mental health, therapy, counseling and psychology terms glossary

Panic Attacks & Panic Disorder

Panic Attacks are a sudden fear of a situation and anxiety of losing control or a poor outcome even when there is no real danger present. They typically include physical responses to the high stress and anxiety including a rapid heartbeat, problems getting enough air, sweat, shakiness, chills, nausea, and dizziness. Some people even feel like they are having a heart attack when a panic attack comes on strong.

When panic attacks become more than a rare occurrence, then it could be a Panic Disorder. Panic disorder can be genetic and research reveals that harmless bodily sensations may be misinterpreted as threats causing these attacks to happen frequently. Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder that can make an individual fearful of when the next attack will happen and avoid places where attacks happened in the past. These overwhelming anxieties and fears are disruptive to everyday life and one’s physical wellbeing.

Panic disorder is treatable with psychotherapy and sometimes medication as well. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is especially effective for treating panic disorder as it teaches new ways to think about situations as they occur. Once the thoughts begin to shift, the physical responses will follow and the anxiety will subside.

At Claibourne Counseling, we specialize in treating Anxiety Disorders!