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Panic Disorder/Attacks

Panic Disorder/Attacks Counselling, Therapy and CBT in St Albans/Hertfordshire and Online

Panic attacks are a prevalent occurrence characterised by a sudden surge of intense anxiety, resulting in a temporary state of high anxiety levels. They can be distressing and overwhelming, causing individuals to develop concerns about experiencing further panic attacks. When panic attacks happen without an identifiable trigger and recur frequently, a diagnosis of panic disorder may be given. Panic attacks and panic disorder can significantly impact people's lives. As an experienced professional, I specialise in helping individuals overcome panic attacks and panic disorder. I utilise proven therapeutic approaches that effectively address this debilitating condition, empowering you to overcome it and regain control over your life without limitations.

What Are Panic Attacks?

Panic attacks are characterised by a sudden and intense surge of anxiety, fear, and panic. While they can be triggered by identifiable factors, they can also occur seemingly out of the blue. During a panic attack, individuals may experience various physical symptoms, such as

  •  difficulty breathing

  • dizziness

  • nausea

  • palpitations

  • a strong urge to use the toilet

  • numbness

  • tingling sensations

  • faintness


These symptoms can be distressing and overwhelming for those experiencing panic attacks. They are the body's response to a perceived threat, and although they can be highly distressing, they are not physically harmful. However, the physical symptoms experienced during a panic attack can trigger fears of suffocation, fainting, heart attacks, death, loss of control, or vomiting. These fears can intensify the unpleasant physical sensations, creating a cycle of fear and physical symptoms.

After experiencing one or multiple panic attacks, a fear of future panic attacks may develop. As a result, individuals may avoid situations where they believe another panic attack is likely to occur. Alternatively, they may enter these situations but take precautions to mitigate their anxiety. For instance, someone who fears having a panic attack in a group setting may position themselves near an exit for a quick escape if needed. After experiencing panic attacks, a person's confidence in situations that previously posed no issue may diminish.

What Causes Panic Attacks?

The exact cause of panic attacks is not fully understood and can vary from person to person. However, several factors are believed to play a role in their development:

Genetic Factors: While a specific gene responsible for panic attacks has not been identified, research suggests that having a first-degree relative who experiences panic attacks increases the likelihood of experiencing them at some point in your life.


Psychological Factors: Various psychological factors are thought to contribute to an individual's susceptibility to panic attacks. These may include experiencing chronic stress, being taught from a young age that internal physical sensations are worrisome and require close attention, being encouraged to rest and recover at the first sign of any unusual physical sensation, having other existing mental health difficulties such as depression, OCD, PTSD, phobias, generalised anxiety disorder, and social anxiety, having a heightened internal focus and being hypervigilant to bodily changes, and experiencing low self-esteem.


Environmental Factors: Certain environmental factors can also contribute to the development of panic attacks. These may include experiencing a recent bereavement, facing major stressful life events such as job loss, moving homes, or relationship breakdowns, and having a pre-existing physical illness.


It's important to note that while these factors may increase the likelihood of experiencing panic attacks, they do not guarantee their occurrence, as individual experiences can vary.


When Should I Get Help For Panic Attacks/Disorders?

Whether you have recently started experiencing panic attacks or have been dealing with them for a while, seeking help is beneficial. If you identify with the symptoms of panic attacks mentioned earlier, it is recommended to seek psychological therapy to regain control over your life and overcome this condition. Therapy for panic attacks can provide the support and tools necessary to manage and reduce them, allowing you to break free from their grip.


Treatment for Panic Attacks

Therapy for panic attacks commonly utilises Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). In CBT, the first step often involves understanding that the unpleasant physical sensations are a normal response by your body to perceived threat and are not actually dangerous. These sensations are your body's way of trying to protect you. Relaxation techniques are introduced to help alleviate the physical symptoms. Fears associated with panic attacks are addressed by questioning and challenging them. One effective way to challenge these fears is through gradual exposure to the situations that trigger anxiety. Through therapy, you will learn that while avoidance and precautions provide short-term relief, they perpetuate anxiety in the long run. Your therapist will guide you in gradually confronting these situations and reducing the need for excessive precautions. This process will enhance your confidence and decrease anxiety. It is understandable that confronting your fears may seem intimidating, as it goes against the instincts of your brain and body. However, you will discover that this approach leads to significant progress on your journey to recovery and you will be helped to be equipped with tools to help you manage when confronting anxiety provoking situations.

What are the Benefits of Therapy For Panic Attacks/Disorder?


Research and clinical evidence consistently demonstrate the numerous advantages individuals can attain through therapy for panic attacks:

  • Decreased frequency of panic attacks

  • Enhanced management of anxiety and panic

  • Greater ability to confront previously feared situations with reduced anxiety and panic

  • Improved overall quality of life

  • Heightened self-confidence


How Long Does Therapy Usually Last?

The duration of therapy for panic attacks varies depending on the individual. While some individuals may experience significant improvements within approximately six sessions, others may require additional sessions to acquire additional tools and prevent future occurrences. Typically, a therapy duration ranging from six to sixteen sessions has been proven highly effective in overcoming panic attacks.

Helpful Panic Attacks/Disorder Resources:


If you would like therapy for panic attacks/disorder in St Albans/Hertfordshire or online please email me at or complete the webform below.


St Albans Rooms

21 Victoria Street

St Albans



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