7 Reasons You Should See a Therapist for Your Panic Disorder

By: Suzanne Feinstein, PhD

Do you struggle with intense periods of anxiety accompanied by a number of frightening physical symptoms that seem to come out of the blue? If so, you may be experiencing panic attacks. Symptoms of a panic attack may include rapid heart rate, hyperventilation, chest tightness, light headedness, hot flashes, cold flushes, tingling in extremities or body tremors, all of which come on suddenly and make you feel out of control. Although panic is not life-threatening, you may have a sense of impending doom, be scared that you are going to pass out, fear having a heart attack, or think you may lose touch with reality. Once the symptoms pass, you anticipate the next wave of panic. The seemingly unpredictable nature of a panic attack keeps you in a chronic state of anticipation and dysregulation.  

Around five percent of adults in the United States have panic disorder at some point during their lives. Fortunately, Cognitive Behavior Therapy is extremely effective in tackling this problem. If you are wondering if you would benefit from seeing a therapist, take a look at these telltale signs to help you decide your best course of action. If the following bullet points resonate with you, it may be time to reach out for treatment. 

1. Panic Attacks Interfere With Your Life

Although many people with panic disorder can maintain highly functional lives, you may notice your panic attacks interrupting your everyday functioning. If you notice yourself missing work or important events due to your fear of having a panic attack, you should think about visiting a therapist.

Panic attacks are mentally and physically exhausting, and possibly embarrassing. The discomfort can make you want to stay close to home. If left unchecked, some people may become agoraphobic (fearful of leaving the house).

You may associate certain situations, people, or places as  potential threats that can trigger your panic attacks. While avoidance may seem like a temporary reprieve, it will only reinforce your out of control feelings. Working with an experienced therapist can help you peel away the layers of your anxiety, put a stop to the panic, and allow you to resume your normal life.

2. You Can’t Regulate Your Emotions

It’s normal to struggle with intense emotions at times. But if your anxiety is heightened long enough, your body can remain stuck in fight-or-flight mode. This acute stress response benefits you in emergency situations, but it will quickly drain you if you are in a chronic hyperarousal state. When struggling with panic disorder, you will have a lower threshold for daily stress. You may find yourself crying more easily or becoming easily irritated.

Emotional regulation is a key practice in therapy to balance out your feelings and reset your nervous system. Your therapist will help you to identify and work through difficult emotions and teach you mindfulness techniques to relax your body and mind. 

3. You’re Tired All the Time

Panic attacks rapidly deplete your energy as your body tries to regulate itself. Your anxiety can also cause sleep disturbances. When you do not get a full night of sleep, it can be difficult to function properly and pay attention to responsibilities.

Create a plan with your therapist that will detail how to optimize your mental wellness. Structure a healthy routine that will eliminate anxiety triggers, enhance self-care, improve relationships, and support personal growth. Focus on preventing panic, building back confidence and working toward optimal health.

4. Your Work Performance Declines

Your panic symptoms may interfere with your academic or professional performance. You may find yourself losing interest in school-related or work-related tasks. You might struggle to focus or be consumed in worrying about your physical or mental health. You may feel easily overwhelmed, procrastinate, shut down, and avoid. 

Panic disorder is a highly treatable condition and does not have to negatively effect your work or school performance. A mental health professional who specializes in anxiety will use evidence-based approaches to help you effectively work through your anxiety and function better in your everyday life. 

5. You Use Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

You find yourself coping in unhealthy ways in order to deal with the feelings of being emotionally out of control. Perhaps you self-isolate, sleep too much, drink too much, abuse substances, overeat, or avoid self-care.

Your therapist will encourage you to adopt healthier coping mechanisms to bring immediate benefits to your life. Improving your mental health entails surrounding yourself with good family and friends, exercising, eating healthy, deep breathing and meditation.

  1. Your Relationships Take a Nosedive

When you struggle with panic attacks, your relationships might take a backseat. Sometimes you may feel like you are a burden to your friends and family, so isolating seems like the best solution. In contrast, leaning too much on those close to you can also be detrimental. Relationships need to have balance, so your loved ones should be able to rely on you as much as you rely on them. A therapist will be able to identify where your relationships are struggling and help you to rebuild them.

7. You Constantly Feel Overwhelmed

When the hassles of daily life seem unmanageable, it may be time to seek help from a professional. You may find yourself catastrophizing inconsequential issues. Your negative thoughts can cause a downward spiral in your mental and physical health. Your emotions may be much more intense than the issue calls for and you might struggle to explain why you react that way.

An experienced therapist can teach you strategies to logically evaluate the problem, ground yourself physically, and prevent the onset of a panic attack.

Conquer Your Panic Disorder Today

If you struggle with panic disorder, you do not have to handle this problem alone. If you are ready to take the next steps for your mental wellness, take a look at our website www.behaviortherapynyc.com or contact us today to schedule your first appointment.

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