Effective panic attacks treatment typically includes a limited number of techniques, often best used in combination. Unusual or rare causes, and therefore unusual cures to panic attacks are possible. Sometimes for example, a pharmaceutical drug may trigger panic attacks. Switching to a different drug may stop the panic. But most causes of panic attacks are common enough to make a limited number of techniques effective.
In most cases also, both physical and psychological causes may be assumed, with psychological treatments usually proving relatively more effective long term than physical ones such as drugs or nutritional supplements. Or in rare cases where the cause of panic attack is solely physical, a targeted physical solution may cure the panic, such as one individual for whom nothing but magnesium supplementation served to eliminate panic attacks.
I. Panic attack patterns are often like an addiction
A single panic attack may be isolated. It may not recur. But when a pattern of panic attacks develop, they may usually be considered to be like an addiction … although with panic attacks one is motivated by a strong desire to avoid more attacks (or some worse fear) rather than being tempted by a desirable object like alcohol or drugs. Granted also, alcohol, for example, may be consumed in order to avoid certain negative emotions. Panic attack sufferers may have an additional problem with addictive substances, just not necessarily so.
And unfortunately like a person with an addiction, the panic attack sufferer becomes controlled or strongly influenced by the addiction. By definition, panic is a fear that has gotten out of control. Between attacks, the sufferer’s behavior is controlled by fear of another attack. The sufferer avoids, sometimes going to great lengths to avoid whatever is perceived as a source or possible source of fear. Persons with agoraphobia, by way of illustration, are often unable to leave their house.
And panic attacks become like an addiction in that avoidance behaviors are characteristic. Avoidance behaviors can take many forms. Prescription drugs used to treat anxiety or depression, calming herbs and calming nutritional substances, relaxation techniques, and distractions from fear, as examples, may on the one hand be useful tools in calming the mind or harmful tools enabling the panic attack sufferer to continue in avoidance behaviors and in an addiction to avoiding bodily fear responses. The tools themselves are not bad, they usually just need to be used, if at all, as supplements in a larger strategy.
But then avoidance is not always a bad thing. For example, one ought to back away from a real, immediate hazard like falling out of an upper story window. Or those living with a heightened state of anxiety would do well to avoid the stimulant caffeine … not to mention for various reasons also alcohol and sugar. One would do well to avoid the stress of some jobs or, depending on individual sensitivities, a moldy lower floor or an area laced with industrial toxins or city pollution.
The kind of avoidance behaviors that typically mark panic attacks include for example a failure to engage in normal or formerly fun activities, day-to-day responsibilities, or appearing in public or in select social situations. When one would rather do anything than face panic, panic is in control.
And as is true of addictions, lack of control over panic may drive a person to denial, defensiveness, or depression. Admitting loss of control even to oneself is scary and often socially embarrassing. Admitting lack of control to oneself also seems a short cut to despair. And yes, panic attacks are horrible. Often really horrible. How is one ever to climb out of the hole?
II. Treating panic attacks as one treats an addiction
Possibly the most effective way to control panic attacks is usually to welcome rather than reject the panic sensations in one’s body. Invite the symptoms of fear to do more than they do. Rather than flee from the lion of panic, face it. Rather than avoid, confront. Avoidance empowers fear. Confrontation empowers self over fear.
But who wants to face the lion of panic? Not everyone. And facing panic is very painful and scary. Or one may be discouraged by past failed attempts to control panic attacks. Nor can one merely wish them out of existence.
But if many have overcome their panic, why not oneself? One need not one face one’s fears alone. Nor need one face them all at once. They can be broken down into small steps and faced with a counselor. it also helps to keep a diary of feelings. Over time, a diary helps one think in a more rational and controlled fashion. The more objective view of oneself observing oneself helps one feel more in control. Distracting oneself in order to exercise the feeling of sincere thankfulness helps calm one’s mind too.
There are substances that can be used occasionally or initially to reduce anxiety. Certain drugs, herbs, homeopathy or aromatherapy materials can be useful here. And good lifestyle activities strengthen one in the fight. Good sleep habits, regular exercise, deep and slow breathing exercises, a healthy diet, and even enjoyable hobbies may fit here. Such healthy “physical” treatments can be very important, even necessary additions to behavioral or psychological treatments.
If panic attacks are like common addictions in various ways, they can also be treated effectively like addictions.
Next, for more help and information on how to stop panic attacks, sign up for the free report and email mini-course at Panic-AttackRelief.com. The author is a long time health enthusiast interested in helping people overcome their anxiety and panic attacks.
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