PANIC ATTACKS & PANIC DISORDERS TREATMENT
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Managing Panic Attacks & Disorders: Treatment and Therapy
If you have ever had a panic attack, it’s not something that you soon forget — from the intense fear and heart palpitations, to the sweating and trembling. However, a panic disorder is a little different. It refers to recurring panic attacks that are typically followed by excessive worrying about having another one and/or one with more dire consequences. As a result, the person may temper certain activities that can possibly bring on another episode, from being in public places to avoiding exercise, and so forth. It can range in severity from mild to severe in how it affects the individual’s daily life and behaviours. Physical symptoms of a panic attack can include:
Feelings of impending doom or danger
Feelings of loss of control
Pounding or racing heart
Sweating, trembling or shaking
Shortness of breath
Tingling or numb hands
Tightness in your throat and/or chest
Shivering or chills
Stomach pain or nausea
Managing Panic Attacks & Disorders Treatment
By itself, panic attacks aren’t life-threatening — they are a fight or flight response to an emotional trigger. However, they can be quite frightening. Underlying causes can include: genetics, major life stresses or changes (new baby, divorce, job loss, death of a loved one or pet), a traumatic event, lifestyle habits (ie. excess caffeine, alcohol, or smoking), hormonal imbalances, and even the nuances of our nervous system or brain functions.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an excellent first-line treatment and can help you alter the way you react to situations of stress or fear. It teaches you healthier ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving when you are faced with the familiar sensations that lead to a panic attack. Mindfulness, such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation, journal writing, guided imagery and more can calm your body and offset a potential attack. Anti-anxiety medications and supplements may also be considered to mitigate symptoms. There is a lot that can help — the first step is reaching out.
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FAQs – Panic Attacks & Panic Disorders
What causes a panic disorder?
There are various factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing a panic disorder. These include having a family history of panic disorders or attacks, undergoing major life stress(es), or experiencing a traumatic event.
What’s the difference between a panic attack and anxiety?
Panic attacks tend to come on suddenly (and often unexpectedly) and can be intense — like a wave that rises, hits a peak, and then slowly reduces. General anxiety is less intense and often builds more gradually. However, panic disorders can be also categorized as anxiety disorders.
What’s the difference between a panic attack and panic disorder?
Panic attacks can happen to anyone, but having a second one a few weeks to a month later, may be an indication of panic disorder. Note: a panic attack may be related to a different disorder, such as social phobia or depression. The good news is that it is treatable with the right therapeutic support.
How do I know if I’m having a panic attack?
A panic attack frequently feels like impending doom and a loss of control. You may experience a racing heart rate, trembling, sweating, chills, breathing issues, dizziness, numbness, weakness, stomach pain, chest pain, or nausea.
Does a panic disorder ever go away?
With therapy, a panic disorder and associated symptoms may decrease within weeks. However, typically, it takes months to notice a significant reduction in your symptoms.
Are panic disorders genetic?
While the exact cause of a panic disorder isn’t known, panic disorders and anxiety tend to run in the family. This means that if you have a family history of anxiety or panic disorders, you may be more likely to develop a panic disorder as well.
Can I prevent a panic disorder?
There is no way to entirely prevent a panic disorder or a panic attack. However, getting the right treatment can help it from worsening, as well as reduce its frequency. Over time, you may experience fewer or no panic attacks. At the Bhatia Psychology Group, we can help you find healthy coping mechanisms to address your panic disorder.
Can you overcome a panic disorder without medication?
Absolutely. Through therapy, we work on modifying your thoughts, feelings, behaviours, and lifestyle. In fact, usually, treatment begins without medication. If symptoms continue to get worse or don’t improve after some time, you may explore adding medication while you continue your therapy.
Do panic disorders get worse with age?
Not necessarily. Yet, anxiety becomes more common as you age. However, anyone can experience anxiety at any age.
How can I overcome a panic disorder?
Therapy is a great place to start. With Bhatia Psychology Group, we have therapists who can help you navigate your panic disorder and help you establish healthy coping mechanisms. Contact us today to book your appointment.