What is Panic Disorder? According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “panic disorder is diagnosed in people who experience spontaneous, seemingly out of the blue attacks and are preoccupied with the fear of a reoccurring attack. Panic attacks occur unexpectedly, sometimes even during sleep.”
The fear that is felt during a panic attack can last several minutes and is usually unexpected. Most people are visibly distraught after an attack occurs and fear the reoccurrence of another panic attack. Some are so severe that they can be mistaken for a heart attack, leading one to check into a hospital emergency room in hope of finding a physical explanation. Most typically, the patient is administered an anti-anxiety medication by ER staff and told there is nothing physically wrong–that they are suffering from anxiety or stress. Lacking a physical explanation for their panic, feeling different from everyone and wondering “Am I going crazy?” Not getting the help or answers they so desperately need leads to shame, guilt, further avoidance and, quite often, the belief that they are doomed to suffer in silence and are beyond help.
The disorder, if left untreated, not only reinforces continued avoidance of the feared situation (for example, in the case where an attack occurred while driving, you may seek alternative routes or stop driving all together). The anticipation of having another attack may generalize into situations previously not associated with the original fear or panic. This disorder may also lead to Agoraphobia, which is characterized by severe anxiety in situations where an individual feels trapped by their surroundings. Panic sufferers may also experience anticipatory anxiety and generalized anxiety. This disorder can create significant psychological, emotional, and physical distress, as well as avoidance of opportunities personal and professional growth, relationships, and happiness.
Treatment for Panic Disorder
Panic disorder (and other anxiety disorders) require specific targeted interventions that are individually tailored to the needs of the client (as no two clients are alike). It is crucial that you receive the guidance, coaching, and expertise of a mental health professional who “specializes” in treating Panic (and other anxiety disorders), as traditional “talk therapy” is ineffective.
The following approaches are evidence-based and proven as most effective for the relief of Panic (and other disorders). They include:
- Psychoeducational into the nature, cause, and biological basis of Panic.
- Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy which is based on the principle that the only way to overcome Panic is by guided, gradual exposure to the feared event or trigger. While avoidance maintains and increases Panic and often generalizes to new situations, facing your fear eventually desensitizes you to the feared event by reducing the intensity of symptoms and with continued practice can extinguish them all together.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy focuses on challenging (or disputing) negative thoughts and core beliefs that fuel panic and anxieties. Breaking the vicious cycle between maladaptive thoughts and beliefs leads to increased mastery over adaptive behaviors which support healthy functioning.
- Psychodynamic Therapy examines Panic in the context of historical events and relationships that may have played a direct or indirect role in the development of the disorder.
- Self-regulation addresses emotional and behavioral activation which sustains and reinforces anxiety, fear, and Panic. Strategies include, but are not limited to, mindfulness techniques, meditation and visual imagery, corrective breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation
Personalized Approach to Recovery from Panic
As a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist who specializes in treating Panic and other anxiety disorders, I have successfully helped my clients overcome their fears and anxieties to live with hope, courage, joy, and purpose.
Let me do the same for you.
Contact Me Now For More Information: (561) 404-1482
Counseling Center For Growth And Recovery
100 E. Linton Blvd, Suite 155A
Delray Beach, Florida, 33483