Out of Control with Panic Attacks?
Judy Byington, MSW, LCSW, ret,
Author, Twenty-Two Faces:
Inside the Extraordinary Life of Jenny Hill
and Her Twenty-Two Multiple Personalities
Panic Attacks can be uncomfortable, even terrifying. Attempting to regain control of your mind and body may last only a few moments while anticipating the next attack can be much more disconcerting and result in a chronic state of anxiety. If you are distracted by this constant fear it can become disabling, affect your ability to focus and prevent you from enjoying life.
People experiencing Panic Attacks are under constant stress that may result in stiff joints and a lack of oxygen to the brain (hyper vigilance). Because of the very nature of Panic Attacks, sufferers must often kick-start their own program of mind and body responses.
You are panicked, therefore you need to relax. The nervous system shuts down responses to danger by releasing chemicals that induce the muscles to relax and the heart to slow down, allowing lungs to replenish the air lost during the attack by taking deep breaths.
Ways to do this include:
1. Deep breathing, inhaling and exhaling to completely inflate and deflate your chest.
2. Consciously relax your muscles starting with the head. Identify the parts of you that are tense and then let that part “go.” Your face may droop and your shoulders may sag, but you will begin to relax.
3. The fight or flight mode of your Panic Attack depletes energy and your body needs to be replenished. Eat nourishing food. Drink lots of water.
The last and most important step is to get yourself into therapy where you can search for the root cause of the nervousness. You likely have experienced some type of trauma in your past that needs to be addressed. Not all therapists, no matter their degree, are trained in trauma treatment. Search for one who is not only empathetic and caring, but has the experience of dealing with nervous disorders. Another consideration is Neurofeedback therapy, a relatively new treatment that teaches you how to train your mind to gain back control over your life.