Feeling relaxed and excited for her weekend, Melissa set out for an easy walk around her neighborhood, but just a few minutes in, she was doubled over with stomach pain. Out of the blue, she was cold, shaking, and dizzy, even though it was a warm day. Melissa sat down and called a friend to pick her up. Within a few minutes, the symptoms had stopped, but Melissa was exhausted and scared. What had just happened? At the doctor’s office later that day, Melissa learned she had a panic attack.
There is not always clear reason or a warning that a panic attack will be sparked. They can strike without a trigger, and when they occur repeatedly and when they disrupt people’s normal routine, they may have developed into a panic disorder.
Have you or has someone you love lived through a panic attack? You know how they devastate and disrupt. As a natural and understandable reaction, people may rearrange their lives to avoid them, but in doing so, they also are missing out on opportunities for professional advancement, time with friends, and family time. Some people may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with the discomfort, but these only make the attacks worse.
Psychological treatments, however, have proven effective in treating panic attacks and a panic disorder. That is why Thriveworks Woodbridge offers counseling for panic disorders. We want everyone to live free from panic.
How Do Panic Disorders Develop?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) outlines what a panic disorder (DSM-5 300.01 [F41.0]) is and how it develops:
- If people experience multiple (more than one) panic attacks that include feeling severe physical and emotional discomfort that builds for several minutes and then abates, then they may have panic disorder. The panic attacks must have at least four of these symptoms:
- Chest discomfort/pain
- Fear of going crazy or losing control
- Fear of dying
- Excessive perspiration
- Palpitations or abnormally rapid heart beat
- Shaking or trembling
- Feeling detached from oneself
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Dizziness or faintness
- Hot flashes or chills
- A choking feeling
- Shortened breath or feeling smothered
- Abdominal pain or nausea
- Following one or more attacks, also engaging in one or both of these behaviors for a period of at least one month.
- Switching up one’s normal work or personal schedule, trying to evade another panic attack.
- Experiencing constant worry about having another panic attack, stroke, or heart attack.
Panic attacks, unfortunately, can be caused by many different disorders or behaviors, and for a panic disorder to be diagnosed, the attacks cannot be caused by another physical health problem, mental health disorder, and/or drug use.
Treatments for Soothing Panic
Instead of missing opportunity, fun, and connection in order to avoid panic attacks, what if there were a better way? What if panic subsided and daily life flourished? Panic attacks have been responsive to several psychological treatments, and a skilled therapist may even combine treatments to meet people’s individual needs and diagnoses.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy examines foundational causes of the panic attacks and seeks to resolve them. Often, childhood abuse or life trauma can disrupt people’s lives and allow negative thought patterns to take hold. Therapy may teach people how to work through the trauma and equipment them with healthy coping skills.
- Medication may alleviate or control symptom. When combined with other therapies, medicine often increases their effectiveness. When used under the supervision of a therapist, benzodiazepines and antidepressants have helped many people overcome panic attacks.
- Exposure therapy allows people to feel a lessened form of a panic attack but within a safe space and with the supervision of a trained therapist. People can then get used to the feelings and sensations. They can also build coping skills. When the feeling of panic is normalized and when people are equipped with healthy responses, the attacks often subside if not completely cease.
Setting Up Counseling at Thriveworks Woodbridge for Panic Attacks
Have you had a panic attack? Have you had multiple attacks? Living your normal life without panic is possible. Many people have reclaimed their daily routines through psychological treatments for panic disorders, and Thriveworks Woodbridge has appointments available. Our professionals are dedicated to finding the right combination of therapies that meets each client’s individual needs and symptoms.
Living with a panic disorder is hard enough; scheduling therapy should be easy. That is why many new Thriveworks clients see their therapist within 24 hours of their call. It is also why we work with most major insurance providers and most insurance plans. We also offer weekend and evening appointments.
Are you ready to live free from panic attacks? Call Thriveworks Woodbridge, VA today.