Monday, May 21, 2007

Panic Attacks - Two-Step Process To Beat Those Out-Of-Control Moments

andrej troha, stock.Xchng

Statistically speaking, one in sixty people suffer a panic attack at least once at some point of time in their life. Whether it is a student facing the stress of an impending exam the next day, or it is a wife worried about the fate of her spouse in the war, or it is a businessperson faced with the prospect of bankruptcy... think of any of the myriad situations where there is gloom and doom looming over the person... and all the ingredients of a panic attack are there.

image by Javier Zubiri, stock.Xchng

You may be brooding on some aspect of your life, where the outcome is (naturally) less than desirable. You either brood overtly, and spend huge chunks of your waking hours on the issue, or you dismiss the streams of thought from the conscious plane of your mind and go about the daily humdrum, but ignore the slow, festering that is going on at the subconscious plane. In both the cases, a possible end result is panic attack.

image by kopiluwak, stock.Xchng

Though the manifestation is supposed to be "sudden", the roots of the condition can be traced to the thought patterns that dominate the psyche of the sufferers up until that moment. The best example of the impact of thoughts - an invisible energy and which "happens" in the "unknown" terrain of the mind - over the physical mass of the body: is the panic attack. The continuous streams of thought build up such a crescendo of energy that the brain is forced to trigger the appropriate neurochemicals to bring about the famous "fight or flight response" symptoms that physiologist Walter Cannon had postulated.

Walter Cannon

[So, in other words, my hypothesis is in alignment to some extent with the Cannon-Bard Theory of Emotion, and rejects outright the James-Lange Theory of Emotion.]

Literature suggests two lines of treatment:

- Medication, such as Benzodiazepines, anti-depressants.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which attempts to desensitize the sufferer of the impact of panic attack, by actually inducing the attack in them.

Medication, we all know, brings with it its own set of side-effects. The technique used by CBT doesn't really attack the root problem, does it? The streams of thought that are the root cause; continue to be harbored by the sufferer even after they have undergone CBT, and have supposedly been cured. I think CBT heaps on panic attack an added layer of cynicism that "one can continue to live in hell, and that hell is enjoyable!"

Irum Shahid, stock.Xchng

Here is my two-step process to beat those panic attacks; a New Age technique:

1. First and foremost: throw to the junkyard all the thoughts that have doom and gloom and worry splattered all over them! Look at these streams in the face. And work at eliminating whatever it is that is bothering you. If it is something within your control, well, do it. If it is something that you have no control over, then why worry in the first place! Rest assured - the universe wants the best for you. And whatever lessons it wants you to learn, well, learn them happily, without crying.

image by Malcolm Jelley, stock.Xchng

2. Prepare an inventory of happy thoughts and events and imageries. These will help you wash away the stock pile of neurochemicals created thus far due to the same old, dreary thoughts. And the next time, when panic attack hits you, simply shift your focus on the items in this inventory. Within moments, you will find the attack ebbing away. And this happens one hundred percent.

The Sound of Music soundtrack cover

In order to help you work on both these suggestions, is this excellent self-Hypnosis CD - Costs USD 12.95 for a download.

Hypnosis Box

Remember Maria von Trapp telling the kids of the things she loves? Like the raindrops on roses, the whiskers on kittens? The cream colored ponies, the crisp apple strudels? The snowflakes that stay on the nose and eyelashes? And then she says - "When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad!"

And then one of the kids asks her - "Does it really work?" she assures them, "of course, it does!"

Then she asks the kids what their own list of things was that they loved? And each of them comes up with their own answer, based on their perspective on life - from "bunny rabbits" to "no school!" to "telegram"!

So, you can prepare your own list. And whenever your particular dog bites or your particular bee stings, just fill up your mind with the things you love and like and which make you happy.

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