Panic attack treatment and how you got there
Ever wondered if you are a candidate for panic attack treatment?
So there you are…. In “that situation”…. you start to sweat…. your breath starts to quicken…. your heart rate builds until your heart feels like it’s going to jump out of your chest…. you become unable to concentrate on anything other than what you’re feeling in your body…you begin to question what is happening to you as your body fills with nervous energy…. an overwhelming need to escape washes over you…. You can’t leave the place where you are and thoughts of impending danger and even death flood your mind…. you break down and sit in a corner of the room feeling scared and terrified with all control of your mind and body taken away from you….
You’ve had your first panic attack
or another way to view it….
You’ve been emotionally hijacked!
Excuse the toilet humour pictured right 😉
This all happened within a few seconds though to anyone experiencing a panic attack it feels like an eternity. Although the feeling can be terrifying it is an essential physiological response to help ensure our survival and to carry on our genetic line.
Getting to know a panic attack and treatment
From this moment on, our lives may never be the same and the mere thought of attempting to go in to “that situation” again can cause extreme stress, anxiety, fear and avoidance as our mind attempts to keep us safe and as far away as possible from the perceived threat. Whilst this can be very helpful when there is an actual threat present, there are times when this response is triggered when we are not aware of any threat in front of us.
Having been a long term sufferer of anxiety I understand how detrimental this affliction can be and what each stage of the process feels like. I also understand the affect that being afraid of anxiety can have on one’s life and the limitations we put on ourselves to avoid the situations that evoke that feeling of panic. The methods I share here are those that I have used personally and as a therapist. They have been shown to be effective, hence why I felt compelled to share them with you and help you attain a level of peace with your anxiety and keep it balanced. Anxiety is a natural part of life and working with it can have a successful outcome to keep the balance that is required to live a life of calm in the face of fear.
As a result of working with clients who experience extreme anxiety and panic, I have found that a major contributor to the experience is the fact that they had no idea what was happening to them. The situation was no different to what they had experienced many times before though now it strikes fear in to their hearts and any measure to avoid feeling like that is taken.
There is power in knowing about what affects us so terribly and understanding how it’s produced in our body both mentally and physically. Having this knowledge alone can help a person suffering the effects of stress, anxiety and panic to get a clear perspective of the situation they are in and what they are faced with. Finding the right therapist opens up a window of opportunity to address the issue and find a solution together to end the suffering. Taking back control of your mind and body can be an exhilarating prospect!
The following explanation of anxiety coupled with the 5 steps to take your body back from anxiety and panic can assist you in restoring the freedom you once had to do anything you wanted to do and remove those limiting beliefs that hold you back from a life of control, peace and wellness.
Understanding the connection between your environment, brain and body
Our environment has changed much in the last 2.6 million years since the stone age to a society far removed from the days when the biggest threat we may encounter would have been the odd carnivore out looking for its next source of food. When we speak about a panic attack we can refer to this process as the “stress response”.
The stress response is designed for times such as when a tiger may be in your immediate vicinity and gets your body in to a state of alertness to execute whatever plan is needed to either fight off the predator, flee from it or freeze so it doesn’t notice you. When we are presented with a direct threat the stress response is most welcomed; however, when there is no perceived threat present this becomes a problem for us to comprehend.
The triggers that exist in today’s society are many and varied due to the structure of our lives and the number of choices we have compared to those in the stone age. Some of these could be:
- Being employed by others to earn a living
- Pressures from social groups we choose to be a part of
- Navigating traffic and road rage
- Our actions being dictated by time
- Having overly high expectations for ourselves and pressures from peers
- Health distress due to pain, toxicity and pollutants……… and many more
Based on finding from neuroscience, our minds are not designed to withstand so many stressors and the effects of living in this society are high and the damage it can cause to our mind body health is staggering bordering on shocking.
Based on the excessive amounts of stress inducing stimuli from our environment, is it surprising that it’s said that anxiety is the number one presenting healthcare issue in society today!
It’s easy to recognise when you are caught up in a stress response while being chased by a tiger or when you are asked to present a report to the board of directors. However, when something in your environment triggers a panic attack and you are not sure what it is- this can be very frightening. This is a very common occurrence and is due to the way that our brain stores memories deep down in the limbic system of our mid brain.
Becoming aware that there is a process of storing memories and an understanding of where this process can go wrong goes a long way to giving those suffering with anxiety and panic hope……… Hope that the patterns of behaviour that have been learn over time can be altered, re-learnt and restore our mind and body to homeostasis where a balanced place of peace can be obtained.
