How Panic Attacks Become Panic Disorder

Panic disorder.

Do you understand the difference between panic attacks and panic disorder?  You should, because knowing can be an important part of building your recovery foundation.  Lets learn about the difference between panic attacks and panic disorder so we can learn to focus our recovery efforts more efficiently and effectively.

The highlights:

 

  • Panic attacks are physical.  Panic disorder is cognitive and behavioral.
  • A panic attack is a discrete physical event with a beginning and end.
  • Having panic attacks does not mean one has panic disorder.
  • Panic disorder is characterized by focus on panic between attacks, and by changes in lifestyle designed to avoid or prevent the next panic attack.
  • Many people have regular panic attacks without ever developing panic disorder.
  • Panic disorder develops based on learned cognitive connections between perceived danger and the behaviors we engage to either escape that danger or avoid it altogether.  We teach ourselves that avoiding panic is keeping us safe, but this is not true.
  • Panic disorder is cognitive, so focusing on eliminating the physical sensations of panic tends to be a dead end.  You must work on the cognitive and behavioral side because this is shown to be most effective.
  • Working on facing your fear without engaging in escape, safety or avoidance behaviors is the best approach. This is how the cognitive connections that fuel panic disorder are broken and un-learned.

 

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Therapy for anxiety disorders is a not a generic thing. There are different types of therapies and not all are equal when it comes to anxiety disorders.  These differences are important, so should be aware of when looking for a therapist.  Lets take a look at some of those issues in this episode.

Because they undergo different training and focus on different things, there is a big a difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist.  In general, a psychiatrist is going to take a different approach to your anxiety issues than a psychologist will.  Its important to understand this when choosing a therapist.

There are several common types of therapy.  Each is different, and not all are effective therapies for anxiety disorders. Just talking about how you feel tends to be ineffective.  Because of the nature of anxiety problems, behavioral therapy is shown by a large body of research to be the most effective therapy for anxiety disorders.

When looking for a therapist, there are some key things to look for and important questions to ask. Get to know a potential therapist before hiring him or her.  Not every therapist will be a good fit for you personally.  Its quite common to have to “interview” several therapists before finding the one that you feel is right for you.

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Memory can trigger anxiety symptoms. Lets talk about.Memory has the power to trigger anxiety symptoms and sensations. When we understand this powerful process, we can use it to our advantage. We can even use it as a tool!  This can really propel you forward, even when you think you’re going backward.  Lets talk about how to recognize when your memory is triggering anxiety issues and what to do when that happens.

 

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Overcoming anxiety involves courage.  There’s no way around this.  You must be courageous to directly confront the things you fear the most.  This is the only way to learn that you never needed to be afraid to begin with.  Finding and displaying courage is the part that trips most people up, but its in you, and there’s no magic trick involved.  So many people think they must find a way to lower the fear before acting, that they must “learn” to be brave.  But that’s not the way.  Courage is acting even when terrified, so ultimately this is something you must do along the way.

Everyone has courage in them.  Everyone.  Have faith that you were born brave, because you were.

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Hiding from anxiety. Its really not okay.

Overcoming anxiety, panic and agoraphobia requires the motivation to be active in your recovery. In this episode we’ll look at how the motivation to begin your recovery derives from personal responsibility and accepting that giving in to your fears is really not okay. A bit of a controversial view on things, but worth checking out, so give it a listen.

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Anxiety is physical. Anxiety disorders are cognitive.

Anxiety is a physical and physiological thing.  We feel it in our bodies.

Anxiety DISORDERS are cognitive, not physical.  A disorder is defined when the physical sensations are mistakenly treated as real danger, and lifestyle is modified to avoid those sensations and feelings.  This is a learning/cognitive issue.  This is why cognitive and behavioral approaches to anxiety disorders are the most effective treatments we have and why simply trying to knock down symptoms doesn’t really work.

Understanding this concept and incorporating it into your approach to anxiety is an important step toward improvement. Suggestions are given on how to change your focus and how to start identifying the reactions to anxiety that are the true problem.

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