panic attack by Aiden Hughes

The Most Common Beliefs about Panic Attacks we Need to Stop Believing

Imagine standing on the edge of a cliff. There are no barriers to prevent you from falling over, and it’s a bit windy. Look down. Feeling anxious? Good, that’s a perfectly healthy and helpful response to the situation you find yourself in.

Hold onto the feeling you had looking down the cliff face – and now imagine dealing with that feeling whilst doing the supermarket shop. Probably not so healthy or helpful.


These intense episodes are an alarmingly common for people who struggle from panic attacks and panic disorder, says Dr Ben Piper – and it’s an often misunderstood mental health issue. In everyday language we often refer to feelings of being nervous as ‘panic attacks.’ In this post, Ben flags up the  most common misconceptions he sees people believe about panic, even long term sufferers.


 You loose all control and go ‘crazy’ during a panic attack

Even though panic attacks can be very disturbing, they will not cause you to completely lose touch with reality. You may experience feelings of depersonalization and derealization, in which you briefly feel disconnected from yourself and the world around you. As uncomfortable as these symptoms can be, they are not signs of psychosis. Some other mental health disorders, such as depression and PTSD, do frequently co-occur with panic disorder. However, panic disorder is not commonly associated with schizophrenia.


Panic attacks are in indication you are likely to develop a more serious mental illness.

This leads on quite nicely from the first myth. Many people believe that being diagnosed with panic disorder or having a panic attack means they’re going to develop another serious mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. But panic disorder can really be something in its own right. If you’re still worried, bring up your concerns with a mental health professional.

panic attack large


 Deep breathes will calm you down during a panic attack

Panicking people are often told to calm down and “take a deep breath.” But for someone hyperventilating during a panic attack, deep breathing is a bad idea. The increased amounts of carbon dioxide caused by deep breathing leads to feelings of dizziness and numbness. The new research suggests shallower inhalation and a deeper/ longer exhalation are more effective.



The Beginners Self Care guide for Anxiety and Panic

Learn how to manage anxiety and panic attacks

Click here to access


 Having panic attacks is something you will have to deal with for the rest of your life

It’s a common misconception that [being diagnosed with panic disorder] means that you will have to be on medication for the rest of your life.I think this contributes to the avoidance factors and stigma towards counselling and mental health, which can make sufferers prolong getting help. However, the sooner you do so, the sooner you can control your panic.

People respond well to medication and generally and the research supports its use. Here at iRise Psychology we use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy without medications, or a combination of both if the client has been prescribed medication from a psychiatrist. There’s also a myth that there is no real help out there for panic disorder, which isn’t true. There are some high performing evidence based treatments for panic.



just breathe 1

The 6 Best Strategies to Manage Anxiety

We all experience some degree of anxiety in our lives. Life is full of anxiety provoking challenges that we have to face. In fact, anxiety is normal and adaptive as it helps us prepare for danger.

Therefore, the goal is to learn to manage anxiety, not eliminate it.

The fight or flight syndrome is useful when the stress is short term, (such as running for a bus so as to not be late), and the body is able to quickly return back to balance point. But when the stress is chronic, your body tries to sustain the high alert status well beyond the point that is healthy.

The Six Best Strategies to Manage Anxiety.

These techniques fall into three typical areas:

  • the physical arousal that constitutes the terror of panic
  • the heightened feelings of tension that correlated with being ‘stressed out’
  • the mental anguish of rumination – a brain that wont stop thinking distressing thoughts

1. Breathe

Breathing exercises are one of the best and quickest ways to help regulate your body and emotion when you feel anxious. This will help with the distressing physical arousal that comes with feeling anxious. There are many breathing techniques but one of the best is called the 4,7,8 Breathing technique. The technique has 4 easy steps, as follows;


1. Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4.
2. Hold your breath for a count of 7.
3. Release your breath from your mouth with a whooshing sound for a count of 8.
4. Without a break, breathe in again for a count of 4, repeating the entire technique 3-4 times in a row, then resume normal breathing and activity.


