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Help with Panic disorder in later life.

It is normal to feel anxious from time to time. Taking a driving test or exam, going on a new “date” or giving a public speech are situations where feeling anxious is normal. However if the anxiety mounts up quickly and for no reason, to the extent that you feel paralysed with fear, heart pounding and feeling sweaty and shaky then that could be a panic attack.

Panic disorder is an illness where someone experiences sudden but fairly short-lived intense feelings of fear, with physical symptoms including shaking, panting, dry mouth, “butterflies”, headache or nausea. If the panic attacks go on for more than a month, the condition is called panic disorder. The difference between panic disorder and general anxiety is that panic tends to come in short intense bursts. Certain things such as spiders, heights or enclosed spaces may trigger panic attacks. In these cases, the condition is called phobia.

Find out more about Panic disorder

What are the symptoms?

Panic attacks usually start suddenly and develop rapidly over minutes to a peak of fear or intense dread, before settling down. Often panic attacks have physical symptoms such as:

  • fluttering in the chest (palpitations)
  • shaking
  • dry mouth
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness
  • feeling sick or vomiting
  • feeling hot or sweaty

What causes it?

Panic disorder may start for no reason, but it may run in families or start after traumatic experiences. Physical conditions such as heart disease and thyroid gland problems may mimic symptoms of panic. 

Key facts about panic disorder

  • About 1 in 20 people will experience panic attacks in their lifetime, with about 1 in 50 having it in any one year.
  • Panic attacks can occur as part of other conditions such as depression, agoraphobia or post traumatic stress disorder
  • Panic attacks can also be caused by physical illnesses such as lung and gut disorders.

How will it affect me? 

People with panic disorder may lose confidence, stop socialising or have problems at work. In severe cases it can be very disabling, resulting in stopping many usual activities.

How is it diagnosed?

If you think you have panic attacks you should see a doctor. The first thing to do is exclude other conditions that may be causing the panic symptoms. Only after doing this and taking a full account of your background, symptoms, medical history and assessing your current situation, will the doctor be able to confirm the diagnosis.

How is it treated?

A lot can be done to help people who have panic disorder. The mainstay of treatment includes psychological therapies such as relaxation and cognitive behavioural therapy. This will involve meeting with a therapist to set the goals for the treatment, and then meeting up each week for a few weeks and learning about your symptoms, where they come from and how to control/combat them. With an experienced therapist, this is a very effective treatment. In some situations (for example phobias) you can set goals in stages and work each week to achieve these goals.

Sometimes medication can help too. There are a lot of different treatments available including antidepressants which can be effective to treat panic too, and medication which directly combats the physical symptoms.

If symptoms of panic are due to other conditions it is important to look after these illnesses as well. For this reason treatment by a team that can look after all medical and psychological symptoms is important. The majority of people with panic attacks will get better with the right treatment.

We’re Red & Yellow Care, the
health experts for later life.

At Red & Yellow Care we specialise in diagnosis, treatment, care and advice for older adults. Our approach is unique – we build a complete picture of the individual – and we treat them like an individual. We guarantee fast and flexible appointments with the very best specialists.

Meet some of our consultants.

Dr James Warner

Consultant Psychiatrist


Dr Hema Ananth

Consultant Psychiatrist


Dr Brian Parsons

Consultant Psychiatrist


How we can help.

Because we are the specialists in health for older adults, we can offer all the expertise you need from one source.

We usually visit you at home, or alternatively can see you at our Consulting Rooms. We aim to arrange all appointments within a matter of days.

Clear and simple pricing.

First appointment up to 90 minutes, priced at £450.

Further appointments at £300 up to 60 minutes, £200 up to 30 minutes.

Home visit supplements starting from £100.

Get started now

Smarter, faster, easier and
more thorough healthcare.


We have the best consultants and other specialists dedicated to the health of older people.


We aim for our specialists to see you within a matter of days, and within 24 hours for urgent appointments.


We fit our service around you. Planning your appointments where and when suits you best.


We are committed to
giving you the most thorough assessment, treatment and care.

Request an appointment today.

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  • John was inspired by Dr Smith, it’s been a revelation. He’s not as scared about everything, not fearing the future as much and is feeling more positive.

    Deborah – wife and carer
  • We are indeed very pleased with the attention and excellent service we have received for my wife, with the health issues that currently concern us.

    Richard – husband and carer
  • My father has seen a lot of Consultants with his health and Dr Warner was the nicest person we have seen. It’s been quite an exhausting process for my dad and it was lovely to have someone who put him so much at ease.

    Julia – daughter and carer