Human beings, like all other animals, evolved the “fright and flight” response as a protective mechanism. The response involves, among other things, the secretion of extra adrenaline, and an increase in the heart rate, along with a sense of urgency or terror. When we’re really facing a dramatic event that we need to flee from, the fright and flight response keeps us safe. But when we suffer the symptoms of fright and flight even when there’s no immediate threat, it’s known as a panic attack.

Panic attacks, which can include symptoms such as a heavily pounding heart, shortness of breath, sweating and dizziness, can have a terrible effect on quality of life. They can come “out of the blue”, leaving the victim very vulnerable. Panic attacks can be triggered by a range of stimuli. For one person a panic attack might start when they are on the train on their commute home and the carriage becomes overly full. The sensation of being in a crowded space might make them feel as though they can’t breathe or move, triggering a full scale panic attack. For someone else, a trigger could be finding themselves all alone in a large, empty space, or being faced with the need to make an important decision very quickly.

Panic attacks are quite common; at the milder end of the spectrum, they occur in many people. They can become very problematic when they are severe or frequent – or both.

Why do people get panic attacks?

Some people are prone to panic attacks because of a traumatic experience in their past, while others suffer panic attacks alongside another underlying condition, such as agoraphobia, post-traumatic stress, or OCD. Some people get panic attacks in the wake of suffering a recent setback or problem, such as bereavement or the loss of a job. However, we don’t always know what the cause is.

Panic with agoraphobia

People who have had panic attacks before sometimes deal with the situation by avoiding situations or places where it’s happened before. Often, this results in avoiding public spaces such as shopping areas, public transport, or anywhere people gather. This avoidance can lead to agoraphobia. As a result of this, they tend to feel safe only in a very restricted world, and to be immensely anxious about when the next panic attack will come.

What can help?

In the short term, medication can provide some relief, but for lasting change, psychotherapy can make a big difference. By using cognitive behavioural therapy, an accredited therapist can work with you to completely overcome the disorder using a combination of exposure therapy and other techniques. You will work both in and outside of the therapy room to completely desensitise you to the symptoms of panic so that you no longer need to worry about further panic attacks being triggered. For more information of how panic disorder treatment works watch this video below. To see some of the techniques used in panic attack treatment watch the video at the top of the page.

If you would like to talk to someone about panic attacks, please get in touch with us at Private Therapy Clinic, we are based in London but offer therapy worldwide over Skype. You can reach us by telephone at 020 81507563 or book online by clicking below:

Book Online >>

  • Skype and FaceTime sessions are now seen as being as effective as Face to Face treatment. £20 off all video call sessions (Skype or FaceTime) per session, when you book online below.

    Special offer: Reduced rate £20 off Skype/Facetime per session BOOK ONLINE NOW
  • 6 sessions with a Psychotherapist: £600 instead of £720. 6 sessions with a Psychologist: £750 instead of £900

    Special offer: 6 sessions for the price of 5 when you book and pay for a block of sessions upfront. BOOK ONLINE NOW
  • Affordable therapy service

    If our premium therapy service isn't affordable for you, we also offer sessions with less senior practitioners. Fee from £40 per session. To check availability and book online below. BOOK ONLINE NOW

4.74 Average

133 Reviews

"Very helpful team, quick to respond and knowledgeable."

"We recently had the pleasure of enlisting Dr Becky Spelman as a spokesperson for a media campaign that got traction across a series of broadcast channels. Dr Spelman was incredibly easy to work with throughout the entire process - from initial briefs, content approvals, prompt responses, and then key message delivery during the secured interviews. Always the professional, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend or use her for similar campaign and spokesperson work in the future."

"Very kind and welcoming. Really appreciate their help."

"Very good first session, it was nice to find someone who put me at my ease and valued my opinions and experiences."

"I have been very impressed with the Private Therapy clinic. An assessment of my daughter for ADHD was made efficiently and caringly. I was even moved to start talking with a psychologist myself for the first time in many years - it's proving very interesting and yielding results already."