Everybody gets anxious from time to time and this is perfectly normal. However, panic attacks (sometimes called anxiety attacks) are very frightening and unpleasant
They can happen very suddenly, a period of intense fear accompanied by a range of panic attack symptoms. They usually last for about 20 or 30 minutes, but can last longer.
Left untreated sufferers can go on to develop agoraphobia or social phobia.
The good news is that they can be helped really easily with hypnotherapy.
What has happened is that the minute you experience one or more of the symptoms of anxiety, your immediate reaction is to panic and as you panic so more of the symptoms are felt and the more you panic. So, a vicious cycle is set – you fear the attacks and because you fear them, you start to feel anxious, as you feel anxious, you panic.
Some people become very good at avoiding situations in which they fear they might panic. I have helped many sufferers who don’t tell family or friends what is troubling them and take on a life of making excuses. They often find themselves cutting and running when they fear an attack is imminent and this puts a tremendous strain on them and their friendships/relationships and they can even develop a commitment phobia.
For whatever reason, your subconscious mind considers you life is in danger and is reacting accordingly!
Our cavemen ancestors were not only hunters but also the hunted. We were the potential prey of many wild animals. It is a function of our brain to make all resources available to us in times of great danger and to make them available instantly.
The parts of our brains responsible for this are the amygdala and the hypothalamus. It was necessary in those times to be able to fight quite ferociously or to be able to run very fast to escape. It is called the fight or flight response. For us to be able to do this, large amounts of adrenaline are released into our bodies.
Nowadays though we do not need to run or fight, yet we have all this adrenalin surging through our bodies and we are unlikely to use it up by running or fighting. It is the unused adrenalin in our bodies which creates all the very unpleasant physical symptoms.
The symptoms of panic or anxiety attacks can be crippling.
They can include any of these:
- Increased heart rate, sometimes racing or palpitations
- Shaking visibly or shaking inside
- Choking sensations
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Nausea or abdominal discomfort or diarrhoea
- Feeling light-headed or about to faint
- Feeling detached or unreal
- Fear of going crazy/losing control
- Feelings of impending doom
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Chills or hot flushes
- Feelings of tightness/pain in the head
- Neck and shoulder pain or numbness in the face and head
- Waking in a panic
If you experience at least four of the panic attack symptoms listed means that you are most probably having a panic attack, less than four and it is more likely to be generalised anxiety. Panic attacks can happen with any of the anxiety-related disorders.
These physical panic attacks symptoms are really unpleasant but it is important to realise that no-one has ever died of these symptoms – they are just feelings.