Stress, Anxiety and Panic Attacks
What is a Panic Attack?
We all experiences stress and anxiety sometimes, it is part of life and learning to manage it is the key.
When we are stressed, anxious and under pressure our brain triggers the release of the stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. These are important and useful chemicals but in excess they can give us unpleasant symptoms, such as:
- Rapid breathing
- Indigestion or nausea
These physical symptoms are the FIGHT/FLIGHT response and would serve a purpose if we needed to stand our ground and fight or run away. At their worst we may feel we are about to die.
Why Do Panic Attacks Occur?
Feelings of stress and panic make us breathe more quickly and cause our hearts to beat faster, allowing our blood to carry more oxygen to our limbs.
The trouble is more often than not these physical symptoms occur without the trigger of the predator we need to fight (or today a bus about to run us down) – the feeling is still terrifying. It is worth remembering though that the reaction is a normal bodily one, just happening without an appropriate trigger.
When we experience these unpleasant feelings we become fearful and may avoid the places or situations where the fight/flight response happens, this unfortunately reinforces and exacerbates the fear. Although it may not seem like it at the time we will get over a panic attack.
What Can We Do About Panic Attacks?
Breathing is the key to overcoming stress and anxiety, as when we are afraid we tend to either hold our breath or take very shallow breaths using only the top of our lungs.
I can show you how to breath in a way that will lessen these unpleasant feelings and explain techniques that will help you to feel less lightheaded.
The good news is that whilst these unpleasant feeling are created by the mind and body they can with professional help be alleviated by them too.