At least four (probably 5 or more) generations of my family suffer from panic disorder. Panic attacks and panic disorder were thought to run in families because it was learned behavior, which only added to the stigma of having this.
My affected family members and I have strongly felt there was an underlying biological element to the panic attacks. While certain environments could foster a greater likelihood of panic attacks occurring, we all said they "came out of the blue" with no relationship to what we were doing.
I distinctly remember being hit by a panic attack while I was getting a drink at the fountain in middle school for no reason at all.
Mine started before I went to school. I was miserable for so much of my childhood. I couldn't describe it to anyone.
It was an incredible relief when I read about panic attacks in my "abnormal psychology" textbook in college.
Once I could describe it I learned that it affected my dad, all his siblings, my grandmother, and probably her mother as well. I know some of my cousins experience similar symptoms. We're watching the next generation.
I'm pretty sure my son is affected. Even as a small infant I saw in his eyes that he was having an attack. (I've heard this from other mothers as well). He has likely had them his whole childhood too.
I'm greatful that research is progressing and hopefully we'll learn what works for children as well as adults.
- Emotion-Regulating Protein Lacking in Panic Disorder
- Neurobiology of Panic Disorder
- Panic Disorder Genetics
- Brain Lactate and Treatment of Outcome in Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder and is characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress. More about Panic Disorder »
Signs & Symptoms
People with panic disorder have feelings of terror that strike suddenly and repeatedly with no warning. During a panic attack, most likely your heart will pound and you may feel sweaty, weak, faint, or dizzy. Your hands may tingle or feel numb, and you might feel flushed or chilled. You may have nausea, chest pain or smothering sensations, a sense of unreality, or fear of impending doom or loss of control. More about Signs & Symptoms »
Effective treatments for panic disorder are available, and research is yielding new, improved therapies that can help most people with panic disorder and other anxiety disorders lead productive, fulfilling lives. More about Treatment »
Getting Help: Locate Services
Locate mental health services in your area, affordable healthcare, NIMH clinical trials, and listings of professionals and organizations. More about Locating Services »