One could write and talk for days about the potential contributors to panic attacks. So much so that I choose to use the term “contributors,” not “causes.” And that’s because I believe using the term “causes” throws a very unnecessary roadblock in the path toward relief, as it attempts to find solid and defined explanations for why panic attacks occur. Ultimately, that’s great; however, I find it limiting in the immediate. At any rate, I want to discuss a very common psychological contributor to panic attacks that I refer to as “The ‘We Do It Intentionally’ Paradox.”

First, just what is a paradox? Well, it’s something that may appear to be incongruent with what’s accepted as common sense, yet it’s very likely true. That said, it’s my observation that many panic sufferers may consciously and/or unconsciously intentionally trigger their panic attacks. Is that paradoxical enough for you? Geez, don’t get angry at me now. If this notion is true, and it applies to you, it can serve to provide a lot of direction. So think about it. Before I go into detail, could it at least be possible?

I mean, as unpleasant as panic attacks are, if living with them has been the only way of life we’ve ever known, is it so hard to believe we may well do all within our power to perpetuate them? Indeed, painful and icky though they may be, they’re familiar and comfortable in a peculiar sort of way. Look, tens of millions of people elect to live in terribly undesirable environments and life situations, and each for very personal, perhaps even consciously unknown, reasons. As much as we might not understand why these folks don’t opt for change, well, they simply don’t. Their decision, and that’s that.

News flash! I say significant numbers of panic sufferers do the very same thing. And the intentional self-perpetuation of panic stems from reasons well beyond familiarity and comfort. How ‘bout this for starters? If we consume most of our time pondering all things panic we can very effectively keep our minds from ruminating over extraordinarily troubling and painful issues that we really don’t want to acknowledge. So, in effect, we can actually use panic, a painful, but at least familiar phenomenon, to prevent us from confronting these potentially devastating feelings and thoughts; and doing something about them. I suppose you could say panic is the lesser of the two evils.

Another thought. Willful participation in panic may be the only way we know to hold on to items very emotionally tender and valuable from our past. Who knows, maybe a parent suffered from panic; and being consumed by it is a misguided attempt at re-connecting with him/her in an effort to somehow heal some wounds. Perhaps it’s all about trying to make peace with unknown emotional trauma from the past that physically presented in the form of panic, and we’ve unconsciously determined that panic is the only vehicle that can transport us back in time. We believe that particular journey gives us a shot at making things right.

Well, who really knows? Unfortunately, I mean just that. The mysteries of our personal paradox of panic run incredibly deep. But, I think you get the point. Yes, I truly believe we may very well panic for consciously and unconsciously intentional reasons, willfully trading pain for pain. And if we can recognize and accept this dynamic it becomes rather a hopeful notion, because it gives us something tangible with which to work that holds the potential for relief.

I’m asking you to very seriously ponder this psychological contributor to panic attacks. It has the potential to provide a great deal of freedom if you’re willing and courageous enough to travel a bit of rough terrain.

Author's Bio: 

After a winning bout with panic disorder Bill found his life's passion and work. So he earned his counseling credentials and is doing all he can to lend a hand to those having a tough time.

Bill authored a panic attack education and recovery eworkbook entitled, "Panic! ...and Poetic Justice," which is available on his website. And he now has a blog up and running, which is accessible through his website. Lots of good stuff going on and much more to come.