Our counsellors at Curio Counselling work in a variety of different therapeutic modalities (like somatic therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, exposure therapy, etc.) that can be adapted to best suit your needs and work through your panic attacks.
What is a Panic Disorder?
Panic disorder occurs when people experience panic attacks that are intense and recurrent.
They may be unexpected and seemingly come out of nowhere, but they can also be brought about by specific triggers.
Not everyone who has a panic attack has panic disorder, as people with panic disorder experience panic attacks frequently and there is often anxiety related to the panic attacks themselves.
Panic disorder may significantly disrupt people’s day to day lives, and deserves targeted support and care.
What are the Effects of a Panic Disorder?
There are many ways that panic disorder can affect people’s lives, from the distressing symptoms of panic attacks to the effects of worrying about or trying to avoid future panic attacks. Here are some of the ways these symptoms can show up in our lives:
- Physical effects of panic attacks: Panic attacks come along with many intense and uncomfortable physical sensations. These include rapid heart rate, sweating or chills, shaking, shortness of breath, nausea, digestive discomfort, lightheadedness, numbness or weakness, among others.
- Mental effects of panic attacks: Being in a state of panic and distress can also affect our mental abilities. Intense worry, disorientation, confusion, and racing thoughts might occur.
- Emotional effects of panic attacks: The fear that comes along with panic attacks can be intense. People may feel an impending sense of doom, feel like they are dying, feel disconnected from reality, or feel like they are out of control.
- Fear of future panic attacks: One element of panic disorder is that many people often find themselves worrying about having a panic attack in the future. This fear might occupy their thoughts, be felt in the body in various ways (for example tense muscles), or even cause people to avoid certain situations for fear of having a panic attack.
- Fear of panic attack consequences: People may also begin to fear what might happen if they have a panic attack. Some common fears include that having a panic attack will cause a medical issue like having a heart attack, dying, or fainting, while others include a fear of embarrassment or losing their sanity.
- Behavioural changes: As mentioned earlier, people may begin to avoid certain situations for fear of having a panic attack. This can look like avoiding places or activities in which they have experienced panic attacks in the past, or avoiding things that may bring on panic-like symptoms (for example intense exercise, drinking caffeine or alcohol). People may also begin to carry specific items with them to help avoid panic attacks, or always want a person with them in case they have an attack.
How Can Therapy Help with Panic Disorders?
Therapy can help people with managing their panic attacks as well as potentially lessen the frequency and/or prevent future panic attacks.
Therapists might use cognitive-behavioural therapy to help people examine and challenge their thoughts and fears about panic attacks and their triggers. Things like relaxation techniques, and desensitization to sensations or triggering situations might also be explored in therapy.
Therapy can also be a place to examine any experiences, trauma, or beliefs that may have contributed to the development of panic disorder.
Our counsellors at Curio Counselling work in a variety of different therapeutic modalities (like somatic therapy, EMDR, cognitive behavioural therapy, exposure therapy, etc.) that can be adapted to best suit your needs and work through your panic attacks.
Book a free consultation today to get support and help with panic disorder and anxiety to take steps toward a life with less fear.
Book a Free,
20 Minute Consultation
Whether you are considering accessing counselling services for the first time, or hoping to find a therapist who is new to you, we want to make the process as simple and straightforward as possible.
That is why we offer a free, no-obligation, 20-minute phone or video consultation with the Calgary therapist of your choice.
References & Further Reading
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. (n.d.). Panic disorder.
Cherry, K. (2023, February 13). What is panic disorder? Verywell Mind.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2022). Panic disorder: When fear overwhelms.
Psychology Today. (2021, August 19). Panic disorder. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/conditions/panic-disorder