Study Highlights Common Trait in People with Panic, Phobias

by on April 28, 2014

Panic and Phobia AttentionAnxiety disorders often share symptoms and characteristics. People who have anxiety disorders tend to feel nervous or worried more often than people who do not suffer from anxiety issues.

People who have panic attacks or phobias may share even more. Keep reading to learn about the individual illnesses and how people who have them may be alike.

Panic Attacks

Panic attacks occur suddenly and cause you to feel a great deal of discomfort. The symptoms associated with a panic attack vary, but they usually include the following:

  • chest pain or tightness
  • difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
  • a fear of “going crazy” or losing control
  • rapid heartbeat
  • perspiration
  • a feeling of unreality

Considering the combination of physical and mental symptoms, it is hardly surprising that many people who have panic attacks find them frightening.


A phobia is a fear that is so intense and severe it can have serious negative effects on the quality of your life. People can develop a phobia of basically anything, but some of the most common include snakes, insects, germs and heights.

Some phobias have more potential than others to cause a disruption in your life. A fear of germs, for example, could make it difficult for you to be around groups of people or eat food prepared by others. A fear of snakes, on the other hand, might not cause you too many difficulties if you live in an area with few of the creatures.

Where Panic and Phobias Meet

A study by Drs. Ehlers and Breuer examined the similarities between people with unpredictable panic attacks and people with phobias.

The researchers found that people who have sporadic panic attacks and people with phobias may be more sensitive than the average person to threats in their environment. This means that people who suffer from panic attacks and people with phobias may be more likely to notice something that has the potential to cause harm.

Although people with certain anxiety disorders (such as generalized anxiety disorder) still display increased attention to outside stimuli, they were not shown to register physical threats as quickly as people with panic or phobias. In fact, the study found that people with generalized anxiety reacted to simulated threats in the same way as people who were healthy (i.e., non-anxious).

If you are curious about what else the researchers found in the study mentioned above, follow the link to read more.

Photo Credit: peteSwede via Compfight cc

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