Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by sudden, unexpected and repeated episodes of an intense sense of fear, particularly in a situation when there is no real danger. This sense of fear may be accompanied by physical symptoms including heart palpitations, chest pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, and/or abdominal distress. Usually, panic disorder manifests in the late teens or early adulthood.
The major goal of treatment for panic disorder is to alleviate the frequency and severity of panic attacks. Experts recommend a customized combination of talk therapy and medicines to recover from panic disorder. However, the line of treatment and the outcome and prognosis of the disorder depend on the severity and duration of symptoms.
The preferred therapeutic approaches to recover from panic disorder may include:
At Athena Behavioral Health, we use the latest evidence-based therapeutic approach to help people struggling with panic disorder and/or other anxiety-related problems.
Our therapists recommend cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as the most effective evidence-based therapy to treat panic disorder. CBT for panic disorder involves the identification and correction of maladaptive cognitions associated with troubling situations.
In the CBT approach, the therapist works with the patient like a coach. They create learning opportunities for the patient and guide them on how to interpret current performance correctly. As treatment progresses, the patient is exposed to their fears and is provided with the confidence to cope with them.
CBT can be administered as both individual and group therapy. The group therapy is used as a conventional intervention protocol to treat panic disorder. The measure generally involves two therapists helping a group of four to six patients during a half-hour session through 12 weeks. The individual treatment format includes individual treatment sessions lasting 60 minutes scheduled weekly for up to 15 weeks.
Group CBT is advantageous in the sense that it provides the patients an actual exposure to social situations that can help them get over their social anxiety woes.
In addition to CBT, the doctor may prescribe antidepressants to help people deal with depressive thoughts. Antidepressants usually take two to four weeks to start producing results and up to eight weeks to work fully.
The most commonly prescribed medications may include:
It is important to continue taking medicines, even if you don’t feel that they are working. Sometimes, treatment may take longer to show results, especially in prolonged or severe cases. Therefore, it is important to not give up on treatment too quickly.
A healthy lifestyle including quality sleep, eating a healthy diet, regular physical activity, and spending quality time with friends and family can complement treatment in delivering favorable treatment outcome.
Like most mental health conditions, it is difficult to locate the exact cause of panic disorder. However, a combination of things may contribute to the risk of developing panic disorder, including:
Panic disorder may compromise quality of life in the view that it may produce troubling symptoms while there may not be any serious physical ailment. Such symptoms may include:
Mostly panic attacks last between five and 20 minutes while some patients may experience them for an hour.
Panic attacks may bother you anytime, anywhere, and without warning. And the worst thing is that the previous attacks lead to a persistent fear that another one may come anytime. This, in turn, may make a person avoid places, things or triggers causing an attack. Unfortunately, there are people who are unable to overcome this fear throughout their lifetimes in spite of treatment.
A panic attack may occur anytime, even if you are taking medication. It may take a while for medications to work or they may not work in case of severe symptoms. It is the time when you can stand strong and avoid things to go out of control.
And standing strong may mean: