Right ho, my fellow sufferers,
let us get down to the proverbial brass tacks about this
disease . For those of you that have been suffering from
Panic for a while and are aware of your condition , skip
this sections. Rookies, however may read on.
You had your first attack and now you are convinced that
death is around the corner. Not so !!! As terrifying and
lonely an experience as a Panic attack is, know body has
ever died from it. Since it is unlikely that you will believe
me at this point (nobody ever does) you must educate yourselves
Remember that knowledge about the disease is one of your
prime weapons against it. It is also important that you
act fast after your first couple of attacks, for there is
a good chance of becoming agoraphobic if one fails to confront
the condition right away. It happened to me, and apart from
being terrifying it is also a rather boring condition .
Right, the next step is to go see a good shrink. If you
can't afford one, a doctor will do. Whether you choose to
treat this disease medically or not, a visit to the medics
will at least serve to reassure you that you are indeed
physically fit to live.
the years , I have developed quite a repertoire
of techniques that have me helped cope with PD.
In the hopes that some of these might work for
you, I have listed them underneath., I am pretty
certain that most of these have not shown up in
print before. Should anyone have other unconventional
tips that they would like to share please, feel
free to get in touch
|- when a panic attack
hits, divert your mind. Easier said then done,
I know, but one trick is to cause yourself some
pain, e.g. fingernail dug into arm. Please keep
it within limits: no need to mutilate yourself.
-holding your breath prevents hyperventilation.
-keep painting a mental picture of a time before
you had panic attacks. Make it a pleasant one
and use it to realize that your present state
will not last forever.
summon up courage. Panic attacks are instinctive
fears of death that have run amok. Reverse the
situation by trying to become defiant in the face
of death. By this, I do not mean running into
traffic or anything as silly as bungeeing with
too loose a cord. Instead, a 'heroic' mantra can
do the trick; the kitschier, the better. "It's
a good day to die", is my favorite one.
- whenever you encounter a panic situation, one
that you have become afraid off, return to it
as soon as you can. Even if it means another panic
attack ( you will find, that the more of these
you get, the easier they become) Example: I was
doing a lecture in front of 40 undergrads when
a PA came suddenly. I left the room, went into
the washroom and dowsed my head in cold water
(similar to the pain hint above). It took every
ounce of strength that I had to return a few moments
later. Had I not, I would never have taught again.
-make good excuses: panic attacks often hit when
you feel that there is no way out of the situation
without loosing face. If you have already prepared
an excuse in your mind beforehand, the fear abides
somewhat. Example: before you begin a discussion,
mention that you will have to leave on the spur
of a moment since you are waiting for an important
call. If your anxiety gets too a point where you
have to head out, pretend that your pager is going
off, look at it and make a quick exit. Hopefully
it won't come to that, for knowing that you can
leave without fear of embarrassment usually lessens
the chance of a panic attack.
-tell people of that you are having a panic attack.
They might feel awkward, but who cares? Most of
the time the people around me, even strangers
, understood. After all, most everyone has experienced
something similar at one time in their life.
- when in a cycle of panic attacks, laughter is
a great medicine. When you laugh, it is impossible
to feel anxious. With this in mind keep a well
stocked library of material that has proven to
put a grin on your face. ( Here I put in a plug
for Tom Sharpe, Stephen Fry and PG Woodhouse,
three very funny English writers).
-Have sex: no Panic during orgasm.
- get a calm dog. It might sound
a bit silly, but a dog offers a lot of distraction
when you need it. Dogs also force you to get out
of the house, thus reducing the chance that your
panic attacks turn to agoraphobia. Finally, the
execise they need also benefits you: tiring yourself
out without overexerting yourself reduces the
chance of a Panic attack.
advice offered by visitors
other, less conventional tips, offered by visitors
to this site. If you would like to join the fray,
close off one nostril and breath in slowly and
exhale to a count of 4
jump in place
- Take a warm relaxing bubble bath, it helps me
- Read something, anything whether it be a book,
- If you feel you can, go for a walk, somewhere
quiet (I walk down to the duck pond nearby)
- you're tired during the panic attack, put on
some music that makes you happy, climb into bed
under the duvet and close your eyes
-"I have found that repetitious activities
like needlework (crochet, needlepoint, knitting,
etc.) or a videogame is a good fix. The necessity
of using both hands and keeping count leaves less
gray matter to STRESS OUT. "
from a Psychologist (name withheld
...just in case):
"I've got an unconventional (to say the least)
approach, which I have seen
stop a panic attack dead in its tracks in my office.
