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APTC Blog

Group Treatment for Panic and Phobias

People who have experienced the escalating terror of a panic attack can understand how the fear of having another one--especially in a public place--can come to dominate a person's life. Researchers are still trying to understand what causes some people to be vulnerable to panic attacks and not others. Some already known risk factors are gender--women are twice as likely as men to develop panic disorder--as well as having an anxious, avoidant personality type, and having close relatives with Panic Disorder.

Highly anxious parents may model that behavior to their children, and high levels of stress in the home during a person's upbringing may also predispose someone to panic attacks. Whether stressful life events like a job loss, a relationship break-up or a severe family feud can actually cause panic attacks is currently being studied. A recent study conducted by the Harvard/Brown Anxiety Research Program examined how stressful life events affect the course and intensity of panic symptoms in people who already suffer from Panic Disorder. The results were that stressful life events can and do cause panic symptoms to get worse--but not right away. Stressful life events apparently cause panic to get worse gradually, in the weeks or months following the event.

Along with individual therapy, the Anxiety and Panic Treatment Center offers a 16 week Panic and Phobias group, which meets on Tuesday afternoons and is led by Elke Zuercher-White, Ph.D., ABPP. The group address panic and phobic fears and avoidance, both cognitively and behaviorally, as well as relapse prevention. Clients learn to understand where phobic fears come from, what maintains and reinforces the fears, and how to overcome them.

Cost is under a hundred dollars per session and may be payable through insurance depending on coverage. If you or a family member, friend or patient may benefit from the group, call 971-645-0033 or e-mail Dr. McLellarn for more information.