I can remember my first panic attack as though it was yesterday, on my knees gasping for breath and clinging to the bedpost. My heart felt as though it was pounding outside of my body.
I was frozen to the spot, my legs would not work, each time I was helped to my feet I crumpled to my knees again.
What was happening?
Was I having a heart attack?
How would I get through it?
The more I gasped the worse it got, my head was clammy and more than anything I was afraid!
Looking back I could not tell you what one thing created such a huge reaction, I only know for sure at the time I could see no end to it.
So what is a panic attack?
I looked it up and this is what I found:
A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and includes at least four of the following symptoms:
• Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
• Trembling or shaking
• Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
• Feelings of choking
• Chest pain or discomfort
• Nausea or abdominal distress
• Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint
• Chills or heat sensations
• Paresthesia (numbness or tingling sensations)
• Derealisation (feelings of unreality) or depersonalisation (being detached from oneself)
• Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
• Fear of dying
Although anxiety is often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as a racing heart or knots in your stomach, what differentiates a panic attack from other anxiety symptoms is the intensity and duration of the symptoms. Panic attacks typically reach their peak level of intensity in 10 minutes or less and then begin to subside. Due to the intensity of the symptoms and their tendency to mimic those of many serious illnesses, many people are convinced they have a life-threatening issue and call or visit A&E.
Panic attacks can occur unexpectedly during a calm state or in an anxious state.
Per the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)
Well, that all made sense to me.
I had more than 4 of those symptoms, it came on unexpectedly and I was convinced I was seriously ill.
It seemed to last forever and it was only with the help of several members of my family each trying to calm and settle me I came through it.
But the fear had set in, the anxiety that it would happen again.
Would I be on my own with no one to help me through?
Next time would I stop breathing entirely?
Would I have a Heart Attack?
Could I have a Stroke?
Just a few of the questions which turned over and over in my mind.
So now I had a fear of a fear.
A fear of an event which may never happen again.
A sickly feeling in the pit of my stomach and quickening of my heart beat every time I thought about it.
It was fixed in my mind that I could have a panic attack and there was no way anything could change that view.
So what changed?
What stopped me being paralysed with fear?
What stopped me avoiding situations which could bring on the panic?
Why do I not feel that fear now?
At the height of that Panic Attack I thought it would not stop, my family rubbed my back and counted my breaths, encouraged me to breath in time with them, think about filling and emptying my lungs, deeply breathing in and out.
I got through the attack with their help and made changes with the help of my training.
Research has shown that hypnotherapy can help relieve stress, fear, and anxiety. It can also be used to help in coping with the symptoms of panic disorder – Panic attacks.
During hypnosis, a person with panic disorder may be guided to bring attention to coping with the specific symptoms of their attack. To think of each symptom in turn and subconsciously develop a strategy to ease each in turn. Be guided to concentrate on their breathing, making it slower and deeper.
Using calming words of encouragement, like “You feel safe despite your discomfort” or “You are in control of your anxiety” the hypnotherapist will suggest new reactions to old behaviours.
With all hypnosis being self hypnosis a therapist cannot make anyone do what they do not want to, they can guide and help their clients to make positive life changes, change fixed learned behaviours and habits and over come their fears.