Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder Therapy

 

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder that results in regular panic attacks.  Anxiety is normal and everyone experiences symptoms of anxiety but people with panic disorder can get panicky at any time for no apparent reason.  Panic disorder can come with or without agoraphobia. People who have agoraphobia have a fear of being in open or crowded places/leaving their home or of being in situations that escape is difficult.

A panic attack is when your body experiences a rush of adrenaline and can come on very quickly and for no reason.  It can be very distressing and common symptoms are:

  • Racing heart
  • Sweating
  • Light headed
  • Feeling faint
  • Nauseous 
  • Shallow breathing
  • Shaking
  • Chills
  • Choking sensation
  • Pins and needles
  • Dry mouth
  • Needing to use the toilet
  • Depersonalisation
  • Derealisation 

Treatment

In CBT we approach panic disorder in a number of ways.  Psychoeducation is extremely important when working with panic disorder in addition to challenging any unhelpful thoughts around the condition.  Exposure work is also utilised in panic disorder to gradually expose the person to feared situations and to document the outcome.  With panic disorder, prolonged exposure if used, meaning the person exposes themselves to the feared situation until their distress levels reduce and they habituate.