Panic attacks are very common sharp increase in anxiety. Anxiety levels become very high but usually short-lived. They are often a scary and very overwhelming experience. After experiencing one panic attack, people may go on to worry they will have more panic attacks. When this occurs and the panic attacks arise with no known trigger then a person may be given the diagnosis of panic disorder. Panic attacks and panic disorder can have a significant negative impact upon people’s lives. If you are struggling with panic attacks, our London based and online therapists are highly experienced in helping people recover. We use the most evidence-based, effective approaches, such as CBT, for panic attacks/disorder. Treatment for panic attacks can enable you to combat this debilitating condition and not let it hold you back from living a full life.
What are Panic Attacks?
Panic Attacks show up as short-lived intense and overwhelming anxiety reactions
Panic attacks involve a sudden strong increase in anxiety/fear/panic. The trigger for panic attacks may be identified but they can also occur when there is no identifiable trigger.
What are the Symptoms of Panic Disorder?
During panic episodes people can experience the following physical symptoms:
- struggle to breathe
- feel dizzy
- feel nauseous
- have palpitations
- have an urge to go to the toilet
- feel numb
- have tingling sensations
- feel faint
These physical symptoms are the body’s response to a perceived threat and, although highly unpleasant, they are not dangerous. However, these physical symptoms can lead to fears that one may stop breathing, faint, have a heart attack, die, become out of control/crazy or vomit. These fears, in turn, can intensify the unpleasant physical symptoms which can further fuel the fears.
After one or several panic attacks, fear of having future panic attacks may develop. As a result people may avoid situations altogether where they fear they are likely to experience another panic attack or they may go into feared situations whilst taking precautions. For example, if going into a group setting an individual who fears they might have a panic attack may position themselves near to the exit so they can escape quickly should panic set in. Following experiencing one or many panic attack(s) a person may lose their confidence in situations where they may have previously not have had a problem with confidence.
What Causes Panic Attacks?
There is not one known cause of panic attacks for everyone. However, several factors are believed to be important in the development of panic attacks with the impact of these being different from person to person:
Genetic Factors: Although no single gene has been identified to cause panic attacks, studies show that if you have a first degree relative who experiences them this makes it more likely that you will experience them at some point in your life
Psychological Factors: Various psychological factors are thought to lead to an individual being more susceptible to developing panic attacks, these include:
- chronic stress
- being taught from a young age that internal physical sensations are worrying and should be paid close attention to
- being encouraged to rest and recover at the early sign of any different physical sensation
- having another existing mental health difficulty, such as depression, OCD, PTSD, phobias, generalised anxiety disorder and social anxiety
- having a strong internal focus/being hypervigilant to changes in your body
- low self-esteem
- Experiencing a recent bereavement
- Facing a major stressful life event e.g. loss of a job, moving home, breakdown in a relationship
- Having a physical illness
When Should I Get Help For Panic Disorder?
It can be helpful to seek help for panic attacks whether your struggle with these has just begun or whether you have been struggling with this condition for some time. If you relate to any of the signs of panic attacks outlined above then it can be beneficial to seek psychological therapy so that they no longer have a hold on you.
Treatment for Panic Attacks
Therapy for panic attacks is often based upon Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT for Panic Attaks is supported by strong evidence of its effectiveness on adults, including from randomised control trials .
CBT for Panic Disorder often involves firstly psychoeducation, for instance, learning that the unpleasant physical sensations are your body’s normal response to perceived threat and are not dangerous. It’s actually your body trying to protect you!
While progressing on your Panic Attack Treatment, relaxation techniques are introduced to help reduce the unpleasant physical symptoms. With your therapist, you will address your fears through questioning and challenging them using cognitive techniques. One way to challenge your fears is by testing them out via gradually confronting your fears. This phase of therapy for panic is one which includes behavioural and exposure techniques.
You will learn that although avoiding situations and taking precautions when entering feared situations help to ease anxiety in the short term, in the longer term they keep anxiety going. This is how a Panic Vicious Cycle is maintained. Your therapist will guide you to gradually confront these situations and rely less on precautions. This will help you improve your anxiety and confidence.
Confronting your fears may sound scary and is the opposite of what your brain and body are telling you to do. However, you will see that this is will soon get you on the road to recovery. You are not alone. Your therapist will be by your side in helping you decide when it is the right time to take the next step.
An example of a CBT Vicious Cycle during a Panic Attack
What are the Benefits of Therapy for Panic Attacks?
Research and clinical experience shows that people can gain various benefits from therapy for panic attacks:
- Reduction in frequency of panic attacks
- More control over anxiety and panic
- Ability to face previously feared situations with less anxiety and panic
- Improved quality of life
- Improved confidence
If you are look for depression counselling in Central London, contact Therapy Central where one of our experienced therapists can help.
How Long does the Treatment for Panic Disorder Last?
Some people can make significant improvement in therapy for panic attacks in around six sessions. However, for others, more sessions may be needed to allow more time to learn more tools to tackle this condition and ensure it does not return in the future, to prevent relapse. Usually, between six and sixteen sessions has shown to be highly effective to recover from panic attacks.
Panic Disorder Treatment in London & Online
If you are looking for therapy for Panic Attacks in London or Online, at Therapy Central we can help you learn the strategies you need to start managing your symptoms and break the vicious cycles which maintain them. As a result, you’ll be able to make the crucial changes to bring balance and fulfilment back into your life. No one should face Panic attacks alone.
Start Conquering Panic in London & Online today
Get professional help and Panic Attack Treatment in London or Online today. Contact us for a free 15 min consultation with an expert Panic Disorder Therapist to see if our help would fit your needs. You can also get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (+44) 020 348 82797.
Our comfortable and confidential therapy rooms are conveniently located 3 min walk from Oxford Circus station, in Central London (see map below). However, therapy for Panic Disorder can by also carried out online. Change starts with Talking!
Dr Amy Smith, Counselling Psychologist
Dr Raffaello Antonino, Counselling Psychologist
Other issues we work with at Therapy Central
What is anxiety?
NHS general info
Learn more about how CBT works
 Otte, C. (2011). Cognitive behavioral therapy in anxiety disorders: current state of the evidence. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 13(4), 413.
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