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What Causes Anxiety and Panic Attacks?

If you or a loved one suffers from anxiety attacks or panic attacks you may wonder what causes them. It’s important to know that anxiety disorders are real disorders. They are real health problems with real treatments and cures.

Unfortunately, scientists and doctors are not certain what causes an anxiety disorder for any particular person. There are actually several theories on what causes anxiety and panic attacks.

1. Heredity. While panic and anxiety disorders themselves are not hereditary, it’s theorized that a person can be predisposed to an anxiety disorder based on some genetic factors. As we’ll discuss next, brain chemistry tends to be different for those who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks.

Scientists theorize that genetics may play a role in some of the factors that determine brain chemistry. If someone has a few genetic markers that make their brain chemistry more susceptible to an anxiety disorder and their environment also supports anxiety they may suffer from panic attacks.

However, the same brain chemistry markers in a different environment may never experience an anxiety attack in their life.

2. Brain chemistry. Our brains are complicated organs. A run around the block can produce enough endorphins for one person to stay happy and positive for days, while another person may not experience any endorphin release.

Alcohol, caffeine, nutrition, genetics and exercise all play a role in brain chemistry. When the right combination of events coupled with a primed brain chemistry can provoke a panic attack. They can come right out of nowhere and render a person helpless. The good news is that diet and nutrition are easier to control than genetics. And medication can control brain chemistry.

3. Nutritional gaps. Some scientists have drawn a link between magnesium deficiency and anxiety disorders. And we know that vitamin D plays an important role in emotion and mood.

4. Stress. Stress can wear down a person’s systems. And while stress cannot be avoided, it can be managed through lifestyle changes and relaxation techniques. Too much stress can lead to an anxiety disorder and panic attacks.

5. Habits.Negative self talk and an overactive imagination can turn into a serious anxiety disorder. It’s very easy to allow yourself to imagine a worst case scenario for anything. Once you’ve embraced that worst case scenario inside your mind, your body begins to react. You can make your heart pound, your palms sweat and your stomach clench just thinking about all the awful things that can happen to you and your loved ones.

Conversely, you can choose to think about positive experiences, silver linings and best case scenarios. Sometimes the mindset habits we adopt can cause us to sink into serious anxiety.

There’s no doubt that the causes for anxiety and panic attacks are still largely unknown. However, doctors do know that with behavioral therapy and/or psychotherapy many people are able to overcome anxiety and panic attacks. Sometimes all it takes is a few lifestyle changes and a few learned coping mechanisms to live panic and anxiety free.


I am fulfilled by the power of helping others.

Helping others gives me a sense of purpose and reaffirms my beliefs about myself.

My life has a purpose which is revealed to me through my interaction with others. I have talents and abilities that I can use to help others. Helping others makes me feel useful.

My value and worth are clear when I see that I am useful. When I help others, I feel like I am part of a bigger picture. I am not only involved in my own life, but in the lives of others who need me. Being needed gives me a prestigious feeling of importance because there are things that no one in the world can do quite like me.

Helping others helps me be aware of how much I matter. When I help others, I feel welcome and wanted. I boost my confidence when I realize that my time and attention are craved. Others want to be around me and want to work with me. 

Each time I lend a hand and see the fruit of my labor I can’t help but feel fulfilled. I can touch others. I can come into a situation and change it for the better. A great sense of accomplishment overcomes me when I see the look on others’ faces and realize that I made all the difference in the world to them.

When I provide assistance to others I feel knowledgeable because I am able to lead others to long-lasting solutions. I have information, skills, and knowledge that others seek and helping others brings out the best in me.

Self-Reflection Questions:

1. Where can I volunteer my time to help others in need?
2. What do I need to do to clear my schedule to make time for others?
3. Do I understand how much I am worth?


The Importance of Role Models

If you’re giving life all you’ve got, you’re showing that you’re worthy of the energy required to live your life the way you choose. Feeling good about yourself is integral to living your best life. However, there may be times when you aren’t sure what to do. How do you proceed then?

If you’re ever uncertain about how to approach a project or challenge, think of your role models.

It’s important to have at least one role model. Many have more than one, depending on the elements of their lives they’re working on at the time. For example, if you love to write poetry, Maya Angelou might be a role model. If you love to work out and stay in shape, maybe Chuck Norris is the person you look up to for your physical fitness.

