Panic Disorders



Panic disorder (PD) is an anxiety disorder which causes someone to experience recurrent and unexpected attacks of panic and anxiety. The symptoms of a panic attack are not dangerous but they can be incredibly frightening.

Panic Disorder Signs and Symptoms
Panic attacks are a central symptom of panic disorder (and perhaps the most recognisable one), but they’re not the only one. There are a wide range of other behavioural, psychological and physiological symptoms associated with this type of anxiety disorder.

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  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Feelings of choking
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Feeling dizzy, light-headed or faint
  • Chills or heat sensations
  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Depersonalisation (feeling “out of body”)


  • Avoiding situations
  • Avoiding any physical activity that may trigger a feeling similar to a panic attack
  • Placing yourself close to exits in a room
  • Being accompanied to places by a family member or friend in anticipation of a panic attack


  • Worrying about future panic attacks
  • Fear of having a heart attack
  • Fear of dying
  • Feelings of loss of control


When should I get help for panic disorder?

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by your symptoms and they are getting in the way of you living your life in the way you’d like to, it’s important to seek professional help. Without the right support, you might find yourself withdrawing from situations out of fear of having a panic attack which could leave you isolated.

Which treatments are most effective for panic disorder?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy are all effective treatments for panic disorder.

What causes panic disorder?

Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. It usually manifests when symptoms of anxiety have escalated to very high levels. The symptoms of a panic attack can feel physically intense which can lead to a lot of fear around it happening again. Unfortunately, this can end up perpetuating the problem as this fear often leads someone to avoid anxiety-provoking situations reinforcing the symptoms.


Counselling for panic disorder can offer several benefits, including:

  • Understanding Triggers: Counselling helps individuals identify and understand the triggers that contribute to panic attacks, empowering them to manage these triggers effectively.
  • Coping Strategies: Therapists teach practical coping strategies to deal with panic attacks, such as deep breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, and mindfulness practices.
  • Behavioural Modification: Counselling addresses maladaptive behaviors associated with panic disorder and helps individuals develop healthier coping mechanisms and responses to stressors.
  • Thought Restructuring: Therapists work with individuals to challenge and reframe negative thought patterns that contribute to panic attacks, promoting a more positive and realistic mindset.
  • Emotional Support: Counselling provides a safe and supportive space for individuals to express their emotions, fears, and concerns, reducing feelings of isolation and fostering a sense of understanding.
  • Gradual Exposure: Therapists may use gradual exposure techniques to help individuals face and overcome specific fears or phobias that contribute to panic disorder.
  • Relapse Prevention: Counselling equips individuals with tools and skills to prevent relapses, enabling them to maintain progress and manage their symptoms effectively.
  • Improved Quality of Life: Through counselling, individuals can gain a sense of control over their panic disorder, leading to an overall improvement in their quality of life and well-being.

It’s essential to note that the benefits of counselling may vary for each individual, and a tailored approach that considers the unique needs of the person experiencing panic disorder is crucial. Seeking professional help from a mental health expert is recommended for personalized guidance and support.