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Treatment of Panic Attacks with CBT in London

Efficacy’s Cognitive Behavioural therapists, based in centres across London & Sevenoaks, are experts and highly training in delivering CBT treatments to help you overcome panic attacks. A ‘panic attack’ can be defined as a sudden onset of anxiety about what is going on in your own body (i.e. a fear of our own physical sensations). The term panic disorder is used when people either experience recurrent panic attacks or when they develop a constant fear of developing a panic attack. (Leahy, 2009)

Common Features

Those who experience a panic attack often experience physical sensations such as a pounding heart, shortness of breathe, tingling sensations, sweating, trembling, dizziness, chills or hot flushes, nausea, chest pain. During an initial panic attack people experience these physical symptoms (which can be extremely intense and unpleasant) and misinterpret them in a catastrophic manner. Hence, they believe they are having a heart attack, losing control or going mad. They inevitably feel a sense of impending doom.

Sometimes attacks are linked to specific situations (such as getting on a train, plane, being near deep water, open fields, being in lifts). It is quite common that people will avoid situations in which they encountered their first panic attack.

Physical sensations are our body’s way of preparing us for a threat therefore we will either run away or be prepared to attack. This “fight or flight response” is an evolutionary mechanism that has enabled us to survive. Today we no longer experience immediate threat from predators nor do we need to hunt prey. When we experience symptoms of anxiety this is our fight or flight response kicking in and means that our body is functioning well and is ready to protect us. However today’s stressors do not require this level of protection and therefore we are left with uncomfortable and often distressing physical sensations.

When we feel this uncomfortable, we understandably want to protect ourselves from our catastrophic interpretations (of physical symptoms of anxiety) and will often start to check in with our body to see how we are feeling, avoid situations which may provoke these feelings, or we will do things that we believe make is feel better for example carrying water, taking rescue remedy, being on the lookout for escape routes, loosening clothing and trying to distract ourselves.

These may seem like good short term strategies however longer term they can be unhelpful as they assist in keeping the cycle of panic going.

Treatment Options

Guidelines produced by NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) recommend Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as the most effective psychological treatment (or form of counselling) to treat Panic Disorder, with the longest duration of effect. Drug treatment is also an option and depending on symptom severity and personal preference can be used to complement psychological therapy, (NICE, April 2007).
We are a pure cognitive behavioural therapy service based in three London locations and Sevenoaks with a team of BABCP accredited Cognitive behavioural therapists. All accredited cognitive behavioural therapists will be trained mental health professionals and competent in treating panic disorder. You can be assured that you health is in the hands of trusted health care professionals.

Evidence Base

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence is the independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health. Recommendations made by NICE within their guidelines are based on evidence and research from clinical studies that formulates ideas and procedures for best practice.

If you would like to find out more or book an assessment in London then call on the number below or complete the online contact form.

Telephone: 020 7929 7911