Dr. Pamela Simms
Licensed Psychologist 

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Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder is characterized by unexpected recurring panic attacks that make the individual fearful of additional panic attacks, and changes their pattern of behavior as a result of these fears.  Panic attacks consist of a frightening set of physical symptoms that have a sudden onset. Some individuals experience agoraphobia with their panic disorder. Agoraphobia is characterized by a fear of being in such situations as open spaces or public places; traveling in buses, trains, airplanes or cars; or being in situations in which escape may be difficult.


As panic attacks can be a symptom of a medical condition, such as a thyroid disorder or cardiovascular disease, it is important to visit your general practitioner to rule out any medical conditions that may be causing or exacerbating the panic attacks.


Common symptoms of Panic attacks:

  • Heart Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Shakiness or trembling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling of choking
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Fear of losing control
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Fear of dying


The treatments used by Dr.Simms are Psychoeducation, Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness Training and Psychodynamic therapy. Through psychoeducation, the individual learns about the nervous system and the major role the nervous system plays in panic disorder so that the individual is able to begin to recognize the panic as a “false alarm” that they can disengage.


Cognitive-Behavior Therapy is implemented to teach skills to the individual that enable them to reframe their interpretation of the anxiety and respond differently to the fear by cultivating nonattachment and letting go rather than fighting the anxiety or fear. Mindfulness skills are also taught to help the individual recognize triggers of panic, minimize the panic by staying in the present moment, and take a proactive approach to prevent panic from reoccurring.


Finally, once the panic response is replaced by a more tolerable response, psychodynamic therapy is implemented to identify any life issues that may be supporting the anxiety the individual experiences, such as relational issues or self-esteem issues.

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