There are different research results suggesting that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is effective in the treatment of the panic disorder. Researchers reported that CBT combined with cognitive restructuring and exposure in the treatment of panic disorder have a stronger effect compared to the others.
In the 1-year follow-up study, it was found that there was almost no change in the treatment effect of CBT and that the effect of pharmacological treatment was decreased. This finding indicated that CBT may be more effective than pharmacological treatments in preventing the recurrence of panic attack symptoms.
What is panic disorder?
Panic disorder is a debilitating mental disorder categorized by recurring panic attacks, abrupt changes in mood, over-wrought worry for no good reason, and chronic instances of physical complaints often ignored by others.
CBT Formulation Says Panic Starts With Catastrophe and Misinterpretation
According to the CBT formulation, the panic attack cycle begins with the catastrophe and misinterpretation of a series of events, physical sensations, or mental events. While disasters and misinterpreted stimuli are usually the normal consequences of conditions such as situational changes in blood pressure, stress, and fatigue, the person misinterprets these symptoms.
These misinterpretations include thoughts such as drowning, having a heart attack, and losing control, which are quite convincing at the time. When misinterpretations occur, security and avoidance behaviors towards coping develop, and selective attention to internal events causes the problem to persist.
In the CBT approach, the nature of panic attacks and the cycle of panic attacks are explained to patients with panic disorder within the scope of psychoeducation. For cognitive restructuring, it is attempted to recognize the misinterpretations of bodily sensations such as heart attack or fever, which are effective in the panic attack cycle.
Another technique used to change the panic attack cycle is exposure. exposure is a method that is applied to clients with mental problems accompanied by dysfunctional avoidance behaviors by confronting the emotional reactions and stimulating their reactions and often trying to prevent their escape or safety behaviors.