Anxiety Attacks & Panic

panic attack @ auckland therapy : counselling and psychotherapyWhen anxiety becomes overwhelming and turns into anxiety attacks and panic, it may interfere with your job, relationships and activities. We all know how anxiety feels. Our heart may pound before a big presentation, tough exam or first date. Or we may get butterflies in our stomach fretting over a difficult conversation we need to have. It's normal to worry and feel tense or scared when under pressure or facing a stressful situation.

Anxiety attacks, also known as panic attacks, are episodes of intense panic or fear. During an attack, the terror can be so severe that people feel like they could die, go crazy or totally lose control. The physical symptoms can be so frightening that some people think they are having a heart attack and seek medical help. They can occur suddenly and without warning. Sometimes there are triggers, such as giving a big speech or difficult social situation. After an attack is over, you may be worried about having another one.


Anxiety attacks are usually a discrete period of intense fear or panic that develop abruptly and rarely last more than an hour. Symptoms are different for each person but would include some of the below.

  • Pounding heart
  • Trouble breathing
  • Trembling, shaking, sweating or chills
  • Feeling dizzy, lightheaded or faint
  • Nausea or stomach cramps
  • Feeling of losing control, going crazy, or dying
  • Feeling detached or unreal


Anxiety attacks triggers are different for every person. They can be a response to a specific situation or come out of the blue. Common examples of situational attacks are when driving (often on the motorway or over the harbour bridge), being in social situations or crowds, being in enclosed places, being far away from home, public speaking, going to doctors or dentists, sitting exams, airplane travel, confronting someone, or stimuli that reminds you of a past difficulties, etc..


The good news is that anxiety attacks typically respond well to therapy. The treatment will be tailored to the type of panic attacks you have but will usually involve:

  • a safe place to talk about what is happening
  • making sense of the attacks
  • learning ways of managing the symptoms
  • identifying thinking patterns
  • facing fears in a safe manner

Benefits of therapy

Over time you will learn that the situations or emotions you have feared can be faced without harm and your anxiety will decrease. It is usually beneficial to also look at what underlying issues may be driving your attacks. This may involve looking in detail at relationship patterns or uncovering difficult emotions and fears you may not have been aware of. Ultimately, good treatment will not only resolve your attacks but give you a greater sense of wellbeing, an increased knowledge of yourself and increased control over your life.

The next step

If you think you may be suffering from anxiety attacks, it helps to talk to a professional trained in working with these problems. They can help you identify exactly what it is you are struggling with and explain how to start the recovery process. We have the necessary training, skills, experience and dedication to work with you safely, respectfully and steadfastly.