SOURCE: Dr. Henry Cloud
There is more to look at and work on than just “waiting for the panic attacks to go away.” Usually, in panic disorder, there are significant issues that need to be faced.
First, there can be underlying isolation. If someone is significantly isolated inside, panic comes when this isolation and aloneness are close to being felt.
Secondly, there can be issues around boundaries and freedom. These are the most common in my experience.
Panic attacks usually have some dynamic involved when a person feels powerless in some significant area of life, especially significant relationships. He/She feels like their choices are controlled by someone else or by guilt, and freedom is limited. So, at various times he/she feels the panic that comes from being powerless. Good boundary and assertiveness work can help this dynamic dramatically.
Thirdly, there are often patterns of perfectionistic or “all or nothing thinking.”
Someone interprets his performance or experience in extreme forms, and severe anxiety accompanies that process. He has to learn to look at his thinking patterns and change them. And then there are often autonomy fears and fears associated with independence and adulthood. Sometimes family-of-origin issues need to be examined to get past those dynamics.
With the combination of good medical advice and good counseling, I have all the hope in the world that panic attacks can be helped. I have seen it happen successfully over and over again.