2.  Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is simply the act of living in the present moment. Many people who are full of anxiety tend to focus a lot of their mental energy on the future. They spend an inordinate amount of their time and energy trying to make the future as predictable as possible. This type of living is driven by fear of the unknown. But, mindfulness refocuses that energy and tries to live fully in the present. It takes practice to live in the present moment when you are used to leaning out into the future, but the present is a far more peaceful place to live. Mindfulness can help with both the mental anguish and the physical arousal associated with anxiety.


Download our Mini Mindfulness Guide!

Learn how Mindfulness can Improve your day to day life

Click here to access 


3. Do things you find Fun

Laughing is a great way to increase good feelings and discharge tension. Getting in touch with fun and play isn’t easy for the serious, tense worrier. A therapy goal could be simply to relearn what you had fun doing in the past and prescribe yourself some fun.


4. Recognise and challenge distorted thoughts and unhelpful thinking

If you are prone to feel a lot of anxiety, chances are that you have untrue thoughts or beliefs that are fueling your anxiety. For example, you might immediately assume that when a given situation doesn’t turn out as expected that it will become a worst-case scenario. These ways of thinking are distortions and act as lenses through which you typically see the world. The way out of these distortions is to train your mind to be objective and reflect on other possibilities. For example, instead of defaulting to negative about all the things that went wrong in that job interview, focus on what went well and what you might do differently the next time you are in a similar situation. Learning how to control the thoughts we listen to can have a profound effect on diminishing mental anguish.


Download the Depression Toolkit!

Learn how to Change your Thinking to Transform how you Feel!

Click here to access


5. Worry Well, but Only Once

Some worries just have to be faced head-on, and worrying about them the right way can help eliminate secondary, unnecessary worrying. When you feel that your worries are out of control try this next method:

  1. Worry through all the issues within a time limit of 10-20 mins and cover all the bases.
  2. Do anything that must be done at the present time. Set a time when it’ll be necessary to think about the worry again.
  3. Write that time on a calendar.
  4. Whenever the thought pops up again say, “Stop! I already worried” and divert your thoughts as quickly as possible to another activity – you may need to make a list of these possible diversions beforehand.


6. Taking care of yourself

Self-care plays a Surprisingly large role in your ability to manage anxiety. When you are getting an adequate amount of sleep, eating healthy meals, being active on a daily basis and avoiding dependence on substances like alcohol, you are building up your body and mind’s resilience to stress so that you can handle most of the challenges that come your way.



These skills do require patience and determination. However, once learnt, people gain a lasting sense of their own power and competence in working actively with their own symptoms to conquer anxiety through their own efforts.

own it

10 Quotes to Boost your Self-Esteem!

Perhaps one of the most essential ingredients to positive mental wellbeing is having high self-esteem combined with a healthy dose of self-compassion. Hopefully these inspiring and thought provoking quotes from the last 2000 years will give you the boost you need to go out there and be the best version of you!





Mark Twain


Mark twain quote


Elizabeth Kubler-Ross






Louise L. Hay


louise l. hay


Dianne Von Furstenberg



Diane von furstenberg quote









Access the Self-Esteem Booster Guide

Learn about the 10 Tips to Increase Self-Esteem

Click here to access 


W.C Fields


wc fileds quote




Laurie Halse Anderson





Sally Field


Sally field quote






Kristin Neff


kristin neff qoute





madonna quote


5 Easy Mindfulness practices you can do Today

The modern world tends to live in the future. And when you’re not in the future (trying to get noticed or running after something) you’re relieving your past.You are always trying too hard to get noticed. If you are always frustrated by your hectic life schedule, maybe you need to schedule a few internal meetings? These five easy mindfulness practices will help you to be fully engaged in the present, attending to what happens in the moment, engaged, in control and at peace.

1. Slow Down and Notice

Pause what you’re doing and let your shoulders relax while and simply take in whatever is around me in this moment. You will be surprised how much better you feel. Create space internally so that you can better focus on what you’re doing – from work to being with my family. It is hard to remember to take these pauses in everyday life, so try to use viual cues or schedule in mindfulness mini breaks to help make this practice a useful habit.day_shooting



2. Practice Mindful Eating

Enjoy your food by chewing it properly. Chewing breaks down your food into small particles for proper digestion. Eat food for nourishing your body only. Recognize your non-hunger triggers to breaking free from food cravings and compulsive overeating. Do not upset your digestive system by eating more. It will have harmful effects on your body.



