Panic Disorder

     Panic Disorder is characterized, as the name implies, by Panic Attacks. A panic attack is a discrete episode of intense fear or dread in which a person will experience a host of uncomfortable sensations such as:

Palpitations                                
Sweating       
Trembling or shaking                           
Shortness of breath 

Choking feelings

Chest pain

Nausea or upset stomach 

Feeling dizzy

Feelings of unreality or feeling detached from oneself
Numbness or tingling
Chills or hot flushes
Fear of dying
Fear of losing control

      These symptoms come on abruptly, and typically occur ‘out of the blue’. Symptoms peak within 10 minutes, although it may feel like longer.

The person with Panic Disorder experiences recurrent, unexpected panic attacks. In addition,  a panic attack may be followed by a period of having a persistent concern about having another panic attack,  or a worry about the implications of having another attack e.g. losing control, having a heart attack, or    a significant change in behavior because of the panic attacks.

In addition to their panic symptoms, people may also develop Agoraphobia.

      Agoraphobia is defined as a fear of being in places or situations in which escape is perceived as difficult or embarrassing or in which help might not be readily available in the event of an emergency. Common agoraphobic concerns might involve being outside of the house, in a crowded place, bridges or tunnels, and traveling in a bus, train or car. Often times people with agoraphobia can be in these situations only if they are with someone with whom they feel safe. They may also feel safer if they carry certain items such as bottled water, a cell phone or emergency kit.

     Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a widely used treatment for people with panic disorder.  Based on the cognitive behavioral model,  one’s anxiety and panic is reinforced and maintained by scary thoughts and avoidance of objects or situations associated with panic in the past. Therefore therapy will focus on helping a person to change the way they think or react in anxiety provoking situations in order to ultimately feel more comfortable and capable in a variety of previously scary situations.

     One of the most powerful and effective skills that a person with panic disorder can learn is effective deep breathing. As simple as this sounds, people with panic disorder are typically poor 'breathers.' Other skills for dealing with Panic Disorder are learning to recognize the scary thought that reinforces the fear and then learning how to reframe that thought in a more neutral way. Finally, the person with Panic Disorder will start to gradually confront their fears. They will learn how to tolerate their discomfort in frightening situations and eventually appreciate that their fear actually decreases with time and repeated exposure to the anxiety provoking object or situation.

 

If you are interested in an initial evaluation

feel free to call;

Karron at 310 285 2280 or send an e-mail