Why do I get Panic Attacks? What is Anxiety?
Panic attacks can happen to absolutely anyone. It isn’t obvious from the outside! But it happens to surgeons, footballers, famous actors, teachers, call centre workers, lawyers. There’s no group in society which isn’t affected.
At Stockport Hypnotherapy we’ll help you to understand the cause of your own panic attacks. And more importantly we’ll show you how to stop them. Panic and anxiety are just the way your body responds when you feel there’s a threat. It’s meant only to happen when we are faced with physical danger. Your body creates adrenalin to help you cope with the threat you face. This means your body is ready to run away, or to fight.
But the body reacts with panic and anxiety when we sense other problemss too. These are usually nothing to do with physical danger and are more likely to be about emotions. You feel threatened when you worry about work, relationships, health or money. Or because you have an irrational fear (a phobia) of something like flying, confined spaces, orneedles.
We ALL feel anxiety and panic
There are good reasons why we feel anxiety and fear. And fear – sometimes – can be a useful thing. The feeling of fear and panic tells you there seems to be a risk. This means that you need to act.
If you don’t suffer with anxiety, then it’s just the way that the body reacts to fear and real threats. When there really is danger, adrenalin gives you an edge. A bit extra. Adrenalin is released when you panic or feel anxious. It helps you run faster and fight more aggressively.
Panic and Anxiety USED to be very good for you. 60,000 years ago!
It’s an evolutionary thing. Your predecessors survived because they ran from the things which threatened them. Or they fought them. The threat might’ve been a falling tree, a flood, or a wild animal. If they fought with someone from a different tribe who wanted their food, they were more likely to survive. And because they survived, they reproduced and therefore passed on their genes. This explains why the trait still exists. If they hadn’t felt fear and therefore been given that “edge” that adrenalin gives, they probably didn’t survive. They didn’t pass on their genes. So, the right amount of fear and anxiety can help you to escape physical danger. There aren’t many people who get through life without feeling anxiety at some point.
The right amount of fear and anxiety can even help you….
Most people don’t get through life without some anxiety or panic. And a little bit of anxiety is still good for us. Without it, you’d get ourselves into dangerous situations, because you wouldn’t realise the risks. You might dive from a height into water without checking if it was shallow or if there were rocks. Or you leave all your doors open when you go out because you didn’t think about someone breaking in. Or you don’t revise for an exam, because you don’t think about failing. You need to be aware that your actions have consequences, and this means that you need to think ahead.
…but being TOO aware of risk can easily become a habit
It’s easy to get into the habit of ALWAYS being aware of potential danger, and of the possibility of things going wrong. That can then leads us to over think and over analyze, believing that this will prevent problems from happening and keep us secure. It’s very tempting to go beyond the right level of anxiety. This level actually helps to keep you safe. But it’s tempting to just think about things a bit more. Then a bit more again. Before you know it, you’ve reached the stage where it stops you from functioning well – or even at all.
Panic, anxiety and stress – it’s all adrenalin
Anxiety – and sometimes panic – are what happen when your body senses threat, fear and danger. This is known as the “fight or flight response”. For some people, there are very noticeable physical effects. For others, there are few or no physical symptoms, but your thoughts race. You feel dread that something bad will happen. It feels like the thoughts are unbearable.
When you are afraid, your body releases adrenalin. It does this to put you in the best possible position to survive the “threat”. Adrenalin makes everything go faster – your heart, your breathing. It can also, unfortunately, make your thoughts race round and round.
What is Adrenalin for?
The job of adrenalin is to make the body more responsive. This means you’ll be quicker at running away from the “threat” (“flight”). Or you’ll aggressively deal with it (“fight”). Other physical changes happen too. You become more aware of everything around you. Your senses are sharpened, so that you respond more to noise or to what you see. Your muscles become tens. This is because the heart is pumping your blood around more quickly, providing oxygen to the muscles. So you might feel light headed or dizzy. You might feel sick or have stomach ache or need the loo. This is because you’ll be lighter, and move around more easily with an empty stomach and bladder. Your body believes this will help you.
You may not get any very noticeable physical signs – for some people, there is a sense of fear and dread and worry, but no physical changes.
Anxiety Attacks and Panic Attacks are hardly ever about physical threat
Most modern day anxiety and stress has nothing to do with physical threat. However, unfortunately your body responds in the same way to troubling thoughts and worries as it does to physical danger. Anxiety and fear may help you to survive physical threats. But most modern day stress is about other threats. It’s normally financial, emotional, social, about your job, your relationship or your health. The adrenalin produced when you are stressed affects the brain, too, making your thoughts race, round and round.
