77 High Street

Bangor, County Down

BT20  5BD


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What is a Panic Attack?

A panic attack is clinically defined as “an abrupt surge of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes, and during which time four (or more) of the following occur:

  1. Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate.

  2. Sweating.

  3. Trembling or shaking.

  4. Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering.

  5. Feelings of choking.

  6. Chest pain or discomfort.

  7. Nausea or abdominal distress.

  8. Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint.

  9. Chills or heat sensations.

  10. Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations).

  11. Derealisation (feelings of unreality) or depersonalisation (being detached from oneself).

  12. Fear of losing control or “going crazy”.

  13. Fear of dying.

What is Panic Disorder?

Essentially Panic disorder is when we panic about panicking. More specifically it is the misinterpretation of anxiety symptoms in the body as dangerous, with these danger-focused thoughts leading to greater anxiety to be further misinterpreted. This cycle cause numerous panic attacks and in seeking to avoid these, our behaviours and routines can change. This can have limiting effects on our life causing low mood and actually serves to make future misinterpretations of anxiety more likely. 



CBT for panic

Initially we will learn more about your panic attacks, when and how they affect you. We will cover the CBT model and I will help you identify the situations and the thoughts in these situations that cause your anxieties. You will be introduced to the CBT model of Panic disorder and we will understand how this relates to you. We can then try to understand anxiety in our bodies better and work on ways to control it in the short term. We can use a process called interoceptive exposure to help you feel more comfortable when experiencing individual symptoms of a panic so it breaks the spiral of symptoms that lead to an attack. We can then use behavioural experiments to systematically break patterns of avoidance and reclaim your life from panic.

Of course we will focus on improving your mood initially if required and you will learn a number of helpful relaxation techniques and breathing exercises.

Research has shown CBT to be a really effective treatment for panic attacks.