Panic Disorder and Phobias
Individuals who struggle with anxiety may also experience panic attacks and/or develop specific phobias. In addition to cognitive behavioral therapy, such anxiety disorders can benefit from supportive exposure with response prevention. Exposure therapy can assist individuals in learning how to interact with a crowd, or extinguish an exaggerated stress-response.
Many symptoms of panic cause physical sensations in the body which may cause an individual to believe her or she is suffering a medical condition. However, these symptoms last for a discrete amount of time, typically diminishing within minutes.
Signs and Symptoms of a Panic Attack:
- Racing pulse, heart palpitations, and/or chest pain.
- Difficulty breathing or hyperventilation.
- Fear of losing control, going crazy or even dying.
- Shakes or tremors.
- Feelings of depersonalization or detachment from surroundings.
- Nausea or Gastro-Intestinal upset.
- Feeling dizzy or faint.
- Fear of experiencing a panic attack again and/or avoiding situations that may elicit an attack.
- Phobias are characterized by an exaggerated fear by something specific (e.g., heights, insects, needles).
- Intense fear of something that may pose little to no real threat.
- Avoiding normal activities of life due to a specific fear (e.g., not going to a public place due to fear of germs).
- It is normal to experience stress when exposed to an anxiety provoking situation/object. The biggest sign of fears becoming a phobia is if a person goes to great lengths to avoid the trigger and experiences undue stress.
Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder):
- Intense fear of scrutiny, rejection, or embarrassment by others.
- Avoidance of situations that may elicit significant distress/fear (dating, public speaking, dining, etc.)
- Anticipatory anxiety prior to a social event, beyond what is expected (worrying for days prior to a dinner date)
- The avoidance, fear, and anticipatory anxiety interferes with the person’s daily routine, social life, and occupational functioning.
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