Categorized | Anxiety

What are Anxiety Attacks Causes?

Over time, the list of anxiety attacks causes gets broader yet more specific. The prevalence of these anxiety attacks differs between countries and cultures. In an international study conducted, the prevalence of anxiety attacks in a person’s lifetime has a prevalence rate ranging from 0.4% in Taiwan to 2.9% in Italy with a median prevalence rate of social anxiety disorder in Europe at 2.3%.


Anxiety is the body’s normal response to stress, threat or pressure. In fact, anxiety is the body’s effective method of keeping the anxious person focused and alert under a stressful or dangerous situation. Normal anxiety responses are palpitations, sweating, an upset stomach, dry mouth or difficulty concentrating. However, these symptoms may aggravate under intense fear or panic leading to an anxiety attack.


An anxiety attack becomes a disorder when these feelings, fears or symptoms interfere with a person’s daily activities and relationships for more than six months. Most of these fears are irrational and trigger anxious responses to the individual.


The onset of these anxiety attacks is sudden and very unpredictable. Some attacks are brought by obvious stimulus such as being stuck inside a car on the subway. Anxiety attacks usually climax within 10 minutes and remain for more than 30 minutes. These attacks give you the uncontrollable fear of dying or the fear of losing total control of yourself.


So, how does an anxiety attack begin? When a stimulus for anxiety is determined by the brain, such as a stressful situation of being stuck in an elevator, the body’s sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for the fight-or-flight response releases hormones, neurotransmitters and peptides to produce the physical symptoms of an anxiety attack.


The cause of an anxiety attack is a dysfunction in the brain’s neurochemicals causing autonomic imbalances. Anxiety attacks causes are physical, chemical and emotional triggers surrounding an individual. Listed below are the common anxiety attacks causes:


  1. Physical Anxiety Attacks Causes:
    1. Thyroid Gland Problems

Anxiety attacks have been connected to hyperthyroidism. When the thyroid gland produces too many hormones, this alters the brain chemistry leading to symptoms seen in a panic attack.

  1. Heart Problems

The symptoms of an anxiety attack are most commonly mistaken for a heart attack because both have similar physical manifestations. Also, patients who have had a heart attack or a heart surgery mostly experience anxiety attacks due to their recurring anxious thoughts of their near-death experience.

  1. Physical Injuries

Physical stresses on the body such as a fractured bone brought by an accident trigger an anxiety attack from the fear that these situations might repeat in the future. Moreover, an injury causes the release of stress hormones that activate the body’s sympathetic response mimicking symptoms of an anxiety attack.

  1. Genetic factors

Recent studies have shown that there are people who are prone to an anxiety attack as brought by their genes. If a parent is more prone to an anxiety attack, children should be careful in managing stresses and anxiety in their lives.


  1. Chemical Anxiety Attacks Causes:
    1. Alcohol and Illicit Drugs

Alcohol or drug withdrawal causes anxiety attacks.

  1. Caffeine

Caffeine stimulates the body’s fight-or-flight response relating these symptoms to an anxiety attack.

  1. Medications

Medications such as thyroid drugs, asthma drugs, OTC decongestants and combination of cold remedies trigger an anxiety attack due to its effects on the body’s sympathetic nervous system leading to hormonal and neurotransmitter imbalances. Moreover, abrupt discontinuation of taking anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines causes anxiety attacks, too.

  1. Weight Loss Supplement

Due to the excessive caffeine content in their ingredients, weight loss supplements are associated with anxiety attacks. Green tea which is famous for its suppressing effects on appetite and Guarana, a common ingredient in some OTC diet supplements, contain twice the caffeine content as a regular cup of joe. Certain Weight loss supplements mimic physical symptoms of an anxiety attack such as Saint John’s wort’s insomniac effect and ephedra’s increased heart rate and anxiety effects.


  1. Emotional Anxiety Attacks Causes:
    1. Stress

Stress in life such as interpersonal conflicts or loss causes anxiety attack due to the body’s response to stress. It causes the release of stress hormones by the adrenal glands. These hormones activate the fight-or-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system causing brain chemical imbalances leading to the manifestations of an anxiety attack.

  1. The psychodynamic theory explains that an anxiety attack is caused by the conflict between the id and the ego.
  2. Cognitive theory has explained an anxiety attack as the tendency of the mind to overestimate the potential for danger.


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