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Causes of panic attacks

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There is no single cause for the development of a panic disorder. A panic disorder is most probably started by a combination of causes such as genes, upbringing and hormones.

Genes
Children of a parent with a panic disorder are more likely to have a panic disorder themselves. They inherit the predisposition for a panic disorder from their parents.

Experiencing major events or stress
In some people, the first panic attack occurs after a major event or after stress, for example: a physical illness, having a child, a relocation, stress at work, or the loss of a loved one. In combination with predisposed sensitivity this can lead to the development of a panic disorder.

Growing up in an anxious environment
It has long been thought that upbringing could be an important cause. However, this has not been proven at all. However, there is reason to believe that people who grow up in an anxious environment later have a greater chance of getting a panic disorder.

Hormones
In women, panic disorders occur three times more often than in men. Female hormones affect a panic disorder, although we do not know exactly how it works. The severity of a panic disorder often becomes less during a pregnancy and increases again after a birth. After the menopause, the severity also decreases. However, treatment with female hormones does not appear to help.

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