Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors

"Is there a physical cause of anxiety attacks?"

ZocdocAnswersIs there a physical cause of anxiety attacks?


My girlfriend seems to get anxiety attacks a lot, like out of nowhere. Is there something wrong with her body? Can being sick or having something wrong with your body cause anxiety attacks?


Anxiety and panic attacks are a very common problem that tend to occur often in young women. There is almost never a physical cause or underlying condition that is responsible for these panic attacks. They are most often considered a psychiatric problem that is contained within the brain. Panic or anxiety attacks are often associated with depression or another mood disturbance. In some cases, panic attacks can be so severe that they can prevent someone from leaving there home out of fear of having an attack in public. When this happens, we call this panic attacks with agoraphobia (fear of open places). In any case, the attacks should be treated because they can be very detrimental to the effected persons quality of life. Fortunately, we have some great medications for panic attacks. The best medication is a class called the SSRIs (examples include Prozac, Celexa, Zoloft, and Paxil). After about a month of taking these medications daily, the panic attacks often completely go away. Some physicians will also prescribe an anti-anxiety medication such as Xanax. I prefer to stay away from these medications because they can be addictive. The best type of physician for your girlfriend to see is a psychiatrist. This type of doctor will know what type of medication will be best for her and will be able to monitor her progress. Thanks for the question.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.