Panic Attack Treatment Plan

Click here to learn more about panic disorder and how having a panic attack treatment plan can support your clients.

By Chloe Smith on Jul 15, 2024.

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Fact Checked by Nate Lacson.

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What is panic disorder?

Individuals with panic disorder have frequent and unexpected panic attacks. These attacks are characterized by an uncomfortable wave of fear even when no clear danger exists. It's important to remember that not everyone who experiences a panic attack will develop a panic (National Institute of Mental Health, 2022).

Panic disorder can sometimes run through families. There have been researchers that have found several parts of the brain and its certain biological processes that may play a large part in anxiety symptoms (National Institute of Mental Health, 2022).

An interesting way to think of panic attacks is like it is a "false alarm". This is where the body has survival instinct that are often active too strongly or too often. National Institute of Mental Health (2022) uses the example of "someone with panic disorder might feel their heart pounding and assume they're having a heart attack. This may lead to a vicious cycle, causing a person to experience panic attacks seemingly out of the blue, the central feature of panic disorder."

Panic Attack Treatment Plan Template

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Panic Attack Treatment Plan Example

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Panic attack symptoms

Various panic attack symptoms go unnoticed. If an individual is suffering from panic attacks, they are likely experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • anxious or irrational thinking
  • strong feeling of dread or danger
  • fear of dying, going mad, or losing control
  • feeling lightheaded and dizzy
  • tingles and chills, particularly in the arms/hands
  • trembling, shaking, and sweating
  • hot flushes
  • accelerated heart rate
  • breathing difficulties
  • nausea
  • dry mouth
  • tense muscles
  • feelings of detachment

As you can see, the list of symptoms is long. Panic attacks can feel life-threatening. However, they usually aren't. That's why it is crucial to remain calm when supporting someone having a panic attack.

A panic attack typically feels like a flight or fight response (Better Health Channel, 2012). This is a human response to a dangerous situation. Often, those who have a panic disorder may find that their flight and fight signals are getting messed up.

What problems can panic attacks lead to if left unmanaged?

Panic attacks can be managed through treatment plans and medication. However, if panic disorder symptoms are left unmanaged, they may lead to other anxiety disorders that can impact the treatment outcome as well as contribute to future panic attacks.

Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is the fear of being in situations where escape might be harrowing (Panic Disorder, 2023). This makes it difficult for individuals to leave the house, go out in public, and travel alone. Individuals with agoraphobia may avoid their everyday activities because of this phobia. This can create more panic attacks and put them at an increased risk of continuing the anxiety cycle.

Substance abuse

Having the body at a constant level of stress constantly can put that individual at an increased risk for substance abuse (Panic Disorder, 2023). Often, caffeine increases the risk of anxiety as it is a stimulant, and it is recommended to drop caffeine intake to support slowing the rate of panic attacks.

Future panic disorder

It can be important to recognize panic attacks in children while they are young. Although they are more likely to be seen in teenagers than very young children, it is a good idea to be able to recognize the symptoms and get support for them (Panic Disorder, 2023). Leaving panic attacks unattended during childhood and adolescence can do more damage to the individual by increasing their risk of developing a panic disorder later.

How is panic disorder treated?

The treatment of panic disorder can vary depending on the symptoms present. The treatment will be directed by a mental health professional working closely with the client. The main options for this mental health condition are psychotherapy and medication (Mayo Clinic, 2018).

Psychotherapy

This is a practical first choice for panic disorders. Engaging in psychotherapy will support the client to comprehend what is going on in their body and mind when there is a panic attack occurring. Doing this therapy will also help them to learn how to cope using relaxation techniques.

Specifically, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) being used to treat panic disorder can support the client to learn from their own experience that physical symptoms are not life-threatening. Mayo Clinic (2018) suggests that the therapist will slowly re-create the symptoms of a panic attack in a safe place. Once the sensations of panic no longer feel dangerous, the attacks can begin to resolve.

Some individuals may be put off from psychotherapy as it may take a while to see symptoms reduce. Depending on the individual, symptoms may reduce within several weeks or go away within several months.

Medications

Medications for panic disorder may be used depending on the wishes of the client. There are a range of psychological medications that can be used to support individuals on their mental health journey. Beginning medication for a mental health condition can be worrying. It's important to note that everyone is different when it comes to taking medication. Here are a few that the Mayo Clinic (2018) suggests have been approved by the FDA to support panic attacks:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): These are the first choice of medication to treat panic attacks. These may include fluoxetine, paroxetine, and sertraline.
  • Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs): This is another class of antidepressants. They can be used to treat panic attacks.
  • Benzodiazepines: These are central nervous system depressants. Alprazolam and clonazepam are approved to be used for the treatment of panic disorder. They are typically only used on a short-term basis. Often, individuals who have struggled with drug or alcohol dependency are guided away from this choice.

How does our Panic Attack Treatment Plan work?

Carepatron's Panic Attack Treatment Plan works in three easy steps.

Step one: Obtain the Panic Attack Treatment Plan

You can do this by navigating the Carepatron templates page or following the link below. You'll want to download the plan to your chosen device from here. You can utilize the document on your device or have it as a physical copy through its printable version.

Step two: Talk with your client

It may be appropriate to suggest creating a plan for the panic attacks during your session. This helps you and your client know the preferable measures when the attacks occur. It also helps you both stay current on any new medication information.

Step three: Manage the treatment plan

As the final step, you'll want to keep this plan for future reference. You can do this by securely storing it in the Carepatron system. This way, you can rest assured knowing your document will be secure with personal information and won't get lost.

What are the benefits of having a Panic Attack Treatment Plan?

There are many benefits when it comes to creating a treatment plan with your clients.

Understanding triggers

This treatment plan supports understanding certain triggers the client may have when it comes to their panic attacks. By comprehending triggers, clients can work with their therapist or any mental health professional on coping skills.

Customized approach

Treatment plans can be tailored to the needs of your client. This way, they can involve patient-centred thinking and support the client to think for themselves during therapy sessions. This can help patients understand their needs and even their families.

Building coping skills

Designing a treatment plan that is aimed at the support of panic attacks as well as panic disorder allows clients to develop their coping skills to manage the attacks. This can include learning techniques that calm the mind and body and developing a toolbox of other strategies when faced with triggering situations.

Education

Having an understanding of the nature of panic attacks and what they do to the body can be empowering. Education within therapy sessions, as well as being able to identify symptoms, can help bring attention to the experience and reduce anxiety associated with having more attacks.

References

Better Health Channel. (2012). Panic attack. Vic.gov.au. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/panic-attack

Mayo Clinic. (2018, May 4). Panic attacks and panic disorder - Diagnosis and treatment - Mayo Clinic. Mayoclinic.org. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/panic-attacks/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20376027

National Institute of Mental Health. (2022). Panic Disorder: When Fear Overwhelms. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/panic-disorder-when-fear-overwhelms#:~:text=What%20is%20panic%20disorder%3F

Panic disorder. (2023). Www.nhsinform.scot. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/mental-health/panic-disorder#complications

What are common treatments for panic attacks?
What are common treatments for panic attacks?

Commonly asked questions

What are common treatments for panic attacks?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and medications, such as SSRIs, are often used to address panic attack symptoms.

Can lifestyle changes help manage panic attacks?

Yes, adopting new stress-reducing practices, regular exercise, and a good amount of sleep can support treatment plans as well as reduce the frequency of panic attacks.

How long does it take to see improvements with treatment?

It will vary for each person. Individuals may experience refills within a few days, weeks, or months. Of course, this will depend on the chosen treatment of panic disorders and the individual's response.

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