Treatment for Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Learn about different treatments like talking therapies and medication, and how to start getting help, including self-help tips and support options. It’s all about finding what works best for you on your journey to feeling better.
What treatments are available?
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Your doctor might first recommend using a self-help guide. They do this because you can get it quickly, and it might help you feel better without having to try other treatments. These can include:
- Workbooks: Titles from the Reading Well scheme, available in most local libraries, can be recommended by your GP.
- Online CBT Programmes: Various online courses focusing on cognitive behavioural therapy are available to treat anxiety and panic attacks.
If self-help resources are ineffective, talking treatments may be offered. These include:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): This therapy focuses on the impact of thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes on feelings and behaviours.
- Applied Relaxation Therapy: This involves learning muscle relaxation techniques to use in anxiety-inducing situations.
Medications may be prescribed to manage symptoms, often alongside talking therapies. These include:
- Antidepressants: Specifically, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
- Pregabalin: Used for generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).
- Beta-blockers: To treat physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat and tremors.
- Benzodiazepine Tranquillisers: For severe anxiety, usually prescribed for short periods.
Before taking any medication, it’s crucial to be fully informed about the options.
To start treatment with the NHS, you usually first visit your GP. They might ask you to answer some questions to understand how you feel, like if you often feel worried or nervous.
Your GP will talk about different treatment options with you, and you can choose what you think will work best for you.
However, be aware that waiting times for therapy through the NHS can be long. If it’s tough getting therapy, you might look into:
- Support from charities and special groups. Take a look at our useful contacts for a list of organisations that may offer therapy or be able to connect you with local services. Mind’s Infoline can also guide you to local services.
- Private therapy. Some people consider seeing a therapist privately, but it can be costly. For more on this, see our information on private therapy.
What to do if anxiety makes seeking help tough?
Sometimes, the thought of booking or going to a doctor’s appointment can be daunting due to anxiety. This could be because talking on the phone or leaving the house feels overwhelming.
Here are a few steps you might consider:
- See if your doctor can do home visits or check-ups over the phone. If that’s not an option, perhaps they can schedule your visit during quieter times at the clinic.
- Your GP might allow someone else to book your appointment with your permission. Having a friend or family member accompany you to the clinic could also provide comfort.
- In some areas, you can sign up for talking therapy directly through the NHS, often with options for online or phone sessions. Look up talking therapy services on the NHS website to find out what’s available near you.
What to do if you’re not feeling better
Your doctor should check in with you regularly to see how you’re doing and how treatments are working.
Since everyone is different, if something isn’t helping you – like a certain medicine, therapy type, or therapist – your doctor should suggest something else.
If you’ve tried many treatments without success, your doctor may suggest you see a community mental health team (CMHT). This team has many experts, like psychiatrists and psychologists, who can create a treatment plan just for you.
This step is especially important if:
- Your symptoms make daily life really hard.
- You have another big health problem or a different mental health issue.
- You’re thinking about hurting yourself.
Remember, getting better can take time. It might be more about learning about yourself and finding ways to cope rather than making all the symptoms go away.