Last week, we discussed the diagnosis of panic attacks and the underlying cause of this feeling of “fight or flight.”
To those patients I have seen with this disorder, it is very real to them and many feel as though they had no control.
However, as we pointed out previously, this is just an exaggerated reaction to a normal feeling of anxiety. For whatever reason, (sometimes nothing) it spreads quickly like gasoline poured onto a grass fire, unless the person can recognize at the first onset -- “this is nothing more than a fear reaction to my anxiety and I can control it or let it run full blown like in the past."
Again, one of the first signs of a panic attack is a feeling of shortness of breath -- “I have to take a deep breath.”
No, you don’t! Recognize that this is another one of “my attacks” and “I am going to be in control this time.”
The answer is very simple. Immediately sit down comfortably and rest your head, if you can. Stretch out and relax. Lay your hands gently on your stomach to feel every breath. Lay your head back and concentrate on each and every breath.
Feel your breathing with your hands and concentrate on each breath, slowly, in and out, slowly, in and out.
When you do this, the “right or flight” response is completely interrupted and there is no adrenaline rush and thus a “no fight or flight” response, no rush of blood to the muscles, “getting ready for the fight or flight."
When you breathe slowly, the heart naturally slows. You feel each breath with your hands. You start to feel you are in control now.
It sounds very simple, but this abdominal breathing, by counting each breath to yourself, helps the breathing get slower and slower, back to about five or six times per minute rather than 15. The pulse rate slows as well.
Try it. IT works. You can go to a psychologist if you think you need to. Under no circumstances, no Xanax. Why not? Because it is very addicting and also very short acting, so you have to take more and more with no end in sight.
Granted, some who read this may have to go to the E.R. because they are afraid they are having a heart attack or something. It’s OK to be reassured, but then deal with it.
Don’t let panic attacks run your life. Do your abdominal breathing technique. It works. Try it.