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What Causes Panic Disorder?
Doctors and researchers have not yet determined exactly what causes panic attacks and panic disorder, but a lengthy list of risk factors seems to increase an individual’s likelihood of developing the disorder.
- Genetic Predisposition. People with a family history of panic disorder are significantly more likely to develop the disorder than are people with no family history. Studies of identical twins have shown a heritability rate of as much as 40%, strongly suggesting that there’s a genetic component to the development of the disorder.
- Major stress. Major life events that cause stress may cause an onset of panic attacks. These events may include a divorce, death of a loved one, the birth of a child, trauma or injury, or unemployment.
- Sensitive temperament. Research suggests that those who are particularly sensitive to stressful situations are more likely to be susceptible to panic disorder.
- Substance use. Excessive consumption of substances such as caffeine or tobacco may increase the risk of panic attacks.
- History of abuse. People with a history of childhood of physical or sexual abuse are also at increased risk of developing panic disorder.
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