Panic Attacks - How Your Psychologist Can Help

Panic attacks, also known as panic disorder, can be overwhelming and can really interfere with your ability to function normally on a daily basis.  An experienced psychologist can help you to overcome the debilitating effects of panic attacks.  Read on to find out more.

What is panic disorder?

Panic disorder causes sufferers to experience feelings of unprovoked, irrational terror, fear, and dread.  Other symptoms of a panic attack can include:

  • shortness of breath
  • a racing pulse or hammering heart beat
  • insomnia
  • feelings of nausea
  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • shivering or trembling

A person who suffers from panic attacks may withdraw from the world in order to avoid situations that they fear may cause a further attack.  It's really important to seek professional help if you suffer from panic attacks, because if left untreated, you could develop other psychological disorders, such as depression.

How could a psychologist help you?

During the first sessions with your psychotherapist, you will discuss your basic problem and they will outline a possible treatment strategy.  Any programme of treatment will be agreed between you and your psychotherapist and will be implemented over a number of months, depending upon how quickly you respond to the treatment. 

As you will be working very closely with your psychotherapist to tackle your panic disorder, you'll need to get on well with them from the very beginning of your treatment if the programme is to be successful, and these early meetings are often used to establish a good patient/therapist relationship before the actual treatment itself commences.

Panic disorder can be treated very successfully by a trained, qualified psychologist.  A form of psychotherapy called CBT, or cognitive behavioural therapy, can be highly effective when treating panic disorder.  CBT uses techniques such as deep breathing and other relaxation therapies, such as meditation.  You will also learn how to understand how your thoughts and your exposure to certain situations may trigger your panic attacks, and this increased awareness can be used to help you tackle potentially distressing situations in a safe, controlled environment.

You may also be encouraged to take part in group or family therapy sessions as part of your treatment.  Sometimes, drug therapy may be included as part of your treatment programme, if your doctor and psychologist consider that this is appropriate.

In conclusion

If you suffer from panic attacks, a programme of treatment from an experienced psychotherapist can be crucial in your permanent recovery and management of the condition.  Have a chat with your doctor if you think that you could benefit from a psychology referral.