February 15, 2012

Panic Attack Treatment

At the Anxiety Treatment Center of Austin we understand the pain of suffering through panic attacks. Both the terror in the moment, and the dread of future panic attacks that often strike without warning. People with panic disorder are are among those most likely to quickly seek treatment. Luckily, we can effectively treat panic disorder using empirically supported methods.

Panic Treatment Model

Panic operates as a powerful cycle, and treatment requires close understanding of what maintains each individual’s cycle, and targeted intervention aimed at breaking it.

Panic typically begins with a trigger, but this trigger is often unknown to patients beginning therapy. It could be something like an irregular heartbeat, a subtle change in breathing, or thoughts of being trapped. These triggers can induce panic because they are perceived as threatening – “perhaps it’s a heart attack,” “I’m going to faint”, “what if I go crazy?” The identification of this trigger as dangerous leads naturally to a rapid increase in anxiety, as the body prepares you to fight or flee the danger. When the changes that come with body response to danger (increased heart-rate, changes in breathing, tingling in the extremities, mental focus on possible threats, etc) are themselves perceived as dangerous (“something is definitely wrong!”), the escalating cycle to panic takes hold. Anxiety is seen as dangerous, leading to increases in anxiety – anxiety about anxiety.

While this model is representative of the basics of panic, for each individual there are many other factors involved. These differentiating factors are important for individualizing treatment.

Panic Treatment at the Anxiety Treatment Center of Austin

At the Anxiety Treatment Center of Austin, we are well-trained in using cognitive and expectancy models of treatment for panic, and we look for multiple places to interrupt the cycle of panic so that we can cure panic disorder.

We focus on changing interpretations of triggering bodily sensations, so that they are understood for what they are, rather than being interpreted as dangerous. We work with underlying beliefs that that inadvertently promote the cycle of panic to get worse and worse. We use physiological methods to stop your body from escalating to panic when anxiety sets in. Most importantly, we use exposure and response prevention to extinguish the connection between feared situations or bodily sensations and anxiety. This means that when you experience your triggers, your brain no longer responds with fear.

Is essence, we break the chain of anxiety, bodily arousal, and panic that leads your body to get out of control. At the end of successful treatment, uncomfortable feelings are recognized, understood, and accepted peacefully. The result is the reduction in panic symptom

Schedule a Free Consultation for Panic Attack Treatment

Call or email us to set up a brief phone or office consultation with one of our Anxiety Specialists. We can answer questions, provide more information, and see if you’re a good candidate for panic treatment. Please let us know when would be a good time to speak with you.  We are located in central Austin, and have availability during daytime hours, evenings, and weekends.

Wondering if you might have Panic Disorder? Take a Panic Disorder screening test.