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Cure #22: The Unknown Dread: Causes and Cures for Panic Attacks

"The book I was reading was not even scary. Yet, all of a sudden, I felt really lightheaded, like all the air had been instantly sucked out of the room. I started to shake and sweat. My heart was pounding so hard I though it would explode out of my chest. It all happened so fast. This time I was sure it was a heart attack! Just when I thought I was going to die…it was gone in 60 seconds. I should have known better - it was the third time it happened this week."
    - Anonymous Panic Attack Sufferer

www.altoonahospital.org/fg/panic.gif What is Panic?

Throughout most of human history and through much of the world today, the Earth has been a hostile place. Threats to earthly survival from both nature (earthquake, flood, tornado, fire, etc) and natural predators (wild animals, poisonous plants, human enemies) led to the evolution of a "fight or flight" panic response (see the "Stress Cure").

When an individual is in panic mode, all their defensive senses (sight, hearing, smell) are heightened. Their breathing becomes rapid to "stuff" their body with more of the life force in air. Their heart races to quickly spread the oxygen through their system. All of these reactions are designed to help them deal with the threat and achieve the goal of preserving their life. These are all good things when a person is faced with a genuine threat to their life that requires sustained, focused attention to avert.

What is Panic Disorder?

When panic responses are experienced by an individual but are not induced by a genuine threat to their survival, it is time for that person to seriously consider if they have Panic Disorder. This should only be considered if other medical conditions with symptoms similar to Panic Attacks have been ruled out.

Who is "At Risk" for Panic Disorder?

"Panic Disorder begins most often when people are 20-30 years old. It begins less often in teenagers or persons in their forties. It is uncommon for the disorder to appear in the elderly for the first time… about three fourths are women."

From a past life perspective, Panic Disorder attaches to individuals as they are fully establishing themselves in the identity of their current incarnation. Usually the karmic issues underlying the panic are so severe that most children could not handle them. That is why the attachment of the past life karma to the individual is "time delayed" until early adulthood when the fears are better able to be resolved.

Panic Disorder is so disruptive to a person's normal functioning in daily life because it is designed to help the individual break free from fears which have crippled them in many past lives. Having fear assault them full force with increasing regularly ensures that it is not ignored. For ignoring the fear only makes it grow.

What are the Signs of Panic Disorder?

When it is understood that unresolved, unreasoning fears from past lives are the source of most Panic Attacks, the progression of symptoms that result in Panic Disorder can be better understood. All along the way, the individual will be given many opportunities to confront and resolve their fears.

Panic Disorder usually begins with "minor symptoms" like rapid heart beats, hyperventialating, unexplained dizziness, etc in the weeks or months prior to the first attack. The person's initial response is that "I'm just tired" or "It won't happen again" and so on, because they are too afraid to admit there may be a problem.

"Suddenly", the person experiences their first full blown panic attack. Too fearful to ignore undeniable symptoms, the person will often seek an "emergency medical evaluation". Yet by the time this help is available, the symptoms will have greatly decreased and they will be told "everything is normal".

They may choose to do nothing for awhile if they have no further symptoms. Yet the more the individual fails to confront and resolve their fears, the more severe and frequent the panic attacks will become. When the person seeks help again only to be they told that "nothing is wrong with them", it contributes to their rising panic.

Over time, others may accuse them of being "hypochondriacs" or "shopping around for a doctor who will tell them what they want to hear" because medical science cannot confirm that they have a "real problem". Yet no one who has experienced or witnessed a true panic attack can be left in any doubt that they are all too real.

Why is it Dangerous to Leave Panic Disorder Untreated?

The longer that Panic Disorder is not addressed, the worse the symptoms will become and the harder it will be heal. That is because fear feeds on itself.

The sufferer fears a panic attack will happen when it will put their life in danger (as when driving a car), where help is not available (in public places when they are "alone"), or when it will disrupt their life (as when at work or with young children). Just fearing an attack increases the internal level of fear which in turn may trigger more frequent and severe panic attacks.

Fear is a downward spiral that progressively restricts an individual's lifestyle until it leaves them utterly hopeless and demoralized. Their lifestyle may even become so restricted that they turn into
Agoraphobics. Or they may believe that suicide is the only answer to their lifelong despair and make their next life even worse.

What is the Best Treatment for Panic Disorder?

The BEST thing you can do for fear is always remember that you "have nothing to fear but fear itself" (Franklin D. Roosevelt). You can overcome your fears but you must be patient and work at in every day. The fear was built up slowly in your system and so it must be broken down slowly. Between episodes of panic you need to be working steadily toward your goal of taking your life back from fear.

