Joe worked attentively at his desk one day when out of the blue, he started sweating and his heart raced. Joe’s arms felt tingly, and his chest tightened. He thought he was having a heart attack and might die. His coworkers called an ambulance, and the symptoms subsided within a few minutes. Not a heart attack, Joe had a panic attack. Even though his symptoms passed, Joe has not been able to shake that day. He worries constantly that it will happen again, and when he is honest about it, Joe feels a little embarrassed.
Panic attacks can occur without warning and without an apparent reason. When people experience one or more panic attacks, they may disrupt their daily routine in order to avoid another attack, but in doing so, they also avoid a lot of life—family, friends, work. Others turn to alcohol or drugs in an attempt to numb the intense emotions that come with panic attacks, but these usually worsen symptoms.
When people experience multiple panic attacks or have disrupted their life to avoid an attack, they may have a panic disorder, and effective psychological treatments are available for a panic disorder. With a skilled counselor, many people have learned coping skilled for panic and worked through past traumas. They have seen the severity and the frequency of panic attacks abate or be completely eliminated.
The therapist at Thriveworks Blacksburg have worked with many clients are battling a panic disorder. We know how to integrate different techniques to form a treatment plan that is individualized to each client’s particular symptoms and needs.
Signs of a Panic Disorder
Panic disorders usually surface when people are young adults in their 20s and 30s, although older adults and even young children have experienced a panic disorder. A particularly stressful time or situation often foreshadows the first panic attack. People who have experienced childhood trauma are more susceptible to a panic disorder, and a genetic predisposition may also increase a person’s risk for a panic disorder.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) further qualifies the diagnostics of a panic disorder (DSM-5 300.01 [F41.0]):
- When a person experiences more than one panic attack that strikes without warning and without apparent cause. The attacks cause severe emotional and physical discomfort that intensifies for several minutes and then abates. Specifically, the attack must have a minimum of four of the following:
- Abdominal pain or nausea
- Sweating profusely
- Fear of losing control or being seen as crazy
- Palpitations or escalated heart beat
- Chills or hot flashes
- Feeling detached from oneself
- Trembling or shaking
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Fear of dying
- Difficulty breathing or feeling choked
- Feeling smothered/tightened chest
- Dizziness or faintness
- Chest pain or tightness
- In response to these panic attacks, experiencing—for a period of at least one month—either or both of the following:
- Changing one’s daily schedule to offset the possibility of having a panic attack.
- Severe anxiety that another panic attack will happen and/or one will have similar, negative health consequences (e.g., a heart attack).
Coping with Panic Attacks
What if panic attacks or fear of having a panic attack did not keep you from family time, work achievements, or your social life. Panic disorders are often responsive to psychological treatments. Often, counselors integrate several types of treatment to find personalized care:
- Exposure therapy: This therapy focuses upon normalizing the sensations of panic and building coping skills to manage the panic. In a safe space and with a professional’s supervision, people can be exposed to things that they fear and practice controlling their response.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: This therapy examines any foundational causes of the panic. People may have unresolved trauma, or they may have developed negative coping habits. These past experiences or thought processes may be triggering the panic attacks, but they can be addressed and resolved.
- Medication: When combined with exposure therapy or cognitive behavior therapy, medications can reduce symptoms and allow these therapies to be more effective.
Setting Up Therapy for Panic Disorders at Thriveworks Blacksburg, VA
Did the signs of panic disorders resonate with you? Have you experienced a panic attack? Thriveworks Blacksburg offers therapy for panic disorders because we do not want anyone to live with or live in fear of panic attacks. We are committed to tailoring treatment plans to fit each client’s needs.
We are also committed to making the process of scheduling therapy as easy as possible. When you are ready to find treatment for your panic attacks, know that Thriveworks offers evening and weekend sessions. New clients frequently see their therapist the day after their call. We also work with many insurance carriers.
Are you ready to treat your panic attacks? Call today at:(540) 376-3348.