panic attacks treatment
A panic attack leads to an impromptu flood of fear in a person, which peaks to alarming levels within a few minutes. This kind of an attack can occur without any warning or apparent cause and, obviously, can be very frightening. While most of us feel panic stricken only in situations of eminent danger, people suffering from panic disorder can suffer a panic attack almost anywhere, even during the most normal of situations, like driving a car, sitting in a meeting, shopping, or while sleeping at night.

Panic disorder symptoms can often be similar to those of other illnesses such as heart attacks, thyroid problems or breathing disorders. Hence, panic disorder is often misdiagnosed. However, once correctly diagnosed, panic disorder treatment should immediately follow since people experiencing panic attacks are usually very motivated to end the terrifying attacks and return to a normal life.

Therapists can use various panic disorder treatments depending on the exact situation and severity of the attacks. They will often seek to identify the following symptoms in patients:

1. A suffocating feeling that gives rise to a need to escape.

2. Nausea or stomach pains

3. Hyperventilation

4. Excessive sweating

5. Hands and feet going numb

6. Sudden chills or heat flushes

7. Chest ache and uneasiness

8. Giddiness

9. Fear of death (for no apparent reason)

Though the immediate effects of a panic attack are not life threatening, the absurdity of the situation and the feeling of things being out of control can leave the patient in a state of shock and panic. Additionally, the patient may avoid being present in the same physical location where the attack occurred for fear of it happening again.

Panic disorder treatment techniques like meditation, relaxation and Cognitive Behavior Therapy involve working to calm the underlying fear that is present during the attacks.

In the first phase of the therapy the patient is informed about panic disorder. Simply comprehending the idea of what panic disorder actually is and how many other people also suffer from it helps the patient to deal with feelings of isolation and lonliness that many panic sufferers experience.

Due to the terror of recurring panic attacks, some patients can begin dwelling in an unreal world, largely driven by her/his negative thought cycle. Phase I of panic disorder treatment, therefore, involves restructuring the thought process of a patient and transforming negative thoughts into positive ones.

Phase II of the therapy helps the patient to recognize possible stimuli for the attacks. Depending on an individual the stimulus may vary from a thought to a situation to something as subtle as a slight change in pulse rate. Once the patient is familiar with the notion that a panic attack is separate and isolated from a stimulus, the patient becomes less prone to the stimulus inducing an attack in her/him.

Phase III of the therapy exposes the patient to the physical sensations that a patient runs up against during an attack because more often than not, it is the fear of recurrence of an attack rather than the objects and events which causes a patient to panic.

Such exposure helps the patients to face the symptoms of an attack and teaches them that these symptoms need not elevate or go beyond their control.

Panic disorder treatments, therefore, try to understand the intricately woven pattern between stimulus, thought and behavior in a patient and restructure the thoughts and emotions to better deal with stressors, so that they do not escalate into full-on panic attacks.

By: Jon Mercer

About the Author:

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