Often panic attacks occur for no apparent reason. Their causes are shrouded in mystery. They can strike unexpectedly, suddenly, spontaneously. That said, panic attacks tend to occur when your are under stress. They can also crop up when you are about to face a situation that you are afraid of, either consciously or unconsciously. That situation could be real or imagined. For instance, you may have a public speech to give and your mind might be working overtime on the (un)likely reaction of your audience. Your fears and phobias are often your worst enemy. They can trigger a panic attack when you least suspect it, with no advance warning. The first thing you’ll know is that the panic attack has started. Which isn’t a pleasant situation to be in. Sometimes panic attacks are associated with hereditary factors. If someone else in your family has suffered from panic attacks then there is a higher chance that you will also suffer from unexpected panic attacks. At other times, life changing situations can bring on the feeling of panic. Often these situations are associated with distress, such as divorce, loss of your job or even moving house, which is said to be one of our most stressful occurrences. As well as these situations, there are other things that contribute to panic attacks. Too much nicotine and/or too much caffeine can both work against you. They are fairly easy to cut down on, although not always as easy to cut out completely. Watch out for withdrawal symptoms, especially with caffeine. Alcohol is another substance that is worth cutting down if you suffer from panic attacks. If you’re out with friends, try alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. If, for instance, every other drink is a juice or a sparkling water, no-one except you will know that there’s no alcohol in the drink.