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Panic Disorder Treatment

Panic disorder is characterized by the repeated experience of sudden and very intense feelings of fear, often experienced as terror. These panic attacks often seem to strike without warning or “out of the blue.”

People with panic disorder often can’t predict when an attack will happen. As a result, they often develop intense anxiety between episodes, as they worry about when and where their next panic attack will happen because it could be anytime or anywhere. At other times, people can predict when and where a panic attack will happen and then they learn to fear and avoid those situations (which results in conditions such as agoraphobia).

The symptoms of a panic attack include:

  • Racing or pounding heart;
  • Chest pain;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Feeling of being smothered;
  • Faintness, weakness or dizziness;
  • Tightness in chest;
  • Feeling of being choked, tightness in the throat;
  • Numbness or tingling;
  • Feeling cold, hot or flushed;
  • Sense of unreality or depersonalization; and
  • Fear of impending doom, loss of control.

As a result of these intense symptoms, people experiencing a panic attack often believe that they are going to die from a heart attack or stroke or that they are losing their mind.

Panic attacks can happen at any time, even during sleep. People most often describe their attacks as having a sudden onset and peaking within ten minutes. However, others describe their attacks as building. When people experience repeated, unexpected panic attacks, they start to expect them and begin to avoid places and situations in which they have experienced them, for example, going to the mall, going shopping, driving a car, riding in elevators, riding the subway, going to class, going to movies. When people start to avoid activities to an extent that it causes significant distress and impairment in their social and occupational functioning, they have developed agoraphobia.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the most effective treatment for panic disorder, with or without agoraphobia. CBT is effective for 90% of people with panic disorder and early treatment can often stop the development of agoraphobia. Panic attacks and panic disorder often occur along with other problems, including depression, substance use, and other types of anxiety problems. In addition, the symptoms can be very similar to those of a heart attack, stroke or other medical problem, so it is important to consult your family doctor to rule out a physical cause for your symptoms. After that, a proper and thorough differential diagnostic assessment by a psychiatrist or psychologist is the first step towards effective treatment.

Why choose CBT Associates?

CBT Associates is a large, well-established and rapidly-growing network of clinics that provides evidence-based psychological services to children, adolescents, adults of all ages, and couples.

We are a highly-qualified group of over 50 psychologists and psychological associates who provide personalized, compassionate, respectful and discreet treatment with the highest level of... Read More

What is the policy for cancelled or missed appointments?

To help us reliably meet the needs of all our clients, we must ask you to provide 24 hours’ notice when cancelling or rescheduling an appointment. Appointments without sufficient notice will be charged the full fee.

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What is a psychologist?


  • Are registered healthcare professionals who are regulated like physicians, surgeons, and dentists.
  • Work with individuals, groups and organizations to promote positive change by assessing and treating psychological problems.
  • Are trained to assess problems accurately using psychological tests and semi-structured interviews.... Read More
What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

Psychologists are closely aligned with psychiatrists as both are highly-trained professionals. Psychiatrists are oriented toward pharmaceutical solutions (some illnesses in fact lend themselves to medication versus talk therapy, such as severe depression or schizophrenia); while psychologists are oriented toward talk therapy as a solution.

Psychologists and psychiatrists both undertake... Read More

What is the difference between a psychotherapist and a psychologist?

The first important difference between psychotherapists and psychologists is the number of years of education and training required to register by each college. The College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario requires members to complete any recognized training program in psychotherapy, with 450 hours of direct client contact, and 100 hours of clinical supervision. In contrast, to... Read More

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