Treatment of panic disorders

Treatment of panic disorders with hypnosis


This article includes the definition of panic attacks and panic disorders and the possibility of treatment.Panikattacke

A panic attack is a single alarm reaction (fight or flight) without any recognizable external cause. The associated physical and psychological symptoms are often not interpreted as panic and are evaluated by the affected person as life-threatening.

Panic disorder

Panic disorder is defined when panic attacks occur more frequently. If at least four panic attacks occur within four weeks, the International Classification of Mental Disorders (ICD10, published by the WHO – World Health Organization) speaks of moderate panic disorder. If at least four panic attacks occur in one week, it is called severe panic disorder.


  • Shortness of breath
  • Drowsiness
  • Feeling of insecurity
  • Feeling of fainting
  • Soft knees
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • trembling
  • Sweating
  • Choking sensation
  • Tightness in the throat
  • nausea
  • abdominal discomfort

The feelings can be so stressful that a sense of life-threat may well arise.


Patients often end up in the emergency room of the local hospital with their first panic attacks. These are then often treated “only” acutely symptomatically with tranquilizers such as lorazepam (trade name: for example, Tavor ), provided they are recognized correctly.

Such sedatives usually have a reliable effect, but they also have a high dependence potential, so that dependence can develop after less than two weeks.

A visit to the family doctor or psychiatrist/neurologist usually results in the recommendation of an antidepressant.

However, antidepressants are better than their reputation in this regard! In fact, if taken regularly, they can lead to symptom relief. However, they do not work satisfactorily for all patients!

In Germany, the use of behavioral therapy is often recommended at this point. This is usually also paid for by the health insurance.

In a behavioral therapy

The therapeutic measures of behavioral therapy can aim to:

  • The symptoms through reassessment
  • achieving that affected persons give up their avoidance and withdrawal behavior
  • To reduce existing everyday limitations by training affected persons to resume certain activities and occupations
  • To help affected persons to regain their ability to work

In clinics, a wait-and-see strategy is often used, in which without treatment, one waits to see if the panic disorder will go away on its own. (Watchful waiting)

Studies have shown that behavioral therapy and the use of medications such as antidepressants have the same success. About the same number of patients discontinued treatment in the studies, and about the same number of patients showed improvement or no improvement.

Experts consider the methodological quality of the studies to be questionable. Also, only the success, and no possible side effects were examined.

Depth psychology examines a person’s life history for events and memories that could be related to panic disorder.

By working through these events, there is a possibility that the driving, subconscious force that maintains the panic attacks will disappear.


In my practice I work multimodally. This means that different schools of psychotherapy are used together with hypnotherapy.

Therapy methods should not limit because the therapeutic school and its followers want to stand out.

Therapy should always be centered on the individual, serving the individual patient. 

Hypnotherapy thus deals with the repressed or buried memories that could form a connection with the panic disorder. At the same time, body psychotherapy approaches involve the body. So on the one hand, mindfulness is taught and on the other hand, I use the signals of the body as messengers and signals that the subconscious presents in code as symptoms.

If we understand a symptom as a “messenger”, understand its message and act on it, the subconscious no longer has a reason to use this alarm reaction.

The panic disappears.

Link back to main page Fear and Panic

Imai H, Tajika A, Chen P, Pompoli A, Furukawa TA. Psychological therapies versus pharmacological interventions for panic disorder with or without agoraphobia in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;(10):CD011170.