Download our Mini Mindfulness Guide!

Learn how Mindfulness can Improve your day to day life

Click here to access 


3. The 4, 7, 8 Breathing technique

This short-term fix for stress and anxiety (and to help you sleep) can immediately tame the fight-or-flight response misfiring in your brain, cool your body’s inflammatory response to all those stress hormones, and halt anxiety or panic by using a simple breathing technique. The technique has 4 easy steps, as follows;

1. Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4.
2. Hold your breath for a count of 7.
3. Release your breath from your mouth with a whooshing sound for a count of 8.
4. Without a break, breathe in again for a count of 4, repeating the entire technique 3-4 times in a row, then resume normal breathing and activity.

The 4 7 8 breathing technique works because when you are stressed out, your breathing becomes very shallow. People who experience long-term, chronic stress are often chronically under-breathing and are in a constant state of mild hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation.

In addition, under-breathing can lead to a build up of excess carbon dioxide in your tissues, which contributes to oxidative stress, inflammation and acidification in your body—the foundations for disease.



4. Start your day without any gadgets

What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed each morning? If you check phone, you are not alone. Many people start their day by checking their phones. Instead of checking office emails or the notifications of your social media profiles, take out some time for meditation. Plan out your whole day in a systematic manner. Don’t make any excuses and shift your focus towards this wonderful and productive exercise.


5. Pause for a Cup of Tea

This is another practice I bring up often because I believe the act of slowing down to make tea (or even coffee or hot cocoa) can become an act of nourishing ourselves that brings us right into this moment. When you make your cup of tea, even if you’re just heating water in a microwave, try to really slow down and notice your senses. Breathing and being right here, giving yourself this gift of something to warm your body.



depression woods

5 great Ted Talks about Depression

TED conferences have been presenting “Ideas Worth Spreading” for some 30 years now, but the online video revolution has boosted their cultural impact enormously. We find them an invaluable resource here at iRise Psychology and wanted to share with you five of our top ted talks about depression and mental health related issues.

Zindel Segal | The mindful way through depression

The co-author of The Mindful Way Through Depression and co-developer of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy talks about meditation and depression.


Dan Gilbert | The surprising science of happiness

The author of Stumbling on Happiness reexamines the idea that unhappiness comes from not getting what we want. Our “psychological immune system” lets us feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned.


Ruby Wax | What’s so funny about mental illness?

Diseases of the body enlist sympathy, says comedian Ruby Wax — except those of the brain. Why is that? In her uniquely humorous, energetic and articulate way, Wax, diagnosed a decade ago with clinical depression, urges us to put an end to the stigma of mental illness.


Download the Depression Toolkit!

Learn how to Change your Thinking to Transform how you Feel!

Click here to access


Stephen Ilardi | Depression is a disease of civilization

Psychology professor at University of Kansas draws on research and clinical practice to examine the depression epidemic in modern society.



Andrew Solomon | Depression, the secret we share


“The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, and it was vitality that seemed to seep away from me in that moment.” In a talk equal parts eloquent and devastating, writer Andrew Solomon takes you to the darkest corners of his mind during the years he battled depression. That led him to an eye-opening journey across the world to interview others with depression — only to discover that, to his surprise, the more he talked, the more people wanted to tell their own stories.




By Dr Benjamin Piperbennewpicrounded

Over the last bank holiday, with nothing much to do, I embarked on a
box set journey by settling down to watch a US series called
‘Girls’. It was one of those where you feel bereft when you reach
the end of the available episodes! The characters developed
beautifully in a realistic look at what it is like to live in a large
city in your twenties, lots to compare for those of us who call London
home. Mental health issues developed for a number of the characters
and the presentation to the viewer felt honest, despite the insertion
of some comedy to lighten the load. An interesting quip by Richard E.
Grant (who seems to pop up all over TV) was made to one of the main
characters while both were in rehab. He patronisingly said ‘you’re
too young to understand what thoughts are useless to you’. It was
delivered with great comedy value but revealed an important
psychological message!

