UNDERSTANDING PANIC ATTACKS

Conselling Aylesbury for Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are not fatal you will not die although your brain is telling you that you will.

If you did stop breathing you would faint, your body’s urge to survive would kick in. Fainting would regulate your breathing. The average panic attack lasts ten minutes, the choice; stay with it, control your breathing or faint.

I will explain what your body is doing and how it is your thoughts that start the process.

What happens; an unconscious thought occurs, usually a memory of trauma, the death of someone close, an accident a fear or phobia, the conscious mind is not aware of the thought but your body certainly is and kicks in sequence of physical events.

The thought triggers a reaction in the primitive part of the brain, an almond shaped bit called the amygdala responsible for releasing arousal. The body readies itself for ‘fight or flight’, adrenalin is released. A sharp intake of breath, also generally unnoticed gets the heart racing and increases the oxygen supply to the parts of the body needed for immediate action.

More rapid breathing, a queasy feeling in the stomach, slight dizziness, a feeling of choking, your body is hyperventilating and rapid exhaling through your mouth makes matters worse as oxygen is taken out of your body too quickly with carbon monoxide.

Inhaling and exhaling through your nose will stop this process, running around the block can help get rid of the adrenalin that is coursing through your body but will also continue the need for oxygen. Distraction and deep breathing through the nose is the best way to end the attack.

When the amygdala, the primitive part of your brain is in charge, the thinking brain is suspended, you will not be able to think clearly, you may feel blind panic, unable to process thoughts, you just want to get the hell out of there!

It is common for panic attacks to be triggered by a lack of oxygen, on planes, in supermarkets, places where your control of the situation is in question you may feel trapped, helpless, the amygdala your ‘arousal switch’ turns on, everything is a threat.

I like to think of the amygdala as a primitive filing cabinet, it does not have many drop down files, one for fear, one for anger, sexual desire, danger etc. if your initial panic attack was in a supermarket, it thinks bright lights = danger therefore anywhere with bright lights = danger. You can end up avoiding places just in case and in extreme cases it can lead to agoraphobia.

Breathing is the key and recognising triggers is the way forward, the breathing technique you can learn and I hope you can follow the format below, discovering the thought and feeling that kicks it off may need some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and some work with a therapist who can gently explore the origin of your fear if it is unknown or to help you find acceptance with your loss or traumatic event.

The 7/11 method; reach for something a pillow or a sweater or use the fold of your elbow, close your eyes bring your elbow or cushion or whatever up to your closed mouth, breathe in through your nose counting 7, breathe out also through your nose counting 11. It should be a deep breath, try to feel your stomach push outwards. If 7/11 is too much at first try 3/5 and work up, remember, breathe in and out through your nose.
NOTE: PTSD is treated differently, it may include panic attacks but is different in strong real-time flashbacks are the main issue.

SLEEP DISORDERS: Sleep Apnea; where the body momentarily stops breathing can also start the body’s primitive need to increase oxygen intake, please do consult your GP if you snore, are overweight, constantly tired and suffering panic attacks.

TESTIMONIALS:

It took me along time to bite the bullet and seek help for my spiralling anxiety issues, every day was becoming a constant battle against anxiety and panic attacks, after finding Ros through her website I was pleasantly surprised to find that not all counsellor’s have tweed jackets and sit behind a clip board. Ros made me feel comfortable the moment I met her, she has a great understating of anxiety, panic and all the issues surrounding this, the journey wasn’t easy and many tears and deep emotions were exposed in our weekly sessions, but she helped me to see things in another light and give me hope for a brighter future. Ros is very patient, understanding, has a great sense of humour, is down to earth and very easy to talk to. I would recommend Ros to anyone who needs a little help to get back on track in life. DS Aylesbury

I was suffering with frequent panic attack episodes which was causing ill health and my ill health was also the cause of the panic attacks, I was stuck in a vicious circle and so I decided to see Ros. During our sessions (3) we went through various exercises to deal with my anxieties all of which have given me the tools to deal with my issues and enable me to move on with my life in a positive manner. Ros was a great listener and always helped to put a positive spin on things. PR Thame.

 

If you are seeking counselling for panic attacks in Aylesbury – please contact me Ros to make an initial appointment on 07900 580300.