Getting Treatment for Panic Disorder

making phone callMany people begin looking for panic disorder treatment by first visiting their family doctor or a local clinic and getting a referral. Other places to seek help include your local health department or community mental health clinic.

Various types of health professionals may have the training and experience needed to treat panic disorder. Some of these professionals who can help include the following:

Psychologists– therapists with a doctorate degree in psychology.

Psychiatrists – medical doctors who have attended medical school and completed a three to five year psychiatric residency.

Social workers – have a Master’s degree in social work (MSW or CSW)

Counselors – have specialized training in particular areas, like Certified Alcohol counselors (CAC), or they may have advanced degrees (e.g. Master’s degrees) in counseling, nursing, psychology, or guidance.

The only therapists who are licensed to prescribe anti anxiety medications are psychiatrists.

It is vital to choose a professional who is familiar with anxiety disorders and specifically panic disorder. It is just as important to choose someone with whom you you feel comfortable. I went to a psychologist many years ago who asked inappropriate questions about my sex life, and made me very uncomfortable. If you don’t feel comfortable with your therapist for any reason, find another one.

If there is a college or university near you, you can call and ask about participating in a panic disorder study. Many universities have ongoing treatment research programs in their psychology or psychiatry departments that may provide care for free or at reduced rates.

To locate mental health professionals in your area, you can contact the National Institutes of Mental Health for a copy of referral list. This list gives the names and telephone numbers of organizations that can provide you with a referral. To receive this list call*1-800-64-Panic*.

When deciding on a health care professional to treat your panic disorder, you need to ask the following questions:

  • Do you have any special training in panic disorder treatment?
  • How many patients with panic disorder have you treated?
  • What is your basic approach to treatment?
  • How long is a typical course of treatment?   (This may be approximate, but it should not go on indefinitely.)
  • How frequent are the treatment sessions? How long does each session last?
  • What are your fees?
  • Do you participate in my insurance plan? Do you have a sliding fee schedule for the uninsured?

If you want to work on your anxiety or panic disorder yourself, I have found and used various self help programs that are very effective. Click here to view a list of these resources.

I wish you peace,
Jill G.

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