Panic attacks are horrible.
They can be terrifying, debilitating and disabling.
They can also be treated.
There are drugs that doctors can prescribe to help manage them, but there are also less invasive solutions that can be even more effective, like hypnotherapy.
Panic attacks are created in your brain. I like to think of them as a mental allergic reaction.
Think about an allergy such as hayfever.
Your body sees the pollen as a threatening alien invader and goes into defence mode. It makes your eyes itch, your throat get scratchy and sets off your bodies immune system as though it’s under a full blown attack. The truth is, the pollen is harmless and the only unpleasant thing is your own bodies response to it.
The same happens mentally with a panic attack. Things are floating around your brain, thought, ideas, scenarios. Your subconscious feels threatened by something and goes into defence mode. it makes you hyper alert, increases your senses and dumps a load of adrenaline into your system in case you need to run. This makes your heart beat faster, increases your blood pressure, makes you breath faster and that in turn can make you feel light headed and dizzy. Your palms may sweat and your mouth becomes dry. All of these symptoms inly increase the anxiety and the cycle starts making it worse and worse.
So, how do you stop them.
1. Educate yourself.
Research what panic attacks are. Understand them. If you know why you are feeling this way it can take lots of the fear out of it and stop you entering the panic cycle.
2. Be aware of your triggers.
Try to notice where you are, what you are doing, what you are thinking about, who you are with, what you are feeling etc when you have a panic attack. By being aware of your triggers you can start to work out what it is that you are uncomfortable about and try different things to manage that. I do not advocate changing your life to never come across a trigger, but I do advocate knowing what your triggers are and working with a therapist to find better ways of managing those feelings.
If you have regular panic attack you have begun to train yourself to follow a pattern. A follows B follows C.
for example – I notice that my chest feels a bit tight, then I can’t get my breath, then my heart starts beating really fast, then my fingers start to tingle.
When you are relaxed and calm think about the first symptom of a panic attack – bring it to mind, feel it in your body. If you can bring it on them you can let it go too. Train yourself to feel that feeling and then let it go.
One of the common symptoms of panic attacks is a feeling of breathlessness and hyperventilating. Just learning to control your breathing and making sure that you breath out slowly with each breath can stop a panic attack in it’s tracks.
5. Get help.
If all of these steps don’t work for you, it’s time to get some help. There are plenty of therapists who can help you be free of these awful experiences forever. There is no shame in getting some support to get rid of them. If you had persistent headaches it would be a good idea to consult a doctor. If you get persistent panic attacks, it’s a good idea to consult a therapist.