Panic attacks are a severe form of anxiety that can make you feel out of control and helpless. It can cause a wide range of symptoms, including heart palpitations, chest pain, dizziness, and shortness of breath. However, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a highly effective treatment that can provide relief to patients struggling with panic attacks.
DBT is an evidence-based therapy initially designed for individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). However, it has also proven helpful for treating other psychological conditions such as anxiety disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders, and mood disorders.
DBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that focuses on improving one’s emotional regulation, interpersonal relationships, and mindfulness skills. It aims to create a safe and supportive environment to help individuals manage their emotions effectively.
In DBT, patients learn four primary modules: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.
1. Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the core component of DBT, which focuses on training individuals to be present and aware of their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Mindfulness helps individuals to recognize their emotions and thoughts without judgment.
2. Distress Tolerance: Distress tolerance skills are taught to help individuals manage painful emotions without resorting to unhealthy behaviors like self-harm or substance abuse.
3. Emotion Regulation: DBT teaches patients how to identify and regulate emotions effectively. This skill is particularly useful for individuals with anxiety, panic attacks, and other mood disorders.
4. Interpersonal Effectiveness: This module helps individuals communicate effectively and assertively in their interpersonal interactions. This skill is helpful for individuals who struggle with social anxiety and panic attacks.
Recent research has shown that DBT can be a highly effective intervention for panic attacks. A study published in 2019 found that DBT was helpful in reducing panic attack frequency, intensity, and catastrophic beliefs associated with panic attacks.
Another study published in 2017 showed that DBT was effective in reducing anxiety and phobia in patients with panic disorder. The study compared DBT to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which showed no significant difference between the two interventions.
However, DBT has some unique advantages over CBT. DBT has a more significant focus on mindfulness and emotion regulation, which provides a more comprehensive approach to managing panic attacks. Additionally, DBT therapists often provide phone coaching, which is not available in other types of therapy.
In conclusion, DBT is an evidence-based and comprehensive approach to managing panic attacks. DBT’s core components of mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness make it effective in helping patients manage their anxiety and panic attacks effectively. If you or someone you know is struggling with panic attacks, DBT may be a viable treatment option to pursue.