Does anxiety cause panic attacks?

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Anxiety causes panic attacks. That was a fact Tony knew only too well. A high-flyer in a blue chip company, age 35, with a happy marriage, and two great kids, Tony did well at anything that he turned his hands to -- from playing the piano to building profits. But he had a secret he didn't want anyone to know. He suffered from panic attacks.

Anxiety and panic attacks are partners. Anxiety is the driving force, the fuel that acts like an accelerator providing the thrust for the body to go into overdrive. Experiencing that shocking bolt of anxiety that causes the panic attack, makes you feel out of control and can destroy self confidence.

The first panic attack came from nowhere

For Tony, it happened at an important meeting. 'I could feel my face beginning to get hot and suddenly became aware of everyone eyes upon me, I lost the flow of what I was saying as my heart began pounding, all I could think about was how red I must be, the only reason why I did not just run out was because my legs seemed to be shaking and hardly able to support my weight. I really thought that I was going to die' Even though the event was several months ago, he said that it still feels like it was yesterday and he has not been able to walk into a meeting since. Even thinking about it makes all those feelings of terror start again.

'Hidden' reasons for anxiety

Although Tony had not realised it he had been under increased pressure since his mother had taken ill and there had been some changes at work. Feeling pulled in every direction he had carried on unaware that these concerns were pressing down on his anxiety accelerator.

Anxiety symptoms

  • He stared to exhibit signs of the anxiety affecting his life
  • Worrying over things that in the past would not have bothered him
  • Unable to get some thoughts out of his head
  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Tearful
  • Irritable and then regretting the things that he said
  • Unable to make decisions
  • Unable to relax and chat to people as the internal thoughts went tumbling around
  • How the body goes into overdrive

Tony's body was acting in the same way that a car does when too much fuel going through and it revs too high. At this stage, it doesn't take much for it to go into total overdrive. In Tony's case, the mere thought that people were looking at him was enough to put the foot flat down and cause his fear response to go off the scale.

As that rev count goes into the red, it signals to the body to prepare for immediate defensive action. The body doesn't know that it is not a real life threat and it propels powerful chemicals around the system to make the person stronger and quicker.

As the primitive part of the brain gears the body to defend itself against a perceived life threatening event, the heart begins to beat faster to pump more blood and oxygen around, the senses become highly attuned to the environment, and the sweat glands over produce - all while the person is standing still. It is the mechanics for an anxiety fueled panic attack and it can be terrifying.

How to reduce anxiety and get rid of panic attacks

But anxiety can be calmed, you can learn how to take the pressure off that anxiety accelerator so that you make sure that anxiety won't be able to cause a panic attack. Take a look at how you can do that...

About the author

Mark Tyrrell is a therapist, trainer and author and is the co-founder of Hypnosis Downloads, the web's most popular hypnosis site where you can get a cutting-edge hypnosis session for almost any situation.