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This page was medically reviewed by Dr Oluwagbenga Odeyemi (MBBS, MPH, MRCPsych, PGDip. in Clinical Psychiatry), Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Wellbeing Centre Birmingham.

What is a Panic Attack?

Panic attacks, are characterised by sudden, unexpected bouts of acute and debilitating anxiety, often accompanied by distressing physical symptoms.

These physical symptoms can be so severe, that it is not uncommon for first time sufferers to believe that they are experiencing a heart attack or a nervous breakdown. Over time, panic attacks can become more frequent, and the fear of suffering from a panic attack becomes embedded, resulting in what can feel like a ‘vicious circle’.

Panic attacks can affect people differently; whilst some individuals may be able to overcome a panic attack on their own and without other people noticing, others may require more intensive help.

Panic Attack Treatments

Whilst panic attacks can be distressing and difficult to cope with, it is important to understand that with effective treatment, they can be managed. Whilst seeking help for your panic attacks may seem to be a daunting prospect, it is likely to be a crucial step in helping you to overcome your panic disorder and improve your quality of life.

If you think that you, or someone that you know, is struggling with a panic disorder, it is crucial to recognise that you’re not alone, and that expert, established anxiety and panic attack treatment is available. We are able to deliver comprehensive treatment for panic attacks on an outpatient, day care or inpatient (residential) basis, depending on the severity of your condition and the intensity of the support that you require.

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You don’t have to struggle with a mental health condition; expert treatment is available. Get the support you need today by calling us on: 0800 840 3219 or sending an enquiry form online.

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How are Panic Attacks Treated?

Panic attacks are one of the characteristic symptoms of panic disorder, which is a type of anxiety disorder. To treat panic disorder, you may be recommended to try therapy for panic attacks, as well as medications as part of a treatment plan. You might also receive treatment for anxiety if you’re struggling with other anxiety symptoms.

Depending on the severity of your attacks, tried and tested treatment for panic attacks may include:

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) - CBT aims to address any dysfunctional thought patterns that may be contributing to your panic 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 panic attacks

Alongside these treatments, you may also be recommended to practice different mindfulness activities as well as breathing techniques, which can help you during a panic attack.

Coping with Panic Attacks

When having a panic attack, it can feel like the symptoms will never end, but there are some things you can do to help ease the symptoms you're experencing. 

Dr Donna Grant (MBBS, MCRPsych, BSc Hons), Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Chelmsford, offers some top tips to help cope with panic:

  1. Stay where you are
  2. Learn to control your breathing
  3. Use positive coping statements
  4. Shift your focus
  5. Challenge unhelpful thoughts

If you're experiencing panic attacks at night, as well as the day time, these tips can also help. 

Common Symptoms of Panic Attacks

Panic attacks can result in a wide range of psychological and physical symptoms that can vary from person to person. Many sufferers report feeling like they’re losing conttol and feeling as though they are trapped, or are unable to free themselves from a certain situation. Panic attacks can also be accompanied by an immediate onset of a range of severe physical symptoms, which may include:

  • Feeling faint, dizzy or light-headed
  • Feeling nauseous
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Chest pains and shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Fluctuating body temperature
  • Hyperventilating

If you’re struggling with the symptoms of panic attacks regularly, you may benefit from professional treatment. You can get panic attack treatments by visiting your GP and asking for support, or enquiring with us directly.

Our highly qualified specialists possess extensive experience in this area, and are able to deliver a wide variety of therapeutic interventions to help to alleviate your panic and anxiety. Our panic attack treatment experts are also able to prescribe medication for your panic attacks, if this is deemed as being appropriate for you. We ensure that each individual who seeks panic attack support with us is placed at the centre of their treatment and recovery journey, and is involved in all decisions regarding their care. This means that you will benefit from a truly personalised treatment experience, and achieve the best possible post-treatment outcomes for you as an individual.

You can be assured that our highly supportive and compassionate treatment environments provide you with the perfect setting in which to address your concerns, and take steps towards a healthy, happy and positive way of life.

Young People and Panic Attacks

At Priory, our experts are not only able to treat adults who struggle with panic attacks, but are also able to provide tailored, expert panic 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.

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For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding mental health and wellbeing, please call 0800 840 3219 or click here to submit an enquiry form. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

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