When You are Not Having a Panic Attack, you need to take active steps to reclaim your life. Decide right now that you will not let your Panic control and define you life. And if you think that you do not have time for this, spend the time that you are worrying about having a panic attack on doing the following:

1> Identify the Panic Trigger: The first step in breaking down your fears is to identify precisely what it is that is triggering you. Panic attacks are never random: if you believe that they are random, it is because you have not invested the time and the energy to discern the pattern. Begin logging your panic attacks as to:
* where you were,
* what you were doing,
* what you were thinking,
* who you were with at time,
* how close it was to meal time,
* what you ate before it happened,
* what you remember seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or touching before it happened, and so on.
The more detail you can gather, the easier it will be discern the trigger. Your body and mind are trying desperately to communicate with you via the panic attack. Open you mind, heart, and eyes. Be patient and you will discover the triggering mechanism.


2> Learn the Breath Patterns: Before women give birth, they often take the time to learn the patterns of breathing that will help them achieve a less painful delivery. They repeat the patterns until they are drilled into their brain so that when the time comes, they will be able to do them without thinking.
Panic sufferers should learn Centering, Calming, and Stress Relieving Breaths by heart until they can do them automatically. Memorizing breath patterns in advance will help you to compensate for the severe disruptions in breathing patterns that always accompany panic attacks.
3> Eliminate Artificial Stimulants: Panic attacks often flood your system with adrenaline as your body and mind mistakenly prepare for "fight or flight". The last thing you need to do is to willingly take anything that will artificially stimulate your body or mind further. These artificial stimulants include: caffeinated soft drinks, coffee, chocolate (sorry :( ), herbal energy teas/supplements, or anything else that "will give you an extra boost". All these will do is aggravate your situation.

4>
Carry a Panic Emergency Kit: Just like those who must constantly be prepared because they live in earthquake zones, you should never leave home without your panic emergency kit.
This emergency kit should include things like:
* a cell phone pre-loaded with emergency numbers,
* a written list of these numbers and other helpful
information (name of your physician, medications you are taking, etc) that others can easily find to help you,
* items you will be using to combat your panic attacks.


Helpful Tip: For those who are seeking an alternative to anti-depressants, tranquilizers, and other hard drugs, there are natural remedies to assist you with the worst of your symptoms. One that is designed just for times of intense mental turmoil is Bach's Rescue Remedy.

Caution: As with anything you take to alter your mood, be sure to follow the directions and consult with your physician before using. It is essential that you do NOT take these "rescue remedies" unless you really need them. For if you take them too much, they will not help when you really need it.
5> Follow a Panic Attack "Desensitization Plan": Triggers for panic attack can vary over time. Most often, the list of panic triggers will grow as the disorder is left untreated. You should constantly be monitoring your log of panic attacks to watch for new triggers.

For the panic triggers that consistently induce an attack, you must follow a "Trigger Desensitization Plan" (which is better known as the "cognitive-behaviorial" treatment). This plan consists of confronting the "trigger events" in systematic manner:
a> The process starts by taking on the least difficult of the avoided places or activities first for short amounts of time while accompanied by safe, helpful people.

b> The process is repeated gradually increasing the time spent at the evaded place or doing the avoided activity while reducing the number of people required as escorts.

c> Once the first activity/place no longer triggers a panic attack, the next most difficult trigger is tackled. This is repeated until the worst panic triggers are extinguished.

d> The good news is, just as fear is a downward spiral, success is an upward spiral. The time that it takes to eliminate each trigger will decrease every time. Once a critical mass of triggers are diffused, the grip of Panic Disorder can be broken. The truth is that the only way to get past your pain and fear is to go through it. Panic can be beaten if try: all you have to lose are the attacks!
When You Are Having a Panic Attack, you need to rely on your preparation which should includes having memorized this list and/or having it handy. Here is what to do:
1> Breathe: Get your breath under control - whether your breathing is too rapid or too slow - you need to breathe in one of the patterns you have learned (above). Concentrate on following the patterns of your breath for a moment as you find a place to stop and sit so that you can help yourself through the attack.

2>
Rescue Medicine: Dip into your panic emergency kit and immediately take your "rescue remedy". By having closely observed yourself, you should know the difference between daily anxiety and a full blown panic attack. You should also know how long it takes to work: look at your watch and time the episode.

3>
Call for Help: If you are not getting any relief when enough time has passed, get your cell phone and call for help. If you were having a heart attack, an asthma attack, or a life threatening allergy attack, you would not even question your need for help. Panic can be as deadly any of those other illnesses: take it seriously.
The WORST thing you can do is to numb your body and mind by "medicating the problem away" with hard drugs. Panic medications like anti-depressants (Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), Sinequan (doxepin), Tofranil (imipramine), or Zoloft (sertraline)) and tranquilizers (Xanax (alprazolam), Nardil (phenelzine), Klonopin (clonazepam), or Ativan (lorazepam)) just mask the symptoms.

They do NOT solve the problem.

Despite "proganda" to the contrary, they can lead to addiction and often require a planned reduction to avoid symptoms of withdrawal. Worse, they can cause a permanent dulling of your connection to universal energy.

Before using any of these techniques, click here for a "Word of Caution."

Credits: adapted from information on the Anxiety/Panic Attack Resource Site


 

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