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Published: 4 July 2015

Panic Attacks / Panic Disorder

What is a panic attack?

A panic attack, also called an anxiety attack is a brief period of intense anxiety which causes the physical symptoms of fear (intense fight or flight reaction).  A panic attack can usually last from several minutes to around 30 minutes, but the physical effects can last for several hours after an attack.

People often are convinced during the attack that they are dying and describe a panic attack as the most distressing experience that they have ever had. As a natural response, people dread the next attack and often avoid places or situations where they have had panic attacks.

How common are panic attacks?

Panic attacks are extremely common.  Around 35% of the population will suffer from a panic attack at some point in their lifetime.

What are the Symptoms of a panic attack?

  1. Heightened vigilance for danger and physical symptoms
  2. Anxious and irrational thinking
  3. A strong feeling of dread, danger or foreboding
  4. Fear of going mad, losing control or dying
  5. Feeling lightheaded and dizzy
  6. Tingling and chills, particularly in the arms and hands
  7. Trembling or shaking, sweating
  8. Hot flushes
  9. Accelerated heart rate
  10. A feeling of constriction in the chest
  11. Breathing difficulties, including shortness of breath
  12. Nausea or abdominal distress
  13. Tense muscles
  14. Dry mouth

15.       Feelings of unreality and detachment from the environment.

What is Panic Disorder?

In summary, panic disorder results from having panic attacks, and becomes a disorder when the panic attacks have persisted for more than 6 months.

Sufferers of panic disorder fear having additional panic attacks and often go to great lengths to avoid suffering additional panic attacks.

The most avoided places include crowded places, enclosed spaces, and activities such as driving.

Benefits of treatment at Go Psychology

  • You will receive a thorough assessment to gain understanding as to why you are suffering from panic attacks (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder needs to be ruled out as does medical conditions such as thyroid problems)
  • You will be educated about what is happening in your body and mind during a panic attack
  • You will receive effective psychological strategies to manage panic attacks without using medication
  • You will understand the factors that are contributing to your panic attacks, and maintaining your panic attacks
  • Your panic attacks will reduce in frequency and intensity quite quickly for those who respond well to psychological therapy

Contact Go Psychology now on (07) 5580 9212.

Dr Paul Bowden, is a Clinical Psychologist and Director of Go Psychology Robina on the Gold Coast.

To assist you we have made this article Panic Attacks/Panic Disorders available as a PDF, you can download the article for reference purposes by clicking on the link.

Book an appointment with Paul now