The symptoms of panic attacks and panic disorder can be very distressing and frightening, especially as they are often completely unexpected and develop abruptly. Panic attacks can strike while shopping, walking down the street, driving or even relaxing at home. Given this dynamic, it can affect emotional well-being quite negatively. In order to regain their health and quality of life, many people turn to counseling for panic attacks or panic disorder therapy.
Panic attacks peak after 10 minutes and last between 5 and 20 minutes, but can last longer in some cases. The frequency with which panic attacks occur varies from person to person: from one or two attacks a month to several times a week. According to the DSM 5, symptoms of panic attacks are:
- Shortness of breath or hyperventilation
- Palpitations or a racing heart
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Trembling or shaking
- Choking or smothering feeling
- Feeling unreal or detached
- Nausea or upset stomach
- Feeling dizzy or faint
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Fear of losing control, going crazy or dying
It is due to the intensity of these symptoms – particularly the feelings of fear and terror – that many people with panic disorder are unable to relax between attacks. Panic disorder develops if, alongside repeated panic attacks, one or both of the following symptoms are present:
- Persistent worrying about having another panic attack
- Significant and maladaptive changes in behavior, such as avoiding places where previous attacks happened
Constant worry creates a cycle of living in “fear of fear”, which reinforces panic and anxiety. The emotional toll of this anticipatory anxiety is great and may disrupt one’s functioning on a day-to-day basis, even endangering their most intimate relationships.
Within counseling for panic attacks or panic disorder therapy, a qualified counselor/therapist can help the sufferer understand what’s happening to them, change some of their habits or practices that reinforce their condition, learn methods and techniques of controlling attack or coping with them more efficiently, or, if need be, prescribe medication.
If needed, the first step towards getting better is to get in touch with us – we can provide you with more information or schedule a session with our panic attack disorder therapists at Thriveworks Counseling in Greensboro, NC.