Help with Panic Attacks
21st October, 2010
Written by: Garry Webster, Clinical Hypnotherapist MCNHC
If you have ever experienced sudden panic, dizziness, difficulty in breathing, a feeling of spinning, and a pounding heart - particularly when you have been worried or stressed a lot, you may have had an anxiety or more commonly called panic attack. Sufferers often feel like they have lost control of themselves, in fact most sufferers think that they have had a heart attack. These attacks can last up to 30 minutes, and can be terrifying, the cause of the attacks is not necessarily obvious and this can lead to more confusion.
The human body and mind is a remarkable thing, probably the most adaptable and intelligent creatures on the planet. But when you look into the panic attacks in a logical and scientific manner then things are not how they seem. Many many years ago when we were literally hunter/gatherers we often had to kill our food ‘face to face’. Neanderthal man would probably have worked as a team to hunt and kill large and more often than not dangerous animals and of course, the hunter could have easily become the hunted. In short we were made to fight things that represented danger, or run away form the danger- evolution had given us these 2 options as the best way to live our lives.
But life today is not all about hunting to kill for dinner, life today is more about stress at being late for work because were stuck in a traffic jam, or anxiety because the computer is working too slow and you cant get that urgent piece of work done. Our society has evolved so much in the last one or two hundred years that the way we live has changed so dramatically our bodies- evolutionary wise, just havent kept up. So what does this mean for us as creatures still designed (at least in part) to hunt and kill on a daily basis. Well, all we can do when faced with the modern day stresses as opposed to what worried our ancestors is use our minds to learn more about ourselves. This power was not available to those many years ago, they thought god or the devil was all powerful and life was just something that happened to us, of which we could not change.
When we encounter a stressful situation today –the remarkable thing is that we respond just as we would have done perhaps thousands of years ago. Our minds can contemplate the vastness of space and the trillions of stars, galaxies and light years involved – but some part of us doesn’t know the difference between us being attacked by a sabre toothed tiger or having to get that report done by next Friday or lose your job. Adrenaline, cortisol and other hormones are released into the body in either situation- in the case of the tiger attacking evading would be the best option, so our muscles would use the released chemicals and increased heart rate to power the muscles to safety. In the case of the report needing finishing the cortisol is not used up by exercise, so it stays in the blood stream for longer – in repeated cases this can eventually lead to fatigue, burn out or exhaustion can occur. The mental implications can be increased anxiety, sometimes depression or compounding of other problems.
We simply are not designed to experience pressures like we do today. We need to catch up with our evolution, but until we do it is only the power of the mind, used correctly that can help us control these situations. As a clinical hypnotherapist I have helped many people to learn to distinguish between what really happens in our bodies and what we perceive as happening. We need to learn exercises that can help keep us calm, if possible we need to manage our time more effectively and wherever possible remove ourselves from any unnecessary situations. I have also found that there can be a sense of being unfulfilled in life. The subconscious mind can help you to see just what you need to lead a happier life, and only hypnosis can access this part of you which though it can have its faults, can be the best friend you never knew you had.
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