We all think we know what it is to experience anxiety and panic and for most of us, this is just something that may occur in a difficult situation and then gets forgotten. However for around 5% of our population it is not just a passing phase but something that the sufferer lives and breathes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with little if any respite.
When it is first experienced it is not unusual for the sufferer to firmly believe that they have had a heart attack or stroke or that there is something radically wrong with them. This first experience is often followed by repeat visits to the doctor and a variety of hospital tests. For some it is very hard to accept that it is ‘just’ a panic attack.
The experience of having a panic attack can leave the sufferer completely drained, lacking in energy, confidence and motivation with an increasing fear factor on each occurrence that it will reoccur only next time it will be worse and in public and others will think they are mad. The sufferer may well feel that they have no control over themselves or their lives.
The panic attack is anxiety that brings with it a variety of physical symptoms and negative thoughts. The experience feels as though it will last forever but usually it is only for a couple of minutes. Each attack strengthens the fear or reoccurrence until finally, the fear of the experience takes over and the constant fear is worse than the actual experience.
The initial attack could be just as easily triggered by a major traumatic event as by something quite commonplace. The initial attack may not even occur at that time but several weeks/months/years later when it might come to life at such a time when you would not consciously even think to connect it with the initial sensitising event.
When the attacks take hold the way forward for most people would be doctors, prescription, pills. That is one route that you can take which will in most cases alleviate the symptoms, but what happens if the doctor decides it is not in your best interest to continue taking these pills? At a guess I would say that in most cases, the symptoms begin to return. Now what?
I would say, find a hypnotherapist. Someone who is qualified, has practised for many years and has had experience working with other anxious people. Talk to them on the phone before hand and make sure you feel comfortable with them. Some hypnotherapists will offer free consultations, others not. I personally don’t. I feel that everyone has a busy life and to expect someone to turn up for 15 or 20 minutes for a chat that is just as easily completed on the phone in much less time is far better.
Just as each client is unique so too are hypnotherapists and we will all have our own way of working although the basic techniques will be the same.
The role of the hypnotherapist will be to help you regain your confidence, take control of yourself physiologically and mentally. The Hypnotherapist may suggest regressing you to the initial sensitising event and sometimes this is an excellent way to go but please note if you are not happy with the idea, in most cases it is not absolutely necessary if you do not wish it. However, I do believe that if the procedure is explained to you properly you will understand the benefits of this process.
Meanwhile if you are currently experiencing panic attacks/anxiety, you may find the following tips useful:
- Affirm to yourself that you are calm and confident and that you can handle this experience (even though on a conscious level you may think otherwise)
- If you are in a position to do so, close your eyes and think back to a time when you were calm and relaxed
- Take conscious control of your breathing and exhale to the count of ten at the same time instructing yourself to relax.
- And most importantly, never ever tell yourself that you are NOT going to have a particular experience. This is like the proverbial red rag to a bull.