Panic Attacks

What are panic attacks?

Panic attacks can be triggered by recent stress. They are an extreme form of anxiety, and occur at unexpected times often leaving the person afraid of venturing into public spaces in case of another attack.


One minute you are feeling fine, and the next you are struggling for breath and feeling sick and dizzy.  The symptoms are intense, physical, and terrifying.  People having a panic attack often feel they are having a heart attack, a stroke, losing their mind, or even dying.

Such extreme reactions would be quite normal in a situation where you really were in danger - for example, if a shark was swimming toward you!  This is called the 'fight or flight' response and has a life-saving purpose.  But panic attacks happen when there is no real danger.  They often happen in everyday situations you have become anxious about, like being in a crowd or the supermarket.

Panic attacks are so unpleasant that people are frightened of having another one and this anxiety can, indeed, cause further attacks.


Panic attacks are common. Most people will have a panic attack during their lifetime.  About 3% of the population will experience recurring panic attacks.  Frequently occuring panic attacks can impact heavily on your life and make you feel afraid of doing things that weren't a problem before.  In this case it is important to seek help.

What are the symptoms of Panic Attacks?

A period of intense fear or discomfort in which four (or more) of the following develop quickly, and reach a peak within 10 minutes.

  • Palpitations, pounding heart

  • Sweating

  • Trembling and shaking

  • Sensation of shortness of breath or smothering

  • Feeling of choking

  • Chest pain or discomfort

  • Nausea or abdominal pain

  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint

  • Feelings of unreality, or being detached from yourself

  • Fear of losing control or going crazy

  • Fear of dying

  • Parathesias (numbness or tingling sensations)

  • Chills or hot flushes


These are all symptoms of severe anxiety. Because many of them are physical sensations, panic sufferers often think there is something wrong with their body.

What do I do next if I have Panic Attacks?
Contact Dr. Allison Lamont for an appointment now Telephone (09) 575 5432 or


"It seems so inadequate to just say 'thank you' for my new life. I wouldn't have believed I could ever be free of the debilitating panic. I couldn't even go into the supermarket, and now I have been into crowded theatres twice! My life is revolutionised!  Thank goodness for CBT, I say."


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