Unfortunately panic attacks have blighted mankind for many years. One English writer describe panic attacks in 1607 as ‘sudden, foolish frights, without any certeine cause, which they call panique terrores’. Sudden, unexpected attacks of extreme fear are so distressing because they are unexpected and don’t seem to have a reasonable cause. Yet they can be extremely disabling. One sufferer said ‘I see a man hobbling past my house on crutches, a cripple for life, and I actually envy him’. Yet it is possible to overcome panic, not easy, not quick, but definitely possible. It doesn’t really matter how long someone has had panics, how severe they are or how much they invade their life, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for panic can be very successful.
I have seen many patients for therapy and research with panic attacks; so many I decided to write a self-help book, ‘Understanding Panic Attacks and Overcoming Fear’, to make therapy quicker. It is now in its third edition and has been published in 11 different languages. For me, understanding what panic is, and making sense of the many distressing feelings is a key to helping people. Once they know what is happening to them, they can then take the right actions.
A course of therapy is about 6-10 sessions long over a 9 month period. Sessions are frequent at first (every 2 weeks) but less frequent in the latter part of the therapy (about once a month) as the person enter the ‘follow up’ stage.