CBT for Panic Attacks

The Cognitive Behavioural Therapy CBT Treatment for Panic Attacks

Anxiety and panic can affect anyone at any stage of their life. In fact it is estimated that 1 in four of us can suffer from a mental health problem and can experience significant panic at some time in our life, so remember you are not alone.


CBT for Panic Attacks

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy CBT Treatment for Panic Attacks helps us understand panic as part of your threat system response to danger as an automatic alarm response. Think about what would happen to your body if you encountered a dangerous animal. Your body would react automatically to the danger and may go through a number of quick physiological changes in order to respond to the danger and is usually called the flight or fight response,  as well as freeze and flop. This automatic alarm response can make us feel like wanting to escape or avoid the threat or become suitably pumped up or aroused to physically defend ourselves, and is in fact an important survival response.

CBT for panic attacks helps us to understand that we can have an intense fear response when there is no danger, in a way it is a false alarm that seems to happen when you least expect it. The initial panic attack is the same brief intense experience of fear or uneasiness that you might have in response to a realistic threat of danger.


Understanding what happens in a Panic Attack  

A panic attack is when your body experiences a rush of intense mental and physical symptoms. It can come on very quickly and for no apparent reason.

Panic attack symptoms can be a very frightening and distressing experience.

Panic attack symptoms include:

A Racing or Pounding Heartbeat

Feeling faint



Trembling or Shaking

Chest Pain, Pressure or Discomfort

Shortness of Breath or Difficulty Breathing, or Choking Sensation

Trembling, Shaky Limbs, Chills

Hot Flushes


Numbness or Pins and Needles

Dry mouth

A Need to go to the Toilet

Ringing in your Ears

Stomach Churning

Tingling Sensation in Your Fingers

Feeling Like you are Not Connected to Your Body

Thoughts of losing control or going crazy

Feeling of Dread or a Fear of Dying


Panic Attacks

Most panic attacks last for between 5 and 20 minutes. Some panic attacks have been reported to last up to an hour.

The number of attacks you have will depend on how severe your condition is. Some people have attacks once or twice a month, while others have them several times a week.

Be aware that most of these symptoms can also be symptoms of other conditions or problems, so you may not always be experiencing a panic attack.


CBT for Panic Attacks

Most of us experience some slight body sensations when we feel anxious about something, but a panic attack is a much more intense experience. Panic Disorder describes the condition where panic attacks seem to happen unexpectedly, rather than in expected situations. Importantly, you may then start to have a persistent worry about having another panic attack and change your behaviour in order to prevent another panic attack occurring. This may include avoidance of places that might be difficult to escape from if you were to have another panic attack.


CBT Treatment for Panic Attacks

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy treatment for panic attacks aims to help clients identify their negative interpretation of bodily experiences in panic attacks and explore non-catastrophic alternative understanding of what they are experiencing. CBT for panic enables clients to reduce their catastrophic thinking and experiences of panic and fear and normalise their experiences. CBT treatment can be a very effect treatment that allows you to regain control of your life and live your life to the fullest.





National Institute for Health and Care Excellence Panic Disorder in Adults