Anxiety and Panic Treatment Program

What Is an Anxiety or Panic Disorder?

Proven, effective & brief non-medication therapy for anxiety and panic

Everyone feels anxiety or panic at one time or another. Anxiety and panic are natural responses that help us cope with danger or threats. But when anxiety or panic occurs at levels out of proportion to the danger, or when they have an adverse affect on daily living, there may be an anxiety or panic disorder. Those who suffer from these disorders often find it difficult to be in situations that most people consider routine – for example, driving, shopping, attending a party or just walking down a crowded sidewalk.

Anxiety and panic disorders can include:

  • Worry & tension
  • Panic/anxiety attacks
  • Social anxiety
  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Obsessions & compulsions
  • Phobias

The Anxiety and Panic Treatment Program studies, diagnoses and treats anxiety and panic disorders. This is a joint program of Northwestern University's Department of Psychology and The Family Institute at Northwestern University. Clients are seen at The Family Institute offices in Evanston and downtown Chicago. The treatment method employed is called cognitive-behavioral therapy.

The program is headed by Northwestern University faculty members Richard E. Zinbarg, PhD , and Susan Mineka, PhD. Other therapists on the staff who specialize in the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders are Paula R. Young, PhD and Carol Donnelly, PhD . Northwestern University doctoral students, under the close supervision of highly-experienced Family Institute staff psychotherapists, also work with clients. Sessions are taped to ensure the best possible care.Clients may be asked to participate in anxiety-related research being conducted by The Family Institute and/or Northwestern University's Department of Psychology. Qualifying research participants can receive treatment at no cost. No information about clients is used for research purposes without the explicit and informed, written consent of the client.

How do I make an appointment?

If you think that you or someone you know suffers from anxiety or panic disorders, or if you would like additional information, please call The Family Institute at 847-733-4300. If you are calling for an initial appointment, please dial 0 and ask for Registration.

What conditions can be treated?

  • A Panic Attack is a sudden rush of intense fear or anxiety. Physical symptoms may include rapid heartbeat, dizziness, difficulty breathing and/or sweating.
  • Panic Disorder includes frequent occurrence of panic attacks and excessive worry about having panic attacks.
  • Agoraphobia is the persistent avoidance of situations that could trigger panic attacks. Common examples include avoiding crowds, driving, shopping, being alone or being far from home or a hospital.
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder involves excessive worrying. Other symptoms include muscle tension, restlessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating and the feeling of being keyed up or on edge.
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder may develop and persist after a person experiences a severe trauma such as a serious accident, physical assault or combat. Symptoms may include nervousness, withdrawal, insomnia, reliving the event repeatedly through dreams or flashbacks and loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is when a person has recurrent, distressing thoughts or ritualized behavior such as excessive hand washing. People with obsessive-compulsive disorders are often aware that the behavior is unreasonable.
  • Specific Phobia is the exaggerated fear of a specific situation or objects. Even though a person may recognize that his or her fear is excessive, the situation or object is still avoided. Common phobias include the fear of dogs, flying, heights, blood or injections.
  • Social Phobia is the excessive fear of being observed by, criticized or embarrassed in front of others. People with social phobias exhibit excessive dread and try to avoid situations such as public speaking, eating in front of others and going to parties.

Assessment & Treatment

Step 1 — Assessment

The first step is a complete assessment of the problem. Clients participate in a detailed and comprehensive interview about past and present problems with anxiety, panic and related conditions. They are also asked to fill out a variety of questionnaires designed to help determine exactly what triggers the problem and identify the symptoms. Then, there is a series of non-invasive tests that measure the extent of a client's physical reactions to controlled stress and help determine the nature and extent of the problem. Clients are also required to have a comprehensive physical examination with their own medical doctor.

Step 2 — Treatment

The Anxiety and Panic Treatment Program uses a treatment method called cognitive-behavioral therapy. The problem is broken down into its major components. Components include the trigger event or situation, the client's thought process, his or her physical symptoms and the actions or behaviors that follow. The client then learns how to identify and control each component. This approach has helped thousands of people with anxiety disorders enjoy more comfortable, productive and satisfying lives.

Occasionally, therapy in our program is not the best form of treatment. When this is the case, referrals to other, more appropriate programs will be made.

How long does treatment take?

Effective treatment requires that each client have a highly individualized plan for treatment, follow-up and after-care. Because every client is different, the number of treatment sessions will vary. Many problems can be treated in 12 to 20 sessions.

How much does It cost?

Psychotherapists in The Family Institute Staff Practice set their fees individually based on their levels of training and expertise. (Discuss fees with Registration and your therapist prior to the first visit.) Services at reduced fees are provided by Northwestern University doctoral students, under the close supervision of highly-experienced Family Institute staff psychotherapists. Fees for doctoral students are set on a sliding scale, according to the client's ability to pay.

Also, qualifying clients who volunteer to participate in anxiety-related research can receive treatment at no cost.

How do I make an appointment?

If you think that you or someone you know suffers from anxiety or panic disorders, or if you would like additional information, please call The Family Institute at 847-733-4300. If you are calling for an initial appointment, please dial 0 and ask for Registration.

Research

As a research institution, The Family Institute at Northwestern University conducts studies on certain types of conditions and the effectiveness of particular treatment methods. Anxiety is one of the areas being investigated by clinicians in the Anxiety and Panic Treatment Program. The research is conducted by The Family Institute and/or Northwestern University's Department of Psychology. Qualifying research participants can receive treatment at no cost.

No information about clients is used for research purposes without the explicit and informed, written consent of the client. For more information about research in the Anxiety and Panic Treatment Program, contact Velizar Nikiforov, MA at 847-733-4300.