Someone with panic attacks for a period of over 6 months. Pronounced fear of more attacked
- Irregular heartbeat
- Light headedness
- Numbness Tingling
- Feeling you’ll faint
- Feeling death is imminent
- Fear of losing control of bodily functions
Panic attacks are sudden, intense periods of anxiety. The sufferer will suddenly feel very anxious and may fear that he is about to have a heart attack, go mad, or do something very embarrassing in public. He will often also leave the situation where the attack happens and may avoid it in future.
These frightening thoughts, along with actions intended to protect the sufferer from harm (often called Safety Behaviours) can increase anxiety and make attacks more common. They can also lead to a very restricted lifestyle, as the sufferer avoids public places, public transport, supermarket queues and other places from which escape might be difficult. If such avoidance becomes extreme, it may be referred to as agoraphobia (the fear of public places).
CBT has well-developed techniques for treating panic disorder. Patient and therapist will together develop a Formulation, or model, showing why the attacks happen and what effect they have. The patient’s thoughts are explored using a Thought Record, and Behavioural Experiments can be devised to help the patient think about her panics in a new way. When treatment is successful panic attacks can be reduced or eliminated in a very short time.