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Steve asked...

I have suffered with severe panic attacks.

Tags: Anxiety , Stress

I suffered severe panic attacks about 8 years ago resulting in my leaving my job and a good career.

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The answer

Panic attacks can be severely debilitating, as you have discovered to your cost. In the short term, tranquillisers can treat the immediate symptoms and allow you to continue functioning. However, tranquillisers are highly addictive and I would certainly not recommend them on a regular or long term basis. Some antidepressant tablets are also licensed for the treatment of panic disorder and aren’t addictive as tranquillisers are, but of course they don’t address the underlying cause. There is very good evidence that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be extremely effective in helping you to identify and ‘challenge’ the cycle of unhelpful thought processes that start, and perpetuate, panic attacks. You can get CBT through a qualified therapist, or could consider online tools (known as computerised CBT or cCBT). They’re only going to work if you’re prepared to commit to them – both in terms of sitting down regularly to work through the exercises and putting the advice they give into practice – but they really can help.

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