Panic disorder

We’ll help you overcome your panic attacks

The term ‘panic attack’ has become commonly used in our culture; it usually refers to someone feeling in a ‘state of panic’. The feelings associated are extreme feelings of anxiety. Commonly people describe palpitations, feeling hot throughout their body , sweaty and clammy hands, finding it difficult to breathe. It is different for everybody and most people will understand that they have had a natural response to a real or perceived threat. They put it down to experience and the feelings subside. Some may say it is caused by feeling embarrassed and they just want to escape the situation and others may describe a feeling of wanting to attack and defend themselves. What they have experienced is the ‘fight or flight’ body response to anxiety and fear.

For those people who experience an intensified panic attack because they feel genuinely terrified although there is no obvious threat to them; they may become fearful of a repeat of this feeling. They may encounter ‘passing out’, pains in their chest or other symptoms that cause distress and anxiety. This can lead to a fear of having another panic attack; if they then experience this on a frequent and regular basis, they may have a panic disorder.

Our specialised clinicians and therapists have been successfully working on the treatment of anxiety disorders. They can carefully assist you in overcoming your fears and combating panic attacks, so that you can actively take full part in your life again.

What is a panic disorder?

Panic disorder is when someone experiences recurrent panic attacks without a clear cause or fixed trigger. This can lead to a fairly constant state of fear of having another panic attack, leading to a cycle whereby the fear of having a panic attack can cause more panic attacks.

The exact cause of panic disorder is unknown, but there are factors that have been found to be linked to the onset, although these do not apply to everyone. Everyone experiences panic attacks slightly differently, so the below symptoms are exhaustive rather than definitive.

Panic disorder symptoms: Panic attacks

The panic attack symptoms usually last 5-20 minutes. Be mindful that everyone experiences panic attacks slightly differently.
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath, choking feeling, or hyperventilation
  • Sweating
  • Faintness or dizziness
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Nausea
  • Chest or stomach pain
  • Temperature change (hot or cold)
  • Numbness or pins and needles
  • Dry mouth
  • Tinnitus (ringing in your ears)
  • Urge to use the toilet
  • Feeling of dread
  • Feeling of detachment from one’s own body
  • Tingling
  • Feeling of loss of control

Associated symptoms of panic disorders

  • Agoraphobia (fear of situations or places that may cause panic, or where escape or help may be difficult)
  • Significant worry surrounding experiencing further panic attacks
  • Avoidance of places or situations where you have previously had a panic attack
  • State of anxiety and tension due to fear of future panic attacks

Causes: How a panic disorder develops

  • History or current experience of anxiety
  • Stressful or traumatic life event (e.g. bereavement, divorce, childbirth)
  • Family history of panic attacks (may reflect a genetic component)
  • Use of stimulants (e.g. caffeine, cocaine)
  • Medication withdrawal. Imbalance of chemical messengers in the brain (neurotransmitters)

Diagnosis: How a panic disorder is diagnosed

Some people may believe there to be a physical reason for their panic attacks and have sought medical advice and investigation; in the event that there is no physical cause for the symptoms a diagnosis of panic disorder may be given.

A precise diagnosis can be provided by having a comprehensive conversation about the person’s history, with the help of clinical interviews and evidence-based assessment tools which rate anxiety and mood.

Following assessment of needs, we put together with you, an individualised programme for your recovery and wellbeing.

Breaking down fears, one step at a time

Anxiety can be so distressing that it prevents you from achieving your goals in life, it can render you paralysed in moving forward with your goals. Our anxiety and mood disorder programmes are designed to give you a holistic approach to tackling anxiety and depression; including panic disorder.

Depending on the severity of your panic disorder we will recommend an personal programme of treatment, which may include individual therapy, group therapy, medication or a combination. Each programme will support you at every stage however anxious you may be about starting treatment. We will go at your pace but encourage you to take each step one at a time but consistently and progressively.

At Schoen Clinic we provide a very comprehensive and holistic range of interventions and support. This means we are able to respond to your needs in an diverse, way to optimise your recovery, which will be different for each patient. Everyone will have a highly personalised treatment programme.

Group therapy

For some people their panic disorder is there presenting problem but beneath it lies a more entrenched issue that influences how you see yourself and others. In group sessions you can learn how these influence and causative perceptions reinforce the Panic disorder and worsens your health and wellbeing.

Working in groups also benefits people because they are surrounded by people who can relate to them and share how they feel, as well as what works and what does not.

The programme is reviewed regularly by the patient’s multidisciplinary team, encompassing the different professionals involved in their care. The team consists of consultant psychiatrists, psychotherapists/psychologists, family therapists and occupational therapists. They are at the centre of our approach, ensuring all the progress made across the programme is understood, built upon and applied. Our model provides consistency and continuity.

Individual therapy

Brief and focussed Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is the usual treatment modality used for panic disorder. It helps you recognise the thoughts, feelings and symptoms you are experiencing; the way they interact with each other and how you can reverse the pattern of anxiety and panic. However, for some people they may require additional medication and or psychodynamic therapies. We will match you with the most suitable therapists for your needs. Because we work a as multidisciplinary team, we are able to provide you with a full treatment package.

Medication

The use of anxiolytics in the treatment of panic disorders requires careful monitoring and regulation. Too much can cause over sedation and too little can make the patient feel like nothing helps alongside the possible side effects. It is recommended that a specialist consultant psychiatrist prescribes and monitors medication to help you with your panic disorder as these medications can be addictive and cause problems in creating dependency without dealing with the underlying causes of the panic disorder. There are also non-sedating medications that can help, your doctor can tell you about the effects and side effects. Prescribed correctly, they can be useful in the short term to help you break the cycle of anxiety and depression symptoms you experience.

Our specialists

Our team of experts consists of consultant psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, therapists, and specialist nurses who work together as a multidisciplinary team for the benefit of every patient in the treatment of panic disorder.

Our specialised clinic

Discover here our specialised clinic for panic disorder. Let our experienced team advise you now.