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Doctor Blake
Doctor Blake, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 146
Experience:  Ph.D., Ed.S., NCSP Clinical Psychologist; 15+ years of experience; dual licensure
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I am having a series of panic attacks. I have dealt with

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I am having a series of panic attacks . I have dealt with this problem off and every since I was 30 I am now 57. The last medication I was on was on was Buspirone. It made the episodes worse. It happens suddenly, I can hardly stand to drive on the interstate. Just yesterday after coming from town from my walk I was driving and I had one. I am about at my wits end. I feel as if I am going to pass out I get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach feet and hands start to sweat and heart speeds up.

Good morning.

PANIC DISORDER has been described as a catastrophic misinterpretation of mildly elevated physiological responses to the environment. It is considered one of the Anxiety Disorders and, as such, is felt to be related to applying the wrong response to a given situation. That is, fear is an adaptive function that all animals (human and otherwise) are born with... it is not learned, it is innate. When fear (the response) comes at the right situation (a hungry saber-toothed tiger standing in front of you), you're doing GREAT! Fear makes you move (fight or run for your life)! When fear (the response) comes at the wrong situation (at the grocery store or on an elevator or driving down the highway, for example), you're not doing so great - and you need to relearn when/how to apply fear as originally intended.

Research has consistently demonstrated that treatment plus medication is more effective than medication alone or treatment alone for anxiety. Further research has shown that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most effective form of psychological treatment/intervention - particularly in dealing with anxiety disorders (like Panic Disorder).

A licensed psychologist/psychotherapist with specific training in CBT modalities would be able to address your concerns. I would encourage you to find a licensed mental health professional with whom to work, employing CBT. Be sure when you speak to a possible licensed mental health professional that s/he employs CBT techniques - not just "influences from CBT" or "an eclectic approach."

With regard to medical treatment, many/most physicians appear to begin with a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) to treat anxiety. Because I am not an MD, it is beyond my purview to address medication concerns, however. I do know that Paxil and Lexapro both fall under the SSRI family of psychotropics.

Again, the mantra of years of research says: medication or treatment alone is not as effective as both working in tandem. Some research has also indicated that insight-oriented talk therapy is counter-productive with some forms of anxiety disturbance... it actually exacerbates the condition(s) [This is especially true with Panic]. So, seek out a CBT therapist who will provide targeted, efficient, and effective therapy - not someone who signs you as a "lifer." If you're going to a therapist for years, something about the therapy isn't working.

Your psychiatrist *may* know of a CBT licensed mental health professional. Please make certain, however, that they employ CBT practices.

If $$ is a super-big issue, you might want to consider contacting your local Community Mental Health Center. These tend to offer free or greatly reduced cost mental health services, including therapy and/or med management, depending upon your ability to pay.

Thanks. I hope you're well and that this was helpful.

* FEEDBACK ENCOURAGED. Please contact me prior to leaving negative feedback so that we can resolve the matter. I am eager to work with all JA clients to provide them with useful/helpful answers. Thanks again.

Doctor Blake and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

Thanks for your feedback...

I just wanted to follow-up with you regarding your comment that COUNSELING does not help with panic attacks. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) - not talk therapy - is the route to go... Counseling doesn't help and (at worst) can exacerbate the problem. Make certain, if you decide to try it, that your licensed mental health professional (LMHP) is employing CBT - not some "eclectic approach" or merely talk therapy. True CBT can be truly effective.

Thanks. Best of luck to you! (No need to reply)