Panic attacks are fairly common; many people experience them in their lifetime. You have had a panic attack if, within a short period of time, you experience four (4) or more of the following symptoms:
heart palpitations, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, a choking sensation, sweating, shakiness, nausea/abdominal distress, dizziness or lightheadedness, a feeling of unreality, fear of losing control, going crazy, or dying.
The nature of panic attacks is that they typically occur out of the blue, without warning. It’s not unusual for them to happen when you are at rest or asleep. They can also arise in specific situations, (like flying or being in an elevator).
If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack you know how frightening and debilitating it is. It leaves you feeling helpless and fearful that it will happen again.
Panic attacks are classified as Panic Disorder when they a) occur repeatedly and unexpectedly and/or b) when, for a month or more after an attack, you worry about having more attacks.
Some people who have Panic Disorder also have agoraphobia. You have agoraphobia if you have anxiety about and try to avoid situations you think will trigger a panic attack. Examples of this include: being away from home beyond your “comfort zone”, being in a crowded place like a movie theater, driving over bridges, going into a mall.
The good news is that panic attacks and Panic Disorder are very treatable. You can learn to manage panic attacks in order to significantly reduce their frequency, duration and intensity so they no longer terrify you.
The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach I use to treat Panic Disorder – – which includes Exposure Therapy — is the most current treatment method for this problem. You will learn what causes panic attacks and how to control them. I will teach you the cycle of panic and how to break it. You’ll also learn to face and your feared situations.