Today, I will talk about how panic disorder develops. If you do not know what the negative cycle of panic disorder is like, and how you get stuck in a panic loop, then this article can be very helpful. We also have a video of this article if you prefer that format. The following flowchart details how panic disorder develops:
We start off here with the triggers which include the physical sensations of anxiety response, increased heart rate, palpitations, and chest pains. So this situation associated with chest pains induces thoughts about what’s happening. So you start thinking: “I’m having a heart attack.” So these thoughts in turn induce anxiety and terror, and then you have the physical sensations of the adrenaline response, in which you have increased rate of breathing, shortness of breath, sweating, muscle tension. So these anxiety symptoms and the physical symptoms of anxiety are induced by your thoughts that you may be having a heart attack.
In turn, these anxiety symptoms are quite uncomfortable, so the anxiety makes you avoid. So what you do then is that you try to escape the situation, and you also avoid any triggers which may be inducing a panic attack. However, the avoidance maintains your belief that you are indeed having a heart attack, and this continues the negative cycle of panic disorder.
So although the avoidant behaviors decrease your anxiety over the short term, the behaviors actually maintain your overall anxiety from the feared stimulus. So the avoidance then maintains your belief that you are having a heart attack. This then continues the negative vicious cycle, in which your feared stimulus induces thoughts, which induces anxiety, which compels you to avoid.
So instead of just exposing yourself to the trigger and finding out nothing bad will occur, you avoid the trigger and this maintains your belief that you are having a heart attack. So with avoidance, you never get to find out that the anxiety will go away naturally if you just stay with your trigger.
The solution then for addressing your panic attacks and your panic disorder is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps to break the negative cycle of panic disorder by changing how you think, and what you do. It is difficult to change the way you feel, so the focus is on changing the way you think, and the way you do things.
For more information and help on panic disorder and other anxiety problems, please browse the rest of anxietyboss.com.