Panic Disorders Treatment in San Diego

Understanding Panic Disorders

Panic disorders are anxiety disorders where you regularly have sudden attacks of panic or fear, often for no apparent reason. While everyone experiences anxiety and panic as a response to stressful or dangerous situations, individuals with panic disorders will experience anxiety, stress, and panic regularly and at any time. Panic attacks themselves are not dangerous to your health, however, frequent attacks can severely impact your quality of life and other issues. Panic disorders treatment in San Diego can help individuals decrease panic attack severity and frequency to live a more normal life.

Panic attacks are brief episodes of intense anxiety, which cause physical sensations of fear. A person can experience a racing heartbeat, dizziness, trembling, shortness of breath, and muscle tension. They can last anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour and leave physical and emotional effects lasting for a few hours. Panic disorder involves multiple unexpected panic attacks, varying in severity from person to person. Some people may experience panic attacks a few times a month while others experience them daily.

Untreated panic disorders can severely impact the quality of life, including not leaving the house out of fear of experiencing a panic attack. A mental health clinic in San Diego can offer comprehensive treatment plans needed to help overcome panic disorders. Alter Mental Health panic treatment provides personalized treatment plans to help patients regain control of their mental health and reach long-term mental health. We offer short-term, intensive panic disorder treatment options in San Diego, including medication management, behavioral therapy options, and holistic services.

Click here to contact Alter Mental Health San Diego at 657-218-5095 to learn about using our short-term crisis stabilization unit for individuals struggling with an acute mental health crisis.

Symptoms of Panic Disorders

Panic attack severity and frequency will range greatly from person to person. Generally, a panic attack begins suddenly and peaks within 10 to 20 minutes. Some people may continue to experience some symptoms for an hour or more. They include physical symptoms similar to a heart attack, including rapid heart rate, chest pain, tingling, and trembling.

While every person will experience panic attacks differently, some panic disorder symptoms include:

    • Sudden and repeated panic attacks of overwhelming fear and anxiety.

    • Intense worrying about when the next panic attack will happen.

    • Avoiding places where panic attacks have occurred in the past.

    • Feelings of being out of control or fear of death or impending doom during a panic attack.

    • Symptoms of a panic attack, such as:
        • Pounding or racing heart.

        • Trembling.

        • Chills.

        • Chest pain or discomfort.

        • Sweating.

        • Weakness or dizziness.

        • Chest pain.

        • Tingly or numb hands.

        • Stomach pain or nausea.

        • Difficulty breathing.

        • Fear of dying.

        • Feelings of detachment.

Panic disorders can cause individuals to change their behavior at home, school, or work and often worry about their panic attacks’ effects. Individuals can also experience other mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. Sometimes, recalling a past attack may trigger another one.

Diagnosing Panic Disorders in San Diego

Often, individuals with panic disorders first seek treatment at an emergency room as panic attack symptoms may feel like a heart attack. A healthcare provider will perform a physical and mental health assessment to diagnose the person properly. They will need to rule out any medical conditions that cause similar symptoms as panic attacks such as thyroid disease, heart disease, and respiratory problems. Tests may include an ECG or EKG and blood tests to rule out any of these conditions or substance use.

Once they have ruled out any physical causes, a doctor may refer you to a mental health specialist who can properly perform a psychological evaluation, including talking about your symptoms, fears or concerns, relationship problems, stressful situations, and family history. 

Not every person who has a panic attack has a panic disorder. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), lays out the following criteria for diagnosing panic disorders:

    • Frequent, unexpected panic attacks.

    • At least one panic attack has been followed by one month or more of ongoing worry about having another attack, ongoing fear of the consequences of an attack (i.e., losing control, having a heart attack, or “going crazy”), or significant changes to behavior, such as avoiding situations that may trigger a panic attack.

    • Panic attacks are not caused by drugs or other substance use, medical conditions, or other mental health conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or social phobia.

Individuals who experience panic attacks but are not diagnosed with panic disorders can still benefit from treatment. Untreated panic attacks can get worse or more frequent, developing into a panic disorder.

Panic Disorders Treatment San Diego

Panic Disorder Treatment Options in San Diego

The goal of treatment for panic disorders is to reduce the severity and frequency of panic attacks. San Diego has several panic disorder treatment options depending on the severity of symptoms and personal preferences. Psychotherapy and medication management are the two main types of treatment for panic disorders. Individuals are also encouraged to make certain lifestyle changes and incorporate self-care techniques to treat their panic disorders as well.

