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I am an expert in the treatment of Panic attacks/Panic Disorder and Social Anxiety. If you believe that you suffer from these conditions, getting help will significantly improve your quality of life and your relationships.
Panic attacks can interfere with daily functioning and with the ability to experience joy. Often times, if panic attacks are not treated promptly, they can escalate and disrupt life significantly. Panic disorder can be scary for those who experience it, as well as for loved ones and family members. Avoidance of certain places and situations, or of being alone, can get in the way of important life tasks. The worry of having another panic attack, the fear of “passing out” or dying, and the difficulties tolerating physical sensations can be mentally and physically consuming. As such, joyful activities are contaminated with worries; depression may follow panic episodes; and avoidance becomes a way of coping. You may withdraw socially, find excuses to avoid trips, building new relationships, having new experiences, driving, public transportation, elevators, crowds, etc…
The good news is that panic attacks and panic disorder are highly treatable. The combination of psychotherapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and if needed, medications, can help you to learn to manage your anxiety, experience less panic symptoms, and fully engage in life. Many of my patients eventually learn to manage anxiety symptoms on their own and experience significant reduction of their panic symptoms. They engage in life more fully and stop avoiding and letting panic get in the way. Many do not need medications once they learn to let go of thoughts and feelings that impact anxiety.
I encourage patients to receive treatment as soon as they recognize that they experience panic symptoms. Early interventions result in better and quicker resolution.
Individuals with social anxiety were often described in childhood as being “shy”, and quiet”. Parents, teachers and friends believe that this is a personality (you often hear parents describing their children as “introverted”), failing to recognize that shyness could be social anxiety. Individual with social anxiety are often so fearful of judgement and rejection; they are consumed with how they come across and with what others are thinking of them. Social anxiety in adulthood can have grave consuquences. Often times, it is more challenging to participate in classes, give public presentation, make new contacts in social events, date, establish friendships, build new relationships, seek new experiences, assert oneself, ask for help, and say no. Social anxiety impacts self worth and confidence. Avoidance can range in magnitude; however, individuals with social anxiety are pretty good at convincing themselves that they don’t really want to go to a party, date, or get a more challenging job, when in fact, they don’t do such activities in order to avoid feeling anxious or uncomfortable. While staying in your “comfort zone” may reduce anxiety in the moment, over time, anxiety and confidence get worse.
Furthermore, individuals with social anxiety and panic may use alcohol or other substances to self medicate and to feel “more relaxed” in social situations or other uncomfortable situations. Dependence on these substances often develops.
If you experience discomfort in social situations, presentations, dates, relationships, etc.. and find yourself avoiding situations in which you may become anxious, you need to seek help. Social anxiety may bring about depression, substance use, or interference with daily functioning and personal growth. Even if you seek help to deal with mild social anxiety, you will feel more competent and secure. Many of my patients with social anxiety learn to lead more meaningful lives with more satisfying and authentic relationships, with reduction in avoidance and in daily fears.