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Why do I get Panic Attacks? What is Anxiety?
Panic attacks can happen to absolutely anyone. At Manchester Hypnotherapy we will help you to understand the cause of your own panic attacks and more importantly show you how to make them stop. Panic and anxiety are just the way the body responds when it thinks there is a threat. It’s meant only to happen when we are faced with physical danger – the body creates adrenalin to help you cope with the threat you face – either by running away from it, or by becoming more aggressive and fighting it. But the body reacts with panic and anxiety when we sense other dangers too. These are usually nothing to do with real danger and are more likely to be about emotions – worrying about work, relationships, health or money, or because we have an irrational fear (a phobia) of something like flying, confined spaces, or needles.
We ALL feel anxiety and panic
There are good reasons why humans feel anxiety. Feelings of anxiety and panic are really just feelings of fear. And fear can be a useful thing. The feeling of fear and panic tells us there seems to be a risk, and that we need to take action.
For those people who don’t suffer with anxiety, anxiety is just the way that the body reacts to fear and threats. When things are working as they should, adrenalin gives you an edge, a boost. Adrenalin is released when we panic or feel anxious – makes us run faster and fight more aggressively. It’s an evolutionary thing. By running from the things which threatened them – a hungry animal or a falling tree; or fighting with someone from another tribe who threatened to steal their food, our predecessors were more likely to survive to reproduce and therefore pass on their genes, which is 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. 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….
A little bit of anxiety is still good for us. Without it, we would get ourselves into dangerous situations, because we wouldn’t understand that there are risks. We might dive from a height into water without checking if it was shallow or if there were rocks; we might leave all our doors open when we leave the house because we didn’t think about someone breaking in. Or we might not revise for an exam, because we don’t think that we might fail. We need to be aware that our actions have consequences, and this means that we 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 to go beyond the optimum level of anxiety, which actually helps to keep you safe, and get to the stage where it stops you from functioning as well as you should – 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 the thoughts race, and there is a feeling of dread that something bad will happen, or that the thoughts are unbearable.
When you are afraid, the 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 make your thoughts race round and round.
What is Adrenalin for?
The job of adrenalin is to make the body more responsive – quicker at running away from the “threat” (“flight”) or more able to 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 tense (because the heart is pumping your blood around more quickly, providing oxygen to the muscles – so you might feel light headed or dizzy too); your might feel sick or have stomach ache or need the loo.
You may not get any very noticeable physical signs – for some people, there is a sense of fear and dread and worry, but no physiological 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. Whilst anxiety and fear may help you to survive physical threats – boosting adrenalin, helping you to think fast and to move quickly – most modern day stess is about other threats – 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, or to work out how busy you’re going to be tomorrow and how you’ll tackle things, or 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 when you are anxious doesn’t seem to produce any positive result. Remember that the brain interprets these uncomfortable worrying thoughts as a threat, and 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
Many people with stress, anxiety and panic worry at night, leading to insomnia. IBS is very common in people suffering with stress and anxiety. People with anxiety take more time off work. Fertility can be affected, or you may develop habits which seem to help you to deal with the feelings – overeating, or drinking too much. Some people bite their nails or pick their skin to help distract the 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 a flight of steps. You don’t really need to pay full attention – it’s as if you’re on autopilot. The first time you did these things, chances are you really needed to concentrate.
But the 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, so that it doesn’t have to work out what to do all over again. This can be helpful – it stops you having to use so much energy to think about things – you just do them automatically, like remembering the way to your best friend’s house. But when the brain remembers that we have been anxious or had a panic attack in a situation before, it assumes that producing adrenalin will “help” you when that situation (or a similar situation) 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 recognizes the type of situation that you’re in as being threatening (it must be, so the brain tells you, because you “needed” adrenalin last time you were in the same situation). It thinks that the adrenalin produced as a result of recognizing this threat will boost your performance, because this is what adrenalin does – it’s a performance drug; it makes you faster and stronger. This can cause a phobia to develop, as we come to automatically associate the feeling of fear and panic with flying or dentists or driving or not being able to find a loo.
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 ususally doesn’t. Instead, the brain interprets these worrying thoughts as “threats” and gives you adrenalin to help you cope. The brain also, wanting to save you the effort of working out how to feel, remembers how you felt last time you tried to think things through – and when it remembers you felt anxious, it assumes you need that shot of adrenalin again. But because thoughts are not things you can escape from, the only function of the adrenalin is to make your thoughts race – triggering 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 the following physical symptoms; or you may find that your state of mind is severely affected and that you feel overwhelmes by extreme fear, uncertainty and worry. They are not listed in any particular order
palpitations or a racing heart
dizziness or lightheadedness
shortness of breath
stomach “flipping over”
needing the loo
restlessness and/or twitching
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, and 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.
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, and the vast majority of sufferers of IBSreport that their symptoms get worse when they suffer stress. Remember that the physical changes you experience are happening to help you survive the “threat” – and 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 the 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 – the 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 and some sufferers also interpret these very unpleasant sensations as being a sign of serious physical problems such as heart attack, choking or being unable to breathe. This in turn worsens the anxiety (these thoughts are also frightening so the body produces even more adrenalin because the body thinks this will help you) so it becomes a downwards spiral.
The symptoms of panic attacks and anxiety attacks are improved significantly by hypnosis and relaxation. Whilst in hypnosis you will imagine yourself in those situations which you have found very stressful or which trigger your feelings of anxiety and depression, whilst at the same time practising 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, between the trigger and a feeling of calm and control. During hypnotherapy you will also imagine responding in new and different ways to situations which have previously troubled you, and by doing so, overcoming 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; but it does stop you from over-thinking, over-planning, over-analyzing those things that you can’t control, or predict, or change. Remember – worrying doesn’t actually change anything! The things you fear aren’t prevented because you worry about them; 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 to change things or to make plans, 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. Also, you are more susceptible to suggestions about how to change your thinking, when you are in hypnosis.
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 will learn to let go, and to get away from the vicious circle of anxious thoughts. You will forget the habit of feeling anxious in certain situations, at certain times or with certain people.
Anti-depressants, Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Most people don’t know that modern antidepressants – for example SSRIs such as Prozac (Fluoxetine) and Citalopram (Cipramil) – are very effective at reducing the symptoms of anxiety. Although these medications are commonly known as anti-depressants, they are frequently used as an anxiety treatment for people who do not 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, in order to let you get the maximum effect of hypnosis, relaxation techniques and CBT.
Panic Attack Treatment
The fully registered and insured hypnotherapists at this Manchester hypnotherapy clinic have fifteen years of experience in treating panic and anxiety, insomnia, and stress related illness. If you want to find panic attack treatment in Manchester 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, for weight loss, jealousy, insecurity and other emotional problems, or for any other issue, then go to any of the independent websites which list and give reviews of hypnotherapists (for example www.freeindex.co.uk – Google also displays reviews) and you will see the excellent results which Pam and her team have achieved. Their record in treating anxiety, insomnia and phobia is second to none. If you would like further information about hypnosis in Manchester, for anxiety and panic, work related stress, or any other problem, please call 07779 575816 for a free, no obligation, confidential chat, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hypnosis and hypnotherapy in Didsbury, Manchester – convenient for Stockport and the Heatons, Chorlton, Gatley, Cheadle, Altrincham and all areas of south Manchester.