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Overcoming Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are normal responses in times of distress, or following a trauma. 7-9% of people have experienced them. However, panic attacks are frightening because they sometimes happen in what seems to be a normal situation. Fearful reminders, stressful events or big life changes may trigger a panic attack and when combined with anxious thinking, “I can’t cope with these feelings, I’m going to die”, escalate the panic and increase the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response. The body takes over, believing there is a sense of immediate threat and a cycle begins as the thoughts create further panic about having the panic.

Common symptoms of Panic Attacks include:

  • Shortness of breath which may include
    – feelings of choking, tightness in the chest, nausea, feeling dizzy
  • Being watchful of the surroundings and overly concerned about threat
  • Catastrophic & negative thinking – “I am going to die of a heart attack…I will pass out and people will think I’m mad”. Unfortunately, this anxiety about having panic attacks tends to increase the symptoms
  • Dizziness
  • Pins & needles in hands and feet
  • Feeling numb or out of your body
  • Feeling dizzy or unsteady
  • Increased energy (adrenaline release) followed by exhaustion – after panic attack subsides
    – The main symptom of panic is FEAR
    – Panic attacks are not dangerous and don’t cause lasting physical harm
  • May tranquilise feelings (food/alcohol/overwork)
  • Social isolation

Online CBT & Mindfulness Counselling aims to support you with:

  • Overcoming catastrophic thinking relating to the symptoms of panic
  • Establish more observational thinking (so you don’t get panic about panic!) to break the cycle that maintains the panic
  • Providing a space for you to express your feelings and thoughts to provide an understanding of the stressors/triggers
  • Provide CBT and Mindfulness based worksheets to provide more self-supportive statements & skills for use during times of distress
  • Integrating Mindfulness Based Cognitive skills to increase clarity of mind and increase a sense of calmness (less likely to react to challenging situations)
  • Integrating Mindfulness to enhance feelings of connectedness (rather than numbness)
  • Integrating support techniques e.g. panic thought records to understand & challenge anxious thinking
  • Challenging avoidance behaviours with practice
  • Support techniques for managing anger sometimes associated with panic

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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a type of psychotherapy that looks at:

  • The way you think about yourself/others
  • What you think about the situation or problem you are experiencing and
  • How what you do and feel is influenced by what you think and believe. It includes a solution-focused approach to problems and supports positive change with CBT worksheets.

Mindfulness Therapy is beneficial because Mindfulness supports the body and the mind.

  • Integrating Mindfulness improves mental and physical health
  • It helps to relieve stress and improves clarity of mind
  • Mindfulness is supportive in the treatment of depression, low mood, anxiety, couples conflict and stress reduction
  • Mindfulness also helps people to manage painful emotions
(Harvard Medical School)