Anxiety disorders are fairly common in relation to the total compendium of emotional and psychological disorders treated in the UK. Anxiety can manifest itself in many different ways, including mood swings, irrational fears, and panic. When anxiety-induced panic attacks become chronic and uncontrollable, a diagnosis of anxiety and panic attack disorder is often the result.
For purposes of simplification, we will refer to this disorder simply as panic attack disorder. It is a disorder that triggers regular panic attacks that cause very real physical and emotional symptoms. The symptoms exhibited by the individual patient can include any or all of the following:
- shortness of breath, hyperventilation
- racing heart, palpitations
- chest discomfort or pain
- sensations of choking
- shaking and trembling
- dizziness, light-headedness
- upset stomach, nausea
- profuse sweating
- hot or cold flushes
- numbness or tingling sensation
- feelings of losing one’s mind
- unreasonable fear of immediate death
- sensations of being detached from the body.
Panic attacks can be extremely frightening to outside observers. Imagine how much more frightening they are to those who are experiencing them. If you are a person suffering from panic attack disorder, you know what we mean. However, please understand that help is available.
The most important thing we can tell you right now is that this disorder is one that can be overcome. There are very successful treatments available; treatments that have proven invaluable in helping thousands of people conquer their anxieties and panic attacks. There is no need for you to continue living a life controlled by your disorder. Addiction rehab and professional help can be found.
Causes of the Disorder
No one knows for sure what causes panic attack disorder. Making matters worse is the fact that individual panic attacks can occur when a patient is very relaxed – even while asleep. The sudden nature of panic attacks makes them very difficult to pinpoint in terms of physical or emotional causation.
With that said, most people do recognise specific triggers they are prone to. For example, one patient may exhibit an increased risk for panic attacks when crossing bridges. While they don’t necessarily have a specific phobia concerning bridges or heights, there is something about crossing a bridge that induces panic.
Common examples of other triggers include:
- intense emotional confrontations
- viewing intense or scary films
- rehashing disturbing memories from the past
- stress related to work or school
- feelings of poor performance
- certain underlying physical conditions.
Treatment for panic attack disorder usually includes identifying triggers and developing mechanisms to avoid them. While this strategy is not a cure for the disorder, it makes managing it somewhat easier. When triggers are identified and avoided, it helps to reduce the number of panic attacks that occur.
Treatment of the Disorder
There are times when identifying triggers and avoiding them is not enough to manage panic attack disorder appropriately. In such cases, rehab treatment may be necessary. Moreover, like clinical depression, panic attack disorder is treated in rehab with a combination of medications and cognitive behavioural therapy.
The two types of medications commonly used are antidepressants and benzodiazepines. Let’s look at both of them briefly:
- Antidepressants – Antidepressants are used to regulate the balance of chemicals in the brain. They are a long-term strategy designed to help bring stability to the life of the panic attack disorder suffer. That stability can help regulate emotions to make managing the disorder easier.
- Benzodiazepines – These drugs are classified as anti-anxiety drugs. They are very powerful and work very quickly. Taken in the midst of a panic attack, they can usually help the individual control the situation within 30 to 60 minutes The biggest downside to benzodiazepines is the fact that they are highly addictive. They must be used with extreme care.
In addition to medication, therapists will employ cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as a treatment for panic attack disorder. CBT is a very specialised form of counselling that deals specifically with the way people process information, think through their problems, and relate to their emotions.
In a rehab scenario, a CBT therapist will establish a predetermined set of goals he or she expects the patient to achieve as they progress through the treatment process. With every goal achieved, the client is better able to understand his or her own thought processes and emotions. At the conclusion of the treatment, the patient is then ready to establish a strategy that will help him/her overcome their disorder.
Outpatient and Inpatient Treatment
Treatment for panic attack disorder is usually offered on an outpatient basis. The disorder is not usually so debilitating as to require the complete separation afforded by inpatient treatment. That said, we are not implying that panic attack disorder is easy to overcome.
Patients will normally attend therapy sessions on a daily or weekly basis as prescribed by their therapists. Sessions can last from 60 minutes to several hours at a time, and will usually include a systematic evaluation of how effectively current medications are performing. The doctor will adjust medications as needed.
In cases where the disorder is severely debilitating, inpatient rehab is another option. This type of treatment involves a residential stay of up to 30 days at a rehab facility. While at the facility, the individual will receive both medication and CBT.
Let Us Help You
If you are suffering from panic attack disorder, there is help available. However, do not try to find it on your own. We have already done all the legwork for you by researching the available treatment options in the UK. All you need to do to get started is contact us via telephone or e-mail. As soon as we hear from you, we will put our resources to work on your behalf.
We know how difficult dealing with panic attack disorder can be. You may feel like your whole world is falling apart; you may feel as though you are going crazy or you’re about to lose total control. This is no way to live. We encourage you to seek out the help you need today. You deserve nothing less.