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Panic disorder is where you have recurring and regular panic attacks, often for no obvious reason.
Many people feel they have to live with panic attacks, which is not always the case. CBT is very effective in helping clients understand and use coping strategies to alleviate and, often, eradicate the frightening sensations that panic attacks can cause.
Most of us will experiences feelings of anxiety and panic at certain times during our lifetime. It is a perfectly natural response, particularly when we feel we are in danger of facing a stressful situation. However, for people with panic disorder, feelings of anxiety, stress, and panic occur regularly and at any time.
A panic attack occurs when your body experiences a rush of intense psychological (mental) and physical symptoms.
You may feel an overwhelming sense of fear, apprehension, and anxiety. As well as these feelings, you may also experience physical symptoms such as:
• a sensation that your heart is beating irregularly (palpitations)
Panic attacks can be very frightening and intense, but they are not dangerous. A panic attack will not cause you any physical harm and it is unlikely that you will be admitted to hospital if you have had a panic attack.
How common is panic disorder?
At least one in 10 people experience occasional panic attacks, which are usually triggered by a stressful event or situation.
The number of panic attacks that you have will depend on the severity of your condition. Some people may have one or two attacks each month, while others may have several attacks a week.
In the UK, approximately one person in 100 has been affected by a panic disorder. The majority of people first develop the disorder when they are in their twenties. The condition is approximately twice as common in women as it is in men.
Anxiety is a feeling of unease. The feeling of unease can range from mild to severe, and can also include feelings of worry and fear.
There are several different conditions which can cause severe anxiety. They include:
• phobias - an extreme or irrational fear of an flying, objects, places, or situation
• generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) - a long-term condition that causes excessive anxiety and worry relating to a variety of situations
• post-traumatic stress disorder - a condition that has psychological and physical symptoms and is caused by very frightening or distressing
events such as accidents, being involved in a fire etc.
Stress can affect different people in different ways, and people have a different method of dealing with it.
The chemicals that are released by your body as a result of stress can build up over time and cause various mental and physical symptoms. These are listed below.
• food cravings,
• lack of appetite,
• frequent crying,
• difficulty sleeping (mental),
• changes in behaviour,
• feeling tired, and
• difficulty focussing on anything
• chest pains,
• fainting spells,
• nail biting,
• nervous twitches,
• difficulty sleeping (physical).
• constipation or diarrhoea,
• cramps or muscle spasms,
• feeling restless,
• a tendency to sweat,
• sexual difficulties such as erectile dysfunction or a loss of sexual desire,
• muscular aches,
Experiencing even one or two of these symptoms can make you feel anxious. This can be a vicious circle - for example, you want to avoid stress but symptoms such as frequent crying or nervous twitching can make you feel annoyed with yourself and even more stressed.
Counselling and/or CBT again can be very effective in looking at patterns of thinking and also looking at coping strategies to alleviate symptoms of stress and find ways of reducing and hopefully eliminating anxiety and panic attacks.
Around one in five people in the UK have depression at some point in their lives. People are affected by depression at any age.
Depression is characterised by a number of symptoms including a loss of interest and enjoyment in the ordinary things in life.
There are a number of ways to categorise depression. You may hear it referred to in terms of severity.
Mild depression . This doesn't usually stop you leading your daily life but makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile.
Moderate depression. This has a significant impact on your daily life, and you may experience more symptoms than people with mild depression.
Severe depression. This can make feel uninterested in doing anything - daily activities can be almost impossible.
Depression can cause a number of different symptoms including:
Continuous low mood, which may be worse in the mornings
• feeling irritable
• Lack of energy
• Loss of interest in your social life
• Crying a lot
• Loss of self-confidence
• tiredness and poor concentration
• Difficulty in making decisions
• Feeling helpless, worthless or hopeless
• Feelings of guilt
• Thoughts about death and suicide
• A loss of sex drive (libido)
• Problems sleeping - possibly taking one or two hours to go to sleep or waking up earlier than usual
• Disturbed eating patterns - either loss of appetite or eating too much
Depression varies from person to person and peoples experience is different. The exact cause of depression is not fully understood at present, but there seem to be certain factors that make a person more likely to develop depression.
Some actors that may make you more likely to develop depression can include:
- a poor parent-child relationship in early life
- parental divorce in childhood
- relationship breakdown
- physical and/or sexual abuse in childhood
- having a long-term or serious illness like diabetes or heart disease
- a family history of depression
- gender (women are more prone to depression than men)
If you are depressed, recognising the problem is the first step. It can often be others around you might suggest that you seek help. Seeking your GPs advice initially is recommended to rule out any other underlying problems.
There are a number of treatments for depression. The two main treatments are talking (psychological) therapies such as counselling, and antidepressant medicines. Your treatment will depend on how severe your depression is.
Taking exercise in addition to your medication and/or counselling may help your symptoms. Try a few sports or activities to find something you enjoy, and that you can keep doing in the long-term. Relaxation and meditation may also help your symptoms.
It can be tempting to use alcohol to enhance your mood. If you drink alcohol, it's important that you don't drink more than the recommended guidelines because it can affect your sleep and your mood, and can obviously lead to a range of long-term health problems.
Counselling can give you the opportunity to express your feelings and problems, Counselling can help you to see your problems in a different way. CBT is often very effective in the treatment of depression.