Therapy of severe panic disorder

Updated 2 years ago on April 08, 2023

Panic syndrome (panic attacks) is a common anxiety disorder. Panic attack refers to a severe panic attack without reason, accompanied by autonomic symptoms (heart palpitations, rapid breathing, trembling, dizziness, up to and including loss of consciousness).

At the time of the attack the person may seek shelter, rush around, take unnecessary medications. For some people, panic becomes a constant companion - attacks recur for no reason, night panic attacks occur. This worsens the quality of life, and severe panic disorder can lead to disability.

Panic disorder is confused with IHD (vegetative vascular dystonia) and heart disease (attacks of tachycardia). These diseases may be accompanied by feelings of dread, but they are secondary.


Panic disorder should be treated first and foremost by a psychotherapist, since the cause of the disorder is in the subconscious. For years, you can fight anxiety disorders with beta-blockers and sedatives, but without psychotherapy, medical methods are often useless - they treat the consequence, not the cause.

First aid and ways to deal with panic attacks

The struggle with panic attacks takes a lot of energy from patients. Fear of anticipation - excruciating anticipation of a new attack - is characteristic. Panic attacks should be treated by a psychotherapist.


The difference between panic attack and paroxysmal tachycardia should be noted. Both can be accompanied by anxiety, palpitations, chest palpitations and rhythm disturbances. But in a panic attack, fear is primary (mild anxiety, then panic and an increase in cardiac symptoms), while in tachycardia, rhythm disturbance (rhythm failures and palpitations, then an increase in panic).

ECG monitoring (recording with a portable device continuously over a 24-hour period) can detect paroxysmal tachycardia. It is important to rule out cardiac pathology, because a paroxysmal tachycardia attack requires medication to normalize the rhythm.

During an attack it is necessary to take a comfortable position, to provide access to air. Self-help techniques are effective. These include:

  • Distraction. Contrasting showers, talking on the phone, counting (cars, windows in a building, passersby) can help distract you. Music, washing dishes, or crafts can help. Also effective is a distraction for pain (used with extreme caution) - an ordinary rubber band for money on the wrist, which when the attack approaches, you can pull away and let go, or a strong pinch on a sensitive area (skin on the wrist or at the elbow bend).

  • Work with breathing - distracts and decreases the concentration of oxygen in the blood, which increases due to rapid breathing. The most effective method is to breathe into a paper bag placed tightly against the face until anxiety and fear disappear. A simplified version - breathing into folded palms - is less effective, but can be used in a crowded place discreetly. Slow breathing (due to slow exhalation) and breathing "on the square" when a square with "sides" in three to five seconds is drawn mentally also helps - inhale, pause, exhale, pause.

After a panic attack, it is important to provide rest and find an opportunity to lie down.

Treatment of phobias and panic attacks

Can panic attacks be cured? Of course, this disease, along with phobias and other anxiety disorders, is treatable - you can learn to stop and prevent mild panic attacks and completely get rid of severe attacks.

Panic disorder is treated by a psychotherapist. He will help find the cause of panic and in the course of therapy work through it, replacing negative, destructive attitudes with positive ones that give a sense of confidence and control.

You will learn to anticipate an attack and not to be afraid of it, speeding up its development, but to control its course and not let fear take over - to stop the development of the attack yourself.

In addition to cognitive therapy, the course treatment of panic attacks includes: body-oriented therapy, relaxation training, biofeedback therapy and other techniques. In panic attacks, medication treatment is used only as an additional method in the initial stages, and patients can gradually find a state of calm without sedatives.

Treatment of panic attacks

The most important thing in treating panic disorder is to seek help from a specialist. Drug therapy is not always effective and is fraught with addiction. How many people treat panic attacks with therapists and cardiologists - long and to no avail - it's scary to imagine. It is important not to let the situation slide, because constant panic attacks exhaust you and deprive you of confidence and the joy of life.

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