What Are Some of the Steps in Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment?

The cognitive-behavioral treatment of panic disorder and agoraphobia is organized around several goals: first, helping you to understand the nature of anxiety, panic, and agoraphobia; second, determining the range of situations that you avoid or fear; third, evaluating the nature of your particular symptoms, their severity and frequency, and the situations that elicit your panic; and, fourth, determining whether any other problems coexist with your panic-for example, depression, other anxieties, substance abuse, overeating, loneliness, or marital/couple problems.

Your therapy may include some or all of the following treatments: muscle relaxation training; breathing relaxation training and rebreathing training (especially if you hyperventilate); gradual exposure to situations that elicit panic; stress reduction; identification of your interpretation of physical stress symptoms; training in general cognitive therapy principles (that is, understanding how thoughts can lead to feelings such as fear, and learning how examining your thoughts and beliefs can help you feel better); assertion training (when needed); and training in the ability to recognize and reduce your panic symptoms when they occur. In addition, other problems that you may have (such as depression) may be addressed in the therapy.