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Panic Symptoms Secondary to Another Problem?

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Does it ever happen that panic attacks (and by extension, panic disorder) develop from another condition? I started having panic attacks about eight months ago with varying frequency and intensity. I’ve never had some of the most common complaints, like feelings of choking or having a heart attack. Mostly I get very dizzy and spacey, along with a panicked feeling of course. It’s sometimes hard to follow conversations or even keep my balance. I’ve also started having blurry vision (akin to nearsightedness) and sometimes cloudy vision. More recently I’ve been getting shaky too. It used to be a slight tremble at most, but now I occasionally have people ask me if I’m alright or comment that it’s not that cold out because I look like I’m shivering. This doesn’t necessarily happen during a panic attack either. Sometimes I’ll be laying in bed trying sleep or driving to work when it happens. I know these things can be symptoms of panic and are common side effects of medications, but they don’t seem to correlate with changes in dosage or starting/stopping a med. In addition, I’m just wondering (maybe even hoping) if it’s not uncommon for people to have panic attacks as a result of other underlying issues. I’m going back to get blood tests done soon (my gp has been on me about it for months, but it’s hard to find a day that I’m both off work and also feeling up to it). Last time I had them done everything was more or less normal, but that was over a year before all this started. I keep telling myself that there must be something else causing me to feel this way, because like I said, I don’t seem to experience panic attacks quite the same as most people. It’s also concerning that my prescribed benzodiazepine stops the panic, but a lot of the other symptoms persist (like the blurry vision, dizziness, and extreme fatigue despite it being the smallest dose). Is this something that happens with any kind of frequency? In truth, I’m sort of hoping there’s something else going on that is a little more… definitive, if that makes sense. Thanks.

Panic Symptoms Secondary to Another Problem?

Answered by on -


My experience in working with panic attacks over the past several decades is that they always seem to happen around a loss or a perceived loss. The seeming randomness often gives way to a realization that a separation or loss — real or imagined — may be coming. I do not know if this is happening with you, but I would say to continue the line of treatment you are following and perhaps find a therapist familiar with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT is an effective form of treatment regardless of the source of the panic and is readily available.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Panic Symptoms Secondary to Another Problem?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Panic Symptoms Secondary to Another Problem?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 18 Dec 2018 (Originally: 19 Dec 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 18 Dec 2018
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