You feel the urge to just “think things through”, to get things straight in your head. You try to work out how busy you’re going to be tomorrow and how you’ll tackle things. You wonder what that conversation you just had meant. The thoughts sometimes seem to go faster and faster. It niggles you and you can’t seem to stop thinking about it. But you never seem to resolve it.
Thinking things through never works
Thinking things through when you are anxious doesn’t seem to produce any positive result. Remember that the brain interprets these uncomfortable worrying thoughts as a threat. So it produces adrenalin to “help” you. But panic, anxiety and stress simply makes life less pleasant, sometimes significantly so. It makes relationships difficult, stops you concentrating at work, affects your health and stops you from enjoying life.
Panic Attacks and Anxiety can lead to other problems
Do you worry at night? Most anxiety suffers do. This leads to insomnia. IBS is very common in people suffering with stress and anxiety. People with anxiety take more time off work. Then they worry about doing this!
Fertility can be affected, or you may develop habits which seem to help you to deal with the feelings. You may overeat, drink too much generally, or binge drink Perhaps you bite your nails or pick your skin to help distract your feelings of anxiety. These things in turn are added to the list of things you worry about.
Anxiety Attacks and Panic Attacks are often just a bad habit.
We are very good at developing habits. Think of brushing your teeth, tying your laces, or even walking up or down stairs. You don’t really need to pay attention. It’s as if you’re on autopilot. But the first time you did these things, chances are you really needed to concentrate.
But your brain is lazy – it likes to take a short cut. It doesn’t want to have to re-invent the wheel every morning. So when we’ve done something before, the brain remembers what we did the last time. This is so it doesn’t have to work out what to do all over again. Sometimes this can be helpful. It stops using so much energy to think about every day things. You just do them automatically, like remembering the way to your best friend’s house.
Your brain is very good at remembering the feeling of anxiety
But sadly the brain easily remembers that we have been anxious or had a panic attack in a certain situation before. It assumes that producing adrenalin will “help” you when that situation (or something similar) happens again. The brain makes a strong association between a certain type of situation and having a panic attack. Unless you’re feeling very relaxed and confident when you’re in that situation again, the brain may assume that adrenalin is just what you need!
When you have a panic attack the brain is trying to help you!
The brain recognises the type of situation that you’re in as being threatening. It must be, the brain tells you, because you “needed” adrenalin when you were in the same situation before. It keeps happening. So you start automatically associating anxiety with flying, dentists, school, meetings, public speaking, driving. Or whatever it is that makes you anxious! SO you can develop a phobia. This means that anxiety is not helping you at all.
Thinking things through is itself a habit – which triggers anxiety
You may generally feel anxious in all sorts of situations. Because whenever a troubling thought or worry occurs, you feel that you just need to think it through, to get it straight. But it’s just a habit. You do it because you always do it! It’s a habit to think it through, whether it actually helps or not. And it usually doesn’t.
Instead, the brain interprets these worrying thoughts as “threats” and gives you adrenalin to help you cope. Which it doesn’t
Your brain also wants to save you the effort of working out how you feel. So it remembers how you felt last time you tried to think things through. Because it remembers you felt anxious, it assumes you need that shot of adrenalin again. However, you can’t run away from thoughts, so the only function of the adrenalin is to make your thoughts race. This triggers further anxiety, in a vicious circle.
The physical symptoms of Panic Attacks, Anxiety Attacks, Stress, and Anxiety
When you have a panic attack of anxiety attack, you may feel all or some of these physical symptoms. You may find that your state of mind is severely affected. You might feel overwhelmed by extreme fear, uncertainty and worry. They’re not listed in any particular order
palpitations or a racing heart
dizziness or lightheadedness
shortness of breath
stomach “flipping over”
needing the loo
aching muscles, particular the neck, shoulders and back
changes in appetite
inability to swallow
All or any of these symptoms can be present when you are generally feeling stressed and anxious. Symptoms are often more severe when you have a panic attack or anxiety attack.
The short term effects of anxiety can also include feeling exhausted, headaches and migraines, difficulties sleeping, increased consumption of alcohol, cigarettes and proscribed drugs. Longer term problems include an increased propensity to heart problems, cancers and strokes due to suppression of the immune system. Sleeping patterns and fertility are often affected.
Illness caused by Anxiety
Restless Leg Syndrome, tinnitus and IBS are made much worse by stress. Around half of IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome – cases are thought to be caused by stress. The vast majority of sufferers of IBS say their symptoms get worse when they’re stressed.
