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November 2011

Treating Panic Disorder and Panic Attacks with EMDR
Carol Boulware, Ph.D

If you frequently experience a high level of stress or anxiety, you may be in an early stage of an Anxiety or Panic Disorder that could lead to panic attacks. Here is a list of seven questions to ask yourself in deciding whether it’s advisable to seek professional help to manage your anxiety.

· Do you ever feel a sudden rush of fearfulness without an apparent reason?
· Do people tell you that you worry too much?
· Have you recently experienced a high-stress situation?
· Does a current or past relationship cause you to feel nervous or fearful at times?
· Do you feel anxious about something at least once every day?
· Have you been through a crisis or experienced a traumatic event in the past?
· Do you need to take a tranquilizer (or drink), in order to cope with certain situations that might otherwise cause you to hyperventilate or “fall apart”?

If you can answer yes to half or more of these questions, you would probably benefit from an evaluation by a EMDR Therapist.

To help panic attack sufferers regain a sense of safety in their lives, I use a highly effectively technique called EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. By integrating EMDR with the standard treatment for Panic Disorder, I am able to partner with clients to quickly identify and treat the underlying cause of their attacks.

EMDR is a safe procedure used by EMDR therapists that involves using eye movement patterns to release emotional pain that has been “stuck or frozen” in the deeper centers of the brain, beyond the present control of the conscious mind, following a trauma or highly stressful experience. Numerous studies have shown that EMDR is highly effective in the treatment of trauma, depression, anxiety disorders, phobias and addictions.

Once the cause of the panic attacks is discovered, we work together to process the fears and memories and clear away their negative impact. This process involves helping the individual develop a larger window of tolerance for their fearful thoughts, so that they can work through their fear without being overwhelmed by it.

Research has shown that EMDR works on the deeper centers of the brain, the amygdala, where fearful emotions get stuck and are not processed. It has been shown that EMDR can reprocess these fearful emotions so that they are no longer stuck and no longer have the same level of intensity when they are stimulated. They become more like everyday thoughts and memories that are integrated and assimilated.

Although still being studied, EMDR is believed to synchronize the two hemispheres of the brain, stimulating a process similar to REM sleep, and integrates sensory and cognitive “information” in the brain and nervous system to promote balance and natural healing.---------------

Dr. Boulware is a Psychotherapist and a Certified EMDR Therapist practicing in Santa Monica and Redondo Beach and is a member of the Independent Psychotherapy Network. Visit Dr. Boulware’s website at

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