Some people experience episodes of extreme panic that cause them to have physical reactions. These panic attacks can occur even when there appears externally to be no cause or 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 have panic attacks as a symptom, though the attacks can also come from stressors and an individual's temperament as well.
Because of the genetic complexity of panic disorders, it is difficult to identify the specific genes that cause them. However, researchers believe some children may inherit the condition. Additionally, studies of twins have shown that if one identical twin has an anxiety disorder, the other twin has between a 31% and an 88% chance of having one as well. Women are twice as likely to have panic disorders; the reason for this is also unknown.
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