"Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them." Epictetus
A panic attack is an episode of intense anxiety that includes symptoms associated with extreme physiological arousal.
Symptoms may include: Heart palpitations, dizziness, numbness in the extremities, and/or shortness of breath. Often, a person experiences chest pains and believes he/she is having a heart attack. There may be a feeling of being detached from oneself, a fear of dying, losing control or going crazy.
The symptoms that accompany a panic attack are not dangerous but they are very uncomfortable and frightening and this distress is often compounded by the fact that attacks occur suddenly, without any apparent trigger. As a result those who suffer from panic attacks frequently begin to make lifestyle changes designed to prepare for the possibility of another attack, resulting in a significant disruption to their normal daily routine.
What Is Agoraphobia?
Agoraphobia almost always accompanies panic disorder. Anxiety is often experienced in places where exiting may be difficult or embarrassing or in places where one perceives that help may not be available in the event that another attack occurs. A person begins to withdraw into safer surroundings and will only frequent a few secure locations, such as their home, or the homes of friends or relatives. They often avoid bridges, tunnels, elevators, or being in crowded places. In extreme cases, they will not leave their home.
How Can Therapy Help?
Psychotherapy can help a person who suffers from panic attacks and/or agoraphobia in several ways. First, the therapeutic environment provides a safe and supportive environment in which the individual can talk about their symptoms and fears. Second, therapy helps the individual to identify and understand those stressors and maladaptive coping skills associated with their anxiety. Third, the individual learns effective cognitive and behavioral techniques to alleviate panic attacks. And finally, therapy helps the individual to develop new and more effective coping skills to deal with stress