The primary cause is in the way we breathe but breathing exercises alone often take too long to handle the cause so it is often best to include techniques that free up and rebalance the breathing mechanics as trained in our Optimal Breathing Kit.
"Panic attacks often result from problems with the brain pathways that control for the acquisition of conditioned fear. Conditioned fear involves regions of the brain such as the amygdala, the brain stem, the hippocampus and parts of the pre-frontal cortex. This is pretty much all the major brain regions which may account for the confusion and overwhelming emotions during fear and panic". Sinha, S., Laszlo, A. & Gorman, J. (2000). Journal of Affective Disorders. Vol 61(3), 191-200.
So the motor re-learning needs to last often and long enough for the pathways to be what I call "regrooved".
"Certain breathing changes, difficult to explain otherwise, could represent conditioned responses to stimuli that either carry the signal of threat themselves or were associated with a threat signal" (Christopher Gilbert)
Fight or flight breathing patterns are pretty well known about these days. They can be changed so that the nervous system inviting one's over reactions, calms down.
~~Most people have a hand preference - we are generally either right handed or left handed. But some people show no preference and are referred to as mixed handed. Adolescents with mixed-handedness are more prone to trauma symptoms and panic disorders. Chemtob, C. et al. (2001). Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, Vol 189(1), 58-60.
So what we do to reduce and eliminate anxiety and panic attacks is reestablish or strengthen neural pathways with selected breathing development techniques and exercises for enhanced motor learning.
The techniques and any other needed holistic aspects magnify the effectiveness of the exercises. They accelerate one's progress and are much better then just the exercises alone and often spell the difference between success or failure in the short or long term.