Are you struggling to deal with anxiety and panic attacks in your life? No matter how overwhelming your problem may seem, there are effective treatments for it. Medication can provide some relief from your symptoms, but some people are reluctant to take drugs or would prefer to limit the duration. Another option that is often recommended for panic attack sufferers is cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on altering your thoughts and behaviours. It deals primarily with solving problems in the here and now. Unlike some types of therapy, you don't have to analyze every little event from your childhood or spend many hours in the psychologist's office. People who have a great deal of anxiety usually think and behave in ways that are counterproductive. In therapy, you will learn ways to change your thoughts and actions so that you feel better and are less prone to anxiety and panic.
People may not realize how deeply their thoughts influence their emotions. Those with high levels of anxiety often suffer from “wrong" thinking. While some individuals take an optimistic view of life, chronically anxious persons may interpret events in the worst possible light. They distort and exaggerate events in their mind to make them seem more catastrophic than they truly are. They may fret about problems that don't really exist or aren't important. Negative and unrealistic thoughts like these contribute unnecessarily to anxiety, panic, and depression. The therapist can gently steer you away from unproductive thoughts, put things into perspective, and teach you more helpful and realistic ways to think.
Using cognitive-behavioral therapy, you can learn how to stop a panic attack before it develops. For example, there is a cycle you may get caught up in. It goes like this. You feel a little anxious. You become hypersensitive to the internal bodily sensations you associate with a panic attack. You start worrying that a panic episode is imminent, which adds another level of anxiety. Thinking and worrying can escalate those mildly anxious feelings into a full-blown panic attack. However, if you can interrupt this cycle, you can prevent an attack from occurring.
One CBT technique that can give you relief from panic attack symptoms is proper breathing. Breathing patterns can affect how you feel and how much anxiety you experience. If you tend to hyperventilate (breathe rapidly and shallowly), you will increase your anxiety. Instead, you want to learn how to breathe deeply and slowly. Practice is essential, so that it becomes second nature even when you're feeling panicky. Your therapist can also teach you other ways to reduce anxiety, such as relaxation exercises or biofeedback.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy can produce very good results for panic attack sufferers. It will teach you more constructive and rational ways to think about situations and events, reducing your anxiety and worry. Instead of being held hostage by panic, you become empowered and capable of changing how you feel.
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