Have you experienced the intense terror of a panic attack? Have you had that overwhelming feeling of a rapid heart rate, racing thoughts, sweating, and disorientation? You might have even felt like you would throw up or pass out. Do you feel anxiety when you remember or anticipate that choking feeling or the chest pain and dizziness? If so, you are probably familiar with some of the other symptoms of panic, including nausea, chills, hot flashes, numbness, feelings of detachment, and feelings of being smothered, and fear of dying.
Panic attacks can feel isolating, but they are more common than most people think. Panic is a form of anxiety and it is a biological and psychological response to fear, often fear of the unknown or to something in the environment. However, panic attacks aren’t always a response to our external environment, but can actually be a response to physical symptoms such as an increased heart rate or sweating. People often experience these physical symptoms, which are uncomfortable, and the physical symptoms themselves lead to anxiety, causing a full-blown panic attack. This is one of the many reasons why panic attacks can’t be treated the same way general anxiety is treated. Treatment needs to address the physical symptoms so you learn how to stop them from escalating into a panic attack.
If you have been experiencing panic attacks, you may feel a lack of control over your life, thoughts, and feelings. Enough episodes like this can be distressing and destructive to your job, academics, social life and sense of wellbeing. Panic is a normal human response, and is usually diagnosed along with other disorders, especially anxiety, depression, traumatic stress, and substance use. However, repeated panic attacks and a fear of having future panic attacks can become panic disorder. You might even want to stop going out in public or try to relieve the feelings of panic with drugs or alcohol.
Regain Control of Your Life
Panic attacks are highly treatable. Therapy sessions with our anxiety specialists will help you understand the symptoms of panic better while learning to both tolerate and reduce them. Often panic attacks resolve after only a few sessions, though everyone is different and some people will need longer-term therapy.
Because everyone is different, our therapists will work together with you to determine the best treatment plan for your individual needs. A combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness Based Therapy often very effective, but there is no one size fits all approach. CBT will help you identify thoughts that provoke or maintain anxiety and help you develop healthier, less distressing thoughts in response to the same panic triggers so that you remain in control of them. Mindfulness Based Therapy can help you slow down your thoughts and tolerate difficult experiences so they are less distressing.
Often, panic treatment will include exposure work. This means deliberately exposing yourself to panic sensations, such as an increased heart rate, etc. while in session and learning the skills to manage the symptoms when they come up outside of sessions. If this sounds intimidating, it doesn’t need to be. Our anxiety specialists will make sure that we move at your pace so you’re always in charge and ready for the next step. This is your therapy and we will decide together with you how to tackle your panic.
Medication for Panic Attacks
In some cases, we might recommend medication for your panic. If medication is warranted, our board certified child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist and, our psychiatric nurse practitioner will help you determine the best medication for your individual needs. Research shows that medication for panic is most effective when paired with psychotherapy as medication will only mask the symptoms, and therapy can provide lasting relief so you may not need medication or therapy in the long-term.
Schedule an Appointment
The most important thing to remember about panic attacks is that, however scary or upsetting they might be, there are highly effective ways to treat them. You’ve come to the right place. We can help you regain control so you can feel happy, relaxed and free again. Schedule an appointment with an anxiety specialist today.
Still have questions about panic treatment? We can discuss your specific situation and whether anxiety treatment might benefit you. Schedule a free 15-minute consultation or your first appointment with an anxiety specialist through our secure Client Portal or contact us.