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Anxiety attack treatment

Anxiety attacks, also known as panic attacks, are characterised by unexpected, sudden episodes of severe and debilitating anxiety, which can also be accompanied by a whole host of unpleasant and distressing physical symptoms. These physical symptoms can be so acute, that many first-time sufferers believe that they are experiencing a nervous breakdown, a heart attack, and some even worry that they are going to die. Over time, the fear of suffering from an anxiety attack can become embedded, and anxiety attacks may occur more frequently, which results in what can feel like a ‘vicious circle’.

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At Priory, we are dedicated to delivering personalised, world class anxiety attack treatment, therapy and support, empowering you to overcome your unique anxiety attack symptoms, address the underlying causes for your anxiety attacks, and take steps towards a positive, anxiety-free future.

What are anxiety attacks?

Anxiety attacks can be defined as sudden and unexpected episodes of acute anxiety which can happen for no obvious reason and with no clear triggers. Anxiety attacks can happen in situations where you least expect it and can result in a wide range of distressing physical and psychological symptoms.

Anxiety attacks are one of the distinguishing symptoms of panic disorder, which is a specific anxiety disorder. Anxiety attacks may also be linked to a condition known as agoraphobia, which is a debilitating form of anxiety that causes individuals to have an overwhelming and irrational fear that they will suffer an anxiety attack in a location where there appears to be no escape.

Anxiety attacks can affect people differently; some individuals may be able to overcome an anxiety attack on their own and without other people observing, whereas others may require more intensive help to manage their anxiety attacks. It is not uncommon for individuals to believe that they are having a heart attack, a nervous breakdown or are ‘going crazy’, the first time that they experience an anxiety attack, because of the intensity of their symptoms. This can often prompt them to call an ambulance or seek emergency medical assistance.

At Priory, we recognise that suffering an anxiety attack can be an upsetting and frightening experience, and ongoing anxiety attacks can result in social isolation and constant worry. However, it is important to understand that with timely, individually tailored treatment, help & support anxiety attacks can be managed and prevented, allowing you to address your concerns and take steps towards achieving a full and sustainable recovery.

If you think that you or someone that you know is struggling with anxiety attacks, the good news is that expert, established treatment is available, and you don’t have to suffer alone. Our highly trained team of psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and other mental health professionals are committed to delivering personalised treatment for your anxiety attacks at our specialist hospitals and wellbeing centres, empowering you to reduce your anxiety attack symptoms, and take steps towards resuming the healthy and fulfilling life that you deserve.

Treatment for anxiety attacks at Priory

It is important to understand that whilst anxiety attacks can be distressing and difficult to cope with, effective treatment can reduce and resolve your symptoms, and empower you to make a full recovery. Our Priory experts recognise that everyone experiences anxiety attacks in unique ways, and therefore, we are dedicated to providing bespoke treatment programmes in order to tackle the underlying causes of your individual condition, acquire effective coping strategies to help you to manage your anxiety attacks, and identify triggers before they manifest.

Anxiety attack treatment can be delivered in an outpatient, day care or inpatient (residential) capacity, depending upon the intensity of the support that you require, and the severity of your condition. You can read more about these different treatment options on our approach to mental health treatment page.

In addition, Priory’s expansive national network of hospitals and wellbeing centres mean that we are able to offer you the exceptional anxiety attack support that you need, in a way that can be flexible around your unique requirements, circumstances and commitments, and in a location that is convenient for you.

Tried and tested treatment for anxiety attacks may include:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) - CBT aims to address any unhealthy thought patterns that may be exacerbating your anxiety attacks, in order to re-evaluate these thoughts in a healthier way
  • Medication – certain antidepressant medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), or other medications, can be used alongside CBT to further support in the management of anxiety attacks
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Highly skilled anxiety attack treatment specialists

Our highly qualified specialists have a wealth of experience and expertise in this area, and are able to implement a broad range of therapeutic techniques to help to alleviate your anxiety and panic. Our anxiety attack treatment experts are also able to prescribe medication for your anxiety attacks, if this is deemed as being suitable for you. We ensure that each individual who seeks support with us is involved in all decisions regarding their care, and is placed at the centre of their anxiety attack treatment and recovery journey. This means that you will benefit from a completely bespoke treatment experience, and achieve the most positive outcomes for you as an individual.

It is important to understand that without specialist support, your anxiety attacks may become more frequent, and can have an increasingly detrimental impact on your ability to function effectively on a day-to-day basis, your performance at work or school, your social life and hobbies, your interpersonal relationships, as well as your psychological and physical health. Therefore, whilst it can seem to be an overwhelming and daunting prospect to seek help for your anxiety attacks, it is likely to be a crucial step in helping you to overcome your anxiety attacks and regaining control of your life. You can be assured that our highly compassionate, supportive and therapeutic treatment environments provide you with the ideal setting in which to tackle your challenges, and take steps towards a healthy, happy and positive way of life.

What causes anxiety attacks?

Like most mental health conditions, research suggests that it is likely that there are a number of factors that may increase an individual’s vulnerability to suffering from anxiety attacks.

These factors include:

  • Genetic/hereditary/biological factors
  • Short-term emotional triggers, such as bereavement
  • Phobias
  • Lack of assertiveness
  • Maintaining causes (dysfunctional beliefs, avoiding certain situations)
  • Substance withdrawal
  • Certain medications
  • Chronic and/or serious illness
  • Certain substances an also trigger anxiety attack symptoms, including caffeine and cannabis

Young people and anxiety attacks

At Priory, our experts are not only able to treat adults who struggle with anxiety attacks, but are also able to provide tailored anxiety attack treatment for patients who are under the age of 18 years. We also provide a full education programme for young people who are receiving inpatient treatment at Priory. This includes a comprehensive range of educational services and accredited on-site assessment facilities to ensure that your child receives continuous educational provision suitable to their needs and abilities.

More information on the mental health support that we offer for young people can be found on our young people’s services page.

What can I do to reduce anxiety attacks?

Seeking expert support for your anxiety attacks is hugely important in order to receive exceptional treatment and therapy for what can be a distressing condition. However, there are also a number of practical steps that you can take yourself, as a means of trying to reduce and control your anxiety attacks. These include:

  • Reducing your alcohol, caffeine and/or cannabis intake
  • Practising relaxation techniques such as yoga
  • Exercising regularly
  • Trying to get enough sleep
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Spending time with family and friends

This page was clinically reviewed by Dr Oluwagbenga Odeyemi (MBBS, MPH, MRCPsych) in August 2021, and is scheduled to be reviewed again in August 2023. To view all Priory anxiety attack specialists, please click here.

Anxiety Attack Symptoms
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