Panic attacks, panic disorder and agoraphobia
Symptoms of panic disorder / Treatment of panic disorder
Panic attacks involve a sudden increase in anxiety they can be frightening and overwhelming when you experience them. Your heart pounds, you might have difficulty breathing, your palms may be sweaty and you might feel dizzy. Some people feel like they're having a heart attack or they’re going crazy. Some common symptoms of a panic attack include:
Heart palpitations or accelerated heart rate
Shortness of breath
Trembling or shaking
Feeling detached or as though things are unreal
Dizziness or feeling unsteady
Fear of losing control, dying or going crazy
Panic attacks when they are left untreated can lead to panic disorder which is the term given for frequent panic attacks and an ongoing fear of panic attacks occurring. People with panic disorder tend to modify their behaviour to avoid situations that may lead to a panic attack. Some people develop agoraphobia after having frequent panic attacks. This is the fear of having a panic attack in a public or enclosed space where escape would be difficult or embarrassing. Agoraphobia can lead to avoidance of leaving home, being out in public or travelling in a lift, plane or another confined space.
Panic attacks often occur out of the blue and there seems to be no real cause for the attack. However, panic attacks can be also linked to major life change such as finishing school and starting work, going through a divorce or having a baby. Panic attacks can also be triggered through medical causes or conditions so if you have had several panic attacks it’s important to have a medical check up to rule out any physical causes.
Most panic however has a psychological basis and is very treatable using therapy and self help techniques. Select Counsellors can help you find a counsellor who specialises in the treatment of panic and is the best fit for you
Treatment for panic attacks and panic disorder
Therapy is widely considered the most effective treatment for panic attacks, panic disorder and agoraphobia. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is one type of therapy commonly used to treat panic. CBT is based on psychological principles that suggest changing a way a person thinks will result in change for that person at an emotional and behavioural level. CBT focuses on three aspects of treatment for panic attacks:
Exposure which involves being exposed to the situation you are anxious about in a gradual, step by step way without avoiding it.
Challenge your negative thoughts and fears and look at the thinking patterns that may be creating and sustaining your panic attacks. You will learn to look at situations in a more realistic rather than negative way.
Managing the physical symptoms using relaxation and breathing techniques and you will learn to better control the physical symptoms.
Medication for panic attacks and panic disorder
Medication is sometimes used for panic disorder in conjunction with therapy. Medication alone does not cure panic attacks as it doesn’t get to the cause of the issues.
Some medications that are used are:
Antidepressants are sometimes used for panic disorder however they take several weeks to take effect and need to be taken continuously not just during panic attacks.
Benzodiazepines are generally only used for severe, paralyzing bouts of anxiety. They are quick acting usually within 30 minutes and provide rapid relief however there are some drawbacks such as physical and psychological dependence and therefore are not used commonly.
Adapted from helpguide.org
Recovery from panic attacks, panic disorder and agoraphobia
It’s good to know that recovery from panic disorder is possible with the right treatment. Therapy is widely considered the most effective treatment for panic disorder.
Did you realise research has shown that the relationship between you and your counsellor is one of the most important elements for a successful outcome? How do you know if the counsellor you find will be the best fit for you?
Select Counsellors provides a unique client counsellor matching service to ensure you see the right counsellor for you, first time. We have a pool of highly trained Sydney based counsellors, psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists and will match you with the right therapist based on important information collected in a personalised assessment about you and your needs. At Select Counsellors our key priority is Finding you the One. To book an assessment click here or call on 1300 123 680 to speak in person with a Select Counsellor.
Click on the links below to find out more information on anxiety:
The Helpful Guide