Unformatted text preview: han other people to develop panic disorder (Maller & Reiss, 1992). Other
studies have found that individuals with panic disorder typically earn higher anxiety
sensitivity scores than other persons do (Dattilio, 2001; McNally, 2001). Cognitive Therapy Cognitive therapists try to correct people’s misinterpretations © The New Yorker Collection 1996, Peter Steiner, from Cartoonbank.com of their body sensations (McCabe & Antony, 2005). The first step is to educate clients
about the general nature of panic attacks, the actual causes of bodily sensations, and the
tendency of clients to misinterpret their sensations. The next step is to teach clients to
apply more accurate interpretations during stressful situations, thus short-circuiting the
panic sequence at an early point. Therapists may also teach clients to cope better with
anxiety—for example, by applying relaxation and breathing techniques—and to distract
themselves from their sensations, perhaps by striking up a conversation with someone.
In addition, cognitive therapists may use biological challenge procedures to induce
panic sensations, so that clients can apply their new skills under watchful supervision
(Meuret et al., 2005). Individuals whose attacks typically are triggered by a rapid heart
rate, for example, may be told to jump up and down for several minutes or to run up a
flight of stairs. They can then practice interpreting the resulting sensations appropriately,
without dwelling on them.
According to research, cognitive treatments often help people with panic disorder
(Marchand et al., 2009; Otto & Deveney, 2005). In a number of international studies, 85
percent of participants given these treatments have been found to be free of panic for
two years or more, compared to only 13 percent of control participants. Such cognitive “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear what you said. I was listening to my body.” ComFun6e_Ch04_C!.indd 120 12/10/09 11:16:28 AM :// 121 Scott Gries/Getty Images Anxiety Disorders treatments also are helpful for many persons whose panic disorders are accompanied
by agoraphobia. For some individuals with the agoraphobic pattern, therapists further
add exposure techniques to the cognitive treatment program—an addition that has
produced particularly high success rates.
Cognitive therapy has proved to be at least as helpful as antidepressant drugs or
alprazolam in the treatment of panic disorder, sometimes even more so (McCabe &
Antony, 2005). In view of the effectiveness of both cognitive and drug treatments, many
clinicians have tried combining them ( Julien, 2008; Baskin, 2007). It is not yet clear,
however, whether this strategy is more effective than cognitive therapy alone. SUMMING UP
Panic attacks are periodic, short bouts of panic that occur suddenly. Sufferers of
panic disorder experience such attacks repeatedly and unexpectedly and without
apparent reason. When panic disorder leads to agoraphobia, it is termed panic
disorder with agoraphobia.
Some biological theorists believe that abnormal norepinephrine activity in the brain...
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