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Counselling for Panic Attacks
A Panic Attack is a distinct episode of anxiety, the onset of which is sudden, and the duration relatively short. During a panic attack symptoms of anxiety are severe, intense and overwhelming, so much so that many people end up in A&E fearing that they are having a heart attack. Repeated Panic Attacks, where an individual’s biggest fear is having another Panic Attack and where this fear is interfering with their ability to do everyday things, is called Panic Disorder. This page deals with Panic Disorder as this is a problem for which people need to seek help.
If your Panic Attacks are not as severe, please see our Anxiety page for more information.
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Who is it for?
Do you have an overwhelming fear of having a Panic Attack? Do you worry about fainting or collapsing in public? Do you worry that you are going to cause a scene as a result of feeling anxious? Do you worry that you are going to go mad when you feel anxious? Do you worry that you will suffocate or have a heart attack when you start to feel anxious? Do you avoid situations that make you feel anxious or always make sure you have an exit strategy? Do you experience 1 or more of the following physical symptoms:
Shortness of breath
Pins and needles
If you have answered ‘yes’ to one of more of these questions you may benefit from some counselling for panic attacks.
A Recent Testimonial
Anne - Skype“My experience of therapy has not only been positive, but effectively lifesaving. When I sought help, my anxiety was so bad I couldn’t sleep for more than 30 mins at a time, I had multiple panic attacks per day, and could barely leave my home. I had also been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which interfered with my life so badly I couldn’t work, study, or have a social life. I sought therapy through Skype, as the idea of going out to an appointment was too overwhelming. Within 2 or 3 months, my condition had improved so much I was back at work part-time, I was controlling my panic attacks enough to have a social life, and 5 months after that went back to university. The CBT we worked with in sessions (and the individual work I did outside of the sessions by myself) was able to cure my CFS (a controversial statement, but I can say that this no longer affects my life in any way), and get a strong handle on my anxiety, meaning the idea of any future panic attacks no longer scared me: I had a fool-proof way of dealing with them”.
How It Works?
One of our Psychologists will meet with you to find out more about your panic attacks, the concerns that you have about them and their impact on your life, relationships, responsibilities and self-esteem. They will also ask you what you would like to achieve through your counselling and then use this information to tailor a therapy programme to exactly what you need.
You will begin by learning about anxiety and panic attacks, why we have them and their effect on our mind and bodies. This knowledge will place you in the strongest position from which to resolve your symptoms.
You will then work with your Psychologist to identify the thoughts that are triggering your anxiety and where appropriate, develop alternative thoughts that are more accurate and helpful to replace them. Over time these will induce feelings of balance and calm.
In preparation for step 5 your Psychologist with teach you strategies to reduce your anxiety to a more manageable level.
The next step will be to identify the things that you are doing which are keeping you stuck and preventing you from resolving your difficulties (e.g. avoiding situations). Your Psychologist will then structure a programme that will enable you to gradually make changes here.
You will then work with your Psychologist to build up your self-esteem and confidence to speed your recovery and protect you against future relapse of symptoms.
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All of our Psychologists offer counselling for Panic Attacks, click here to view the team.
What causes Panic Attacks/Panic Disorder?
After experiencing an initial attack (usually triggered by high levels of stress), panic attacks will develop into a Panic Disorder if an individual becomes so fearful of experiencing another attack that they become hyper vigilant of physiological changes in their body, interpreting benign shifts (such as increased heart rate, shortness of breath, dizziness due to exercise, getting up to quickly, and drinking coffee) as signs of another attack. The factors that place someone at risk of making these misinterpretations are a combination of catastrophic thinking patterns (a person tends to make the worst case scenario into the reality) and early experiences where they have learnt that they are at risk and ill-equipped to deal with that risk (for more information see our Anxiety Page).
What is the treatment for Panic Attacks/Panic Disorder?
The government body NICE recommends the same treatment for Panic Disorder as for other types of Anxiety (see link to our Anxiety page) with the exception of the use of Benzodiazepines (e.g. diazepam) which should not be prescribed.
Should you wish to find out more about Panic, please check out this article on our blog section.