For those who have experienced panic attacks they are real, can be extremely worrying but thankfully you can learn to control them. In simple terms panic attacks occur when an individual is placed on a high level of anxiety. This means that both their mind and body can over react to certain situations which under normal circumstance would not cause any problems. However, in a heightened state of anxiety common sense often goes out of the window and the individual has no control because it is a physical/mental reaction.
What is anxiety?
The best way to describe anxiety is a state of heightened apprehension which comes with an anticipated fear which may be imaginary or real. This fear could revolve around a threat, events or a particular situation in which the person would feel uncomfortable. Sometimes mistaken for nerves there is no doubt that anxiety is a whole different condition.
When people experience anxiety it can be both a mental and physical reaction which can in some circumstances literally paralyse the person. The physical reaction can take many forms such as increased heartbeat, pounding head, dizziness, blurred vision and in some circumstances difficulty in breathing. This is why you see those suffering from panic attacks breathing into a brown paper bag because this literally slows down their intake of oxygen and tackles their breathing difficulties.
Fight or flight?
Some experts would describe a panic attack as an enhanced episode of fight or flight, a reaction which is often described as the very basis of human life. Fight or flight literally means that your body in an instant will consider a situation or a particular threat and then either decide to fight it or effectively force you to flee. For those suffering from panic attacks they will know what this fight or flight situation feels like because more often than not the mind will decide to leave the environment.
It is worth pointing out at this time that fight or flight is a very positive human reaction and one which is instilled in all of our DNA. This inbuilt mechanism was around when the cavemen roamed the earth and is still around today.
Controlling a panic attack
While nobody has ever died of a panic attack, when you are suffering one it can feel as though you are on the verge of a major medical problem. This is when you need to learn how to control a panic attack, slow down your breathing, clear your mind and bring your body back down to a less heightened level of anxiety. On paper this sounds very simple but in reality it can take some time to learn how to reduce the number of panic attacks you suffer.
If you have suffered panic attacks in the future you might relate to these scenarios, a hot environment, a crowded area and panic attacks can occur more often if you are tired and run down. In theory it is relatively easy to tackle panic attacks occurring in these particular situations because you can take yourself to a cooler area or wind down the windows of your car, remove yourself from a crowded area until you regather your composure and basically look after yourself better to ensure you do not get tired and run down.
Anxiety and phobias
While anxiety and phobias are two different conditions for many people there are heavily linked as a phobia can bring on increased anxiety and anxiety can make you more susceptible to a reaction to a phobia. I once heard a counsellor describing phobias/anxiety as a situation where the wiring of your brain has become muddled and needs to be rewired. If you take a step back and consider this comment it does make a lot of sense.
Even though there are obviously physical reactions to phobias and anxiety the chances are the first you will know about it is in your mind. If we can control/rewire our own minds then surely this must be the key to controlling anxiety and phobias going forward?