What increases my risk for panic disorder?

There are several factors that may increase your risk for panic disorder. These factors include too much stress, changes in how various sections of your brain work, sudden life changes, or a traumatic experience or accident. Genetics also increase your risk for panic disorder.

Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from panic disorder. Roughly a third of people with panic disorder become housebound (agoraphobia) or can face a fearful situation only when they are with a trusted companion. The disorder usually begins during late adolescence or early adulthood. Having a close relative with panic disorder raises risk for developing it by 10% to 20%; having an identical twin with panic disorder raises risk 30%.

Other factors predispose people to panic disorder. One is anxiety sensitivity. There also seems to be a link between high blood pressure and panic disorder. In a study published in The American Journal of Medicine, more than a third of people with high blood pressure also had panic disorder, a rate that's far higher than that of the general population. The reason for the association isn't known. Adrenaline surges during panic attacks might raise a person's blood pressure, or the two conditions might have the same underlying cause.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.