Thoughts are often understood as factual and to be relied upon. They
can often seem convincing because: we thought them; they keep
returning; they have a strong historical base in our experience; and
they might cause a strong emotional reaction!!

However, as Richard E Grant’s character was suggesting, a lot of
our thoughts are not always factual and certainly should not
automatically be believed! Many of our thoughts are useless and not
worthy of our time. So, remember: Thoughts aren’t facts, they are
just thoughts!

Let me give you some examples to illustrate what I mean here:

While giving an important speech an executive noticed two people in
the front row speaking and then one walked out of the room and the
other stayed but looked distracted. The executive began to think her
speech was not being received well and that she was boring people. Her
negative and self-doubting thoughts then had an impact on her energy
levels and concentration for the remaining five minutes. Afterwards,
she was told that the two people in the front row were a couple and
they had been arguing. The speaker then realised that she had jumped
to conclusions and personalised the couples behaviour, indicating her
first thoughts were not factual and she had interpreted their
behaviour according to her own anxiety that she had been feeling. This
lead to a reaction that changed her performance.

Here is another example:

A man had been rejected by his lover a month ago and he had felt down
since. As a result, he decided to extend his social network using
Facebook. A number of people had not accepted his friend requests and
he started to obsessively think that people do not like him and these
thoughts lowered his mood further still. During the coming months
those people did accept his friend requests and it turned out that
they do not use Facebook very often. This showed him that his thinking
had been inaccurate and he had allowed this situation and the
resultant thoughts to deepen his depression.

I promise, this is the last one:

A banker had an argument with a colleague the previous day. On
returning to work, he said hello to the receptionist who walked
straight past him and did not answer. He thought that she was ignoring
him because she might have heard about the argument the previous day.
The banker began to get anxious that he had been represented badly and
was being judged by people. As a result he was having huge difficulty
concentrating on his work. Thirty minutes later, the receptionist
walked past him and apologised for not answering him and said that she
had felt ill and was rushing for some fresh air. He realised that he
had jumped to conclusions and that his initial thoughts were
irrational and inaccurate!

These examples, hopefully, demonstrate the danger of not being able
to, as Richard E Grant’s character in Girls puts it, work out which
thoughts are useless to you. Our ability to dismiss useless thoughts
varies massively according to our mood. When a person is depressed,
thoughts become very rigid and negatively skewed. A person can find
themselves adding negative meaning to aspects of their experience that
would be dismissed as nonsense and irrational at times of better mood.
For example, a friend of mine is feeling quite depressed at the moment
and I call every day at the same time. His thoughts on my support was
that I was only available to him in the morning and that he was not
important enough to have time in my evening. Therefore, he did not
always answer as he felt I was being unfair! When we were able to chat
about it I explained my perspective – that I was calling every day
first thing to ensure he knew I was there. I would have been happy to
chat in the evening too. These kind of distorted patterns of thinking
are symptoms as well as primary maintaining factors in depression and
anxiety disorders. If you give irrational (useless) thoughts your full
attention you may end up feeling very depressed or anxious!

There is help available if you are unable to tackle your distorted
thinking alone in the form of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
This therapy is very useful for learning the skills of challenging the
idea that thoughts are factual and deserve our attention. One of the
most important skills learned in cognitive therapy is to be able to
observe problematic thinking styles and force a balanced evaluation of
them.  This can lead to a more positive thinking style and that feels
nice……The aim is for a person to eventually dismiss thinking
styles/patterns/ particular thoughts that lead to unnecessary negative
emotion, because these thoughts are useless and take us where we
don’t need to be.

Don’t be a slave to your thoughts, they can hold you back.

Please see the thought sheets in the resource centre. When feeling
low or anxious please note down your thoughts and their meanings. Then
attempt the process of holding those thoughts up to rational
judgement. Good luck, and if you need further support please give us a