Panic attacks happen when people become very anxious –
they are sudden surges in fear that reach a peak within minutes; symptoms may include thoughts of not being able to breathe, increased heart rate, feeling hot and sweaty, stomach churning, pins and needles or numbness in the arms and legs, thoughts racing, needing to go to the toilet and a dry mouth. You may believe these feelings are indications that something is seriously wrong with you physically and that you are going to die or that something very bad is going to happen. Sometimes there is a trigger for this, for example getting stuck in a lift, or being in a crowded space, but sometimes, panic attacks can seemingly come “out of the blue” and it is these sudden, unexpected and recurring panic attacks that can be classed as panic disorder.
Experiencing panic attacks can lead to people becoming afraid that they will experience panic attacks in certain situations or places so will avoid them to reduce the likelihood of feeling those physical sensations again, this is called agoraphobia.
Usually the best treatment options for panic are based around increasing your knowledge of the problem, having a better understanding of your thinking, and making some changes to your behaviour. The evidence suggested cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is usually the most effective treatment. We have a number of interventions that use CBT to help people overcome panic – often the most effective one is our Managing Panic course, but SilverCloud, Stress and Mood Management, and some of our one-to-one interventions are also helpful.
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