Panic disorder takes place when our body’s natural alarm system goes wrong. In normal cases, our body’s security system alerts us to give a fight or flight response in situations which are actually fearsome; but when this system goes wrong, it gives us this signal even if we are totally safe. Panic attacks are not dangerous. But they keep the person always under stress and bodily symptoms like shortness of breath, pounding heart, tingling skin etc which are just the usual fight/flight responses and not of a dangerous disease like heart attack or stroke. If you understand that it’s a false alarm, you can recover quickly and successfully.
Though panic attacks are not life threatening, they create a powerful emotional impact. People with panic disorder always worry of having another attack anywhere because panic attacks can occur out of the blue. Accompanied by the worry for another attack is the embarrassment. So, normally these people avoid going to public places or crowded places where chances of occurrence of another panic attack are more. This is called agoraphobia.
What is CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)?
Effectiveness of CBT for panic attacks and agoraphobia has now been proven. CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has two sections: cognitive therapy that aims at finding and changing the disfigured thinking patterns that keep up anxiety, and behaviour therapy that aims at desensitizing anxiety by exposing the patient to the fearful situations.
CBT can be given through face-to-face interaction with your psychiatrist or even online. Both have their own advantages. While face-to-face treatment is of course effective, online CBT is equally effective. This is because people with panic disorder are usually reluctant to visit doctor’s clinic to avoid crowd, elevators, closed spaces etc. They can take benefit of the therapy from the safety of their homes. As the treatment progresses, they overcome their fears gradually and then can visit the clinic or any other place.
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