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What Works for Panic Attacks?

answered 09:05 AM EST, Wed October 26, 2011
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I get panic attacks sometimes but my doctor says I do not have panic disorder. He recommended that I try biofeedback to learn to control my body at the onset of an attack and that by learning to relax my body as anxiety builds I’d be able to stop panic attacks before they really get started. Is biofeedback an effective treatment for panic? It sounds a little bit crazy, actually, but I will try anything that might work.

William Anderson Says...

Panic attacks are episodes or "spells" of intense fear accompanied by a handful of uncomfortable symptoms like pounding heartbeat, sweating, trembling, nausea, dizziness, chest pain and more. It can feel like you're going crazy or dying. Your body goes out of control and there's nothing you can do about it.

Actually, biofeedback training can be helpful in learning how to manage panic attacks. The feedback you get from the machines helps you to learn how to control body functions that you are not usually in control of. Like the training we engage in to play a musical instrument or potty train, we become aware of information coming to our senses that we have not paid attention to, and with practice, we can develop skill sets that we didn't have before the training. You can get control of body functions that you may have believed were beyond your control.

However, I am confused by your reference to panic attacks, your doctor saying you don't have a panic disorder, and then the doctor recommending biofeedback to learn how to control your body at the onset of an attack. It sounds like you are, in fact, having real panic attacks, not just times of being anxious. Otherwise, he would not be talking about controlling your body at the onset of an attack.  

Make sure you have your condition diagnosed and treated by a doctor that specializes in treating anxiety disorders. That's a psychiatrist. Disorders that have panic attacks usually are best treated with both behavior therapy and medications, at least until you eliminate the occurences of the panic attacks and learn how to manage things so you don't have them anymore.

There is no mystery in modern psychiatry about how to successfully treat panic attacks and panic disorder. It's very treatable. Make sure you are looking into all available treatments. It sounds like you have only begun to learn about what you are having. With a little diligence, you'll have this problem well managed.  

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Page last updated Oct 26, 2011

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