Panic Disorder refers to unexpected and repeated attacks of intense fear and discomfort, known as “Panic Attacks.” Panic attacks come without warning, and often seem to come out of nowhere. As a result, these attacks can become debilitating, and can lead people to develop a “fear of fear” response. This means that someone may feel anxious even when they aren’t having a panic attack, simply because they’re afraid of having a panic attack. So they may avoid people, places, or situations that they associate with panic attacks. For example, someone who has a panic attack while driving may develop a fear of driving. This avoidance often interferes with school, relationships, and normal childhood development.
The following physical symptoms may be present in Panic Disorder:
- Racing or pounding heartbeat
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Difficulty breathing
- Trembling or shaking
- Excessive sweating
- Nausea / upset stomach
- Sense of unreality or fear of losing control
If you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, a psychological evaluation is recommended. The Tarnow Center offers both assessment and treatment for anxiety disorders using a biopsychosocial approach that addresses the medical and psychosocial needs of the individual and the family. Appropriate intervention for anxiety disorders includes:
- Individual Therapy: Individual work focuses on developing specific skills for managing anxiety, while also addressing the struggles with daily stressors and low self-esteem that often accompany a diagnosis of anxiety.
- Biofeedback: Like individual therapy, Biofeedback works by teaching specific anxiety management skills to the client. Biofeedback employs the use of technology to make the client more aware of the internal processes that contribute to anxiety, and in doing so, teaches the client to better control these processes.
- Family Therapy: Family work is important in the treatment of anxiety in that it focuses on developing open communication and expression of emotion, while teaching parents/loved ones techniques to utilize at home with the client.
- Group Therapy: Groups provide safe and appropriate social training where the client can get feedback from peers and professionals about how to regulate their behavior.