Treatment for Panic Disorder (Panic Attacks)

People who suffer from panic disorder experience recurrent and unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack is an abrupt surge of intense fear or discomfort, lasting for at least several minutes, characterized by four or more of the following symptoms.

Panic Attack Symptoms

  • Pounding heart, heart palpitations, or an accelerated heart rate
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
  • Feelings of choking
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Feeling dizzy, light-headed, unsteady, or faint
  • Chills or heat sensations
  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Derealization, feelings of unreality or depersonalization, or the sense of being detached from oneself
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Fear of dying

Panic Disorder Diagnosis

In addition to these symptoms, panic disorder sufferers will have experienced at least one of the following, lasting for at least a month following a panic attack:

  • You consistently worry about having more panic attacks and/or consequences of panic attacks such as going crazy, losing control, having a heart attack, or other related fears. 
  • You have experienced a major change in your behavior in order to avoid further panic attacks.

Finally, the disturbance is not better explained by another disorder like social anxiety, a specific phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, as reminders of traumatic events, or in response to separation anxiety disorder. Similarly, substance use, or a medical condition such hyperthyroidism or cardiopulmonary disorder, does not better explain your condition.

While 20-24 is the median age of onset, the onset of panic disorder can occur later in life. Additionally, panic disorder commonly exists with numerous general medical symptoms and conditions. These include, but are not limited to dizziness, cardiac arrhythmias, hyperthyroidism, asthma, COPD, and irritable bowel syndrome. Despite its existence alongside other medical symptoms and conditions, there is no evidence to support a direct causal relationship between panic disorder and these other medical symptoms and conditions.

Consult an expert

Contact Harold Kirby at 610-517-3127 to schedule a consultation or appointment to discuss treatment for panic attacks. Harold provides telehealth treatment for clients in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas of Pennsylvania and New Jersey (Main Line, Montgomery County, Camden, Cherry Hill), as well as in the South Carolina Lowcountry (Hilton Head, Bluffton, Beaufort, Colleston County, Dorchester County, Berkeley County, Charleston).