CBT for AFIB: I wanted to see if anyone has... - AF Association

AF Association

20,719 members25,404 posts



I wanted to see if anyone has had luck with using CBT for AFIB related anxiety. It's gotten to the point where I can barely leave the house because I'm afraid that I might have an afib attack, or panic attack. Anything that gets my heart rate up gives me anxiety too. Palpitations scare me, and even if I just have one it can be enough to freak me out for the rest of the day. I'm getting so tired of this. I just want a better perspective. Has CBT helped you?


18 Replies

Hi Thomas;

I can definitely identify with what you are feeling. Along with Afib, I have Sinus Tachycardia, so every time my heart rate gets elevated, I worry that it won't go back down. Each palpitation makes me think that Afib is starting. It is all incredibly terrifying and stressful. You are not alone in feeling this way!!!

Personally I see a therapist, who specializes in mindful meditation. It is helpful to a degree, and the exercises she has shown me do help reduce stress. I would recommend cbt though, as I think it might be more helpful in the long run, to learn how to think about thinks more objectively. I'm looking into it for myself.

Good luck, and I hope you find a good therapist. I think it will help tremendously:)


I would look at a range of options (to get relief asap) to decrease anxiety and hopefully one will emerge early on as the most helpful. I did Mindfulness, more immersion in Nature (the Japanese do 'forest bathing'), breathing exercises, a new hobby and prayer. I also cut out unnecessary anxiety raisers like crime dramas on TV and replaced them with Romcom. If you can reduce stress elsewhere, i.e. work do that.

Whatever you choose, persevere with it as it gets more effective once it becomes a habit.

The bottom line is though that the AF may need to be stabilised by drugs or ablation to get reasonable QOL back. Good Luck.

Richard75 in reply to Hidden

I recommend getting help it made a world of difference for me. I haven't gone fully down the CBT route. I have looked at mindfulness and just talking to someone and rationalising it too. Whilst looking for help I can really recommend the Headspace app. You get a free trial so worth looking at. It helps with mindfulness and breathing. I wasn't too sure but now find it great as a daily relax and also as a tool when I feel the anxiety rising.

Hi Tomas,

I see a counsellor every few weeks at the moment and helps so much. I was finding the side effects of my medication very hard to deal with, especially as I have never been ill in all of my life. Talking about it with someone outside of my personal circle gives me an outlet to vent and they do help me see things differently too. I am a person who has helped so many but when it came to helping myself, I felt selfish so I am learning to be kinder to myself.

Good luck and best wishes to you.


Not tried CBT for AF. I don't panic about it, I always carry my bisoprolol with me just in case though. I just accept that I have PAF and I have frequent palpitations but just accept that this is how it's going to be from now on. Like my doctor said it's very common and it won't kill you, but worrying will. My biggest worry is throwing off a clot and having a stroke ! So try not to panic and enjoy the rest of your life 😀

The mind, the body's response to stress and our emotional response to the physiological symptoms are all inextricably linked. My diagnosis of paroxysmal AF was almost a relief after having a few years of apparently unprovoked anxiety and panic attacks. I use Headspace and had 3 therapy sessions with a Human Givens therapist and it changed everything for the better. We are all going to have "those days" whether we have AF or some other issue and living in the moment helps balance me. My mantra at present is "today I can.........."

CDreamer in reply to Bagrat

I just love Human Givens!

Bagrat in reply to CDreamer

It was a life changer for me.


I was like you and then on the back of one of the members on here I started a meditation course mindfulness

It had really helped me not sure if it is mind over matter but am sleeping really well now and hardly think about the diagnosis of afib or the possibilities of Stroke

I hope this helps

CBT will help you with 'worry thoughts' but Mindfulness, Yoga or relaxation techniques will help more directly.

Having AF means your Autonomic system will be excited - causing the fight/flight response to be on constant 'high alert'. Using relaxation/meditation on a daily basis - about 30 minutes a day - will really help.

Certainly do some CBT - the techniques are available on line - but try joining a Mindfulness group or meditative yoga class or similar. Many surgeries will have links to classes in your area.

I have been trying mindfulness via Futurelearn......a 6 week course that is free .You have to stick with the practice on a daily basis to get something out of it but it helps me with hyperacusis and misophonia..I also do breathing exercises and these work very well. Again, you need to practice daily to get the benefit.

For many years I struggled with panic attacks partly because of my heredity heart defect. I had a lot of counselling which helped a bit. When I developed PAF my quality of life got worse. Like you, one small palpitation would ruin my day. On one stay in hospital a doctor suggested a low dose anti depressant might help. I now take Sertraline 50mg. This calms me down so I can take a more rational approach to my condition. I find keeping calm reduces the intensity of the episode of AF dramatically which then reduces my anxiety. Don't disregard the combination of medication and some type of counselling or other therapy. I find they compliment each other. It's really improved my quality of life.

CBT did help me. My anxiety was at the very high end of the scale, so much so that I did require medication to literally keep me sane. I became addicted to benzodiazapines and it took about a year to come off them and that was as awful as you could imagine. Avoid this track if you possibly can. Along with CBT I found a particular pattern of slow breathing has helped me incredibly as has being on this blog. Many people feel the way you do and we understand. Read the blogs here and see how many people survive with really bad symptoms. Meditation has helped me as well. I think it needs many approaches all contributing and interacting to help you.

Might be that the anxiety stems from the same causes as the AF . . . Magnesium may reduce the anxiety and reduce the number and seriousness of AF bouts. . .

It's been helpful but the real help came from my GP referring me to a clinical psychologist specialising in health issues. Ask for a referral it's been beneficial to me.

It can do.I am a CBT therapist and PAF sufferer

This is all so helpful, everyone!!! Thank you<3

I practice mindfulness and find that this helps me calm down and breath when I'm feeling dizzy or anxious. Ron

You may also like...