Has your anxiety ever given you a panic attack?
It’s surprising how hidden you can keep anxiety and panic attacks. You could be suffering terribly and yet people wouldn’t know. This is usually because you will have developed a strategy to avoid panic attacks or hide your anxiety. Quite often suffering in silence leads to depression. And this happens to 1 in 4 people.
You might have gradually stopped going places ‘just in case’ you have a panic attack. You might avoid seeing certain people because they don’t know about your anxiety. You might feel isolated because you’re ‘not normal’. And before you know it you are a prisoner to your anxiety and your life is on hold. And the likelihood is that it won’t go away on it’s own.
Or you might have a job that means you have to give presentations and each time it fills you with dread and affects your sleep in the time running up to it and on the day you just hope to god that you don’t have a panic attack.
Or you might actually be on sick leave from work due to your anxiety…..
A panic attack is your unconscious trying to protect you from perceived risk
Panic attacks happen when the brain thinks a situation is of risk to you and it triggers adrenaline in your body which makes your heart beast faster and your muscles tense. You gasp for more breath and your body makes extra energy and diverts blood to your muscles. This means you might go pale, light headed or shake.
The reason all this happens is built in from caveman days where your body sees a risk , such as a bear (!) and goes into ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ mode. You can either stay and fight the bear or run! The brain doesn’t know the difference between a real risk and what it feels is a risk, so it could just as easily be a work presentation as a bear.
The reason you have anxiety or panic attacks is because at some time your brain has perceived a situation as a risk and taken a ‘picture’ of that and stored it. When a similar situation occurs (or what the brain perceives to be similar) it recalls the picture and creates the same anxiety.
During the heightened anxious state, your digestive system shuts down (because you wouldn’t be eating if you were fighting or flighting) so you might feel sick or have a dry mouth. Your senses go into overdrive so everything seems louder and more frightening which makes it difficult to think straight.
The physical symptoms of a panic attack
With all this going on it’s no wonder you might feel any number of these physical symptoms:
- Rapid breathing or breathlessness
- Chest pains
- Hot or cold flushes
Panic attacks are highly unpleasant and you might live in the fear of one happening to you at any time. Your first one can be a real shock. Quite often after a panic attack you will feel exhausted.
There can be feelings of guilt and shame for anxiety sufferers because you may feel like you are a concern to those around you. It can be hard to admit you have panic attacks and you might often find yourself saying no to social events. This isn’t your fault because fear is keeping you trapped.
Because a panic attack can happen at any time in any place, it’s surprising how many people avoid going out very much at all. The thought of being trapped during a panic attack can be terrifying. You might worry about the embarrassment of having a panic attack in public.
So what CAN you do if you suffer from panic attacks?
Practising breathing techniques can really help your anxiety. During a panic attack you will breath high and fast. The more you practice breathing techniques, the more used to breathing in a calm way your body will be.
Understand that anxiety is not a way of life for you. There are techniques you can use to ease and control it such as this very simple one I share in this video
You can see your doctor and you might be given some counceling or CBT. Now this may well work for some people but what counselling and CBT do is get you to talk about panic attacks repeatedly. What that does is help your brain use that neural pathway (like rewatching a movie or advert time and time again) so you are reminding it how to do a panic attack!
Hypnotherapy is the easiest, simplest way to stop having panic attacks. It should take no more than 2 sessions to change your life. Get back your freedom, your confidence and your social life!