Graded Exposure to Help With Panic Attacks

Panic attacks can wreak havoc on your lifestyle and your friends and family around you. Maybe you're afraid to go into the grocery store or you're unable to go to a friends house without having a panic attack set in. These attacks can be triggered by a variety of different things and learning how you can manage them is vital to living your life the way you want to. 

Panic attacks generally contain four out of a list of 13 different physical symptoms that show up. Symptoms such as heart racing, hot flashes or chills that come on suddenly, stomach problems or you may feel like you're going crazy. Any of these can show up and it can really make it difficult for you to go through your daily life. There is a therapy that is working for many people just like you to help you learn how to work through those panic attacks. 

Graded Exposure or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
One therapist refers to CBT as "graded exposure" therapy. This is where you are exposed to the trigger that seems to cause your panic attacks in a safe place, while you're learning techniques to deal with the ensuing symptoms you go through. Your therapist will work with you to slowly expose you to the things that cause your attacks such as closed in spaces, concerns with your heart racing during activities or if you're afraid to go to certain locations. They will work with you to find techniques of relaxation to assist you in bringing your mind and body back to a place of rest. 

This therapy is working wonders for many people who deal with panic attacks on a daily basis. This gives you the tools you need to help you face the situation head on and learn how you can manage your symptoms. Talk with a trusted counselor or therapist to see how this therapy may help you in day-to-day life.

Tartakovsky, M. "Living With Panic Attacks".PsychCentral.(Website).(November 2015)
  • 11 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • I have tried this and it works. I had a major panic attack in a car and was afraid to get into a car for years. Then I would sit in my driveway and just put on the seat belt and my heart would race. I knew I wasn't going anywhere, but my body kept reacting. I kept doing this each day until it subsided and two weeks ago I went on a 5 hour road trip!
  • That is wonderful that this has worked for you. Going on a 5 hour road trip is a huge step from where you started from. This is a very good method to use to fight off panic attacks. I have had panic attacks for various reasons and they are not fun. I have not tried this method but I think it would be something that would work for some of my situations. Sometimes, you just have do what scares you to prove to yourself that you can do it and it is not as you feared it to be.
  • That sounds like that could be helpful. It seems very similar to the old adage "to conquer your fear, you must face the fear," or whatever the saying is. The more you get used to something, the less fearful it gets.
  • I don't know what my trigger is or they are. It just happens to me over night and I believe that it is the result of post-traumatic stress that lingers with me for more than a year. I had some bad experience in an air plane that almost crashed and it was really terrifying. After landing I had some more bad and stressful experience and after that my tremors, panic attacks and anxiety begun.
  • Once again a really informative post. As some of you know, I'm starting my first job in a few days and I have social anxiety, so I hope that dealing with some people will make me suffer from less anxiety attacks.
  • Oh yes, I have heard about this therapy, but under a different name.  I have heard it works great for people with OCD and anxiety issues, but I have so far not tried it, because my OCD issues are not as big as they used to be :)  I still have issues with social anxiety... I hate being the first one to greet people when arriving to a place,  going grocery shopping alone and at times I feel so nervous when I am surrounded by a lot people in a crowded place.  I don't have full blown anxiety attacks though. 
  • Thanks so much for your support! I felt so accomplished after that road trip. I felt like I could do anything once I did that. It just helped me feel strong enough to do more in my life and not be afraid. I am going to conquer fear this year. 
  • I think that graded exposure can be a great thing, but I also believe that it needs to be overseen by a professional to make sure that you don't try to do things too quickly - as this can set you back a very long way indeed. I have been trying this myself for some time, and there were some things that I would have thought horrific in years gone by that I can now do without any issues at all. 
  • I don't ken what my trigger is or they are. It just transpires to me over night and I believe that it is the result of post-traumatic stress that lingers with me for more than a year. I had some deplorable experience in an air plane that virtually crashed and it was authentically terrifying. After landing I had some more deplorable and stressful experience and after that my tremors, panic attacks and apprehensiveness commenced.
  • I've heard about this in school a lot, therapists also use this type of therapy when a person wants to beat a phobia, and it actually works. Even saying that, I still cannot imagine how hard this process would be for the person involved, I think that you should be really committed to it.
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