Panic and Agoraphobia

Panic attacks are extremely frightening. They seem to come out of the blue, strike at random, make people feel powerless, out of control, and as if they are about to die or go mad.

A panic attack is an exaggeration of the body’s normal response to fear, stress or excitement. When faced with a situation seen as potentially threatening, the body automatically gears itself up for danger, by producing quantities of adrenalin for ‘fight or flight’. This would have prepared our cave-dwelling ancestors to fight or run away from danger, but it’s much less appropriate to the stresses we encounter today.

Panic attacks are diagnosed if four or more of the following symptoms occur during the periods of anxiety,

  • Chest pain or other chest discomfort.
  • Chills or hot flushes.
  • Choking sensations.
  • Derealisation (feeling unreal) or depersonalisation (feeling detached from oneself).
  • Dizzy, lightheaded, faint, or unsteady feelings.
  • Fear of dying.
  • Fears of loss of control or becoming insane.
  • Heart racing, pounding, or skipping beats.
  • Nausea or other abdominal discomfort.
  • Numbness or tingling Sweating
  • Shortness of breath or smothering sensation.
  • Trembling. 

During an attack, you may fear that you are about to die or go mad. The most important thing to remember is that, however dreadful you may feel during an attack, this is not going to happen. The bodily effects of panic attacks, such as breathlessness, are just part of the panic and quite harmless.

If you would like more information or to make an appointment you can contact me in confidence.