Panic Disorder Treatment
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 and can cause intense distress for the person experiencing them, even if there is no real cause for panic or fear. Treatment can 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 that use as a result of their panic disorder. The rest developed a panic disorder because of their substance abuse. This indicates that dual diagnosis treatment is the best way to overcome 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 good. Everything is fine. 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 and you’re freezing. You barely make it to the bathroom before it feels like you lose complete control. You don’t know why you’re panicking. 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 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 begin without warning, someone who experiences a panic disorder will have frequent attacks and an overall sense of fatigue or worry. Despite the common perception of what it may look 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. These symptoms can be distressing when physical symptoms are involved. They’re uncomfortable and sometimes painful. 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 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:
- Stressful Events
- Sensitive Temperament
- Changes to the Brain
Historically, some symptoms of a panic attack or panic disorder would have been useful for initiating the flight or fight response to danger. Prolonged panic today can be distressing and unnecessary. Someone with a family history of panic attacks increases the risk that their children will develop a panic disorder. Traumatic life events such as sexual assault or abuse may also 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 facility 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 difficult to treat a panic disorder with co-occurring substance abuse. Continued substance use will only worsen symptoms that are already causing distress.
At The Summit Wellness Group, our treatment programs use 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.
- Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP): Our IOP program offers a high level of care while also retaining a flexible structure that allows customization. This program can suit anyone’s schedule. It consists of 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 them to return home each night to sleep in their own beds. This program is 30 hours per week and provides comprehensive and 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 program produces 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 participated in integrated treatment for both conditions. 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.
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We’d love the opportunity to help you during this overwhelming and difficult process. Our sincere passion is helping people recover so that they can live full, meaningful, and healthy lives.
Call us 24/7 at 770-299-1677 or fill out our contact form and a member of our admissions team will contact you shortly.