|Panic Attacks on Stage Photo by Victor Rodvang on Unsplash|
Panic disorder is characterized by repeated and unexpected panic attacks and includes symptoms such as sweating, chest pain, hot flashes, pounding heart and shortness of breath. Individuals who experience the disorder often live in fear of their next panic attack and its worst-case repercussions. While scientists are yet to fully understand what happens in the brain during panic attacks, research has uncovered some ways in which these attacks affect cognitive functions.
In a 2010 study published in Neuropsychopharmacology, Dr. Lisa M. Shin and Dr. Israel Liberzon contested that, for people with panic disorder, the frontal cortex is ineffective in inhibiting the amygdala, which modulates panic responses and is considered one of the brain's most important elements for processing fear. As a result, their fear network, which also comprises the thalamus, hippocampus and brain stem structures, is hypersensitive to potential panic.