Monday, 3 February 2014

The Etiology of Panic Disorder

As with many other mental health conditions, the exact cause of panic disorder is not fully understood as yet. The etiology of panic disorder could be a combination of many physical and psychological factors. Childhood traumatic events, negative experiences and the environment plays a major part in the formation of psychological disorders such as panic and anxiety disorder. Some of the major contributors to the etiology of panic disorder are outlined below.

1. Parental Attitudes and Behavior

In 1973, Dr. John Bowdly revealed that agoraphobic patients would often describe their parents as being overprotective, controlling, restricting and dominant. This revelation was primarily based on his clinical observations, and subsequent studies confirmed most of the elements in his observation. Several authors have found that parents of agoraphobic patients: a kind of panic disorder, tend to provide less emotional warmth and support to their children. They found out that patients with panic disorders tend to grow up in homes where family conflicts and rejections are abundant.

2. Childhood Sexual and Physical Abuse

Several studies on the subject confirm that sexual and physical violence in childhood contributes to later development of panic disorder to a large extent. Stein et al. (1996) found that 17% of men and 35% of women, who suffered from panic and anxiety disorders in their adulthood had a history of childhood sexual and physical abuse. The same study confirmed that 60% of the women who suffered from panic disorders had a history of childhood sexual molestation.

3. Childhood Separation

Childhood separation from an emotionally significant figure was another major cause of panic and anxiety disorders. Loss of parents or siblings through death or divorce was the leading cause for this separation.

4. Personality Factors
Latest studies suggest that panic disorder patients may have certain personality traits that predispose them to develop the disorder. Most panic disorder patients were found to have strong harm avoidance traits. These patients are found to have high scores of tension, un-sociability, emotional immaturity, neuroticism, pessimism, shyness, guilt feeling, retaining anger and dependence.

5. Childhood Phobias

Children exhibits a variety of fears which include: darkness, animals, injuries, schooling at younger ages and death. These phobias have been linked to later panic disorder developments by most of the studies conducted on the subject.

6. Imbalances in Hormones

Neurotransmitters are chemicals that help to maintain a good mood. They are produced naturally in the brain. Imbalances in these hormones also can lead to panic and anxiety disorders.

The above is the etiology of panic disorder as per the latest studies conducted on the subject.

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