- Lifestyle

Modern Lifestyles – A Cause of Panic Attacks

On the whole, life today is pretty hectic. Unfortunately, there are only a few who stop to smell the roses every day and count their blessings. For the rest, it’s all go,go,go and this stressful lifestyle affects both our physical health and our mental health. One of the effects has been an increase in the number of people suffering from anxiety disorders and, more specifically, panic attacks.

Estimates are that one in ten people will suffer from a panic attack or panic attacks in their lifetime. This means that this disorder has reached epidemic, if not pandemic, proportions, particularly in western countries. Although the exact causes of panic attacks have yet to be specifically stated, there are many theories as to why they occur. Prevalent among them is that our modern lifestyle is largely to blame.

Take your typical city dweller. Up at the crack of dawn and gets to work early to face a stress filled day trying to meet deadlines. Then they leave late, tackle rush hour traffic to arrive home to a microwaved meal before dozing off in front of the television. This may be a bit of a cliche but it’s probably not far off the mark for a lot of people.

In this lifestyle, there is no time for exercise, no time for cooking a proper meal using fresh ingredients, no time for hanging out with the kids and spouse and talking about their day and no time for having a laugh. There has probably been too much coffee, too many cigarettes and maybe even too much alcohol imbibed.

It’s not surprising then that the majority of people consulting their doctor complain of having too much stress. Long term, unresolved stress could result in the body over-reacting to a perceived threat when nothing can be done to solve the actual problems in their lives.

Of course, there are other factors said to cause panic attacks. Perhaps the person has gone through a traumatic experience such as the death of a loved one or an accident. Some scientists maintain that changes in the brain are responsible. Whatever the reason, however, one of the first things most health care professionals will suggest is a change in lifestyle.

More regular exercise, better nutrition, reducing caffeine and stopping the drinking of alcohol are some of the first things they will suggest. In one recent study, the lack of sunlight was thought to be a factor and light therapy was introduced to stimulate the areas of the brain responsible for physical and emotional health. Relaxation techniques are not something that most of us practice during our typical day but perhaps we should.

Many sufferers of panic attacks also suffer from other problems such as depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Modern lifestyles are well and truly a causative factor in these disorders.

It’s not easy to stop and smell the roses – more often than not, it’s not easy to find a rose to smell. But we do need to remember to step back occasionally and ask ourselves if the road we are following is really the road we want to take.