Kara was enjoying a relaxing Saturday morning, making brunch with her family one minute when out of the blue, her chest began constricting. Kara was sweating profusely and felt like her temperature skyrocketed. She was shaking and could barely breathe. Her husband called an ambulance, wondering if she was having a stroke. As the paramedics arrived, the symptoms eased and then stopped. No, Kara did not have a stroke. It was a panic attack.
With no clear trigger and with no advanced alert, panic can strike. If panic attacks occur repeated, then people may struggle with a panic disorder.
Have you ever had a panic attack? If so, you know how devastating they can be. Understandably, many people rearrange their lives to avoid them. They may stay home or avoid certain people and places. While attempting to avoid the attack, however, they also miss out on fun times with loved one or professional opportunities. Others turn to drugs or alcohol in hopes of easing the pain and discomfort, but these can make the attacks worse. Psychological treatments have proven effective in soothing panic attacks and usually allow people to maintain their normal, daily schedule.
Thriveworks Allentown offers therapy for panic disorders because our counselors understand the harm panic attacks can cause, and we want our clients to find the right treatment for their symptoms and needs so they can live free from panic.
Panic Disorder Symptoms
Panic attacks pose a serious mental and physical health risk, and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) recognizes that when they occur repeatedly, they may become a psychiatric disorder—panic disorder (DSM-5 300.01 [F41.0]). The following are symptoms of a panic disorder:
- A panic disorder may develop when repeated (at least two) and unexpected panic attacks strike a person. These panic attacks involve experiences of anxiety, fear, and discomfort that escalate for several minutes and then wane, and at least four of the following must be present:
- Excessive perspiration
- Fear of losing control or going crazy
- Palpitations or rapid heart beat
- Fear of death
- Trembling or shaking
- Detachment from oneself
- Dizziness or faintness
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Hot flashes or chills
- A choking feeling
- Shortened breath or feeling smothered
- Chest constriction, discomfort, or pain
- For a time period of at least one month after the panic attack(s), also experiencing one or both of the following:
- Adjusting everyday habits, trying to mitigate or avoid an attack.
- Worrying extensively about when or where another attack might occur and/or worrying extensively about another, similar health problem occurring, such as a stroke or heart attack.
In order for a panic disorder to be diagnosed, the panic attacks cannot be caused by another physical health problem, mental health disorder, or drug use.
Psychological Interventions to Soothe a Panic Disorder
Panic disorders are usually responsive to psychological interventions that are tailored to an individual’s need. A skilled counselor can combine different therapies to find the right formula that meets each person’s symptoms and need. Those interventions may include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): The goal of CBT is to resolve and replace any negative thought patterns that may be leading to the panic attacks. Often, negative thinking begins in response to a trauma or difficult life experience. A skilled counselor can help people work through the trauma and move passed it.
- Medication: Medicine may allay the panic attacks so that other therapies become more effective. It is hard to work through past trauma when current panic is disrupting life. Medications such as benzodiazepines and antidepressants may help.
- Exposure therapy: Within a safe place and under a certified therapist’s instruction, being exposed to the feeling of panic may normalize it and help people build coping skills. When people are not affair of the attack and know how to response to it, the attacks often subside and may even stop completely.
Appointments for Panic Disorder Therapy at Thriveworks Allentown, PA
Maybe you have experienced one panic attack or maybe multiple panic attacks have struck. Either way, the professionals at Thriveworks Allentown are ready to help you live in freedom—not fear. We have appointments for panic disorder available, and our therapists formulate individual, holistic treatments plans that meet each client’s needs and symptoms.
If you are dealing with panic attacks, life is hard enough—scheduling therapy should be easy. When you call our office, a person will answer, and new clients can often see their counselor the following day. We do not keep a waitlist, but we want our clients to get the help they need as soon as possible. We also work with most major health insurance providers.
Do you want to live in freedom from panic? Call Thriveworks Allentown today. We are ready to help.