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What causes panic attacks, and how can you prevent them? - Cindy J. Aaronson

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  • 13,339 Questions Answered
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Countless poets and writers have tried to put words to the experience of a panic attack— a sensation so overwhelming, many people mistake it for a heart attack, stroke, or other life-threatening crisis. Studies suggest that almost a third of us will experience at least one panic attack in our lives. So what exactly is a panic attack, and can we prevent them? Cindy J. Aaronson investigates.

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator Cindy J. Aaronson
  • Director AIM Creative Studios, Vicente Nirō
  • Narrator Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Storyboard Artist Vicente Nirō
  • Animator André Cunha, Cristina Neto
  • AIM Creative Studios Producer Tom Knight
  • Sound Designer André Aires
  • Music André Aires
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Script Editor Emma Bryce
  • Fact-Checker Eden Girma
Additional Resources for you to Explore
Panic attacks frequently occur in the population and can cause great distress and dysfunction. The attacks can be part of panic disorder itself or from another anxiety disorder. Understanding how these attacks occur and how to treat them can be very helpful to those who suffer or the friends/relatives of those who experience them.

Dr. Reid Wilson’s book: The Noise in Your Head is a great resource. He also offers a course on line. On his webpage, he offers video samples of his course, which can be helpful by itself.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s (ADAA) website is filled with information about panic disorder and other anxiety disorders as well as depression. They also have a Find-A-Therapist option for getting treatment in your area that includes psychiatrists and psychotherapists.

The Association for Behavior and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) has fact sheets on each of the anxiety disorders, depressive disorders as well as other disorders with some videos and podcasts for the public. There is a Find Help option for CBT clinicians in your area.

Free self-help options from Canada and the UKhttps://www.anxietycanada.com/sites/default/files/adult_hmpanic.pdfhttps://www.mcgill.ca/counselling/files/counsellin...www.selfhelpguides.ntw.nhs.uk/penninecare/leaflets...

Dr. Robert Leahy”s book: The Worry Cure is a self-help book targeting worry anxiety in a more general way that does include worries about panic attacks.

Avatar for Anushka Khot
Anushka Khot • Pune, India • LESSON IN PROGRESS
10/09/2020 • 
 40 Responses
 / 40 Updates
Avatar for Oliver Bertrand
One time I downloaded a sketchy program on my computer, and now whenever I download things I get a panic attack. The strategy "believe that you're not in danger" is very, very hard for me, are there other tips that can help?
10/09/2020 • 
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Avatar for fatma nur yılmaz
I think this situation is very complicated. This method is very difficult to use because you have to do it alone. You can't get help but maybe you can ask someone how am I continue with this method. It's time-consuming. You should wait for your mental health.
10/20/2020 • 
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Avatar for Onurkan Ergin
We should eat more healthy foods and our life should be a planned life. These are my opinions. What can you say about this topic ?
10/20/2020 • 
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10/28/2020 • 
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11/05/2020 • 
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02/08/2021 • 
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Avatar for Alexis Budyach
I get panic attacks about 3-4 times a year, and nearly every time I'm alone during it. Sometimes I'll text my friends and tell them about it and they don't know what to do or how to help. I want to tell them ways they can help me in those situations, but I don't know myself.
02/09/2021 • 
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02/09/2021 • 
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Avatar for Elisabeth Verret
Once the prefrontal cortex takes over from the amygdaia the heart rate decreases which gradually winds down the panic attack.
02/09/2021 • 
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Avatar for Keily Diaz
How can you tell the difference between a heart attack and a panic attack if the situation was life or death?
02/09/2021 • 
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Avatar for Jacoby Johnson
The video looks like it supports CBT way more than ADM, which makes me think that CBT is way more accepted and actually solves the problem. does ADM actually solve the problem, or would CBT be necessary anyway to stop panic attacks.
02/09/2021 • 
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Avatar for Shayla Andrews
What are some things that trigger a panic attack for you?
02/09/2021 • 
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Avatar for Linda Nguyen
Some people try to regroup themselves and tell themselves they just need to calm now and take deep breaths.
02/09/2021 • 
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Avatar for Adam Landry
I feel like if someone does experience panic attacks they may fear something such as judgement for it and may not want to socialize to avoid something like that.
02/09/2021 • 
 1 Response
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Avatar for Jeet Patel
02/09/2021 • 
 1 Response
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Avatar for Jose Mendoza
How can panic attacks affect the body on physical level, such as increased risk of heart problems?
02/09/2021 • 
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Avatar for Kaelyn Richard
Maybe if some have a specific trigger that they tend to see often like a certain animal, can they have multiple panic attacks in a short span of time?
02/09/2021 • 
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Avatar for Ruijie Feng
People with these disorders are scared of communication with others and can lead to hard conversations or getting things out of them. How are people able to communicate this well and help to show people their situation.
02/09/2021 • 
 1 Response
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Avatar for William Barber
There were a few disorders listed that are said to cause panic attacks but what else can fully cause or just provoke them?
02/09/2021 • 
 1 Response
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Avatar for Taylor Townsend
Meaning, why do panic attacks happen more to situations where people are nervous, but not actually in danger.
02/10/2021 • 
 1 Response
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Avatar for Samuel Smith
What are some ways we can assist loved ones with panic attacks?
02/10/2021 • 
 1 Response
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Avatar for Gabriel Fletes
Such as what are ways to calm ourselves down if do experience a panic attack
02/10/2021 • 
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Avatar for Pranav Jadhav
How do the internet and social media affect the possibility of panic attacks? Does it help? Does it hurt? And why do you think that?
02/10/2021 • 
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02/10/2021 • 
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02/10/2021 • 
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Where do they start? For where does a panic attack sprout and grow into an anxiety disorder?
02/10/2021 • 
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Avatar for SAMIIRA  CALI
you are not alone to feel that feeling , be patient , one day you gone feel that was only situation you face once you're time ,.
05/17/2022 • 
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Avatar for Maria Fernanda Alba Valdes
A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you're losing control, having a heart attack or even dying
05/18/2022 • 
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06/01/2022 • 
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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Cindy J. Aaronson
  • Director AIM Creative Studios, Vicente Nirō
  • Narrator Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Storyboard Artist Vicente Nirō
  • Animator André Cunha, Cristina Neto
  • AIM Creative Studios Producer Tom Knight
  • Sound Designer André Aires
  • Music André Aires
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Script Editor Emma Bryce
  • Fact-Checker Eden Girma

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