How The Brain’s Fear and Threat Centers Backfire during a Panic Attack

What’s really happening in your brain when you have a panic attack?  The amygdala, made up of compact neuron clusters, is the center for emotions, motivation, and emotional behavior, but is perhaps best known for its role in fear and aggression. One theory of panic attacks and panic disorder is that both stem from abnormal activity within this cluster of nerves. A review of existing research, published in 2012, cites several animal studies that link stimulation of the amygdala to behavior analogous to human panic attacks. When our defense mechanisms malfunction, exaggeration of the threat may result, leading to increased anxiety and panic, according to Dean Mobbs, a researcher at Columbia University.


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