Over four million Americans, 5% of the adult population, suffer from panic attacks. It’s a terrifying experience that can include such symptoms as shortness of breath, pounding heart, extreme dizziness and fears of dying or losing control. After the first panic attack, the fear of a recurrence often leads people to develop avoidant patterns of behavior which can result in terrible financial and social costs.
This need not be the case! In the last several years, the treatment of panic attacks and its more severe form, panic disorder, has advanced dramatically. With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a 70-80% success rate for a panic attack-free existence is obtainable.
Panic attack treatment proceeds in a step by step manner. Some of the basic skills I teach my patients are breath relaxation techniques and cognitive restructuring. Symptom induction exercises, in which patients learn that they are not harmed by these sensations, also increase confidence that they can manage their panic symptoms.
This sense of empowerment effectively reduces the fear and anxiety which play such as a vital role in the development of the disorder. Without requiring medication, treatment of panic attacks can usually be completed in ten visits or less.
Philip Pierce, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist located in Los Angeles, specializing in Panic Attack Treatment.