Considering hypnotherapy as a panic attack treatment, what you need to know?

A panic attack is a terrifying event and if this develops into a repeated pattern or fear of the panic, known as a panic disorder, it can ruin lives. If you are considering hypnotherapy as a panic attack treatment there are a few things you may want to know, such as:

  • What you need to do before contacting a hypnotherapist
  • What to expect
  • Does it work
  • How to get the right therapist

What to do before consulting a hypnotherapist for panic attack treatment?

You probably have already done this, but the very first thing to do is see a doctor. There are a number of conditions which may appear to be a panic attack, these include: thyroid problems, some tumours and insulin based issues. As such it is vitally important that you have seen a doctor about the problem.

What to expect of hypnotherapy as a panic attack treatment?

There are numerous approaches to the treatment of panic disorder within hypnotherapy so it is almost impossible to say how a particular therapist will approach you. This is because most hypnotherapists actually use techniques and approaches from different types of psychotherapy and use the hypnosis to enhance their effectiveness. For example, a hypnotherapist may combine Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with hypnosis to help embed new beliefs into the unconscious mind. Some of this will depend on the therapists training and some on what they think will work for you.  Commonly used approaches include:

  • Relaxation and/or breathing exercises – usually learnt in trance to make them easier to use at times of stress.
  • Cognitive work – to change unconscious or semi-conscious beliefs which can exacerbate stress into panic and the ‘traumatic learning’ that initial panic attacks may have induced.
  • Desensitisation work – a process in which the therapist encourages the body to learn to be calm in trigger situations or for trigger symptoms. This is particularly common when the panic attack is triggered by a phobia.
  • Some may use what are known as psychodynamic approaches, this involves looking into sensitizing life events which may have contributed to a pattern.

Be assured that no one will attempt to ‘shock’ you into a cure, good therapists are aware of how terrifying a panic attack can be and know to take things at your pace.


Does hypnotherapy as a panic attack treatment work?

There is a body of case study evidence to show that hypnotherapy has a good record of success as a panic attack treatment (Iglesias & Iglesias 2005, Lewington 1987, Wild.1995 川嶋新二. 2012a), of particular note is a study by a team at Toyko Medical University which found that improvements remained when they checked in with patients 6 months later (川嶋新二. 2012b).


How to get the right therapist

To get the therapist who is right for you should consider:

  • Are they a member of a professional body such as the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis (BSCH)?
  • Do they talk about hypnotherapy as a panic attack treatment on their website?
  • Do they have a broad set of skills (REBT, EMDR, Behavioural therapies); different skills are helpful with different people and types of panic disorder.

Best of luck in finding the person who will help with your panic attack treatment.


Panic attack treatment

The author

Matt Krouwel is a hypnotherapists in Birmingham who specialises in anxiety related problems, including panic attack treatment.


Iglesias, A., & Iglesias, A. (2005). Awake-alert hypnosis in the treatment of panic disorder: A case report. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 47(4), 249-257.

Lewington, P. J. (1987). Rational hypnotherapy: a therapeutic intervention for anxiety neurosis and panic attacks (Doctoral dissertation, University of British Columbia).

Wild, Anthony J. “Hypnosis as an adjunct in the treatment of panic disorder.” Australian Journal of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis (1994).

川嶋新二. (2012a). The effectiveness of hypnosis for patients with panic disorder: Two case studies. 東京医科大学雑誌, 70(3), 341-350.

川嶋新二. (2012b). The effectiveness of hypnosis for patients with panic disorder: Its possibilities for reduction of symptom severity. 東京医科大学雑誌, 70(3), 351-359.