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Panic Disorders With Agoraphobia Essay

1617 words - 7 pages

In the general population, less than five percent of people experience panic disorders, and only six percent develop agoraphobia during their lives, (MacNeil 2001). A diagnosis of panic disorder is given when panic attacks turn into a common occurrence, for no apparent reason and the person begins to change their behaviour because of the constant fear of having a panic attack. Someone suffering from agoraphobia has a fear of being somewhere where help will not be provided in case of an emergency; one third to one half of people diagnosed with panic disorders develops agoraphobia, (Hoeksema & Rector, 2011, p. 204). Research has examined two well-known ways a panic disorder with agoraphobia (PDA) can be treated: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) (alone and combined with two other medications) and Experimental Cognitive Therapy (ECT). Examining the research allows for a comparison of each treatment, along with a discussion of implications, resulting in determining which treatment is the most effective for someone who suffers from a panic disorder with agoraphobia.
According to MacNeil (2001), panic disorders tend to be chronic in nature, and much of the data involving treatment effectiveness relates to relative improvement rather than absolute improvement. In a study, Treatment of Panic Disorders with Agoraphobia in an Anxiety Disorders Clinic, done by Vladan Starcevic et al., (2004), they conducted research based on three treatments focusing on CBT: CBT alone, CBT with a high-potency benzodiazepine (CBT+BZ) and CBT combined with fluoxetine (an antidepressant) and BZ (CBT+BZ+AD). There were one hundred and two patients selected with PDA, seventy-four women and twenty-eight men. All patients had to go through an assessment, education, gradual exposure to in vivo, individual cognitive therapy and group cognitive therapy, and the main goals were to “identify the avoided situations, establish the degree of agoraphobic avoidance and plan situational exposure by creating the hierarchy of avoided situations,” (Starcevic et al. 2004). Each was placed in a different treatment group based on the results of their assessments, and they were highly motivated to participate and there were no dropouts.
In the CBT group, they began with relaxation and breathing exercises, then the patients are asked to explain their catastrophizing changes in the sensations of the body. In some cases, “clients have to experience panic symptoms in front of their therapist to be able to identify their cognitions,” (Hoeksema & Rector, 2011, p.211). After experiencing these panic episodes in front of their therapist, they begin to practice their relaxation and breathing exercises. They are then taught to challenge their cognitive thoughts when they are having an attack and finally they will go through the desensitization process, where they are slowly exposed to situations they fear most, and the therapist will talk them through it and show them techniques on how they can...

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