Panic Disorders in Short Pump, VA—Therapy and Counseling

Liz was sleeping sweetly one evening when all of a sudden she wasn’t. She woke with a knot in her stomach and an elephant on her chest. Liz was perspiring and breathing heavily even though she had just been relaxed and asleep. Her heart raced. Right before she was ready to call an ambulance, the feelings faded. Did she have a heart attack or a stroke? Liz decided to go see the doctor in the morning, and there, she found out that this was a panic attack.

People can suffer from panic attacks without warning and without a discernable reason. When they occur repeatedly and disrupt daily life, they may have become a panic disorder. Panic attacks are exhausting and debilitating, and people who suffer from them reasonably arrange their lives to try to prevent them. But they often miss out on work, family, and friends in the process. Others attempt to handle panic’s difficult emotions and sensations through drug or alcohol use, but these substances can make the attacks more frequent or severe.

And yet, psychological treatments are available that may allow people to participate in their regular routine. With the guidance and care of a skilled therapist, many explore and resolve the root causes of the panic disorder. The therapists at Thriveworks Henrico treat panic disorders. They often combine cognitive behavior therapy, exposure therapy, and/or medication to tailor a treatment plan that addresses their clients’ specific needs.

Panic Disorder: Signs and Symptoms

Panic attacks are a serious threat to a person’s mental health, and The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) recognizes panic disorders (DSM-5 300.01 [F41.0]). The following characterizes a panic disorder:

  • When a person suffers from repeated (at least two) and unpredictable panic attacks. People often feel discomfort, anxiety, and fear that builds for several minutes and then subsides during the attack. At least four of the following symptoms must be present to be considered a panic attack:
    • Fear of going crazy or losing control
    • Perspiring excessively
    • Fear of death
    • Irregular or escalated heart rate
    • Shaking or convulsions
    • Feeling choked
    • Depersonalization or detachment from oneself
    • Feeling smothered or experiencing shortness of breath
    • Numbed or tingling sensations
    • Chest pain and/or tightness
    • Dizziness and/or faintness
    • Nausea and/or abdominal pain
    • Hot flashes or chills
  • Experiencing at least one of the following after a panic attack (or panic attacks) for at least one month:
    • Acute concern that another panic attack will occur and/or another, similar, negative health consequences will occur (e.g., a stroke).
    • Adjusting one’s everyday schedule in an attempt to avoid or decrease the panic.

Panic disorders usually begin when people are in their 20s and 30s; however, children and older adults have suffered with a panic disorder. People who have lived through childhood trauma or abuse have a greater risk of suffering from a panic disorder. Genetic history can also increase a person’s risk of panic disorder. While the attacks can occur without an obvious, immediate trigger, many people describe a particularly stressful situation that preceded their first panic attack.

Therapies for Panic Disorders

Skipping out on work opportunities, family functions, and fun with friends is not the only option for people who suffer from a panic disorder. Various therapies can be combined to find a treatment plan that addresses people’s particular needs, and panic disorders have proven responsive to these therapies. Some of those effective therapies include:

  • Exposure therapy: With a skilled therapist and a safe space, people can learn to normalize, accept, and cope with their panic attacks through being exposed to their feelings and sensations. When people increase their ability to cope with the attacks, their frequency and severity may decrease.
  • Medication: Certain medicines may make exposure therapy or cognitive behavior therapy more effective. Antidepressants or benzodiazepines can abate symptoms so that people can more easily build coping skills and/or address root causes of the disorder.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: Certain unhealthy behavior patterns or thought systems could be contributing to the panic disorder. These, often, are learn during a childhood trauma. Cognitive behavior therapy aims to work through the trauma and replace unhealthy behavior and/or thinking that resulted with healthy ones.

Therapy at Thriveworks Henrico, VA

Are you missing out on your life because you do not want to have another panic attack? Know that Thriveworks Short Pump have appointments available for panic disorders because we want our clients to experience life to the fullest. If you are ready to thrive, we are ready to help.

Are you ready to get help for your panic attacks? Know that when you call our office…

  1. Night and weekend appointments are available.
  2. A person will answer—not a voicemail.
  3. Many insurance plans are accepted.
  4. New clients may schedule their first appointment within 24 hours.

It’s time to live your life. Call Thriveworks Short Pump.

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  • 12093-95 Gayton Rd,
    Henrico, VA 23238

  • Mon-Fri:8AM-9PM
    Saturday:7AM-6PM
    Sunday:8AM-5PM

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