Panic Attack Treatment in London
At KlearMinds, our experienced therapists use a blend of integrative psychotherapy, CBT and counselling, that can really help you turn things around. We can help you understand panic attack triggers and show you effective step-by-step strategies, which you can use to successfully reduce and eliminate symptoms of panic.
Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety and panic at certain times. It’s a natural response to stressful or dangerous situations. But someone with panic disorder has feelings of anxiety, stress and panic regularly which seem to occur any tme, often for no apparent reason. You may start to avoid certain situations because you fear they’ll trigger more attacks. This can create a cycle of living “in fear of fear”.
A panic attack can occur suddenly without warning, and for what appears to be no logical reason. Panic attack symptoms can be frightening, particularly if they appear to come from out of nowhere. Alongside feelings of anxiety, a host of other symptoms can accompany an attack such as:
- A racing heartbeat
- Chest pains
- Feeling Faint
- A churning stomach
- Shallow breathing or shortness of breath
- An overwhelming fear of dying
- A feeling of dread
- Tingling sensations in the body
- Hot flushes in the body
- A choking sensation
Most panic attacks last for around 5 to 20 minutes. In certain situations, the shock of the physical symptoms can make people fear they are having a heart attack. However, it is important to note that the symptoms of a racing heartbeat and shortness of breath during a panic attack will not cause a heart attack.
People with panic disorder tend to experience general feelings of worry and anxiety in their daily life. They can experience panic attacks on a regular basis. The number of attacks you have will depend on how severe your condition is. Some people have attacks once or twice a month, while others have them several times a week. As with many mental health conditions, the exact cause of panic disorder isn’t fully understood.
Counselling and integrative psychotherapy can help people to address panic in a number of ways including understanding and managing panic symptoms, overcoming panic attacks and reducing panic frequency. In fact, it is not uncommon for people to be free of unexpected panic altogether by the end of a course of treatment. These therapies also help people develop the skills needed to feel confident in coping should a panic attack occur again in the future.
CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is also an effective therapy for dealing with panic disorder and panic attacks. According to this model, people who suffer from panic disorder often have distorted ways of thinking that they are not aware of and these thoughts bring on a cycle of fear. By recognising and reshaping these thought patterns, people can take control over their panic. Relaxation training and exposure might also be used to help an individual overcome the problem, and homework assignments such as journals or breathing exercises are typically part of the programme. Weekly sessions of CBT for panic, over a period of 7 to 14 weeks, are recommended by the UK National Institute for Care and Excellence (NICE).
Psychotherapy can help people understand the roots of panic attacks, which do not have an obvious connection with here and now stimuli which is the main focus of CBT Therapy. By exploring areas in people’s past that contribute to your panic, these can be uncovered and dealt with. This helps remove the issues that are often out of awareness but powerfully fuel the physiology which gives rise to panic. When CBT strategies to manage panic do not “stick” psychotherapy enables people to address the root problem fueling panic enabling CBT tools to work much better in a lasting way.
There are some medications that can help control the physical symptoms that accompany panic disorder, but medication is rarely used alone to treat the problem.
If you and your doctor think it might be helpful, you may be prescribed:
- a type of antidepressant called an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or, if SSRIs are not suitable, a tricyclic antidepressant (usually imipramine or clomipramine). There can be side effects with SSRIs including headaches, nausea, loss of libido, dizziness, insomnia and dry mouth. Sometimes when the medication is started, the symptoms can feel worse before the full effects kick in. Like with SSRIs, there can be side effects with tricyclics. These can include constipation, weight gain, drowsiness and sweating.
- an anti-epilepsy medicine such as pregabalin or, if your anxiety is severe, clonazepam (these medicines are also beneficial for treating anxiety)
Antidepressants can take 2 to 4 weeks before they start to work, and up to 8 weeks to work fully. Keep taking your medicines, even if you feel they’re not working, and only stop taking them if your GP advises you to do so. You should never attempt to stop taking antidepressants on your own as this can result in severe withdrawal symptoms.
In certain cases, when panic symptoms are severe or exacerbated by other conditions such as depression, some people find a combination of medication and counselling can be more helpful. Once the severe physiological symptoms have abated and the individual feels more in control, it is possible to move towards reducing or eventually stopping medication. Again you should never reduce or stop taking medication suddenly or without proper medical supervision.
Alongside medication and/or counselling, the options listed below can assist people in coping with or reducing panic disorder symptoms.
- Support Groups can help people feel less alone by sharing experiences and strategies for dealing with panic attacks. A group can help alleviate the isolation and fear that many sufferers experience.
- Mindfulness is a technique that shows people how to sit and observe difficult thoughts and feelings without judging them negatively. This practice can enable people to build a stronger sense of inner peacefulness and self-control.
- Meditation and Breathing Techniques can be learned and practiced on your own to help keep a calm demeanor during or between panic attacks.
- Lifestyle Changes such as exercising more, improving your diet and avoiding anxiety stimulating substances such as caffeine drinks or harmful substances such as nicotine and alcohol can also help alleviate feelings of panic.
Maggie Morrow is an award winning psychotherapist, an accomplished life coach and counsellor, and Director of KlearMinds. In 2007 she was awarded the BACP National Award for advancing the quality of therapy service provision to the highest standards in the UK.
Maggie’s experience spans over 20 years helping people overcome problems so they can enjoy more fulfilling and satisfying lives.
Not Sure Which Therapist Or Type Of Therapy You Need?
Get in touch with Maggie Morrow, Award Winning Therapist & KlearMinds Director. Maggie can help match you with the right therapist based on your needs.
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