CBT for panic attacks
What is a panic attack?
A panic attack is a sudden feeling of intense anxiety about what is going on in your own body; fear of your physical sensations.
When you experience a panic attack, you’re likely to have intense and unpleasant physical sensations such as:
- A pounding heart
- Shortness of breath
- Tingling sensations in your hands
- Chills or hot flushes
- Chest pain
During an initial panic attack, you’re likely to misinterpret these sensations as if you have a heart attack, losing control or going mad. This comes with a feeling of impending doom.
The term panic disorder is used when people either experience recurrent panic attacks or when they develop a constant fear of developing a panic attack.
Are you struggling with panic attacks?
It’s time to get help when fear of another attack:
- is stopping you living your life (for example: getting on certain modes of transport, being near deep water, being in lifts)
- means you avoid the situation which triggered your first attack
- is stopping you from socialising, going to work or developing relationships
- means you adopt strategies which keep the cycle of panic going (carrying water, taking rescue remedy, looking for escape routes, wearing loose clothing)
CBT and panic disorders
Guidelines produced by NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) recommend CBT as the most effective psychological treatment (or form of counselling) to treat panic disorder, with the longest duration of effect. Drug treatment is also an option, and depending on symptom severity and personal preference, can be used to complement psychological therapy.