Outpatient treatment options, such as seeing a therapist or psychiatrist every week or every other week, can be enough for those with mild panic disorders or seeking early treatment. However, panic disorders can be severe or take a sudden downturn, leading to a mental health crisis. Individuals may be at risk of hurting themselves or others, or incapable of taking care of themselves, which requires immediate, intensive treatment through hospitalization or crisis stabilization units. Panic disorder treatment options can include around-the-clock monitoring and treatment to stabilize individuals and get them on track toward long-term care.

Treatment Types

San Diego mental health services offer several treatment types to treat panic disorders. Every person experiences panic disorders differently and requires personalized treatment plans to treat their unique case. Alter Mental Health panic treatment will include medication management, various forms of therapy, group therapy, family and community support, and referral for ongoing services as part of our whole-person wellness plans. Our first step is to use in-depth assessment methods to diagnose you and properly create a personalized treatment plan. Clinicians will use various evidence-based behavioral therapies and medication management to stabilize panic disorders, including:

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a widely used form of psychotherapy for treating various mental health disorders, including panic disorders. It is based on the notion that people’s feelings, thoughts, and perceptions influence their actions and behaviors. Therapists at Alter Mental Health use CBT to help patients develop coping skills related to panic and anxiety attacks, including breathing and relaxation techniques, cognitive restructuring and refocusing, and skills training. CBT can also help people evaluate the triggers of their attacks and learn how to make those events less triggering.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Panic disorders can be successfully treated with dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a form of cognitive behavioral therapy. DBT aims to train individuals in mindfulness, distress tolerance, and emotion regulation, which helps learn to manage panic attacks effectively. It is also helpful in addressing underlying causes of panic disorders. Individuals will become more aware of their thoughts and feelings so they can respond to them in a healthier manner, reducing the severity and frequency of panic attacks.

Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT)

Solution-focused therapy (SFT) is one of the evidence-based therapies we use at Alter Mental Health to reduce panic disorder symptoms quickly. SFT helps people find solutions to their challenges and identify a path forward in a short amount of time. It helps people find solutions to their panic disorder through skills and strengths they already possess, instead of developing them like they would through other forms of therapy. They can handle situations, negative emotions, and behaviors more quickly through skill sets already possessed.

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a powerful evidence-based therapy used to help our patients become more engaged in their journey toward recovery and make the necessary changes to better their quality of life. Patients can better recognize problems in their lives that are contributing to their panic disorders and resolve treatment-related insecurities. MI helps motivate and empower patients to adhere to treatment plans and make the necessary changes to reduce panic disorder symptoms.

Psychoeducational and Process Groups

Alter Mental Health incorporates group therapy into our treatment programs to help patients connect with others who are struggling with similar mental health disorders so they can learn, support, and heal together. Psychoeducational and process groups will place individuals with similar diagnoses to receive therapy together. Led by one of our therapists, these groups aim to educate patients about their disorders and how to manage symptoms. People can share their struggles with panic disorders with others who can offer feedback and advice based on their own personal experiences.

Holistic Practices

At Alter Mental Health, our whole-person wellness approach to panic disorders includes holistic practices to help people heal at the body, mind, and spirit levels. Holistic practices support conventional, evidence-based therapies through stress reduction techniques, mindfulness, and overall wellness. Part of our holistic practices includes nutrition and physical exercise to help the body and mind heal naturally. People can improve their mental health and panic disorder symptoms through proper diet, exercise, and self-care techniques.

Click here to contact Alter Mental Health San Diego at 657-218-5095 to learn about using our short-term crisis stabilization unit for individuals struggling with an acute mental health crisis.

Why Choose Alter Mental Health for Panic Disorders Treatment

Alter Mental Health offers San Diego mental health services for panic disorders. We offer an alternative to inpatient hospitalization during times of crisis to stabilize mental health disorders and help get people on the path toward long-term treatment. Patients receive 24-hour supervision and personalized evidence-based treatment in a comfortable and private setting. Our crisis stabilization unit offers fewer than 16 beds, which allows our clinicians to provide the individualized care necessary in a quiet and tranquil setting. Through our effective 6-Step Stabilization Plan, patients will be properly diagnosed, provided a safe space, and on their way toward long-term mental health. Before being discharged, every patient is given referrals for ongoing services so they can continue working on panic disorder recovery as they return to home life. If you or someone you love is struggling with panic disorders in San Diego, call us at 657-218-5095 or contact us online to get answers to any questions you may have or to begin the admissions process as soon as possible.