Panic Disorder

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Panic is the most extreme form of anxiety. People who have had a panic attack describe it as a sudden, overwhelming, severe, intense terror that activates their entire body. It is not unusual for someone to go to the ER, fearing a heart attack, when they experience their first panic attack. The physical experience of a panic attack is that severe.

Sometimes a triggering event, person, place, or thing can be identified. Other times a panic attack can feel completely unpredictable and seem to come out of nowhere. It is a terrifying experience and it is common to develop a fear of having another panic attack, especially in a public place.

Therapy, in particular CBT, can be helpful to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and reduce the frequency and intensity of panic attacks. The most challenging part of therapy for Panic Disorder is realizing that you are experiencing Panic Disorder and making the first appointment. Usually, there is a significant amount of shame, self-blame, embarrassment, concern that something is physically wrong and being missed (i.e., asthma, heart condition, etc.), or a fear that you are ‘crazy’. Unfortunately, the delay in getting treatment often leads to additional difficulties due to “self-medicating”, which means a person may use alcohol, medications, and /or drugs to avoid a panic attack or deal with a panic attack.

Seeking treatment for anxiety and panic does NOT mean you are crazy. Seeking therapy does NOT mean you are weak. Seeking treatment does NOT mean you are broken, flawed, or irrational.

Seeking treatment means you ARE experiencing an intense experience, and you ARE looking for options to help you feel better. Seeking treatment means you ARE actively problem-solving by being open-minded, and it is a significant act of courage and hope.

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