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Panic Attacks and Panic Disorders

Panic Attacks and Panic Disorders

Panic attacks and panic disorder are debilitating conditions characterized by sudden and intense surges of fear and anxiety. They can occur in individuals of all ages, including children, teens, and adults. Understanding the causes and available treatment strategies for panic attacks and panic disorder is crucial for effective management and support. The exact causes of panic attacks and panic disorder are not fully understood, but a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors may contribute to their development. Some possible causes include:


There is evidence to suggest that panic disorder may have a hereditary component, with a higher risk among individuals who have family members with the condition.

Brain chemistry:

Imbalances in neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, may play a role in the onset of panic attacks and panic disorder.

Stress and traumatic experiences:

High levels of stress, traumatic events, or significant life changes can trigger or exacerbate panic attacks and panic disorder.

Phobias and anxiety sensitivity:

Having specific phobias or heightened sensitivity to anxiety may increase the risk of developing panic disorder.

Treatment strategies for panic attacks and panic disorder in children, teens, and adults often involve a combination of therapeutic approaches and, in some cases, medication. Here are some common treatment options:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT):

CBT helps individuals identify and challenge irrational thoughts and beliefs that contribute to panic attacks. It also teaches coping mechanisms, relaxation techniques, and exposure therapy to manage anxiety.


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed to help manage panic symptoms. These medications can reduce the frequency and severity of panic attacks.

Breathing exercises and relaxation techniques:

Deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness practices can help individuals regulate their breathing and reduce anxiety during panic attacks.

Lifestyle modifications:

Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and a healthy diet can contribute to overall well-being and help manage anxiety symptoms.

Supportive therapy:

Supportive counseling or group therapy can provide individuals with a safe space to discuss their experiences, receive validation, and gain support from others who have experienced similar challenges.


Frequently Asked Questions

Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you’ve faced, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you’re at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.

A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:

  • Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
  • Developing skills for improving your relationships
  • Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
  • Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
  • Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
  • Improving communications and listening skills
  • Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
  • Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
  • Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence

People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are not handling stressful circumstances well. Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks. Therapy can help provide some much needed encouragement and help with skills to get them through these periods. Others may be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life. In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes in their lives.

Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session. Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist (usually weekly).

It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, your therapist may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process – such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.