Psychoeducation for Panic Disorder

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Psychoeducation is a clinical term used to describe a common component of the psychotherapy process. This important part of treatment involves providing education, awareness, and support to a person with a mental health disorder. Psychoeducation includes times when a therapist provides resources and information to help a client better understand their mental health condition. For instance, a therapist may share educational materials, such as brochures, books, or articles that provide the client with current and clear information on her condition.

Additionally, psychoeducation can also include informing the client on coping techniques and treatment options to assist in managing symptoms. Psychoeducation is frequently a part of a multidimensional treatment plan that includes additional treatment methods. Other common treatment options, such as prescribed medications, group therapy, and self-help strategies, are also often part of a typical treatment plan for panic disorder.

How Psychoeducation Can Help People With Panic Disorder

Unfortunately, there are many prevalent misperceptions and myths about panic disorder. For example, well-meaning family and friends may tell you that people with panic disorder are just overreacting. Others may share some of the stigmas about panic disorder, believing that mental illness is caused by a personal weakness or a bad upbringing. Even doing a quick Internet search for panic disorder can bring up articles and websites that are not providing the most sound and accurate information about this condition.

Due to misinformation, many panic disorder sufferers carry erroneous beliefs about their condition. Psychoeducation works to help the person get past any confusion or mistaken beliefs about their disorder. It allows the person to feel empowered through knowledge about his condition. Psychoeducation can help them in understanding panic disorder, letting go of fears of symptoms, gaining insight into personal triggers, and becoming informed on common treatment options.

Additionally, psychoeducation can assist in fostering awareness and understanding for the panic disorder sufferer’s loved ones. For example, becoming educated and informed about panic disorder can help you in explaining your condition to others. Partners, spouses and other close family members can even take part in psychoeducation therapy sessions or support groups to become better equipped in dealing with your condition, overcoming the stigma of mental illness, and building support for your recovery.

Psychoeducation can help remove some of the fear and misunderstanding that both you and your loved ones may have about your condition.

Common Types of Psychoeducation for Panic Disorder

Information on the Causes and Symptoms of Panic Disorder: Psychoeducation can assist you in learning all of the common FAQs about panic disorder. Many panic sufferers have questions and concerns about their symptoms. Through psychoeducation, your therapist can help reduce some of your worry by thoroughly explaining the causes of panic disorder and your symptoms. For example, you may feel alarmed about some of your panic attack symptoms, such as shortness of breath, dizziness, and chest pain. Your therapist can explain to you why these symptoms occur and ways that you may be able to cope with them.

Understanding Panic Disorder Treatment Options: It is not uncommon to feel intimidated by your first therapy session. Your therapist will most likely be anticipating your concern and will be prepared to help you understand what to expect from the therapy process. Through psychoeducation, they will also provide you information on how the strategies learned through therapy can help ease your symptoms. They may also inform you of other treatment options, such as medication and group therapy.

Group Therapy: You may be recommended to attend group therapy as part of your comprehensive treatment plan. Group therapy involves meeting with a therapist or group facilitator along with others who share in the same or similar diagnosis to work towards certain goals. For example, a group therapy class may focus on helping people with anxiety cope with their symptoms. These groups often meet once a week or biweekly for a limited amount of time.

Psychoeducation is often a large component of group therapy. Members can come together to ask questions of the facilitator and gain important knowledge about their condition. Group therapy can be a valuable way for you to gain a clearer understanding of your condition, how and why different coping skills can be effective, and what to anticipate when living with panic disorder.

Group therapy has the added benefit of breaking through the barriers of loneliness and isolation that so many panic sufferers are faced with. It allows you to share your setbacks, progress, and success with others who can relate to your experience. Group therapy can provide you with the necessary psychoeducation and support you need to cope with panic disorder.

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  • Corey, M. S., Corey, G., & Corey, C. (2013). Groups: Process and Practice. Belmont, 9th edition, CA: Brooks/Cole.

By Katharina Star, PhD
Katharina Star, PhD, is an expert on anxiety and panic disorder. Dr. Star is a professional counselor, and she is trained in creative art therapies and mindfulness.