When we are assured by our doctor that there is nothing physcially nothing wrong, we need to accept it. Our recovery depends upon it. If we don't accept it, we will continue to be afraid of our symptoms and experience, which in turn perpetuates our fears and our disorder
There are three main theories about the cause of anxiety disorders. These areBiological
The Biological theory presupposes a chemical imbalance in the brain and also includes a genetic contribution for panic disorder. If one member of the family has panic disorder, there is a very good chance that other members of the family would have had panic disorder. In the recent past, the majority of people with panic disorder were not diagnosed, nor received appropriate treatment. In older family members the disorder can be hiding behind 'a nervous breakdown', alcoholism, or what could be perceived as 'eccentricity' as a result of various avoidance behaviours.
A major life stress, or a build up of day to day stress, or physical illness, or marijuana, LSD or other illicit drugs can be a trigger the genetic predisposition for panic disorder.
The Behavioural theory sees the cause as learned behaviour, including 'learned' negative thought patterns. There is no doubt we 'learn' to become afraid of panic attacks, and we can learn very very quickly! From this fear, the multitude of fears grow. Each feeding on each other and impacting severely on daily life.
The Psychodynamic theory looks at childhood issues as being the cause. While not everyone with an anxiety disorder has a history of childhood trauma, many people do. Any childhood trauma issues do need to be taken into account when working through to recovery.
Childhood issues also play a role with people who don't have a history of childhood abuse. As children many people learnt from a very early age that they needed to become, 'a good nice person'. To become the 'good nice person' they needed to stop the development of who they could be, and became who they thought they should be.
The end result of this is low self esteem, fear of being abandoned/rejected, that people won't love or like us, and feelings of intense loneliness and helplessness. Being who we think we should be, creates enormous personal stress as we try to be perfect in every area of our life, including our inability to say 'no' even when we want and need to. Over time 'something' has to give and the development of an anxiety disorder begins.
Many people develop panic disorder following a major life stress or a build of stress. Major life stress can include a death of a loved one, moving home, loss of employment, relationship problems, financial problems, a physical illness while some women can develop an anxiety disorder after the birth of a child. See also 'Life events that preceded first panic or anxiety attack'
Our approach in working with anxiety disorders takes all three theories into account. Although we do agree there is a biological component, we also agree that we can recover and become medication free by using either a Mindfulness cognitive technique or another cognitive behavioural technique.
The way we think creates so much of our ongoing distress. We can control the biological component by losing the fear of our experience and controlling and managing our thoughts. We also agree that childhood issues, whether they be abuse issues or 'learned' behaviour in becoming who we think we should be; needs to be worked through and resolved. This enables us to develop a healthy sense of self esteem. From our experience over the years with so many thousands of people, we believe that anxiety disorders and healthy self esteem are 'mutually exclusive'.
Our introduction to the causes of anxiety disorders, excluded Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is caused by a life threatening event or event/s. Childhood abuse issues or rape can also be the trigger for the development of PTSD.