If you, or someone close to you, is unfortunate enough to be experiencing recurring panic attacks, then you may want to find out more about this psychological treatment called ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy’ (CBT). As a ‘talk therapy’, CBT does a lot more than just talking! It is an active treatment and requires a real commitment on the part of the person engaging with it. While it is not a ‘magic quick fix’, by any means, it has most certainly proven itself (through countless studies and clinical trials) to be very effective - for the majority of people who avail of it.
Rather than overwhelm you with tonnes of information – about both CBT and Panic Attacks
– perhaps it would be more helpful if this information arrived in episodes!
Episode One: What exactly is a panic attack?
A panic attack is probably best described as a sudden, and overwhelming, sense of terror along with some extreme physical sensations. It can seem to occur without warning and quickly rises to its most intense level within about ten minutes or so. There are thirteen symptoms, or sensations, associated with a panic attack – ten of them are physical and three are more ‘psychological’. These symptoms, at least four of which must be experienced to ‘properly diagnoses’ a panic attack, are;
While figures vary greatly on this, some suggest that as many as a third of us will experience at least one panic attack in our lifetime. The reasons for our FIRST (if not only) panic attack can be brought on by some random ‘glitch’ in the body - although approximately eighty percent of cases reportedly coincided with a build-up of stressful living!
The term ‘Panic Disorder’ is used when the panic attacks are recurring, and when we begin to live our lives in fear of the next one – where might it happen and just how catastrophic will the outcome be? Naturally, when this starts to happen, most people make adjustments and begin to withdraw and avoid potential panic attack sites. Now we have another problem – Agoraphobia! Agoraphobia simply refers to a fear, and avoidance, of any situation or place from which escape (or rescue) would be difficult or embarrassing, in the event of a panic attack.
The key ‘drivers’ of panic disorder are;
While panic attacks and panic disorder (with or without agoraphobia) are incredibly upsetting and frustrating, they are also very treatable! When it comes to seeking treatment, always start with your doctor. There are some medical conditions which can mimic panic attacks and your doctor can check for these. Remember that the first key driver of panic disorder is that stubborn, lingering doubt that there ISN’T anything seriously wrong – so make sure that you are satisfied that you are basically healthy and safe from any real ‘catastrophe’!
In Episode Two, we will go inside the body – and the brain – to see what is causing that intense and terrifying experience we call a Panic Attack.