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- Anxiety Disorders
Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia, and Successful Therapy
Recommended Treatment for Panic Attacks with or without Agoraphobia
Treatment is available for treating a person who has panic attacks with or without agoraphobia. People seek treatment so that they can lead more fulfilling and more enjoyable lives, to feel better, and to lead more productive lives. For the treatment to be successful, the patient must participate in their in-office therapy and do their homework that is given to them by their therapist.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is the typical treatment method for panic attacks and agoraphobia. The number of visits that take place in the treatment of panic attacks and agoraphobia is 10 to 20 visits with a licensed, trained, mental health specialist. The client should visit the therapist for a one-on-one treatment session at least once a week on up to 10 to 20 weeks. This can be very expensive, though, and not everyone can afford this cost. Therefore, many people who have panic disorder and agoraphobia do not get help. Their lives become smaller and smaller.
Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches a person how to think in a positive manner, in such a way that does not encourage panic attacks or fear. Positive thinking and having confidence in yourself is the key to success. Keeping your life as stress-free is vital to recovering from panic disorder and agoraphobia. Therapy is undergone in the office with the therapist teaching the client how to meditate, how to relax, and how to stop the unending cycle of negative thoughts. These negative thoughts that are repeated over and over again by the individual are just what keeps the person in a state of fear, phobia, panic, and even avoidance. With avoidance, comes agoraphobia and a smaller world for the sufferer.
The meditation and relaxation techniques are very beneficial. Learning how to do relaxation techniques enables a person to invoke the relaxation response whenever needed. One thing nice about many of the relaxation techniques and meditation is that you can do these techniques without anyone else even knowing. These relaxation techniques can help to stop panic attacks from occurring. When panic attacks stop happening in places where panic attacks use to happen, the phobia becomes lessened to the point of extinction. Thus, to get better a person must go out regularly to the places and situations where they previously had panic attacks, such as driving or riding on highways and bridges, riding public transportation, or going out to the store. The recommendation is to go out to these places and stay in the situation until you have no more panic attacks while in the feared places. Once there are no more panic attacks, a person will be able to live a fuller life. Then, the person is free to do the things that she once enjoyed before the fear of having more panic attacks had taken away a lot of her life. Being free of panic, fear, and agoraphobia enables a person to enjoy her life and able to be there for special moments in the lives of her family and friends.
“The following are benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy:
-Gaining understanding and control of distorted feelings or views of stressful events or situations
-Learning to recognize and replace panic-causing thoughts
-Learning stress management and relaxation techniques
-Relaxing, then imagining the things that cause the anxiety, working from the least fearful to the most fearful (called systematic desensitization and exposure therapy)” (New York Times, 2017).
Cutting down or even eliminating caffeine and sugar from our diets also helps to stave off panic attacks. Both caffeine and sugar cause a spike in our metabolism and our adrenaline flow. This increase causes more of a likelihood of having panic attacks. Eat nutritional meals, and eat at the right times so that your system is not depleted. Proper nutrition, a proper amount of good rest, and regular exercise help us to maintain good health – physically and mentally (New York Times, 2017).
Panic Attacks can Lead to Avoidance which can Lead to Agoraphobia
“A panic attack is a sudden surge of overwhelming anxiety and fear. Your heart pounds and you can’t breathe. You may even feel like you’re dying or going crazy. Left untreated, panic attacks can lead to panic disorder and other problems. They may even cause you to withdraw from normal activities. With treatment, you can reduce or eliminate the symptoms of panic and regain control of your life” (Smith & Segal, 2017, p1). A panic attack usually occurs when the person is awake. These attacks come from nowhere. One minute the person is calm and relaxed. The next minute intense fear of the panic attack is occurring to the individual who has these attacks. If left untreated, panic attacks will most likely continue to occur more often and in more places.
When panic attacks continue over time, a person may develop agoraphobia. In the beginning, the reasoning was given that this word meant fear of the marketplace or fear of open spaces. “If left untreated, panic disorder can sometimes lead to agoraphobia, an intense fear of being outside or in enclosed spaces” (Webmd.com, 2017, abstract). Yes, these attacks can come over a person without warning, inside a grocery store, or anywhere else for that fact. Agoraphobia is best described as leading a reclusive and as safe a life as possible to avoid having another panic attack. Panic attacks invoke this kind of fear because they put such an intense terror in the person at the time the attack is occurring. Panic attacks are so terrorizing and overwhelming that some people who experience them are afraid of what they may do to end the terrible physical and psychological symptoms of the panic attack. If panic disorder continues without treatment, agoraphobia can set in. The person’s life becomes smaller and smaller which means that the person stops doing things and going places they use to enjoy going to and doing.
Agoraphobia is a fear of having a panic attack again, and holing yourself up in your home or another one of your safe place(s). Agoraphobics do this so as not to have the intense fear, intense physical symptoms, and intense psychological thoughts wash over them again. To avoid panic attacks, people who are agoraphobic always try to be in places where they can escape quickly, quietly, and unnoticeably when they feel a panic attack coming on them.
Agoraphobic Woman Travels the World with Google Street View
To read and see photos, copy and paste this web address:
Smith (M.A.), M. & Segal (Ph.D.), J., (2017, Apr.) Panic attacks and panic disorder. HELPGUIDE.ORG, p. 1. Retrieved online at https://www.helpguide.org
The New York Times, (2017, Jul. 12), Rogge, MD, Medical Director, Family Medical Psychiatry Center, Kirkland, WA, & Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc. (2012, Mar. 25). Retrieved online at http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/panic-disorder-with-agoraphobia/overview.html
© 2017 DLayne Lawson