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Here are the most frequently asked questions about panicLINK.  If you have questions that are not covered below, please contact us.

  1. Can I still benefit from panicLINK if my doctor has put me on medication?
    PanicLINK is designed to be a stand alone, drug-free training program for panic disorder. This program can also be effective if you have been stabilized on a current medication regime and have “breakthrough” panic. You must always coordinate decisions about the use or discontinuation of medication with your supervising physician.

  2. What causes panic disorder? Do I have a “chemical Imbalance” in the brain that causes panic disorder?
    The cause of panic disorder is multi-factorial. There are a combination of factors – biological, genetic, psychological and learned – that interact over time and lead to the eruption of the first panic attack “out of the blue.” Introductory Psychology 101 taught us that there is an interaction between hereditary and environmental factors that contribute to all human and animal behavior – the old heredity versus environment debate. A more accurate question is, “How strong a role does heredity versus environment play in the development of panic disorder?” The good news is that the latest scientific findings continue to show drug-free cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be as effective as medication in stopping panic with lower relapse rates over time.

  3. What are the key elements in cognitive behavioral therapy for panic disorder?
    There are two fundamental elements in any effective CBT for panic disorder:
    A) Destroy the terrifying misinterpretation about what the bodily sensations mean (Cognitive Restructuring or Cognitive Surgery).
    B) Desensitization and removal of the fear of the bodily sensations (Interoceptive Conditioning).

  4. How long does it take to live panic-free?
    One of the most important factors is how long it has been since your first attack. For example, recently a 21-year old college student who had been suffering with panic for less than a year was introduced to panicLINK. Within six sessions, he was entering the post-panic era. Early diagnosis is such a huge variable in rapid resolution that we developed The Panic Checklist in 1984 to help the medical community enhance detection rates of panic disorder in primary care settings. Early detection is Dr. Blumberg’s ongoing mission.

    Other factors that determine the rate of progression to living panic-free include the ongoing stressors currently occurring in your life, other personality and psychological traits, and the time and energy you are willing to devote to behavioral medicine.

    Typically, at least three months of intensive training is necessary to move through the 12 sessions and achieve initial skills. The panicLINK program is designed to be self-paced. Don’t forget, we are breaking lifelong incorrect habits with strong habit strength and replacing them with fresh new methods which require extensive repetition to become ingrained as part of your new life. Once you achieve initial mastery of the program, from time to time you will want to refer to specific sessions or phases of the program for review. The program is designed to be a reference tool for life. Living panic-free depends on integrating these new methods into your current lifestyle.

  5. In the throes of panic, what is wrong with distraction?
    Most patients have figured out some method of distraction to abate panic attacks even before they begin panicLINK.  Common distraction methods include listening to the radio, picturing yourself on the beach, counting backwards, snapping rubber bands, calling someone on your cell phone, or turning on the TV. These distraction methods temporarily break the vicious cycle of panic.

    However, distraction is an effort to escape, avoid, and eliminate the bodily symptoms of panic. If you are afraid of a dog, then you create a dog-free world. Does that cure your dog phobia? No, in fact, the opposite is true. Phobic avoidance strengthens the dog phobia. The next inevitable exposure to a dog will trigger an even higher level fear.

    The same principle holds true for the fear of bodily symptoms in a panic attack (e.g., a heart pounding phobia). Distraction serves to shift your focus of attention off the sensation of heart pounding temporarily and you briefly stop fueling the heart pounding with fearful reactions. However, you become more and more dependent on distraction, and the fear of heart pounding intensifies.

  6. Why are my panic attacks still scary, even when I try to face and accept them as harmless?
    Oftentimes, patients try to “face and accept the total panic experience” as a method of panic control. There are two parts to a panic experience. How can you accept a real sense that you are on the verge of dying or losing your mind? The first step in takeCONTROL training is to see the two parts of panic clearly. There is a completely different approach for each of the parts of the panic experience. After the first attack, you are sensitized to normal bodily sensations. We call the method of changing your orientation to bodily sensations “Symptom Reconditioning.”

  7. If I figure out what is causing my panic attacks, will that cure my condition?
    No. In fact, understanding the factors that set off your first “Out of the Blue” panic -The Missing Link to living panic-free – is reserved exclusively for Phase Four, Sessions 11 and 12 because you must first take control of panic and be rebound-ready in the event of a return of the symptoms.

    The first question to ask is: How do I take control of panic? This is Phase One of the panicLINK program. Mastery of Phase One through Phase Three is a prerequisite to understanding the Why Panic? Model.

    Approaches relying on early examination of historical factors and root causes can activate an intensification of panic.  With no takeCONTROL training method in place, you can experience even more panic attacks and feel more helpless.

  8. Why do I have “constant symptoms” day in and day out?
    Dr. Blumberg has classified three types of panic experiences: (1) major attacks; (2) minor attacks and (3) chronic panic symptoms.
    Chronic panic symptoms are created by somatic preoccupation or dwelling and checking and being consumed with how you feel physically.

    You go to bed hoping you will wake up the next day without those dreaded physical feelings. You wake up in the morning wondering “How am I going to feel today?” Before your feet hit the floor, you feel the same tired, dizzy feeling you went to bed with the night before. You think, “Oh, no. I will never get better… Maybe the doctor missed something. This is not panic!” You begin to constantly monitor and check in on your body to see how you feel, not realizing that the monitoring response itself is actually causing you to feel tired and dizzy.

  9. Why does panic keep coming back into my life?
    There are four triggers that can set off the return of panic when you are in a panic-free state. When you discover the power of the takeCONTROL training method, you are elated at getting rid of the dreaded panic experience. It is natural to drop your guard and celebrate. You drop your takeCONTROL training stance and slip back into old patterns. You stop  doing what originally led you to the panic-free state. You develop “panic rust” and stop training. Somehow, we think we can maintain progress without further effort and focus. Maintenance is one of the keys to living panic-free (Phase Two in the panicLINK program).

  10. What if the doctor missed something and I really have an undetected medical condition?
    First, it is very important to establish a trusting long-term relationship with your family doctor. You should feel comfortable checking with him or her any time you have doubts about your health. You naturally never want to miss a medical problem. Once you have a trusting doctor who has reassured you that you are in good health and informed you that your symptoms are anxiety based, then you have to prove to yourself that he is right. Sessions One and Two of the panicLINK program can help you start to understand how panic works.