Anxiety manifests in variety of ways and different combination of discomforting symptoms.
The peak of any anxiety disorder is the panic attack. Even if its source can be traced back to the basic day to day life events there is a huge difference in the intensity and apprehension between just anxiety and actual panic attacks.
Anxiety and panic have been subject to extensive research during past 3 decades and in today’s time there exist very effective therapies to manage or cure fears and panic. Only the fact is that one should exactly know what actions have to be taken promptly to resolve anxiety and panic.
Pharmacotherapy (Medication) and Psychotherapy are the two main available options. Nonetheless the effectiveness of the treatments and their desired outcomes varies from person to person and the administration of the treatments.
This blog mainly focuses on the Cognitive and Behavioral therapies and life improving strategies. Therefore we have avoided to discuss about the medication part of the treatment.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, CBT, is considered as a gold standard treatment for the treatment of all anxiety disorders says Dr. David burns in his book When Panic Attacks.
What is Cognitive therapy?
It is a form of therapy which encourages sufferers to look into their thoughts and behaviors which are the direct reasons for their anxiety. When the sufferers pinpoint them, it is expected that the sufferer challenges them and finds the mistakes he or she does in perceiving the realities of the anxious events. The suffered eventually discovers that his anxiety was irrational and was not associated with real dangers. The sufferer then no longer fears those events or thoughts.
CBT is implemented in variety of forms and often the skill of the therapist also counts. The sufferer is provided with the necessary tools he can use to curb his anxiety and get freedom form the troubling emotional reactions.
Panic attacks are basically the acquired or leaned fear of bodily sensations which the panic sufferers experience. They occur due to the worry that they are harmful to life and they can potentially cause sudden death (Which is of course not true).
This is what happens with you:
When the sufferer fears bodily sensations like shaking, palpitations, chest pain, pins and needles first of all he gets scared by them. As a result, he gets more scared and consequently the symptoms intensify. Again, he feels more and more scared of the intensified symptoms and that intensifies the symptoms further. This happens in a cyclical fashion. The next thing happens is that he gets a very strong urge to escape the place or the situation in which he is having this discomfort. He escapes and his symptoms reduce considerably. This can cause him to feel the fear of that place or the situation itself.
The tricky solution cognitive therapy gives for panic attacks
What if the person is taught not to fear the initial symptoms and not to react negatively to the intrusive thoughts? If that becomes possible naturally the fear will not increase. If the fear does not increase the symptoms will not intensify. And if the symptoms do not intensify they cannot further increase the fear. If the sufferer learns this and reacts neutrally to the fear and symptoms the problem will be nearly solved for him.
This is what is actually done in cognitive therapy with the help of different cognitive (i.e.Thoughts) and behavioral maneuvers.