Treating Panic Disorder: The Holistic Approach To Dealing With Overwhelming Fear

May 7, 2024

Living with a panic disorder is going about life with a constant feeling of dread. While there is no cure, integrated, holistic approaches offer hope to more than 10 million Americans suffering from this condition.

How does fear feel? For anyone struggling with a panic attack, the answer is probably “all too real”.

If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you know it is a terrifying, wholly overwhelming experience. A panic attack’s sudden onset hijacks the mind and body, thrusting you into a maelstrom of confusion that can feel like you’re having an utter mental breakdown.

For people who experience chronic panic attacks—those with a panic disorder—the scope of their life can eventually be narrowed to a relentless state of hyper-vigilance which, in an attempt to assuage this constant distress, can sometimes lead to self-medication and addiction.

What is a panic disorder?

Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder in which an individual is overcome with a rush of intense physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms. These events are frightening and distressing and can leave you feeling as though you’re completely unraveling.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 4.7% of US adults experience a panic disorder at some time in their lives. That’s over 12 million people.

Those experiencing panic attacks are also at risk of substance abuse; in fact, the co-occurrence of a mental health issue and a substance abuse disorder has been well-documented. In the case of panic disorders, one study found that nearly 40% of those with this condition have abused one substance in an attempt to alleviate their condition.

Jessica Alomar, clinical director of behavioral healthcare treatment center Relevance in New Jersey, said that substance abuse is the result of a desperate attempt to take control of an immensely unpredictable condition on one’s own.

The need for a holistic approach

According to Alomar, there’s no silver bullet to treating panic attacks and disorders; instead, facilities such as Relevance combine medication and a range of therapeutic modalities. “Treating panic disorder involves a series of proactive steps designed to help you regain control and eventually overcome your condition so you can return to normalcy in peace and confidence,” she said.

One of the oft-used strategies is helping the individual interrupt the onset of a panic attack. Alomar said that this particular approach may involve a number of relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness.

“The urge to self-medicate is real and is a problem for anyone struggling with panic attacks and substance abuse,” Alomar said. “For this reason, part of one’s treatment plan is showing patients how to develop non-self-destructive coping mechanisms like the arts and physical activity.”

She further stated that panic attack sufferers seeking treatment can also expect to undergo different types of talk therapies commonly used in treating depression and anxiety, chief among which is cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy.

“Right now, there is no known single treatment or pill that can make panic attacks vanish instantly,” Alomar explained. “Those struggling with this condition must think long-term, and this entails working with qualified professionals who can help them gradually build mental resilience so they can lead a life free of fear.”

This content is provided in partnership with Relevance Behavioral Health and is intended for informational purposes only. The views, opinions, and advice expressed in this article are solely those of Relevance Behavioral Health and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of any other individual, organization, or entity.

Web Analytics