Anxiety Counsellor & Psychotherapist
William Macaulay Counselling Perth
Phone 0401 316 977
for enquiries or appointments
Panic Attack Counselling Perth
Are panic attacks becoming a frequent and overwhelming part of your life? These intense bursts of anxiety can be debilitating. I offer comprehensive anxiety counselling and psychotherapy services in Perth, catering to individuals seeking effective strategies to combat and manage this challenging condition.
Understanding Panic Attacks
Up to 40% of Australians will experience a panic attack at some point in their lives. A panic attack is characterised by sudden surges of intense fear or terror that can last from a few minutes to half an hour before subsiding. While panic sensations are a natural response to danger, panic attacks are often disproportionate to any actual threat, resulting in increased anxiety. This heightened anxiety sets off a vicious cycle involving bodily sensations, distorted thoughts, and further anxiety. As a result, the body sensations and anxiety intensify, culminating in the unpleasant sensations experienced during a full-blown panic attack.
Recognising Panic Attack Symptoms
Panic attacks are usually accompanied by some of the following physical sensations and feelings:
Dizziness, faintness or light-headedness
Numbness or pins and needles
Trembling or shaking
Increased heart rate
Hot flushes or chills
Fear of being out of control
Fear of dying
Fear of going crazy
Being detached from yourself or your surroundings
It is essential to acknowledge that while many of the above physical sensations are real, they will quickly subside. It is also crucial to be aware that catastrophic thinking or exaggerated interpretations of these physical sensations may escalate the situation and lead to a prolonged panic attack.
Two per cent of Australians are affected by panic disorder, with the onset during their teens or early twenties. Not everyone who has a panic attack will develop a panic disorder, as some people will have just one attack and never have a re-occurrence. These are people who regularly experience recurring and unexpected panic attacks and usually experience some of the following additional impacts on their daily lives:
The avoidance of certain activities or situations to minimise or avoid the possibility of future attacks.
Ongoing anxiety about experiencing future attacks.
Furthermore, about one-third of people with panic disorder go on to develop agoraphobia, in which they avoid public places where immediate escape might be difficult. They come to have lives so restricted that they avoid normal activities, such as driving or grocery shopping. They may be limited in where they are willing to live, work or revisit a place where an attack may have occurred. Agoraphobics often become housebound or can only face a feared situation accompanied by a spouse or other safe person.
Causes of Panic Attacks
While the exact causes of panic attacks are not entirely clear, they appear to be connected to a combination of genetic predisposition, extreme ongoing stress, traumatic life events, personality factors, anxiety sensitivity, and physical illness.
Strategies to Manage a Panic Attack
Techniques to ease your panic attack or prevent it from worsening include:
Breathe in slowly and deeply, and exhale completely.
Breathing into a paper bag for a short while may be helpful.
Challenge your fear by asking yourself, "Am I in any immediate danger?".
Don’t fight your feelings - the attack will likely pass in a few minutes.
Remind yourself that you are in this anxious state "for now" and not forever.
Avoid self-medicating - seek appropriate medical advice before taking any medication.
Addressing Recurrent Panic Attacks
The above strategies to manage a panic attack may help you calm down in a crisis. However, they do not address the underlying causes. As a trained anxiety therapist, I can assist you with the following therapies to help reduce the underlying causes of panic attacks:
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT):
CBT is recognised as the most effective type of therapy for most anxiety disorders. It aims to help you understand that your negative thinking patterns and irrational beliefs about your symptoms significantly impact your experience. With the guidance of a mental health professional, these thinking patterns and beliefs are challenged and replaced by more rational and helpful ones, which then, in turn, reduces your anxiety symptoms and experience.
Graded Exposure therapy:
Graded exposure therapy empowers you to face your fears in a safe and controlled setting. By gradually and repeatedly exposing yourself to the feared object or situation, either in your imagination or reality, you gain a sense of control. As you confront your fear without harm, your anxiety gradually diminishes.
Daily relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and light exercises like walking or yoga, may help keep you calm and relaxed.
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Perth Counselling for Panic Attacks
Don't let panic attacks hinder your ability to live a fulfilling life. Early treatment is recommended, and counselling has proven highly effective in managing panic attacks. If you resonate with the information in this article or have any concerns related to anxiety, I encourage you to schedule an appointment. Together, we can work towards overcoming panic attacks and empowering you to lead an enriched life.