles during heavy
exercise. Other substances that can trigger panic attacks in susceptible
people include caffeine (generally 5 or more cups of coffee are required).
Hyperventilation and breathing air with a higher-than-usual level of
carbon dioxide can also trigger panic attacks in people with panic
Because these provocations generally do not trigger panic
attacks in people who do not have panic disorder, scientists have
inferred that individuals who have panic disorder are biologically
different in some way from people who do not. However, it is also true
that when the people prone to panic attacks are told in advance about the
sensations these provocations will cause, they are much less likely to
panic. This suggests that there is a strong psychological component, as
well as a biological one, to panic disorder.
NIMH-supported investigators are examining specific parts of the brain
and central nervous system to learn which ones play a role in panic
disorder, and how they may interact to give rise to this condition. Other
studies funded by the Institute are under way to determine what happens
during "provoked" panic attacks, and to investigate the role of breathing
irregularities in anxiety and panic attacks.
Animal Studies. Studies of anxiety in animals are
providing NIMH-sponsored researchers with clues to the underlying causes
of this phenomenon. One series of studies involves an inbred line of
pointer dogs that exhibit extreme, abnormal fearfulness when approached by
humans or startled by loud noises. In contrast with normal pointers, these
nervous dogs have been found to react more strongly to caffeine and to
have brain tissue that is richer in receptors for adenosine, a naturally
occurring sedative that normally exerts a calming effect within the brain.
Further study of these animals is expected to reveal how a genetic
predisposition toward anxiety is expressed in the brain.
Other animal studies involve macaque monkeys. Some of these animals
exhibit anxiety when challenged with an infusion of lactate, much like
people with panic disorder. Other macaques do not exhibit this response.
NIMH-supported scientists are attempting to determine how the brains of
the responsive and non-responsive monkeys differ. This research should
provide additional information on the causes of panic disorder.
In addition, research with rats is exploring the effect of various
medications on the parts of the brain involved in anxiety. The aim is to
develop a clearer picture of which components of the brain are responsible
for anxiety, and to learn how their actions can be brought under better
Cognitive Factors. Scientists funded by NIMH are
investigating the basic thought processes and emotions that come into play
during a panic attack and those that contribute to the development and
persistence of agoraphobia. The Institute also supports research
evaluating the impact of various versions of cognitive-behavioral therapy
to determine which variants of the procedure are effective for which
people. The NIMH panic disorder research program will also explore the
effects of interpersonal stress such as marital conflict on panic disorder
with agoraphobia and determine if including spouses in the
cognitive-behavioral treatment of the condition improves outcome. (Source: excerpt from Understanding Panic Disorder: NIMH)
Related information on causes of Panic disorder:
As with all medical conditions,
there may be many causal factors.
Further relevant information on causes of Panic disorder may be found in: