How Does CBT Help Control Panic Attacks?

How Does CBT Help Control Panic Attacks?

How Does CBT Help Control Panic Attacks? 2560 1709 Long Island Counseling Services

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a widely acknowledged psychological treatment that has proven effective in managing various mental health conditions, including panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden, intense surges of fear or discomfort that can feel overwhelming and debilitating. They are often accompanied by physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, trembling, or shortness of breath, which can contribute to the distress experienced during an episode.

At Long Island Counseling Services, our therapists often choose to utilize CBT as an approach in assisting individuals to navigate through and gain control over their panic attacks, with the goal of helping them foster a more stable and reassuring mental state. If you need help with panic attacks or you’d like to explore CBT further, please contact our team, today.

About Panic Attacks and CBT

Panic attacks are characterized by their abrupt onset and the fear of impending doom, loss of control, or even death. They cause not only anxiety-related symptoms, but also physical symptoms, with a wide range of issues such as rapid heartbeat, weakness, and trouble concentrating. These episodes can occur unexpectedly or be triggered by specific situations, and they often lead to a vicious cycle of anxiety and avoidance behaviors.

The Role of CBT in Treating Panic Attacks

CBT is based on the premise that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected, and that altering negative thought patterns and behaviors can lead to changes in our emotions and overall mental health. In the context of panic attacks, CBT aims to identify and challenge the irrational fears and beliefs that contribute to the onset of an episode.

Within the field of CBT is a wide range of techniques that your therapist can use to identify and address issues that cause and relate to panic attacks. But the approach will typically combine a cognitive and behavioral component. For example:

Cognitive Restructuring

Though only one of many approaches to CBT, one of the key components of CBT for panic attacks is cognitive restructuring, which involves:

  • Identifying Negative Thoughts – Recognizing the automatic negative thoughts that precede or occur during a panic attack.
  • Challenging Irrational Beliefs – Examining the evidence for and against these thoughts and beliefs, and developing more balanced and realistic perspectives.
  • Developing Coping Statements – Creating and utilizing affirmations or coping statements to counteract panic-inducing thoughts during an episode.

Should your therapist determine that this approach will help you address your needs, you will work together on trying to restructure your cognitive habits, along with manage the thoughts you experience during and after panic attacks.

Behavioral Techniques

CBT also incorporates behavioral techniques to reduce the frequency and intensity of panic attacks. Some examples of the techniques that might be deployed include:

  • Exposure Therapy – Gradually and systematically exposing individuals to the physical sensations of panic in a safe and controlled environment to reduce fear and avoidance behaviors.
  • Breathing Exercises – Teaching diaphragmatic breathing techniques to help manage the physical symptoms of panic and promote relaxation.

Keep in mind that these are only a small fraction of the different approaches available, but many therapists use them with panic attacks, especially, since they address some of the behavioral issues that panic attacks cause.

Benefits of CBT for Panic Attacks

While it is only one of many options for panic attacks, CBT offers several advantages in the management of panic attacks, including:

  • Empowerment – By equipping individuals with practical skills and strategies, CBT fosters a sense of control over their symptoms.
  • Reduction in Symptoms – CBT has been shown to significantly reduce the frequency, intensity, and fear of panic attacks.
  • Improved Coping Strategies – Individuals learn effective coping mechanisms that can be applied in real-world situations, enhancing resilience and reducing reliance on avoidance behaviors.

CBT is a personalized and collaborative therapeutic approach, requiring active participation from both the therapist and the individual. Although CBT has been demonstrated to be highly effective for many, it may not be suitable for everyone. Our commitment to providing tailored care involves working closely with each client to determine the most appropriate therapeutic strategies for their unique needs.

For more information or to explore how CBT can help you manage panic attacks, contact Long Island Counseling Services, today. Our dedicated professionals are here to support you in your journey toward recovery, resilience, and enhanced well-being.