Theoretical Approaches to Treating Panic Disorder

Topics: Psychotherapy, Panic disorder, Anxiety Pages: 7 (2488 words) Published: July 15, 2011
Theoretical Approaches to Treating Panic Disorder
Michael Figel
Psy 6310
Dr. Wilmshurst
22 May 2011

Trembling limbs, pounding heart so frantic that a heart attack is certain to commence, sweat dripping from the forehead as fate seems lurking around the corner. Panic Disorder is so traumatic that the intense fear one suffers can make them feel they are going to die, or their experience of other physical distress result in not being able to cope with living. Those that suffer from panic disorder experience anxiety that affects its victims emotionally, physically as well as mentally. While many people are affected by it in one way or another, anxiety and panic disorder is far more serious and detrimental to the well-being and ability to function in the lives of those affected by the disorder. There is a great deal of research on the subject of panic disorder, and in order for panic disorder to be effectively treated, a number of variables must be considered and put into practice. As the research presented in this written work will support, it is the education opinion of this writer that empirical research supports that when there is a positive, productive relationship between patient and therapist, and research is conducted under standardized criteria, that naturalistic psychotherapy is advantageous in treating symptoms and sources of panic disorder.

Beyond Brand Names of Psychotherapy (Ablon,2006) illustrates the anxiety a patient experiences to an inconvenient distraction that should be disregarded. Anxiety is not the “signal” that provides clues to a world of personal meaning and significance; it is a kind of “white noise” accompanying a dysfunctional nervous system. And just as it makes no sense to listen to white noise, this literature indicates that seeking to understand the personal significance of anxiety per se is inherently contradictory. Treatment, therefore, focuses not on the meaning of the patient’s anxiety but on the maladaptive habits involved to avoid the anxiety (2006). Therefore, as Ablon et al clarifies in this statement, clinicians should not aim to cure, over analyze, or explain. The ability to function and create a therapeutic solution to the presented disorder should keep the patient honed in on the ultimate goal of their treatment. As the therapists focus is on the psychodynamic process and a positive therapeutic relationship, likewise the patient will gradually gain a solid foundation for effective therapy to begin.

Panic Disorders can also occur in other anxiety disorders, despite whether or not a person is classified as suffering from an anxiety disorder (Roth, Wilhelm & Pettit, 2005). The National Institute of Mental Health’s Committee on Standardized Assessment for Panic Disorder Research is a nationwide assembly of mental health experts and other professionals that are dedicated to the research, experiment, and treatment of those that suffer from panic disorder. The existence of such a committee speaks to the need for professional, objective research that can service the population of panic disorder patients. Roth et al (2005) clinically analyze and describe panic as, “anxiety without an obvious immediate triggering stimulus, an anxiety which over time can lead to avoidance of situations that are difficult to leave quickly, and whose somatic symptoms lead to concerns about heart disease or physical illness (2005).”

Many researchers such as Roth focus on only explaining the panic and analyzing the effects that can take place. While this is valid in one’s research, it is the role of the psychotherapist to go deeper and explore the source. As (Teachman, 2010) describes, “According to the cognitive model of panic, change is attained through a shift in the way one interprets feared bodily and mental events”. Anxiety is the product of an underlying emotion that should be further explored in order for effective psychotherapy to take place. Ablon et al (2006) is referenced regarding...
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