Some people experience episodes of extreme panic that cause physical reactions. These panic attacks occur even without an external cause or real threat. Most people experience only a couple of panic attacks in their lifetime, but some individuals have panic disorders that lead to more frequent attacks. Though there are many triggers for panic attacks, the exact reason for these disorders is unknown. Many diseases and disorders also have panic attacks as a symptom.
Because of the genetic complexity of panic disorders, it is difficult to identify the specific genes that cause them. However, some researchers believe panic attacks have a genetic component and may run in families. Additionally, studies of twins show that if one identical twin has an anxiety disorder, the other twin has between a 31 and 88% chance of having one as well. Women are twice as likely to have panic disorders as men; the reason for this is also unknown.
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