Overcoming Panic Attacks

According to the Health Service Executive, at least one in every ten individuals suffer from panic attacks. Panic attacks occur as a result of a combination of psychological and physical symptoms. During a panic attack, individuals may experience a shortness of breath, chest tightness/pain, trembling, perspiration, nausea, dizziness, hot flushes, cold sweats, tense muscles, nausea, a sense of a loss of control, among other symptoms. Panic attacks often occur out of the blue and are frightening; sudden feelings of terror and sheer panic ensue.  Many individuals often misinterpret their symptoms as a heart attack.  Thousands of people enter accident and emergency departments, each year searching for confirmation of self-diagnoses such as heart-attacks.  For those who experience panic attacks, they can be a debilitating part of one’s life and often cause feelings of fear and/or self-consciousness regarding their occurrence.

In cognitive-behavioural terms the automatic tendency to focus increasing attention on the hypothetical worst-case scenario is known as ‘catastrophising’ or ‘what if’ thinking. The catastrophic thought ‘I feel fear, therefore I really must be in danger’, stimulating a chain of automatic negative thoughts (ANT’s); with one becoming drawn toward potential signs of threat.

Panic attacks are linked with under-estimating one’s coping ability. Sessions involve aiding one in improving coping ability.  I train clients in skills and strategies to empower you to respond with calm and confidence to what were once anxiety provoking situations. Sessions aid you in building confidence in your coping abilities and psychological resilience. Combining the two most powerful and effective psychological therapies, namely, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Clinical Hypnotherapy. This integration referred to as Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH) found to be the most effective treatment for anxiety, stress, panic attacks and social anxiety.

Thoughts and beliefs influence emotions, sensations in the body as well as behaviour and vice versa; the resulting behaviour and feelings lead to unhelpful thoughts, beliefs, images etc. Thoughts and beliefs to a significant extent make us feel fear, panic and/or dread. Research clearly highlights the link between our thoughts and our physical reactions.

As we imagine, the body reacts

In the case of anxiety, fear and panic, when one perceives for instance, an increase in heart rate as threatening, this thought, triggers a series of bodily changes such as overheating, perspiration, rapid and shallow breathing. As the breathing becomes rapid and shallow, less oxygen supplied to the organs, including the heart, resulting in further increases in heart rate. In turn, the symptoms are further perceived as threatening, with this belief intensifying the physiological responses.

Working together new helpful responses can be trained to become learned reflexes.

Relaxation for instance, is a learnable skill. The majority of people greatly underestimates how much they can learn to relax.  Moreover, relaxation is to a large degree undervalued.  New alternative responses such as feeling at ease, calm, relaxed and in control are developed and practised, consequently becoming automatic. When we learn to relax deeply, the muscular system relaxes, relieving muscle tension, lowering residual tension in the body, reducing the sensations associated with anxiety and panic. There is immense potential when evidence based skills are successfully applied to a variety of situations, even to those that were once stressful or distressing. The mind and body are inextricably interconnected. This complex interconnection and the potential and power each of us possess and what can be achieved when this is successfully developed, is profound.  I train clients in using strategies and techniques to build and develop this potential, with powerful life changing consequences.

For more information, contact Amanda today:
Phone: 083 4147013
Email: amanda@therapyandhypnosis.ie