Treatment of panic disorder is tailored to meet your particular needs. The following treatment approaches have proven to be effective for panic disorder and other anxiety disorders. During counseling or treatment with a mental health professional, you will be taught these approaches and learn how to apply them to your daily life.
Education helps people to better understand panic disorder and its treatment. It focuses on the concepts that symptoms are common and not life-threatening. It leads to better understanding of the treatment process and the goals you set for yourself. In general, people who undergo treatment have an improved quality of life.
Behavior therapy is used to help you modify and gain control over your behavior. It helps you learn how to cope with anxiety-provoking situations through controlled exposure to them. Interoceptive exposure, or desensitization therapy, is a type of behavior therapy that helps desensitize you to the physical sensations that occur during a panic attack by gradual exposure to stressful situations. Symptoms of a panic attack, such as rapid heart rate and sweating, are induced in a controlled setting. You are taught to prevent the symptoms from turning into a full-blown panic attack.
Cognitive therapy helps you to change patterns of thinking that are unproductive and harmful. For example, some people have unrealistic worries that they’re losing control or might have a heart attack . Cognitive therapy also helps you identify possible triggers for panic attacks, such as a thought, a situation, or even something that could cause an increase in your heart rate. Once you understand the difference between an actual panic attack and a trigger, you have more control over the trigger.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a combination of cognitive and behavior therapy. With this type of therapy, you examine your feelings and thought patterns, learn to interpret them in a more realistic way, and apply coping techniques to various situations. These skills will be useful for a lifetime.
A variety of relaxation techniques can help you ease your way through a panic attack. Examples include deep breathing and positive visualization. Many people with panic disorder have a faster than average breathing rate, so learning to slow down breathing can help prevent future attacks.
Panic disorder support groups can be very helpful for some people with panic disorder. However, they cannot take the place of therapy.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 12/2014 -
- Update Date: 12/20/2014 -