Have you experienced a sudden and intense fear that seems to come from nowhere? Your heart begins to pound, your breathing quickens, and you feel a terrifying sense of doom. The episode escalates to the point that you become so frightened you think you might be dying.
If you have experienced a panic attack, it is likely you are highly motivated to avoid having another one. This can cause you to alter your life in order to avoid certain situations that may trigger another episode.
Therapy for panic attacks
In therapy, panic attacks are addressed on three levels. The first is to identify your specific triggers. The second is to learn what happens in the body during a panic attack. The third will address underlying issues related to anxiety, as well as the development of techniques that will help you cope with and prevent panic attacks from occurring in the future.
A panic attack is not purely psychological. The body responds with a range of physiological symptoms such as trembling, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, nausea, and a sense of impending doom. For some people, the physical symptoms of a panic attack are so intense they fear they may be having a heart attack.
When you understand what is happening in the body during a panic attack, the experience becomes less scary. Rather than spiral down into overwhelming fear, you can practice techniques that will ultimately reduce the physical symptoms and bring you back to a sense of calm.
Addressing and healing underlying issues
Panic-focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) helps identify and reconstruct negative thought patterns that can lead to anxiety. Ongoing negative thinking can lead to self-defeating beliefs and avoidance of situations that could trigger a panic attack. This is a dangerous pattern to get into, as it can seriously impact your life. When you allow your anxiety to take more control over your life, you may begin to avoid situations that may trigger panic. This situation can lead to an impairment of functioning.
Panic-focused psychotherapy aims to uncover past events and emotional issues that have had an influence on the development of panic disorder and anxiety. When we recognize painful past experiences and are given the opportunity to talk about them and process them within the supportive therapeutic relationship, we are able to heal and resolve past pain. This process allows us to overcome these issues and move forward without fear and anxiety. Therapy is about developing the inner strength we already have so we can move forward feeling more confident and trusting of our own abilities.
Neurofeedback is also valuable in treating anxiety and panic attacks. Neurofeedback directly trains your brain to balance brainwaves and become calmer, and helps you to gradually replace negative thoughts and patterns with positive thoughts and patterns.
Therapy for panic attacks in Los Angeles
Jennifer Willemsen, MA, LMFT is a licensed clinical psychotherapist working in Los Angeles. She is an expert in neurofeedback therapy and treating anxiety and panic disorder, and other mental health disorders and challenges. If you would like to learn more, you are welcome to call and book your first appointment or fill out the contact form and click Send.