Panic Disorder is very treatable with proper professional help. Research shows that panic disorder responds best to a very specific type of treatment. Effective panic disorder therapy requires a particular level of skill, experience, and training. Consider asking potential treatment providers a few questions to ensure you are receiving the level of treatment that is required to effectively treat panic disorder.
Search for a therapist who completed training in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in graduate school and through individual training and supervision. Also try to locate a therapist who regularly attends CBT and anxiety workshops. It’s a great sign if the therapist is a member of professional organizations such as the Anxiety and Depression Association of America or the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.
No one can truly be a specialist in many areas. Look for someone who devotes most of his or her clinical practice to treating anxiety disorders.
Panic disorder is very treatable. Search for a therapist who exhibits confidence in his or her ability to effectively use cognitive behavioral therapy with interoceptive exposure to treat panic disorder.
Look for treatment providers who use phrases like “behavioral,” “cognitive behavioral,” or “interoceptive exposure” to describe their treatment approach. Avoid therapists who vaguely reference CBT, but do not specifically mention interoceptive exposure.
The first stage of treatment is largely informative. Many people experiencing symptoms of panic disorder fear they are “going crazy” or having a heart attack, so simply understanding what panic disorder is, how common it is, and exactly what is occurring in their body during a panic attack leads to relief. Exploring triggers of panic attacks as well as behaviors that might be maintaining anxiety is also an important component of the early stages of treatment. A panic disorder specialist will help patients learn how to re-examine thoughts and feelings that are associated with anxiety as well as equip patients with anxiety reduction skills. Proactive, gradual exposure to feared situations and physiological sensations is a critical component of therapy.
Look for a therapist that answers “yes.” Practicing exposure in real-world environments is often a crucial component of treatment. An effective panic disorder therapist will be enthusiastic about being present with a patient while they face anxiety provoking situations that they tend to avoid. More specifically, the therapist may ride as a passenger in the patient’s car if they avoid driving due to fear of a panic attack. Similarly, the therapist may accompany the patient on a flight or during a trip to the grocery store.
Both are important, so look for a therapist who will do exposure practice with you during therapy sessions and collaboratively work with you to develop a plan for exposure practice between sessions.
Duration of treatment will vary depending on length of time that symptoms have been experienced, severity of symptoms, level of social and familial support, current level of stress, etc. However, with proper treatment, most patients experience symptom relief in 12-16 sessions.
For more information about panic disorder or to schedule an appointment with a panic disorder treatment specialist at Austin Anxiety and Behavioral Health Services please call (512) 246-7225 or email us at email@example.com. We are currently accepting new patients at our Round Rock and Austin therapy offices.