The Mind-Body take over
During the 1890’s Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov established the theory of classical conditioning, where we learnt the brain builds memories by association and clarified the process of implanting a conditioned response.
Pavlov noticed that every time he prepared food for his dogs they began to salivate at the sight of it. After observing this for a while he in turn rang a bell as the dogs looked at the food. He then rang the bell without the presence of the food and the dogs still salivated. To take his theory further he rang the bell and shone a light toward the dogs for some time. He then shone only the light on the dogs and once again on cue the dogs would salivate.
This highlighted the process where our brain creates memories by association and was a paramount discovery in understanding our mental conditioning and programmed responses.
Much time has passed, and this work has now been continued by neuroscience bringing a deeper understanding of how we learn, create habits and are able to change them.
Let’s look at an example of classical conditioning in a true to life situation. A common condition I work with in clinic is fear of flying so let’s use this as an example.
Tom had a bad experience on an aeroplane where he was worked up to the point of extreme discomfort and fear after being caught in a moment of thinking that the plane he was in would crash due to turbulence. The next time Tom boarded a plane he began to sweat, his heart raced, his breathing became fast and he had the overwhelming feeling he had to get off the flight immediately. This state of discomfort was in fact a panic attack due to a rush of stress hormones being delivered to his body that he had no control over. We call this an emotional hijacking leaving the recipient with limited cognitive ability and excessive levels of adrenaline and energy for his body to utilise.
What happened here is Tom’s emotional brain (limbic system) remembered that the last time he was on a plane he felt extreme discomfort and built an association between the intense feeling of fear, discomfort and the visual image of being in an aeroplane. His Amygdala (part of limbic system) sent out signals to release stress hormones, which put Tom in a state of readiness, which we will refer to in this instance as a “panic attack”.
From this point on every time Tom now sits in an aeroplane or even contemplates boarding one he experiences that same extreme discomfort of the stress hormones entering his blood stream. The response is intense enough that Tom now avoids air travel and has lost a part of his freedom and quality of life.
Treatment for panic attack
This response is essential in life to keep us safe when faced with an actual environmental threat though in this example Tom fears something else and this is important to note. Tom doesn’t fear the flying or the plane, he fears his own physiological response that is triggered by the flying. He fears the onset of the stress chemical induced panic attack!
This great news as we can change our perceptions of what we have learnt and reprogram our brain back to how it was before the initial sensitising event of that first uncomfortable flight. We can understand that we create this fear within us and we can control it rather than it controlling us with the right therapeutic professional guidance.
As with any good therapy, teaming up with a therapist that has a deeper understanding of the workings of the limbic system (emotional brain), Neo cortex (Thinking conscious brain), the Autonomic nervous system (innervation of the organs) and trained in evidence based clinical psychotherapeutic interventions is advised in treatment of panic attack.
My clients achieve great success, as is evident in the GOOGLE REVIEWS they leave after their panic attack treatment. There is nothing quite so fulfilling as assisting someone to overcome a disorder that i’ve personally battled myself. Viewing it as a “battle” was one of the problems. We need to be mindful and accept that anxiety is a part of us and not add to our stress by convincing ourselves that there is a threat with in us. This does not mean that we are resigned to it and steps need to be taken by a therapist that has walked the walk and can talk the talk, being fully trained as a fear and anxiety specialist.
Every step you take is a moment in time, for life is but a series of moments… Seize yours!
If its time to stop being hijacked and be excited to live in the moment , please CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO BOOK AN APPOINTMENT.
Adv Dip clinical hypnotherapy – National Register
Neuro linguistic programming practitioner
Mindfulness meditation teacher
Cert 4 fatigue management
The body keeps the score – Bessel Van der kolk
Mindsight – Daniel J Siegel
Healing trauma – Peter Levine
Anxious – Joseph Ledoux
When the body says no – Gabor mate
Behave – Robert M Sapolski
Full catastrophie living – Jon Kabat-Zinn
Breaking the habit of being yourself – Joe Dispenza
Polyvagal theory in therapy – Deb Dana
Clinical Hypnotherapist, Qualified NLP Practitioner, Mindfulness Stress Reduction Teacher, and holds Certificate 4 in Fatigue Management.
I believe that we have all the resources within us that are needed to heal ourselves, although having someone that has walked the walk and undertaken the training needed to facilitate you in effecting the change is essential. Find out how you can work with me here.
BY: Scott Allerton
Hypnotherapy, Mindfulness, Overcoming Anxiety, Overcoming Fear & Phobias