Whatever your passion, having a role model will compel you to work hard as you take steps to emulate them in pursuit of a goal.

Having a role model can be valuable to you in many ways:

1. Create your own successes. Following the example of someone who has achieved what they wanted may lead you to different kinds of success than they had. However, you’ll still make good decisions and go in a direction that will benefit you.

2. Get inspired. If you’ve ever been truly inspired, you understand the impact this can have on your life. When you meet or know about a person who’s at the top of their game, if you’re inspired by them, you’ll work your hardest to achieve your own objectives.

3. Get through tough times. When you have a role model to study and learn from, you gain perspective on your life. No matter what type of storms you weather, you can call upon inspiration from your role model to help you make it through any challenge.

* Direct contact with your role model isn’t required. All you need to do is reflect on them and what they’ve done to be successful. When you think about them, your spirits will lift and you’ll feel inspired to do whatever it is that makes you joyful and content.

4. Learn about and study someone. Your role model provides you with a great subject to explore and learn from.

* How and where did your role model grow up? How did he get interested in the skill or talent he excels in? For how long has he engaged in the activity? Does he share any hints or tips about how to be as good at the activity as he? You’ll gain insights that you can apply in your own life by studying your role model. The internet is great for this!

5. Improve your own performance. The more you try to be like your role model, the better you’ll do at your chosen hobby or activity.
Having a role model to look up to will enrich your life and help you develop yourself. Seek out and establish at least one role model to emulate.

Your life will be more manageable and satisfying for doing so. And who knows, maybe someday you’ll be a role model too!


I embrace any positive changes that come my way. I understand that change is a healthy and necessary part of life. For this reason, I keep an open mind when faced with a change that I may be reluctant to accept.

I constantly strive towards bettering myself. Sometimes the change may be as simple as eating healthier meals or it can be as drastic as heading back to school. But wonderfully desirable results are worth the uncertainty of the transition period.

Sometimes, I may fall short of reaching my destination. If that is the case, I get right back on the horse and try again. When several attempts yield little result, I reevaluate my goals to reflect on the situation, and I push forward.

I certainly love myself as I am. However, I am the type of person that always reaches for more. Life would lose much meaning if I stopped trying to improve and my efforts will benefit my family as well as me.

Like a rose, I am ever growing and expanding. Though it takes time and nurturing; my petals spread and my hard work and patience deliver a stronger and more-beautiful-than-yesterday me!

Today, I chase a dream. I can switch careers, lose weight, and learn to dance or even start a new business. With dedication like mine, it is impossible to strike out. I push all inhibitions to the side and lock my fears in an airtight box. I am capable of achieving the best.

Self-Reflection Questions:

1. Can I include my family or friends in my quest to embrace change?
2. Do I have a 5-year, 10-year, or 20-year plan?
3. What am I doing to achieve my goals?


When someone is suffering from an anxiety disorder they may think they’ve gone crazy. It’s understandable. The symptoms of anxiety can make you feel out of control and they can be very disturbing. However, it’s important to know that anxiety disorders are extremely common. In fact data suggests that more than 10% of the population suffers from some type of anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders come in all shapes and sizes. Some disorders are minimal and have very little effect on a person’s life. Other times a person can have several anxiety or panic attacks a day. This can leave them practically housebound and in a great deal of emotional and physical pain.

Let’s look at the five main types of anxiety disorders.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

This is the most common type of anxiety disorder. People who suffer from GAD feel extreme anxiety over everyday situations. Perhaps something as simple as going to the grocery store can plague them with worry. They may feel the trip is dangerous, the people at the store are going to laugh at them or they may worry about the cost of the grocery bill. The anxiety can be debilitating. GAD often goes hand in hand with other anxiety disorders like Social Anxiety Disorder and depression.

Social Anxiety Disorder

This disorder is exactly what it sounds like. People who suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder fear social situations. This can impact their personal life to be sure. However, it also impacts their work life and basic day to day functions. Because people avoid social situations to cope, this may be diagnosed as agoraphobia. Depression may also be a side effect or parallel diagnosis.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by trauma. The trauma can be physical or emotional and often stems from abuse or witnessing an act of violence. Soldiers commonly suffer from PTSD.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD is when a person creates a compulsion to manage their fears. For example, if they’re afraid of germs they may wash their hands compulsively. If they’re afraid of getting into a car accident they may circle the car six times clockwise and three times counter clockwise. The compulsions don’t always make sense. However, for a person suffering from OCD the compulsions or habits are performed obsessively. They feel like if they don’t perform the ritual or habit then they will most certainly get into a car crash or contract deadly germs, for example.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is a disorder where a person experiences uncontrolled fear that causes panic attacks. Panic attacks are signaled by chest pain, difficulty breathing, dizziness, stomach upset, a dreamlike state and sweating or trembling. Panic attacks can come upon a person for no apparent reason or trigger. Sufferers can have one panic attack a month or several a day, it depends on the severity of the case.

