Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear or heightened anxiety which victims commonly regard as one of the most intensely upsetting experiences of their lives. People can feel they are dying, having a heart attack, or losing their minds.
The feelings may provoke a powerful urge to escape, although there may not be any obvious sign of physical danger.
Repeated panic attacks are considered a symptom of panic disorder, which can be diagnosed through screening tools. Approximately 5 per cent of Australians will experience panic disorder in their lifetimes. Women are more likely to suffer from the condition, which usually begins in the early to mid-20s or in mid-life.
If your panic attacks (or fears of impending panic attacks) are preventing you from everyday activities such as going shopping, using public transport or taking part in social activities, it may be time to seek help from a psychologist.
The well-researched interventions used by our psychologists aim to change patterns of negative, unhelpful thinking, unhelpful behaviour and the person’s response to life events that may trigger the panic cycle.