Panic attacks appear to come 'out of the blue', but do they really?
Panic attack sufferers will be well aware of their symptoms. Racing heartbeat, nausea, chest pains, sweating, a feeling of disconnection. Any of these on their own or combined can put the fear into a person. The overwhelming desire is to get away, to leave the area, wherever you are.
But what about the first panic attack, what are the causes of the first time you feel those scary feelings?
Often the trigger of the initial panic attack is quite rational, benign and understandable.
A person is hungover, dehydrated, exhausted, vulnerable or under stress and the body or mind gives a sign that it is under pressure. It lets you know that it needs a break or a rest. This symptom however is not interpreted positively by the sufferer who will leap to the conclusion that something terrible is happening. It could be a helpful sign but is turned into alarm bells.
The reaction to the first panic attack is then one of alarm and catastrophe.Thought of heart attack, madness, mental breakdown and imminent death and destruction goes through the mind, a far cry from the innocent message the body is actually giving. The body is tired not dying, the mind is exhausted not cracking up.
Once this catastrophic reaction has been logged in the mind and body it is quite hard to shift. Which means that the moment a slightly similar feeling is experienced the suggestible mind blows the feeling back to the original panic state. Here we go again, it says.
So that even though the original trigger for panic, a hangover, for example, has long faded, the panic attack has returned. Annoyingly for the sufferer each repetition of the cycle strengthens the likelihood of the cycle repeating.
As the number of panic attacks increase the sufferer restricts their movements and activities to try and limit or avoid further panic attacks. This has a further negative effect. It eats away at self-confidence and starves the sufferer from much needed mood restoring activities. The panic attacks weaken you further as you question 'whats wrong with me' ' why can't I be my normal self again'.
So how do we break the cycle?
CBT provides a way of taking the catastrophe out of the issue
1 We reassure that panic, while being upsetting is neither physically nor mentally dangerous.
2 We remind that the initial cause was quite harmless while the subsequent attacks are replicated by habit and self-suggestion. There is no mysterious cause.
3 Why are we using panic to be so self-critical. Surely these attacks are not the defining aspect of who you are.
Mindfulness and hypnotherapy can help to calm and keep you more 'in the moment'
4 We use relaxation and suggestion to counter-act all the negative associations and thoughts that have been learnt. Positive hypnosis in therapy to cure the negative hypnosis of experience.
5 We teach relaxation techniques such as Self Hypnosis and use Mindfulness to keep the mind from leaping into imagined (negative) possible futures.
6 We give you tools to trigger relaxing feelings and calm the anxiety while you are out and about.
Try this link to my Hypnotherapy In London Youtube site with an introduction to using hypnotherapy for panic attacks and anxiety. Youtube Video.