Anxiety/Panic Attacks

A normal part of human experience is to have anxious feelings, and it is usually a response to a stressful situation. However, sometimes anxiety can go beyond the ‘normal’ and can be experienced greater than can reasonably be expected given the situation. In worse cases, anxiety can lead to a panic attack. When this occurs, or when anxiety is getting in the way of your personal goals, then it might be a sign that help is needed.



Anxiety Disorder is an umbrella term for multiple mental health issues revolving around constant worry, fear and distress. A common concern that clients voice when meeting with psychologists and counsellors at New Vision Psychology is the impact of anxiety on their performance. Clients are distressed about the impact of anxiety when in the workplace, during interviews, going for a promotion, public speaking, social situations, making friends, finding a partner, starting new studies, sexual performance and generally when trying to ‘live life to the fullest’. Clients often feel held back by their anxiety, given the significant feelings of fear that anxiety causes.

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Symptoms of Anxiety

  • avoidance of uncomfortable situations.
  • repeated anxious thoughts.
  • difficulty sleeping.
  • frequent feelings of intense fear.
  • unable to concentrate, distracted by fear and worry.
  • feeling restless.
  • feeling irritable.
  • worrying all the time.
  • confusion as to why you are feeling anxious, given that objectively there is nothing to worry about.
  • feeling ‘stupid’ that you worry about things which others don’t seem to find worrisome.
  • frequent physical symptoms of anxiety including rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, trembling, sweating, feeling ‘butterflies’.

Reasons for Anxiety

Reasons for anxiety are similar to those for depression, that is, there are complex and varied reasons for anxiety. It is generally caused by a number of factors, and usually involves long-term rather than short term issues. These include long-term relationship issues, isolation, unemployment, financial stress, health problems – stressors that over time reduce our resilience to cope.

Like depression, you can sometimes experience anxiety that is caused by specific life events including the loss of a loved-one, a breakdown in a relationship, loss of a job, health concerns and sudden traumatic events (accidental, or violence perpetrated by others).

A particular feature of people experiencing anxiety is that their personality type has a tendency to worry and ‘over-think’ in their daily life, and that this personality type has existed for a very long time. Often, there seems to be no rational reason for you to feel fear or stress, and this can be a sign of anxiety disorders. It is important to note that anxiety disorders can be treated, in order to better your mental health.

Psychologists and counsellors at New Vision Psychology are clinically trained to work with clients experiencing anxiety. New Vision Psychology works with evidence-based interventions (scientifically proven) with clients, to best achieve a reduction in anxiety symptoms, so that you can ‘get on’ with your life without being held back by unnecessary anxiety.

Types of Anxiety

There are many types of anxiety, and depending on the diagnosis, different types may influence the treatment received.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is where individuals feel a general sense of exaggerated worry or tension for over six months which can interfere with their daily life. There may even be nothing to specifically provoke these feelings, yet they are persistent. Individuals experiencing GAD will anticipate disaster and may avoid situations with their family, work or social life due to their fears.

Social Anxiety (also known as Social Phobia) involves embarrassment and fear of criticism in ‘normal’ social situations. Common signs of Social Anxiety include having a fear when eating in public or ordering food, and fear of social interactions at work or when seeing friends. Other triggers for social anxiety exist in performance-based situations, such as public speaking at work. There may be multiple situations that provoke social anxiety. The concern arises when social anxiety impacts on function when left untreated.

Whilst panic attacks are common in clients experiencing anxiety, Panic Disorders develop when there are frequent episodes of panic, coupled with the fear of another panic attack occurring at any moment. Panic attacks involve intense and overwhelming fear, shortness of breath, chest pain, and can randomly occur. Panic Disorders involve persistent panic attacks over many months and may occur due to family history, negative life experiences or other medical conditions.

Other situations where anxiety is prominent include those experiencing specific phobias, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Separation Anxiety Disorder.

Treatment for Anxiety with New Vision Psychology

Anxiety is treatable! Health professionals, like Psychologists and Counsellors at New Vision Psychology, use proven techniques to support clients to manage and overcome their anxiety. Anxiety can also occur in young people, and therefore it is important to treat anxiety as early as possible to prevent an escalation of symptoms.