Anxiety disorders can make a sufferer feel as if fear is controlling their life. They feel helpless and tremendously vulnerable. However, they are treatable. Even the most severe cases can be treated with medication, therapy and behavior modification. And there are treatments available that don’t require any medication. You can learn to regain control over your thoughts and your anxiety.


I am an active member of my community.

My community plays a big part in my life and I jump at the opportunity to give back each chance I get.

My family and I take part in community functions, such as the Sunday pancake breakfast and the yearly Easter egg hunt for the children.

Though it may seem trivial to outsiders, these events are at the core of our community.

I strongly believe that a neighborhood is only as good as its residents. And I am proud to say that I am setting an honorable example.

I organize fundraisers for our local schools. This money is put towards providing the neighborhood children with a better education. Therefore, I feel that it is a necessary task and I plan on continuing my efforts for years to come.

I understand that the involvement of the next generation will determine what our town will be like 30 years from now. So, it is important to instill a strong sense of community in them from their youth.

Giving back to my community gives me a sense of pride. It makes me feel as if I am where I belong, doing what I am supposed to do. My town is more than a small dot on a map; it is the place my family calls home.

It is my responsibility to contribute to keeping this community thriving for years to come. One person can truly make a difference, and right now that person is me!

Today, I reach out to my community. I choose to be active in my community and make a difference. I encourage others to do their part in making our community one that we can be proud of.

Self-Reflection Questions:

1. Do I regularly volunteer my time in the community?
2. Which events can I take charge of organizing?
3. Do I plan on staying in this neighborhood for years to come?


Adventure exhilarates me!

I experience adventure in all aspects of my life.

Each time I attempt something new, I view it as an adventure because I like the feeling that I get when my interest is sparked. I also enjoy the feeling of coming out on top and the chance I get to share that euphoria with others.

Adventure brings out the go-getter in me.

When I am confronted with an opportunity to conquer something, I put on my game face and take it on with conviction. I know I have what it takes to come out successful.

I love taking an adventurous vacation with friends and family. When I am in the wilderness somewhere, or at the top of a snow-capped mountain, I feel a sense of excitement.

I feel a sense of renewal and freshness in knowing that I allow myself the opportunity to take a risk.

I view learning a new language as an adventure. It provides a chance for me to delve into a totally new culture. I also feel it is an adventure because it poses a certain level of challenge.

I welcome challenges because they show me what I am made of. I am especially happy when I can share with others what I have accomplished.

Today, I choose to take on adventures in whatever form they come. I have confidence and a sense of excitement about the great experiences that await me.

Self-Reflection Questions:

1. What adventure can I create today?
2. Am I happier when I am able to share in an adventure with people I love?
3. What emotions do adventures spark within me?


Twelve Surprising Facts about Panic Attacks

There’s a lot that is known about panic attacks. For example, we know the common symptoms of a panic attack include sweating, dizziness, difficulty breathing and so on. We also know that there are many different reasons and causes for panic attacks.

Here are twelve facts about panic attacks that you might find surprising.

1. In the United States alone, it is thought that more than 4 million people suffer from panic attacks.

2. Most of the time, a panic attack hits a person in their late teens and early adulthood. In fact, about 50% of the people who have a panic disorder develop it before they turn 24.

3. A panic attack typically lasts several minutes. Though it may certainly seem like an eternity while you’re suffering through one.

4. Many people do not seek help for panic attacks, agoraphobia, and anxiety-related difficulties. They’re afraid of the stigma attached to panic disorders. They may think they’re “crazy.” Or they may be reluctant to go on medication. Medication isn’t always necessary and it’s certainly not part of a long term solution.

5. Most of the time there are no triggers to a panic attack – they seemingly come “out of the blue.” Unless you suffer from a panic disorder called, PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Then panic attacks may be triggered by memories related to a traumatic event.

