Anxiety and panic attacks are often dismissed by those around us as nothing more than feeling a little stressed or overwhelmed. However, to those who are suffering from these feelings they are very real.
To anyone in the grip of a panic attack, the sensations can even feel life threatening. Therapy for anxiety will look at what is triggering your feelings of anxiousness and panic.
Using a gentle and practical approach, therapy for anxiety is a very effective way to learn to manage the onset of a panic attack and learn what the triggers are and how to manage situations to diffuse them.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
- Shortness of breath or hyperventilation
- Heart palpitations or a racing heart
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Trembling or shaking
- Choking feeling
- Feeling unreal or detached from your surroundings
- Nausea or upset stomach
- Feeling dizzy, light-headed, or faint
- Feelings of numbness or tingling
- Suddenly feeling hot or cold
- Fear of dying, losing control, or going crazy
Feelings of light headiness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations and a need to run away from the current situation are all signs that you may be suffering from severe anxiousness. Other symptoms are withdrawing from normal everyday activities and feeling a loss of control.
Those who have suffered from extreme anxiousness or an episode of panic often report experiencing one or more of the above symptoms.
Seeking therapy for anxiety or ways to manage your panic can, in itself, be a cause of further anxiety. A trained anxiety therapist can help you by gently exploring what is going on for you and finding the underlying triggers to your feelings of anxiety and panic.
Is feeling anxious normal?
The sensation of feeling anxious or even having a little bit of panic is a very normal emotion that everyone experiences at some point in their life, particularly when faced with a new experience or unfamiliar situation we can feel overwhelmed – the first time we speak in public, attending an interview or perhaps the morning of a big day, such as the first day at a new job.
When does the feeling of anxiety or panic become a problem?
If these emotions start to dominate and limit our everyday lives this is the signal that something is wrong. When anxiety and panic attacks become everyday occurrences then it is time to seek help.
You may identify with one of the following features that might indicate that your anxiety or panic is not under control:
- Experiencing frequent, unexpected attacks of panic or overwhelm that seem to be related to or triggered by a regular situation or location.
- You are beginning to worry regularly about ‘having another panic attack’ which is making you feel anxious.
- You are adjusting your behaviour to avoid the chance of another panicky episode e.g. avoiding locations, avoiding public transport, avoiding certain groups of people.
How therapy for anxiety can help
Psychotherapy can be very effective at exploring the roots or causes of these feelings of panic or anxiousness and can help you to learn to manage your response to the catalyst of these emotions.
One common approach is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which can also help you by teaching you some techniques to remain calm and enable you to control your breathing and heart rate, which then reduces your cycle of anxiety and reduces the feeling of panic.
An anxiety therapist fully understands how frightening these emotions can feel and can help you to move forward and manage them.
What if I can’t talk about the issue because it makes me feel anxious?
Sometimes even thinking about the actual catalyst of the feelings of anxiety or panic can be enough to bring on an attack. In this situation we will work gently around the subject and slowly build up to tackling the cause of the anxiety.
The good thing is that by finding this page you have already started to deal with it by simply exploring what help might be available.
How do I find the right counsellor or therapist to help me with my anxiety?
Research shows again and again that the effectiveness of the therapy or counselling is affected by the relationship you have with your therapist or counsellor. It is therefore important that you find someone who you feel comfortable with and whom you can build a trusting relationship.
Anxiety therapy in London
To find a counsellor or help with your anxiety and panic attacks take a look at the profiles of our central London therapists at City Therapy Rooms, each profile is written by the therapist and gives you more information about how they work and their availability.
Please feel free to chat on the telephone to a few therapists or to meet several before deciding who you would like to work with. The initial session is an opportunity for both you and the therapist to decide if you would like to work together.
Some links to helpful information about anxiety and panic
A charity dedicated to supporting sufferers of anxiety of every type from phobias to stress and panic. AnxietyUK
The mental health organisation Mind offer really helpful insights and suggestions to help you with your anxiety and feelings of panic. Mind
Julie Myerson: how mindfulness based cognitive therapy changed my life.
© Brian Cotsen