Where do panic attacks begin? What is the cause of anxiety attacks? It can be different for different people. First consider what anxiety is. It is a base emotion. It is part of our natural fight or flight response. We are wired to be ready to fight a giant saber tooth tiger or flee. Anxiety is the feeling we get when faced with a stimulus that our mind feels is a danger to us. Anxiety is not dangerous, it is a protection.
There are some people that believe that Anxiety is dangerous. Hey believe it can lead to life threatening diseases and mental disorders. Just remember that anxiety protects, it does not harm.
Panic or anxiety attacks occur when this natural defense is triggered due to non life threatening situations. Normally when the brain senses that something is dangerous is sends signal to other parts of the body that it must prepare itself. It does this through our autonomic nervous system. There are two parts of the system. The on switch called the sympathetic nervous system and the off switch which is called the parasympathetic nervous system. Regardless of the cause of anxiety attack, once the sympathetic nervous system is activated it flips all of our biological switches. It is all or nothing.
These switches are located in the adrenal glands which release adrenalin into our bloodstream. Once this chemical is released, it is hard to turn it off. It must essentially wear itself out. Once there is a workable level of adrenaline in our system can our parasympathetic system restore our body into harmony once again.
In order to get the parasympathetic system to act quicker we can will by utilizing relaxation therapies, like those referred to in Panic Away by Joseph Barry. Regardless of the cause of our anxiety, eventually our bodies will return to normal, but willing it to do so make the process occur quicker.
Remember that anxiety is not the enemy. It exists to help protect us, not harm us. We can try to even keep our sympathetic system going by feeding it negative thoughts and worry. Eventually our body will hit a threshold and return to normal. When our body realizes that there is no real danger, it will be harder for it to be aroused. Here is an example. If you have ever ridden a rollercoaster for the first time, it can be scary. You don’t know where the turns are or how fast you will be going. Your heart will be racing and your palms may get sweaty. You may feel butterflies in your stomach and notice your respirations have increased. If you continue to go on the same roller coaster a number of times, your body’s response to the stimulus of that particular roller coaster will be less. It won’t be as scary and in some ways it won’t be as exciting. You will seek a new roller coaster to get that same thrill you did the first time you rode the last roller coaster.
Another example of a cause of anxiety that can change over time is scary movies. The first time you may watch a scary movie you may be on the edge of your seat. Your heart is thumping and your anxiety is high. You just don’t know what is going to happen next. You may leave the movie thinking it was exciting and great. However, if you see the movie again it can not cause the same anxiety it did the first time. Your mind remembers the scary parts and knows what is going to happen next. It just does not respond the same way.
Just remember that your mind will always seek a way to reduce your anxiety level. If not we would be a bundle of nerves all the time. Every stimulus would have the affect on our body. The truth is that our body will not allow us to die from a panic attack. No matter what the cause of the anxiety attack, and our body’s original sympathetic response to it, it will always bring our body back into balance. Try to remember that the next time you have an anxiety attack. You will not die and your body will return to normal soon.
Your body knows at some level that going to the grocery store is not a danger to life and limb. So what is the cause of the anxiety attack? It is really our conscious minds. It occurs because our mind is afraid of losing control. We begin to have a physical cue such as a heart beat speeding up and we feel like we are headed for an anxiety attack. This calls the alarm and actually hits the switch in our sympathetic nervous system. There may be a logical reason that we feel some general anxiety, but it is the small physical cues that lead to a full blown attack. The more you worry about having the attack, the more you actually are feeding that attack. The more the symptoms increase and you feel that you are losing control, the more that your body responds by releasing more adrenaline into your bloodstream.
It is not just fear that is the cause of an anxiety attack. Our diet, unresolved emotions and other stimulus can cause the release of adrenaline into our system and can lead us to a full blown anxiety attack.
You are not alone in your quest to beat the crippling affects of anxiety attacks. Alison Petrie was just like you. She had regular attacks and never could find the right way to deal with them. You can discover what she discovered in an in depth interview.