Coping with Panic Attacks: Exposure Treatment

Many people suffer from panic attacks. There is an overwhelming feeling of fear and dread. They can happen just once or several times. When a person has repeated panic attacks they are referred to as having panic disorder. Physical symptoms can include sweating, shivering, dry mouth and heart palpitations. Though terrifying when they happen nobody has ever died of a panic attack. It is an emotion and can be controlled.

Panic attacks are often treated through Cognitive-Behavioural-Therapy which has a very high success rate. One aspect of this therapy is Exposure Treatment. Instead of trying to distract yourself from your panic attack or avoid places where it might happen this therapy actively encourages you to seek out these very environments where you might feel panicky. Graded exposure in the company of a therapist or friend to what frightens you can help you to face your fears and get rid of these feelings. If you are afraid of crowded shopping centres you could be accompanied into entering one to experience your uncomfortable feelings. You are encouraged to lean into the panic and feel it in full in order to overcome it. The treatment is successful in most cases. You could build up  in stages so as not to overface yourself.

Cognitive-Behavioural-Therapy in combination with the relaxation of hypnotherapy is a very effective treatment for panic attacks.

 

Baker, R (2011) Understanding Panic Attacks and Overcoming Fear, Oxford, Lion-Hudson.

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