What is panic?

If you suffer from panic disorder you may find yourself experiencing recurring panic attacks out of the blue.  Panic attacks are unpredictable bursts of extreme fear usually lasting only a few minutes, sometimes hours, but never days.  They are quite common and are often the result of a build-up of stress. Panic attacks can be frightening and the very fear of having a panic attack can often become as much as a problem than the actual panic attack.

What are the symptoms of panic?

Panic attacks usually involve very strong physical symptoms including:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Racing heart, palpitations, chest pain
  • Chocking
  • Faintness or light headed
  • Sweating

During a panic attack you are likely to think something terrible is going to happen e.g.:

  • “I am going to lose control”
  • “I am going mad”
  • “I am going to have a heart attack”
  • “I am going to make an idiot of myself”

Panic attacks are extremely unpleasant and our natural reaction is to escape the situation.  We may also start avoiding places where we feel we are likely to have a panic attack:

  • Busy shops
  • Nights out
  • Going out alone
  • Public transport
  • Staying home alone

If you experience panic attacks our psychologists are highly skilled in helping you understand what keeps panic going and teaching you effective coping strategies.

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