Panic Disorder

Approximately 3% of the adult population suffers from panic disorder. Individuals with Panic Disorder experience seemingly inexplicable physical symptoms that they fear and mistakenly believe might be symptoms of illness, fainting, heart attack, insanity, impending loss of control, or impending death. The sudden onset of multiple feared physical symptoms is called a panic attack. When individuals who have panic attacks begin to avoid situations that they think might trigger panic attacks, they are diagnosed as having agoraphobia. Adults with agoraphobia may find that activities that prevent them from quick escape are difficult or impossible to complete. They may avoid driving in busy or expressway traffic, sitting in crowded restaurants or theatres, or traveling outside their “safety zone.” Individuals with agoraphobia rely upon “safety signals” to help them live their daily lives- things they believe will keep them safe from panic. Safety signals can be things such as carrying anxiety medication, only traveling with a spouse or children, only going places with a cell phone to use to call for help, or only traveling to places that are located near a major medical center.

Treatment for panic disorder includes interoceptive exposure which involves gradual practice of inducing the physical symptoms associated with panic. Therapy may also include in vivo exposure, which is practicing the real-life situations that panic makes you fear or avoid. Cognitive therapy is also used to help identify and successfully challenge the faulty beliefs that promote anxiety and avoidance. We will help you overcome your agoraphobia by practicing the real-life situations that panic makes difficult. We will accompany you during driving, shopping, exercise, or other activities that panic makes difficult. Our goal is to ensure that you regain the lifestyle you enjoyed before panic became an unwanted part of your life.