Panic Disorder Therapy in Alexandria, VA—Counselors and Coaches

Greg was working diligently at his desk one moment, and the next, his chest was pounding. He could not breathe. He could not feel his fingers. Greg wondered if this was a heart attack or if he was dying. After several, awful minutes, the sensations subsided. His coworkers called an ambulance, but Greg did not have a heart attack—he had a panic attack. Ever since that day, he has worried that he will have another.

Without clear reasons and without warning, panic attacks can strike. When they disrupt daily life and/or occur frequently, a panic disorder may have developed. After a panic attack, people are often exhausted and drained. Naturally, they may change their routine in the hopes of avoiding another attack, but doing so means they may also miss out on work, friends, and family. Others may attempt to numb the intense feelings with drugs or alcohol, but these can exacerbate panic attacks.

And yet, panic attacks are responsive to psychological treatment. Under a therapist’s guidance and care, many people have learned how to cope with panic attacks and/or treated their root causes. When people are empowered with coping skills and treatment for past traumas, panic attacks often subside if not abate completely.

Treatment for panic disorders is available at Thriveworks Alexandria. Our therapists can combine various therapeutic techniques to find a treatment plan that is tailored to each client’s needs and symptoms.

Symptoms for a Panic Disorder

Young children and older adults have been diagnosed with panic disorders, but they generally appear when people are in their young adulthood—20s and 30s. Often a period of stress or a particularly stressful situation precedes the first panic attack. Genetics can make a person more susceptible to panic attacks, as can childhood trauma.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) gives the following diagnostics to identify panic disorders (DSM-5 300.01 [F41.0]):

  • When people experience multiple panic attacks (at least two) that strike unexpectedly. The panic attack may cause people intense discomfort and anxiety that escalates for several minutes and then subsides. In particular, the attack must involve at least four of these symptoms to be considers a panic attack:
    • Excessive perspiration
    • Palpitations or escalated heart rate
    • Feeling detached from oneself
    • Trembling or shaking
    • Numbness or tingling sensations
    • Difficulty breathing or feeling choked
    • Feeling smothered
    • Chest pain or tightness
    • Dizziness or faintness
    • Fear of death
    • Hot flashes or chills
    • Fear of losing control or being seen as crazy
    • Abdominal pain or nausea
  • In response to a panic attack (or multiple panic attacks), experiencing either or both of the following for at least one month:
    • Severe worry that another panic attack will occur and/or one will face negative health consequences (e.g., a heart attack) because of a panic attack.
    • Adjustments in one’s everyday routine that try to offset the feelings of panic—hoping to reduce or eliminate the attacks.

Calming Panic Attacks

No one should have to miss out on work achievements, family time, or fun with friends because they are worried about having a panic attack. Psychological treatments have proven effective for many people who fight panic attacks. Various kinds of treatments can be integrated for a tailored treatment plan that meets each person’s unique needs. Such treatments may include:

  • Exposure therapy: This therapy can teach and build people’s coping skills. Under the supervision of a skilled therapist and within a safe environment, people can be exposed to the sensations of a panic attack in order to practice controlled responses. As people learn how to handle the attacks, they may diminish or cease.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: This therapy explores and addresses any root causes for the panic attacks. People may need to adjust negative thought processes or work through childhood trauma. As the causes of the attacks are resolved, they often lessen.
  • Medication: Certain medicines may reduce panic attack symptoms for a period of time that allows cognitive behavior therapy or exposure therapy to be more effective. Medication is most effective when combined with other therapies.

Scheduling Therapy for Panic Disorders

Did any of the diagnostics for panic attacks sound familiar to you? Have you experienced any of those terrible symptoms? Help is available. Thriveworks Alexandria offers therapy for panic disorders, and our therapists are dedicated to finding the right treatment for each client.

If you are ready to live life without the fear of panic attacks, here are some things that you may want to know about scheduling therapy at our office…

  1. New clients often see their counselor the day following their first call.
  2. When you dial our number, a person—not a voicemail—will answer and help you.
  3. Weekend and evening appointments are available.
  4. We accept many forms of insurance.

We want everybody to receive the therapy they need, and our counselors are ready to help. Call today.

Thriveworks Counseling
6076 Franconia Rd, Suite D
Alexandria, VA 22310

Tel : (703) 828-9054

Mon-Fri: 8AM-9PM
Sat-Sun: 8AM-5PM

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