A common reason to consult a therapist are panic attacks. It seems that the amount of people that experience this particular symptom has steadily increased in the past years.
People that have panic attacks tend to state that they cannot think of any reason that they are having them. They say that it is not associated to any specific event and the scariest part is that they cannot predict when they will feel one.
Most people look for psychiatric treatment first and are sent to therapy after receiving their prescription. They come in asking for breathing techniques and relaxation methods in order to deal with what they believe is a problem of general anxiety.
It is my belief that panic attacks are not brought on by general anxiety nor by a directly related trigger. I think that they are a symptom of a more complex process.
We build what we think about the world and life as we live it. I think of every rule that we internalize as a puzzle piece in a giant puzzle of thoughts. As time goes by, some of the pieces of the puzzle do not fit as well as they used to.
For example: You believe that you must support everyone in your family financially or emotionally because that is what you learned at an early age (rule). This thought worked well within the puzzle for a while, but now you are 38, overworked and exhausted. You feel like you cannot fail the people that count on you for help. Your actions comply with that thought but your reality is showing you that doing this is not possible and maybe very hurtful towards your mental state as well. Since you are not aware of this battle consciously, you are not even thinking about this, it manifests itself in this symptom.
It is my belief that in order to eliminate panic attacks, we must examine the set of beliefs that are making you unhappy, the pieces that no longer fit and incorporate new, more appropriate pieces that allow your rules to be in harmony with your reality.