CBT for panic attacks and anxiety
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an effective intervention or treatment for panic attacks (and the anxiety that sits beneath them), because it teaches you how to understand the triggers, and manage the symptoms of a panic attack better.
In this video I explain how CBT for panic attacks can help you understand the symptoms of a panic attack and what causes them
CBT as a treatment for panic attacks:
When people come to me for help with panic attacks they are usually very unsettled by the symptoms but seldom have any idea of what is making them occur. Therapy can help you demystify the apparent randomness of the attacks and help you gain control over them. Ultimately the goal of therapy is to significantly reduce the incidence or be completely free of the symptoms and this is usually achievable within relatively short time frames.
Why do people get panic attacks?
The idea of a panic attack is a scary thing in of itself but it doesn't need to be when you understand how they occur and why they occur. The problem with 'panic attacks' is the phrase itself promotes the notion that we could be minding our own business and then suddenly get attacked by an external thing called panic and find ourselves quite inexplicably experiencing extreme physical symptoms such as a pounding heart, dizziness, sweating and a tight chest – this would scare most people. However, panic is merely a symptom of extreme fear and it arises when we feel extremely threatened – the symptoms are perfectly natural and were key to our survival as human species.
Whilst the survival of an animal may well depend on its ability to deal with life threatening triggers by reverting to the fight-flight-freeze response, how does this apply to someone say, who has panic attacks getting dressed for work each morning, who can't face going past the front door because they feel like they are having a heart attack or who finds themselves having to pull into a lay-by a quarter of a mile before work unable to drive any further. Therapy can help you work out what it is that triggers these symptoms and develop coping mechanisms to reduce their incidence and severity.
Sometimes panic attacks arise when people are struggling to repress another emotion such as sadness. Some people find bursting into tears uncomfortable and or embarrassing, and for these people getting very upset about something whether at home or at work can lead to severe anxiety and the effort taken to stifle the upset-ness can unconsciously convert it into a panic attack which seems to come out of nowhere.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help you overcome panic attacks by uncovering the triggers that provoke your panic attacks and give you strategies to take control over them. If you've been suffering from panic attacks but are unsure what is behind them you may find it helpful to take the mood analysis tool below to identify aspects in your life that may be troubling you but are outside your awareness.
The next step to overcoming your panic attacks is to find a therapist near you:
If you are in South Wales
For other parts of the UK counselling directory.org will help you find a therapist near your postcode – but remember to ask the therapist how much experience they have of dealing with this issue and how confident they are of being able to help you.