6. Therapy from a knowledgeable therapist helps over 90% of people who suffer from a panic disorder.

7. Women are twice as likely as men to develop panic disorder.

8. About 30% of people with panic disorder abuse alcohol and 17% abuse drugs.

9. Some people with panic disorder have several panic attacks a day while others go weeks or months in between panic attacks.

10. You may be able to prevent attacks by cutting down on caffeine, alcohol or other substances.

11. There are actually many different types of panic disorders including: Social Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, a phobia (and there are hundreds of types of phobias), and Obsessive Compulsive disorder.

12. Young children can suffer from panic attacks and anxiety disorders.

If you suffer from a panic or anxiety disorder, it’s important to seek help. Your doctor can give you a proper diagnosis. Once you’ve been diagnosed behavior therapy can do wonders to help you manage and alleviate your symptoms. You don’t have to live with a panic disorder.


I am a shoulder to lean on.

I am proud that others know they can rely on me in their times of need.

Each of us has great challenges in our lives from time to time. When this happens to my friends, I want to be there for them. I embrace my desire to strengthen the resolve of others.

Regularly, I spend time working to broaden my shoulders so they can lend support to those who need it. Helping people through adversity gives me pleasure because I know how it feels to be able to lean on family and friends when I am going through a low moment.

When others turn to me to help them through a challenge, I treasure the opportunity to provide a listening ear or a warm hug. I realize that the little things I do can go a long way.

I recognize that not saying anything at all sometimes offers more healing than spoken advice. My intuition guides me in giving the appropriate kind of support.

I use my personal experiences to help me determine how much assistance to give. I know that people are sometimes hurting more inside than they show on the outside. I realize that without my help, the hurt can eat away at them from inside.

Today, I trust that part of my purpose in life is to help others deal with difficult times. I feel a great weight lifted off me after comforting someone in need.

Self-Reflection Questions:

1. Is there someone in my life who is having a challenge right now and would like to hear from me?
2. Today, how can I reach out to those in need, even in a small way?
3. How do I offer support to myself when I am having challenges in my life?


Why Would You Want to Be Kind?

When you keep the idea of kindness in the forefront of your mind, you’ll reap incredible peace and satisfaction. Plus, you’ll bring joy and serenity to the lives of others.

Take a look at the following suggestions of how to go about thinking, living and breathing kindness. You’ll find yourself loving life more and more when you carry out these simple acts of kindness each day.

1. Focus on kindness. In the morning when you brush your teeth, think about how you’ll be good to others today.

* Maybe you’ll call your grandmother to let her know you’re thinking about her. Perhaps you’ll help your neighbor carry in her groceries. You might even choose to refrain from arguing with your spouse when he’s in a challenging mood.

2. Avoid office gossip. Side-stepping whenever people “invite” you to join their negative talk is a true demonstration of kindness. Keep yourself from listening to unpleasant statements about others and refrain from adding anything to the conversation. Now that’s covert kindness at its best.

3. Give recognition and validation. Everyone wants to be recognized for something. They want people to understand them and let them know they’re important in some way. Whenever you see people working is a great time to practice this essential skill. Try it at your workplace.

4. Contemplate new ways to be kind. As you see a co-worker walking toward you, quickly consider ways you can radiate kindness right now. Can you genuinely compliment her in some way, say how happy you are to see her, or comment on her hard work on a project?

5. Consider friends who may be struggling. If you know someone who’s experiencing a particular life challenge, ask yourself, “If I was in her position, what type of help would I want from others? A social evening out with friends to unwind? A quiet listener?” Then, provide this for the person as an act of kindness.

6. Use technology to be kind. Think of how wonderful it is to get a text from someone who tells you how much you helped her or how much you matter to her. Texting is quick and easy, yet it can be used to send a powerful and kind message to someone. The same goes for e-mail.

* These acts of kindness take only seconds to type but can have a huge positive impact on people you care about.

7. Think of yourself as an instrument of kindness. When you believe you can greatly affect the feelings of others through simple acts of kindness, you’ll be compelled to act in this manner.

* Have you considered that maybe you were put on this earth to be kind to others? If you believe it’s your job, role or destiny to be good to others, you’ll begin to behave with kindness all the time.

Being kind to others will bring you serenity and comfort like nothing else will. Sure, making a habit of this will take some effort, but you’ll be surprised at how little. As you consistently remind yourself to be good to others, practicing kindness will become second nature for you.