The root cause of panic attacks and panic disorder is not totally understood, although scientists believe there are a number of possible contributing factors. Genetics, major life changes, the use of certain stimulant medications, and medical conditions like hyperthyroidism may have an impact on panic attacks and panic disorder. Additionally, nutritional deficiencies like magnesium deficiency may also play a contributing role, according to Dr. Michael B. Schachter in an article for his website.

Function of Magnesium

Magnesium is a crucial mineral required for numerous physical and mental processes. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, magnesium is required for proper kidney and cardiovascular functioning, energy production and regulation of calcium levels in your body 2. Most people do not have an adequate dietary intake of magnesium. A deficiency of magnesium may cause a number of physical and mental problems, such as:

  • sleep disorders
  • nausea
  • abnormal heart rhythms
  • hyperventilation
  • anxiety

People who suffer from panic disorder, a type of anxiety disorder, may suffer from reduced levels of magnesium.

About Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are uncontrollable episodes of intense anxiety, terror and dread, resulting in physical and mental symptoms. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, physical symptoms of panic attacks can resemble those of a heart attack and include:

  • sweating
  • heart palpitations
  • shortness of breath
  • trembling
  • chest pain
  • abdominal cramping
  • hyperventilation

Mental symptoms of panic attacks include feeling as though your life is being threatened, even though there may be no apparent cause, intense fear, a sense of depersonalization or as though you're somehow outside of your body and a feeling that you're losing your mind or going crazy.

Magnesium Benefits for Panic Attacks

However, there are surprisingly little studies to confirm the benefits of magnesium for panic attacks 3. Most studies have shown the benefits of magnesium and magnesium combined with other nutrients and minerals for generalized anxiety disorder. According to Dr. S. A. Rogers in a 1996 article in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, despite the fact that magnesium-deficiency symptoms include increased anxiety and panic attacks, a National Institutes of Health Consensus Statement did not include nutrient deficiency as a possible factor in diagnosis 4. Clearly, more research is needed on the benefits of this mineral for those suffering from panic disorder.


It's important to obtain a proper diagnosis if you think you may be suffering from panic disorder. Many health conditions can mimic the symptoms of panic disorder. According to Dr. Schachter, oral supplementation of magnesium may help panic disorder; however, you should consult your doctor before taking a magnesium supplement. It may be possible for you to obtain an adequate supply of magnesium from dietary sources by increasing your intake of foods such as:

  • tofu
  • bananas
  • almonds
  • walnuts
  • legumes
  • leafy green vegetables

Magnesium supplements can cause undesirable interactions with certain prescription medications.