One of the first things you must know about panic attacks is that the war takes place in your head. There is no one way that works with everyone but a combination of steps that work for you. By taking it one step at a time you can win the battle, by starting to take back control. Your body has a learned response to the adrenaline surge. By using that wonderful overactive, over analytical, mind that overthinks way too much and that constantly speculates on the worst-case scenario, your mind has created well-worn responses! The result ending in an ongoing panic attack. Your mind has been taken hostage, by repetition of what you have experienced in the past. Your mind goes into autopilot with the very first symptom of panic. The more frequently it has happened the quicker the response and the deeper the ruts. In this case, This is what happens when people experience waves of panic attacks or repeated attacks in a day. The trick is how do you turn autopilot off?
An adrenaline surge for fight of flight typically lasts 20 -30 minutes with the peak of about 10 min. Many reading this will be shaking their head saying but mine just don’t end. The adrenaline surge is not intended to last very long just long enough to get you ramped up to get you out of danger.
Let’s look into the cause of rolling panic attacks
If your panic attack goes on and on… why? Adrenaline is released and it wears out. It would have to be released again – then that wears out and it would have to be released again and so on. This pattern can happen in succession This is why it may seem like a continuous panic attack. But it actually is better described as waves of panic attacks. There is actual a slight recovery between the waves but most people are unaware of it. You just feel like it is one continuous attack. Some refer to it as a rolling panic attack.
After the initial panic attack that is somehow triggered. Whenever your mind senses any little physical symptom or fear that has been associated with an attack in the past. The Auto piolet is turned on and it takes you into another adrenaline surge.
Panic attacks are frightening, and you end up fearing fear itself.
That is the problem!
- The first wave. You start to experience a panic attack. There is no danger present. Because of the symptoms you speculate that it must be a major physical malfunction. This causes fear. Which in turn sets off the second wave of adrenaline.
- The second wave. Is set off by your actual fear of a major malfunction. It is a “false Alarm” but more adrenaline is released and now you think something surely is terribly wrong.
- Continuing with this intensifying fear leads to more waves of panic.
We mentioned the word SPECULATE in the first paragraph. This word is key in the battlefield of your mind.
DEFINITION To Speculate to form a theory or conjecture about a subject without firm evidence.
You body is reacting normally to adrenaline. You are not crazy. You just mistake a normal function of the body to protect you as one that puts your life in jeopardy! Because your heart races, your breathing becomes labored, you get numbness and tingling, Gi Symptoms, mental fog, muscle aches, you name it. Then you SPECULATE that your life is in danger.
Now about how to stop panic attacks.
You cannot just erase the negative pathways, or ruts in your mind. But you can start to fill them in so you no longer go into autopilot at the most simple of symptoms. Much of what you need to work on is to change your mindset.
The first goal is to make them shorter while you change your way of thinking to end speculation. As you replace worry with truth you start to fill up the ruts of runaway thoughts in your mind.
Many with panic attacks constantly check their B/P or pulse for instance. Any slight change causes them to speculate he worse.. They think they are being perceptive and proactive but in their case the opposite happens. They live life teetering on the edge of a cliff, and just a tiny nudge will send them into a state of panic. Your vital signs change they go up and they go down and when you worry about them of course they will be altered because your body senses stress and reacts in a normal way.
This is why it is so important to get a complete physical from head to toe. To start to gain back control by replacing speculation with facts. Not that you are having any physical problems but to put your mind at ease that everything that could be checked was checked and that everything is functioning perfectly. So, at the first sign of an attack and heart starts to race you boldly proclaim something like this, “My heart is reacting to adrenaline. Adrenaline release is a normal process. It shall soon pass My heart is in functioning perfectly”. It does not matter what words you use. Just make a statement of truth that you can easily remember and repeat and start repeating it at the first sign of an attack.
A complete physical is a must. Other things can mimic some of the symptoms of a panic attack such as low blood sugar, asthma, hyper thyroid, sleep deprivation, or just too much caffeine. You need a doctor you can trust and who understands panic attacks and is willing to work with you. If your test results are all negative that is your truth. You will want to rule out any medical condition, that causes panic attack symptoms. Then you must believe the results.
Too many people get a clean bill of health and then when they get symptoms, they speculate that the testing was incorrect. They revert back and the auto piolet kicks into gear, and panic attacks continue. Sometimes they continue with renewed vengeance. By having truth and ignoring truth they have just created deeper and wider ruts as we discussed earlier.
The body is amazingly complex. Understanding the body and how it works is one of the most important steps in being able to start to take back control of your mind. Everyone has anxiety it just surfaces differently in different people. People with panic and anxiety are really no different than others. Anxiety is a defense mechanism, a normal human response that we perceive when under a threat of danger or feel threatened. So panic attacks do happen but learn first how not to let them turn into a wave of panic attacks. Take charge immediately.
There are several things you can do in the first few minutes so that when that first surge of adrenaline is burnt out the panic will stop. We have already discussed your statement of truth, to end speculation.
THIS IS HUGE
If you perceive danger, laughter will not be the outcome. If we engage in the outcome of laughter, we disrupt the pattern of the harmful perception.
If you are laughing, the mind must come to the conclusion that you are no longer in danger. If the mind perceives that there is no danger, there will be no demand placed on the body to release adrenaline. When the adrenaline stops, the alarming symptoms in the body stop, so the racing of the mind with thoughts based on speculation finally come to an end.
Yes, I am telling you to start laughing. Force yourself to start laughing and keep it up until the symptoms start to lessen. If you have a “go to’ person one of their first responsibilities is to know how to make you laugh. Yes meditation and breathing correctly are also important but many do these things while they are still thinking negative thoughts about the way they feel.
What one of these girls is having the panic attack? Apparently she has some “go to” friends that know the importance of laughter. May be just one of them is her “go to ” person . She says “HELP!” and her “go to ” person starts laughing and tells the others to laugh too. No one but the 2 of them may be aware that help is the code word for I am having a panic attack.
This brings us to the 3rd most important thing to do is distraction. How you do this can be different for everyone. Like sing out loud a positive song. Count backwards from 100 and maybe shout out every 3rd number. Those with panic attacks are creative intelligent people who have overactive minds, you can come up with something and tweak it to work for you.
So, we have 3 ways to put into use at the first signs of panic or anxiety attacks.
Speak truth – dismiss speculation
I want to wrap this up but one more thing that can be confusing.
Is it a panic attack or just high anxiety?
It’s tricky. What are the clues.
A true panic attack tends to have clear, intense, physical symptoms — a pounding heart, shortness of breath, and so on. The initial attack usually starts with no know stressor. Or nothing your conscious mind is aware of.
Anxiety can give you some of the same symptoms, but they tend to be milder. Those with anxiety attacks may find this hard to believe but it is medical founded. Anxiety attacks have physical symptoms but also more mental symptoms like a racing mind. Along with that there can be worry a feeling and of restlessness. Stress and worry are the main things that catapult the anxiety attack onward and because the worry remains present. I refer to it as Extreme Persistent Worry. Even though they can both release adrenaline into the body. If the trigger remains in the on position, a person can literally suffer from worry over a much longer period of time.
The good news if you understand the body, end speculation, retrain your mind, capture runaway and build a mental barriers against behavior that is not desirable, you have taken the first steps in regaining peace joy and contentment.
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