One can’t undermine the fact that panic attacks can be jeopardizing. However, most people out there are not aware about the root cause of the problem. What people do not realize is that panic attack is the body’s way of reacting to excessive stress and anxiety. Living under fear or being afraid of something is nothing short of inviting troubles into your life. As such, there are truckloads of factors that can trigger panic attacks in an individual’s life.
If you have already fallen prey to panic attack then you must be aware how scary it can be. Racing heart beat, rising blood sugar level, tightening of the chest muscles are some of the most common symptoms a victim experiences while being engulfed with panic attack. Individuals experiencing panic attack for the very first time will most likely lose control over their mind and body. The overwhelming emotions and actions will leave them speechless and clueless about their condition for quite some time, until the symptoms of the attack fades away. You might be surprised to know that some individuals may experience panic attack by simply thinking about it.
If you are an individual who has some kind of phobia, you are more prone to experience panic attacks in your life. For instance, the mere sight of deep water can send shivers down your spine. As soon as you reach the top floor of your building, you will see yourself in a state of total disbelief and horror. The moment you step inside the airplane, your heart beat shoots up. All these are instances of phobia that can lead to the arrival of panic attacks. The best way to deal with these situations is to avoid the factors that trigger the condition or to overcome the phobia. Either ways, you will be able to deal with panic attacks.
Social anxiety disorder is another root cause of panic attacks. Let’s say you are a type of individual who is a cleanliness freak. You cannot stand dirt and unclean environment at any cost. Some day, you find yourself getting up late for the office. In your haste to reach the office on time, you wear your shoes without doing a formal check. After you take a few steps, you realize that there was a small insect that got crushed within your feet due it’s presence inside the shoes. Such situations can take you completely off guard and your body might react to these situations with a panic attack. Its like living with your worst fears, isn’t it? You have to overcome your fear in order to stay immune to these situations in life.
There have been cases where panic attacks were also induced by medications. Certain medications can upset your body, and thereby lead to panic attacks, which is why it’s often recommended to take any kind of drug only after consulting a doctor, especially if you are suffering from a medical problem.
In medicine, it’s easy to understand the difference between treating the symptoms and curing the condition. A broken wrist, for example, really hurts! But painkillers will only take away the symptoms; you’ll need a different treatment to help your bones heal properly.
But what do you do when you have a problem at work? Do you jump straight in and treat the symptoms, or do you stop to consider whether there’s actually a deeper problem that needs your attention? If you only fix the symptoms – what you see on the surface – the problem will almost certainly return, and need fixing over, and over again.
However, if you look deeper to figure out what’s causing the problem, you can fix the underlying systems and processes so that it goes away for good.
Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a popular and often-used technique that helps people answer the question of why the problem occurred in the first place. It seeks to identify the origin of a problem using a specific set of steps, with associated tools, to find the primary cause of the problem, so that you can:
- Determine what happened.
- Determine why it happened.
- Figure out what to do to reduce the likelihood that it will happen again.
RCA assumes that systems and events are interrelated. An action in one area triggers an action in another, and another, and so on. By tracing back these actions, you can discover where the problem started and how it grew into the symptom you’re now facing.
You’ll usually find three basic types of causes:
Physical causes – Tangible, material items failed in some way (for example, a car’s brakes stopped working).
Human causes – People did something wrong, or did not do something that was needed. Human causes typically lead to physical causes (for example, no one filled the brake fluid, which led to the brakes failing).
Organizational causes – A system, process, or policy that people use to make decisions or do their work is faulty (for example, no one person was responsible for vehicle maintenance, and everyone assumed someone else had filled the brake fluid).
RCA looks at all three types of causes. It involves investigating the patterns of negative effects, finding hidden flaws in the system, and discovering specific actions that contributed to the problem. This often means that RCA reveals more than one root cause.
You can apply RCA to almost any situation. Determining how far to go in your investigation requires good judgment and common sense. Theoretically, you could continue to trace root causes back to the Stone Age, but the effort would serve no useful purpose. Be careful to understand when you’ve found a significant cause that can, in fact, be changed.
The Root Cause Analysis Process
RCA has five identifiable steps.
Step One: Define the Problem
- What do you see happening?
- What are the specific symptoms?
Step Two: Collect Data
- What proof do you have that the problem exists?
- How long has the problem existed?
- What is the impact of the problem?
You need to analyze a situation fully before you can move on to look at factors that contributed to the problem. To maximize the effectiveness of your RCA, get together everyone – experts and front line staff – who understands the situation. People who are most familiar with the problem can help lead you to a better understanding of the issues.
A helpful tool at this stage is CATWOE . With this process, you look at the same situation from different perspectives: the Customers, the people (Actors) who implement the solutions, the Transformation process that’s affected, the World view, the process Owner, and Environmental constraints.
Step Three: Identify Possible Causal Factors
- What sequence of events leads to the problem?
- What conditions allow the problem to occur?
- What other problems surround the occurrence of the central problem?
During this stage, identify as many causal factors as possible. Too often, people identify one or two factors and then stop, but that’s not sufficient. With RCA, you don’t want to simply treat the most obvious causes – you want to dig deeper.
Use these tools to help identify causal factors:
Appreciation – Use the facts and ask “So what?” to determine all the possible consequences of a fact.
5 Whys – Ask “Why?” until you get to the root of the problem.
Drill Down – Break down a problem into small, detailed parts to better understand the big picture.
Cause and Effect Diagrams – Create a chart of all of the possible causal factors, to see where the trouble may have begun.
Step Four: Identify the Root Cause(s)
- Why does the causal factor exist?
- What is the real reason the problem occurred?
Use the same tools you used to identify the causal factors (in Step Three) to look at the roots of each factor. These tools are designed to encourage you to dig deeper at each level of cause and effect.
Step Five: Recommend and Implement Solutions
- What can you do to prevent the problem from happening again?
- How will the solution be implemented?
- Who will be responsible for it?
- What are the risks of implementing the solution?
Analyze your cause-and-effect process, and identify the changes needed for various systems. It’s also important that you plan ahead to predict the effects of your solution. This way, you can spot potential failures before they happen.
One way of doing this is to use Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA). This tool builds on the idea of risk analysis to identify points where a solution could fail. FMEA is also a great system to implement across your organization; the more systems and processes that use FMEA at the start, the less likely you are to have problems that need RCA in the future.
Impact Analysis is another useful tool here. This helps you explore possible positive and negative consequences of a change on different parts of a system or organization.
Another great strategy to adopt is Kaizen , or continuous improvement. This is the idea that continual small changes create better systems overall. Kaizen also emphasizes that the people closest to a process should identify places for improvement. Again, with Kaizen alive and well in your company, the root causes of problems can be identified and resolved quickly and effectively.