The following techniques are effective treatment options, scientifically proven to assist with anxiety:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – This is a psychotherapy technique to alter unhelpful/negative behaviours and thoughts. It is practical and task-based to pinpoint specific areas where change is required, to increase overall mental wellbeing.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy – This involves accepting what cannot be controlled and learning to better react to situations. It is also the acceptance and validation of one’s emotions, rather than experiencing guilt.
  • Behavioural Therapy, including Exposure Therapy – Exposure Therapy was developed to target a certain fear (or specific phobia) and produce a more positive reaction to the stimuli.
  • Mindfulness – this creates an awareness of the present, and techniques to cope with your current situation.
  • Relaxation Strategies – may revolve around deep breathing and meditative strategies.
  • Psycho-education on Anxiety – increasing education and understanding of the disorder, as part of the process to overcoming anxiety.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation – tensing and relaxing muscles groups to progressively release bodily tension.
  • Stress Management – physical and cognitive techniques to manage, as well as reduce overall stress.
  • Activity Scheduling – organisation and scheduling of anxiety management activities

Contact New Vision Psychology today to discuss your situation, and develop a treatment plan that meets your individual needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Many people with anxiety experience symptoms of more than one type of anxiety condition, The most common types of anxiety disorders are:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder : where someone feels anxious most days about lost of different things.
  • Social Anxiety – Where a person has an intense fear of being judged, criticised, embarrassed or humiliated, even in everyday situations, such as eating in public, being assertive at work or making small talk with new friends.
  • Panic disorder – Where someone having a panic attack may experience shortness of breath, rapid heart beats, faintness and excessive sweating. In severe cases they might feel like they are about to die. Many will experience fear about having subsequent panic attacks which then causes further panic attacks.

Other Common anxiety disorders are Post Traumatic Anxiety disorder and Obsessive compulsive Disorder.

For mild anxiety, it would be helpful to make some life style changes such as exercise, yoga, listening to relaxation music, meditation, informal mindfulness and reducing stress in your life.

In moderate to severe cases psychological counselling and medication may be required. Counselling can involve cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness based therapies. Research shows chemicals such as serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine are affected in the brain for those suffering an anxiety disorder. Antidepressant Medication is designed to correct the imbalance of chemicals in the brain.

Benzodiazepines (sometimes prescribed for sleeping) are a class of drug commonly prescribed in the short term to help people cope with anxiety conditions.

For mild anxiety, it would be helpful to make some life style changes such as exercise, yoga, listening to relaxation music, meditation, informal mindfulness and reducing stress in your life.

In moderate to severe cases psychological counselling and medication may be required. Counselling can involve cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness based therapies. Research shows chemicals such as serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine are affected in the brain for those suffering an anxiety disorder. Antidepressant Medication is designed to correct the imbalance of chemicals in the brain.

Benzodiazepines (sometimes prescribed for sleeping) are a class of drug commonly prescribed in the short term to help people cope with anxiety conditions.

A panic attacks is a period of acute anxiety that involves intense feelings of fear and being out of control. People having a panic attack may experience rapid and shallow breathing, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, dizziness, trembling and muscle tension. Many experiencing a panic attack report that they feel like ‘dying’ or a having ‘heart attack’.

Without treatment, people may experience frequent panic attacks from fear of having them. This will then likely develop into a panic disorder which can severely affect an individual’s live including work, study and relationships.

Social anxiety is a condition where an individual experiences intense fear of social situations. They have strong and irrational fear of being judged, criticised and humiliated. people with social anxiety tends to avoid all forms of social situations which means their normal life is severely affected. They may have trouble forming and maintaining social relationships, and they have difficulty communicating and asserting themselves at work which may impact negatively on their career progression.

Psychologists at New Vision Psychology are trained and experienced in understanding the nature of social anxiety. Sessions will help you explore your irrational belief systems and underlying self-esteem issues that forms the basis of your anxiety. We provide you with useful tools and techniques to help build your confidence and overcome the challenges associated with social anxiety.

Case Studies

Lisa noticed that she was feeling more nervous and anxious in the last six months. She said that for the first time at work, she began to feel ‘panicky’ during team meetings, and just felt like she ‘didn’t want to be there’.

Lisa had also not been sleeping well, and found it more and more difficult to focus at work. She was worried that her performance was getting worse, and that she would soon be spoken to by her manager.

Lisa saw her GP to get help with sleeping. Her GP assessed that Lisa had symptoms of anxiety, and referred her to see a psychologist to manage her stress.

In the first session, Lisa discussed with the psychologist all her current symptoms – including how she is feeling at work, and how she is not sleeping. The psychologist also looked at Lisa’s history. Lisa reflected that she has always considered herself to be ‘a little nervous’, and prone to worry. She also discussed that she usually avoids conflict, and tries to be ‘nice’ all the time.

While Lisa says that she is proud that she is ‘nice’, she also feels like people take advantage of this. In fact, she feels taken advantaged of at work, and also sometimes with her family. On reflection, Lisa said that she is actually sick of feeling this way, but doesn’t know what to do about it.

Lisa’s psychologist helped her to recognise that she has an issues with assertiveness. Because she is not assertive, she does not get her needs met, and this may lead to feelings of anxiety. Lisa and psychologist made a ‘counselling plan’, where sessions will focus on building her assertiveness, for the treatment of her anxiety.