Panic attacks

Unexpected, sudden and intense experience of anxiety.

Panic attacks

A panic attack or panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder, which is the unexpected and sudden onset of fear or attack of panic that usually peaks between a few seconds to minutes. If you are experiencing panic attacks, they normally happen regularly and without an apparent reason.

Panic attacks are the most extreme manifestation of anxiety, the difference between panic disorder and other anxiety disorders is the intensity of the symptoms and duration of the episode.

Usually a panic attack reaches the highest peak in 10 minutes or less and after that it starts to become less intense to the point of disappearing, until the next episode starts.

Most of the time, when a person experience panic attacks the first few times they contact emergency services or have to be taken to the closest hospital because the symptoms could be similar to having a heart attack or another heart condition, breathing problems or sensation of dying.

Some of the symptoms of panic attacks are:

Panic attacks are very frightening, unpleasant and very destressing especially when the person who is experiencing it does not know or understand what is happening and think that the symptoms are related to a physical illness.

Usually, people get worried that a panic attack may happen any time soon so people stop engaging in everyday activities because of the fear of experiencing it in an unsafe environment, in front of other people or because of the fear of not getting support during an attack.

Symptoms could be slightly different for every person; therapy helps to identify the symptoms and manage them and aim to stop you experiencing panic attacks. The first step in this process is to rule out any medical problem, for that you need to see your GP, or probably you have been already assessed in A&E and they diagnosed panic attack or suggested to see a Psychologist.

After ruling out any physical problem is time to contact a psychologist to complete an assessment and design a treatment for you, talking therapy like Cognitive Behavioural therapy (CBT) has proved efficacy treating anxiety disorder like panic attacks.

Length of the treatment can vary depending on multiples factors, usually it is recommended weekly sessions and during the treatment the need of medication will be assessed and discussed with you. If medication is needed a referral to a medical doctor like your GP will be necessary.

In Psychologist in Cambridge I can help you to overcome panic attacks, engage again in activities that you possibly have been avoiding due your symptoms.