Remember that the physical changes you experience are happening to help you survive the “threat”. But you don’t run fast or fight well on a full stomach. So when the body senses that you need to run or fight, one of things it think will help you survive is emptying your stomach. In severe cases you might even actually be sick or have to run to the toilet. Or it may just feel like “butterflies”. But it’s all part of the body’s response to what it feels is a threat. Your body is trying to ensure your survival by giving you adrenalin to help you run and fight.
The symptoms of Panic Attacks can make you feel you are ill or even dying
Any or all of the symptoms of anxiety may be experienced during a panic attack. Some sufferers also interpret these very unpleasant sensations as being a sign of serious physical problems. You might think you can’t breathe or are having a heart attack. Or that you’re choking or can’t breathe. This in turn worsens the anxiety. That’s because these thoughts are also frightening so the body produces even more adrenalin to try and help! So it becomes a downwards spiral.
How can Hypnotherapy help Panic Attacks?
The symptoms of panic attacks and anxiety attacks are improved significantly by hypnosis and relaxation. In hypnosis you will imagine situations which made you panic in the past. At the same time you’ll practise relaxation and breathing techniques.
You feel panic and anxiety because you subconsciously associate certain things, situations or people with feelings of anxiety. With hypnosis you unmake that association between the trigger and the panic and make a new one. Your life is much easier when you feel calm and in control. During hypnotherapy you will also imagine responding in new and different ways to situations which have previously troubled you. In this way you’ll learn to overcome anxiety. You will be encouraged to practice new, positive ways of thinking using self hypnosis in order to combat panic, stress and anxiety.
Panic Attacks and Anxiety Attacks – Treatment
Hypnotherapy, hypnosis and relaxation techniques are straightforward, common sense ways of overcoming anxiety. They are the most effective and powerful anxiety treatment there is. Put simply, hypnosis allows you to relax and let go. Not of what’s important – it doesn’t stop you from thinking and planning! But it does stop you from over-thinking, planning obsessively, over-analyzing things. Especially when you can’t control, predict, or change those things anyway!
Remember – worrying doesn’t actually change anything! The things you fear aren’t prevented because you worry about them. And the things you hope for aren’t more likely to happen because you worry about them not happening!
So it makes sense to learn to let go of worrying. Once you have taken whatever practical steps you can about your worries, then hypnotherapy allows your mind to let go of further thoughts. First you learn to relax physically – this prevents the body from producing adrenalin. Then your thoughts will slow down. Over time, you will be able to think more clearly and realistically about the things which worry you.
How Relaxation and Hypnosis help Stress, Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Learning techniques for stress management, whilst in hypnosis, significantly lessens both short and long term risks associated with stress and anxiety. You’ll learn to let go, and get away from the vicious circle of anxious thoughts. You’ll forget the habit of feeling anxious in certain situations, at certain times or with certain people.
Anti-depressants, Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Modern antidepressants are very effective for anxiety. These include SSRIs such as Prozac (Fluoxetine) and Citalopram (Cipramil). Although these medications are commonly known as anti-depressants, they are frequently used as an anxiety treatment for people who don’t have depression (as well as in those who do). Click here for more information about medication to help anxiety.
If you feel completely overwhelmed by your anxiety, medication can give you a kick start to get over the worst of your symptoms. This means you’ll get the maximum effect of hypnosis, relaxation techniques and CBT.
Panic Attack Treatment
The fully registered and insured hypnotherapists at this Stockport hypnotherapy clinic have 45 years of experience in treating panic and anxiety, insomnia, and stress related illness. For panic attack treatment in Stockport to help you make the changes you want in your life, for insomnia,claustrophobia and other phobias, confidence and self esteem, nail biting and other bad habits, call us. To find out more about weight loss, jealousy, insecurity and other emotional problems, or for any other issue, please get in touch.
Check out any of the independent websites which list and review hypnotherapists (for example www.freeindex.co.uk – Google also displays reviews) and you will see the excellent results which the Stockport Hypnotherapy team have achieved. Their record in treating anxiety, insomnia and phobia is second to none.
For further information about hypnosis in Stockport, for anxiety and panic, work related stress, or any other problem, please call 07779 575 816 for a free, no obligation chat, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s all confidential.
Hypnosis and hypnotherapy in Didsbury, Manchester. Convenient for Stockport and the Heatons, Chorlton, Gatley, Cheadle, Altrincham and all areas of south Manchester.