As one of the leading anxiety treatment centers in the southeast, The Summit Wellness Group employs a team of highly experienced professionals to help individuals struggling with panic disorder. While it can feel hopeless and overwhelming, treatment for panic disorders are highly effective and can greatly improve one’s quality of life.
Prevalence of Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that manifests as sudden, intense bursts of fear, worry, and panic. Panic attacks are the main symptom of panic disorder and can cause intense distress for the person experiencing them, even if there is no real cause for panic or fear. Treatment for a panic disorder can greatly reduce symptoms and lead to a more positive outlook on life, especially if the person is also dealing with another mental health concern or substance abuse.
About 50% of people with co-occurring substance abuse and panic disorder experience substance abuse as a result of their panic disorder. The rest developed a panic disorder because of their substance abuse. This indicates that a dual-diagnosis treatment is often the most important method of overcoming both conditions. Without addressing both, the rate of relapse increases.
What Does Panic Disorder Feel Like?
One minute, you’re at a restaurant enjoying a meal with friends. You ordered the burger, and it’s actually really good. Everything is fine and you’re having a great time with people you love being around. The next minute, you can barely breathe. It feels like your heart is going to jump out of your chest, your palms are sweating yet your body is shaking uncontrollably and you’re freezing. You barely make it to the bathroom before it feels like you lose complete control over your body and your actions. You don’t know why you’re panicking, but the feeling that something life-threatening is going to happen overwhelms you until it feels like you’re going to pass out. You don’t even bother going out with your friends next time for fear of having another panic attack in public.
For many people experiencing a panic disorder, this is a weekly, and even daily, occurrence. And because panic attacks are unpredictable in both timing and severity, it can be an extremely isolating experience that prevents people from doing even the simplest things like going to the grocery store or getting the mail. And if you don’t know that you’re dealing with a panic disorder, it can be a very frustrating experience trying to understand what it is you’re struggling with.
Do I Need Treatment for a Panic Disorder?
Though panic attacks typically begin without warning, someone who experiences a panic disorder will have frequent panic attacks and an overall sense of fatigue or worry. Despite the common perception of what a panic attack looks like, as shown through social media and TV as an outburst of crying, some symptoms may include:
- A sense of impending danger
- Fear of loss of control or death
- Rapid heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness in the throat
- Hot flashes
- Abdominal cramping
- Chest pain
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, or faintness
- Numbness or tingling sensation
- A feeling of unreality or detachment
- Intense worry of the next panic attack
If you experience any of these symptoms, especially if they happen often, it is time to seek help for a possible panic disorder. These symptoms can be extremely distressing when physical symptoms are involved. They’re uncomfortable and sometimes painful, but it is often difficult to manage them on your own, especially if combined with substance abuse. Without treatment, it is possible these symptoms could get increasingly worse.
What Causes a Panic Disorder?
Like most anxiety disorders, there is no single cause for a panic disorder. Some factors that may influence its development are genetics, extremely stressful events, sensitive temperament, and changes to certain areas in the brain. Historically, some of the symptoms of a panic attack or panic disorder would have been useful for initiating the flight or fight response to danger, however, prolonged panic today can be greatly distressing. Someone with a family history of panic attacks increases the risk that children will develop a panic disorder and traumatic life events such as sexual assault or abuse may cause a panic disorder.
Panic attacks and panic disorder can also be caused by certain medical conditions, substance abuse (particularly with stimulants like amphetamines or cocaine), and medication withdrawal. One study suggested that around 59% of people abusing substances developed a panic disorder after their drug use began.
Importance of Treatment for Panic Disorder
Seeking treatment for a panic disorder is an important method of preventing complications such as:
- The development of a phobia
- A frequent need for medical care due to health concerns, real or imagined
- Avoidance of social situations and total isolation
- The development of other disorders like depression or anxiety
- Problems with work performance or school work and attendance
- Increased risk of suicide or suicidal thoughts
- Financial problems
If you are struggling with a panic disorder and substance abuse, finding a dual-diagnosis treatment center that specializes in addressing both conditions at the same time is the best way to manage symptoms and reach long-term recovery. Without professional help, it is extremely difficult to treat a panic disorder with co-occurring substance abuse, and continued substance use will only worsen symptoms that are already causing distress.
At The Summit Wellness Program, our treatment programs utilize the most effective techniques from several different disciplines including psychiatric care, medication management, behavioral therapy, and holistic treatment techniques. The goal is to provide our clients with the widest range of tools for the best possible chance of achieving long-term recovery. Because panic disorders and substance abuse often go hand in hand, our comprehensive programs are the most effective approach to treating these disorders.
- Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP): Our IOP program offers a high level of care while also retaining a flexible structure that allows a high level of treatment customization. This program can suit anyone’s schedule, as it is 9 hours per week with sessions available during the day and evenings.
- Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP): Our PHP program provides the highest level of care, while still allowing our clients to return home each night to sleep in their own beds. This program is 30 hours per week and provides comprehensive and extremely well-rounded care.
- Sober Living: This is our off-site housing facility that provides a safe and healthy environment for comfortable living while someone undergoes treatment.
We also offer a mix of psychiatric care, cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, art therapy, mindfulness and meditation practices, yoga, and chiropractic care. By combining behavioral and holistic techniques with our comprehensive treatment programs, we offer our clients the most well-rounded care plan. In doing so, clients are able to create long-lasting, healthy, positive habits and coping mechanisms.
An integrated and comprehensive dual-diagnosis treatment program has been shown to produce more positive outcomes than treatment for either condition on its own. One study saw that patients with panic disorder and substance use disorder who underwent treatment for only their panic disorder had higher treatment dropout rates and higher levels of anxiety than in patients who underwent dual diagnosis, integrated treatment for both conditions simultaneously. At The Summit Wellness Group, our dedicated staff of experienced professionals and individuals in recovery can guide you towards a complete rehabilitation and a happy life, free from the worst symptoms of panic disorder and co-occurring substance abuse.