CBT Treatment For Panic Attacks - London and Sevenoaks

We provide fast and effective CBT treatment for panic attacks and agoraphobia from our clinics in Sevenoaks and London Bridge. You can also organise Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for panic and agoraphobia with one of our forty therapists operating across London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the recommended treatment of choice for Panic Disorder and the published evidence shows that it is more effective than other forms of therapy or medication. To talk to a CBT expert about treatment for your panic symptoms, call 01732 808626 or email info@thinkcbt.com

 

What is a Panic Attack

A panic attack is a sudden and intense episode of overwhelming fear, apprehension and physical distress. Panic attacks normally last between five to twenty minutes and often involve terrifying physical and emotional reactions.  This can include extreme worries about losing control, feeling detached, suffering public embarrassment, fainting, collapsing or dying. Panic attacks are surprisingly common, with up to 30% of the general population experiencing a panic episode at some point in their life.

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Panic typically involves at least four of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Chills or hot flushes
  • Derealization (feelings of unreality)
  • Fear of losing control
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
  • Choking sensations
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Palpitations or raised heart rate
  • Paresthesias
  • Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
  • Sense of impending doom
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking

Although panic attacks are highly distressing, they are not dangerous and cause no physical or psychological damage. Panic is an emotional and physiological reaction to the fight or flight response and can be treated effectively using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

If you want to talk to a Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist about problems with panic attacks, complete the simple contact form on this page and we can organise a free initial telephone consultation.

 

CBT For Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder is very common affecting approximately 5% of the population at some point in their lifetime. Panic Disorder is a fear of having panic attacks and is usually diagnosed after repeated or unexpected panic attacks. It involves one of the following problems for a minimum of one month after the initial panic attack:

  • Persistent concern about having additional panic attacks.
  • Worry about the implications of the attack or its consequences.
  • A significant change in behavior related to the attacks.

The Panic Disorder Cycle

The following diagram outlines how Panic Disorder creates a vicious cycle of increased anxiety and fear of panic attacks. This cycle is clinically validated and forms the basis of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for panic disorder. The content in each box provides typical examples of the psychological factors that keep panic going, however the specific characteristics of each case may vary:

 

PANIC MODEL THINK CBT

When the panic attack is triggered, heightened sensitivity to innate bodily sensations increases anxiety, provoking further physiological sensations and a fear of something terrible happening. This leads to further anxiety which can spiral into a panic attack. reassurance-seeking, checking and avoidance behaviours are used to control the anxiety symptoms, however this also validates the belief that something terrible will happen if the situation is not avoided or controlled.

 

Panic and Heart Attacks

Panic attacks are often incorrectly associated with cardiac problems or fear of heart attacks.  This is because some of the sensations or symptoms can feel similar. If you experience unexplained chest pain you should consult your GP or a qualified health professional in the first instance. This can identify any cardiac problems or simply rule out any dangerous symptoms. Often however, the fear of heart problems persists in spite of receiving the all clear from a GP or cardiac specialist. Under these circumstances, CBT can be used to alter the negative appraisals that maintain the fear and reduce the anxiety symptoms.

If your fears of heart problems or other serious undiagnosed health problems persist following a health assessment, you can contact think CBT and take control of the problem. If you want to talk to an expert about your concerns, click here to contact us.

 

CBT for Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is a fear of being in places or situations from which escape might be difficult or embarrassing. People also often worry about having panic symptoms away from home or other familiar surroundings. Agoraphobia typically involves avoiding these situations or needing the presence of a companion to feel safe or reassured. The problem is, that whilst avoidance and reassurance help reduced the anxiety in that moment, they ultimately strengthen the low coping beliefs that maintain the underlying problem. Whilst Agoraphobia and Panic Disorder are separate conditions, they are often closely linked.

Agoraphobia can result in your whole world shrinking and a life defined by limitations. This can also lead to other related psychological problems such as depression and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the recommended treatment of choice for Agorophobia. Therapy involves a combination of specialised psychological techniques including systematic desensitisation and cognitive restructuring. The client is gradually supported in the normalisation of anxiety reactions through in-session exercises and practical CBT assignments.

If you want to talk to a Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist about Agoraphobia, complete the simple contact form on this page and we can organise an initial free telephone consultation. You can also take the free and confidential Agoraphobia assessment by clicking the following links:

 

Take the Free Panic and Agoraphobia Scale (PAS)

Take the Free Panic Disorder (DSM-5 Assessment)

Take the Free Agoraphobia Assessment (DSM-5)

How CBT is Used to Treat Panic Disorder

Research shows that CBT is highly effective in the treatment of panic disorder.  The treatment involves the use of clinically validated techniques designed to change the automatic misinterpretation of bodily sensations and to gradually reduce safety seeking and avoidance behaviours . These techniques involve psychoeducation on the panic cycle, interoceptive and behavioural experiments to test assumptions about perceived dangers and graded exposure exercises to gradually undermine the anxiety reaction.

Panic attacks can also be associated with other psychological problems such as severe phobias and trauma. In these circumstances, we may augment cognitive behavioural therapy techniques with other evidence based approaches including EMDR and clinical hypnotherapy.

Counselling and other passive forms of therapy are generally ineffective for Panic Disorder and Agorophobia. Some forms of Psychodynamic counselling can make the problem worse by encouraging further introspection and internal focus.

You can use the Panic Thought Record to monitor any episodes of heightened anxiety or panic attacks. This will help you to track and understand how panic attacks are triggered and maintained.

 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for panic and agoraphobia brings the same rigor, structure and focus to the problem that it provides for many other psychological, emotional and behavioural problems.  

Follow the evidence and take a positive step towards changing your situation. Call us now on 01732 808 626, click here to send a message or email us at info@thinkcbt.com. You can also find out more about our services by clicking this link.

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