Go to www.emofree.com
to take a look at it. It is hokey, it is kitschy,
calling it "experimental"
overstates the evidence supporting it--but the
damn thing often works.
Quickest, easiest thing I've come across for managing
panic, and it works
with most people. The manual for the technique
can be downloaded for free."
I've looked at your website with
great interest. I'm a clinical psychologist in
London Ontario, and I specialize in working with
people with anxiety and panic disorders, as well
as stress in general, and depression.
By far the most valuable tool for managing panic
is retraining your body to breathe diaphragmatically/abdominally
all the time (not just when you start to feel
Chest breathing (also called "stress pattern
breathing") is what 70% of adults do, but
all infants and animals are diaphragmatic breathers.
When a chest breather is under stress, respiration
can become so rapid and shallow that too much
Carbon Dioxide is expelled, upsetting the O2/CO2
balance in the brain. THIS is what causes many
if not most of the unpleasant symptoms of a panic
attack, such as:
- dizziness and light headedness
- trembling and shaking
- feeling detached from your body or "spaced
- blurred vision
- poor concentration
- confused thinking
- feeling breathless, or "smothered"
- rapid heart rate (your heart is working extremely
hard because chest breathing is 3 times less efficient
than diaphragmatic breathing, in terms of amount
of blood oxygenated per minute).
- chest pain (because chest wall muscles are overworked)
All these symptoms, and others, are extremely
scary if you don't know why they are happening.
I have found, without being able to do actual
research - very difficult to have time to do when
you're in private practice - that at least 70%
of the panic symptoms disappear once the patient
has learned to become very mindful of the location
of the breath, to recondition their respiratory
muscles into a natural and automatic diaphragmatic
pattern of breathing, and to make frequent "breathing
checks" during the day - just applying mindful
awareness of where the "centre of gravity"
of the breath is and lowering it into the belly
whenever chest breathing is observed.
In my experience, most health professionals are
totally ignorant of the significance of chest
and belly breathing patterns in the creation of
different emotional states. This includes respirologists
and cardiologists, not to mention family doctors.
Everyone thinks they understand breathing because
they have done it all their lives without thinking
Taking a "deep breath" is counterproductive,
if you are taking that breath into the upper chest.
It is "low breathing" that makes the
difference. Diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing
is known to generate the parasympathetic nervous
system's Relaxation Response.
Most people will automatically shift into belly
breathing when they are lying on their backs.
Try this for yourself - lie on your back for about
10 minutes. Don't try to breathe in any particular
way but just passively observe your breath as
it happens. Put your hand on your belly just above
the navel and notice how it moves up and down
with the in and out breaths - and see how much
more relaxed you feel. This is not just because
you are lying down. Belly breathing creates the
physiological conditions for calmness, and subjective
feelings of being grounded and relaxed.
Learning to breathe abdominally when you are sitting
or standing is more difficult and feels unnatural
to begin with. However learning to produce the
belly breath is just the first step. More difficult
is to remember to breathe abdominally over time.
However, it is the mindfulness of the breath that
becomes your key ally in maintaining a balanced
and calm emotional state.
Here is a very conventional tip which works every
time: Just let the panic come! Embrace it. Welcome
it in. Do not fight it. Do not cringe from it.
Allow it to come. Keep a calm and composed attitude
through the attack. Do not fuel your symptoms
with "what if" thinking (e.g. what if
I have a heart attack, what if it never stops".
If you do not fight it, it will pass very quickly.
Once you successfully stop a panic attack, they
lose their importance and will stop altogether
very hot baths by candle light,
relaxation tapes both instructional / hypnotic,
relaxation music (sheherazade is great),
take deep breaths, exhaling count down from 10,
smile when you are in a bad situation -- enjoy
knowing that you do have control over the attack,
xanax and alcohol (sambuca works well) can stop
an attack in its tracks. On bad flights I would
take 1/2 a dramamine, 10mg xanax, a swallow of
sambuca -- you sleep through the whole thing.
I no longer need to take any of these...
Ylang Ylang Aromatherapy works
a treat... Having suffered a terrible PA, my fiancee
lit an oil burner with Ylang Ylang in it, and
I was almost instantly brought back to reality.
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