Panic Attack Therapy in NYC
“Panic feelings represent a major loss of a control feeling because they seem to not be under our conscious control. They are a sudden reaction to a perceived threat.” – Jeffrey L. Hammes
What is a panic attack and panic disorder?
A panic attack is your body’s exaggerated response to feelings of stress or danger. When you experience a panic attack, you may have some of the following symptoms:
- A racing heartbeat
- Nausea, faintness, dizziness
- Pain or tightness in your chest or abdominal area
- Inability to breathe, or a choking sensation
- A feeling of dissociation
- Shaky or jelly-like legs
- Feeling extremely hot or cold
- Sweating, trembling, shaking
You may have panic disorder if you experience panic attacks frequently, and are fearful of when your next panic attack may be.
Panic disorder is a subtype of anxiety.
Like anxiety in general, panic attacks can be caused by a number of factors including:
- Genetics - a disposition to having panic attacks under the right circumstances
- Early life experiences - childhood trauma, where one becomes highly sensitive to danger and stress
- Adulthood experiences - or, one may develop panic disorder in adulthood due to circumstances during this time
A common aspect of panic disorder is having recurrent panic attacks. This is due to having worries of experiencing the next panic attack—particularly in public—which can cause panic attacks. Trying to avoid triggers that cause panic attacks lead to increased stress and worry sensation, which fuels the panic attack cycle.
How do you treat panic disorder?
Panic disorder is highly treatable. Several treatment options exist, including psychotherapy and medication treatment.
Psychotherapy / Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Psychotherapy, otherwise known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), is a common first option for treating panic disorder. Your therapist will work through your triggers related to your panic attacks and explore causes for those triggers and feelings. One main goal is to develop healthier ways of thinking about your panic triggers that will help you deal with its symptoms. Avoiding feared situations, such as social events, may be treated by restructuring your thoughts around social situations.
Desensitization is a common technique used in CBT for panic disorder. Your therapist will gradually introduce you to anxiety-triggering situations while teaching you how to remain stable and in control. Eventually, your fear symptoms will be less severe and you will be able to comfortably experience situations you would have avoided otherwise, with panic disorder.
Medications used to treat panic disorder include antidepressants (SSRIs) and anti-anxiety drugs. When using these medications, general feelings of anxiety are tapered, and the severity of panic attacks are lessened.
SSRIs have been shown to reduce the intensity and frequency of panic attacks. SSRIs are beneficial over a longer course of treatment.
Anti-anxiety drugs, otherwise known as tranquilizers, are used for their quick and strong effect. While under the effects of an anti-anxiety drug, you will feel less anxious which can greatly reduce the symptoms of panic disorder, though only temporarily.
Ultimately, the recommended course of treatment includes both psychotherapy and medication treatment.
Find a panic attack therapist at Integrative Psych
Integrative Psych is an NYC-based private practice specializing in the treatment of anxiety and related conditions. Many of our clients are based in Brooklyn, Queens, New Jersey, Manhattan (Chelsea, Village, Lower East Side, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Tribeca, SoHo), Connecticut, Westchester but our therapists are licensed to treat anyone in the state of New York.
Integrative Psych takes a compassionate and comprehensive approach to treating panic disorder. We will evaluate you based on your own situation and experiences and come up with an individual plan suited to you.
Once you have begun care with us, we will see you regularly to monitor progress and make any adjustments necessary to ensure that you benefit fully from your treatment at Integrative Psych.
If you’re seeking treatment for your panic disorder and interested in working with one of our therapists, book an appointment here.