Understanding Panic Attacks and How to Treat Them


Understanding Panic Attacks and How to Treat Them

Your heart is racing as fast as your thoughts, you feel sick to your stomach, and terribly afraid. This is exactly what a panic attack looks like, and this kind of attack can have a detrimental impact on your well-being. When panic attacks happen frequently, this could be a sign that you need to seek a panic disorder treatment center. 

What are panic attacks and panic disorder?

Panic attacks are brief episodes of extreme fear. They may be mistaken for heart attacks or strokes. However, these attacks are actually psychological rather than physical, even though an attack can come along with physical manifestations of emotional distress. Panic attacks can occur suddenly and usually peak within 10 minutes. Most panic attacks end within 20 to 30 minutes.

Sometimes panic attacks are isolated incidents, but if a person has had at least two panic attacks and lives in fear of having another, they may have panic disorder. A panic attack can happen without an obvious cause, but people with panic disorder may develop phobias related to something they associate with panic attacks, including open spaces and large crowds.

Symptoms of Panic Attacks

Symptoms of a panic attack can feel a lot like something is going severely wrong in the body. Typical symptoms include: 

  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations
  • Shaking
  • Feelings of suffocation

When to Seek Help for Panic Attacks

If you have experienced repeated panic attacks, and it is interfering with your ability to live a normal life, it is time to seek professional therapy for treatment.  Individualized therapeutic plans can be built to address the situation, help you develop coping mechanisms, and find some peace.

Treatment for panic disorder can be multifaceted, and may include: 

Psychotherapy sessions – Psychotherapy sessions (talk therapy) may involve things like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to learn about panic attacks, where they come from, and how to cope.

Behavioral therapy – This is a type of treatment that can teach you to change your behavior to change your feelings.  It can include exposure treatment where you very gradually expose yourself to what you fear until it no long triggers panic attacks. 

Holistic therapy – Numerous holistic mental health therapies have been shown to help with panic disorder, such as breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and nutritional changes.

Medication – Medication may be given to help control the symptoms of a panic attack and keep you calm before a panic attack occurs.

Family therapy – Family therapy or family counseling helps the people closest to you understand how to be your support system.

Trauma-focused therapy – Panic attacks are common among those who have dealt with prior traumatic experiences and focusing on that trauma may help.

Find a Psychotherapy Treatment Provider to Help 

Living with panic disorder can be scary and may lead to further mental health concerns. If you are ready to break through barriers and learn how to cope with panic attacks, contact Psych Choices today.

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