Anxious feelings & panic attack treatment

Panic attack treatment – In my experience, anxiety is a very misunderstood aspect of being a human. Anxiety disorders and feelings of panic are surprisingly common and have been around for many thousands of years. These anxious feelings and fears can seem so irrational, yet they  have the power to emotionally hijack us and change our whole physiology in a moment.

When a full blown panic attack fires off, a person could be anywhere and all they’ll want to do is run away, to flee that environment. Their heart will be racing, their chest constricted, often feeling like they are experiencing a heart attack. These anxiety symptoms are often compounded because they can feel their heart pumping violently (even in the neck area) and hearing the blood pumping around their ears and head. They experience trouble breathing, their hands begin to sweat and they feel faint, other symptoms include tingling sensations, headaches and muscle tension – or even symptoms of paranoia, all in all, a very scary situation.

This anxiety based disorder has its origins ingrained deep within our DNA and the old animal part of our limbic system. Yet, we often try to fix ourselves using logic and common sense, using the modern part of our brain, applying reason and will power. Sadly, much of this falls on deaf ears because our unconscious mind is not listening – or rather, is listening to something very different.

 

The sessions I had with John have helped me enormously, I saw straight away that he was very concerned about my problems and I could tell that he has a genuine passion for helping people who need it! John was extremely knowledgeable and professional and approached my problems from an angle which I could understand. I feel that the sessions I’ve had have equipped me with tools I can use in my everyday life which I’ve found very empowering. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending John to my friends and family as he’s an all round honest and genuine person. Thanks very much John for everything!!

Generalised anxiety client
After 6 long dark months suffering from chronic anxiety and emetophobia, and following two failed attempts at finding the right therapist, I luckily found John and all I can say is; he was my lifesaver and the light at the end of my tunnel. John is a true inspiration and made me feel that the things I thought were not possible were. John made me understand the reasons why I ended up in such a dark place and what I needed to do to free myself from my fears and phobias. It has been a long journey but I am finally at a place where I can say I am a stronger person. John has taught me that it is only yourself that makes you feel the feelings you feel, and that it is all to do with changing your way of thinking and welcoming anxiety as your friend. I am still continuing my journey towards full health and I know this will take time. John has given me the tools and knowledge that I need to reach my destination. I am truly grateful for meeting such a kind, gifted person. Thank you John for helping me change my life.

Emetophobia (fear of vomiting) client
“I’ve always been a bit anxious throughout my later years and it got to the stage where I had to do something to help me regain control in certain areas of my life. I remember the first time I spoke with John; it was like someone had fully opened my verbal taps, I just blurted a load of stuff out and John patiently listened. Bearing in mind, this is unlike me as I used to be one of those people who bottled my emotions up, especially during my childhood. Even after that first phone call (which incidentally was only to arrange my first appointment) I felt so much better and knew John was the right person to help me out. If you are struggling with anxiety, OCD or you just need some guidance on how to get your life back on an even keel then John is your man. It’s not all about hypnosis, it’s about what’s right in front of your nose; and John helps you recognise this. On top of everything else John genuinely cares and as far as I’m concerned that makes him one of life’s good guys.

OCD client

 

Sadly, the majority of GP’s and NHS mental health professionals do not have enough time available to help patients fully through the recovery process. Is it a journey where you need to work with someone who understands anxiety and realises the powerful way it can overwhelm your emotions and bring up levels of fear, anxiety and if not treated may lead to the onset of depression or depressive feelings, so help coping with panic attacks and reducing anxiety is very important.

I can teach you help for panic attacks and teach you how to work more closely with your unconscious mind so you can respond to this anxiety disorder in a new calmer way using a range of relaxation techniques and a whole new view point. Because trying to eliminate anxiety by avoiding what makes you anxious is NOT the way forward. Effective therapy for anxiety includes having someone with you whilst you face your fears, helping to keep you calm and showing you that if you really want to take back control of anxiety the first step is to realise that the fear is not outside of you, you can’t blame it on other things anymore – it is inside you.

What is anxiety? My therapy will answer your questions

  • What is anxiety?
  • What are the common symptoms of anxiety?
  • Where does anxiety come from?
  • How can I stop it?
  • If I stop it, will it come back?

I can answer all these questions and teach you how to take this knowledge and use it to stop yourself continually being the victim of these overwhelming feelings. When explained to you clearly and from two different perspectives the parts of the puzzle begin to fit together and you will see how your mind and your biological body are both screaming out for change – but not talking the same language.

Most fears include a huge amount of stress anxiety, so it’s good to understand where this comes from and what you can do about it. Most people, who face anxiety, do so, because they are trying to prevent life from being what it is, they explore in their minds all the different scenarios of what might happen – and because they are trying to cover every eventuality, which, of course, is impossible – the unconscious mind gets anxious.

At a more basic level, we want life to be a certain way to give us a better chance of survival and through surviving we find happiness, so if you think life will present situations that will prevent your ideal plans from happening, then you begin to get anxious. Our human survival mechanism is based on two concepts; firstly, on animal based fears, such as, fear of spiders, fear of being bitten by a dog, fear of suffocation (claustrophobia) etc. Then secondly, we have ego based fears, like, feeling embarrassed, looking like a fool, fear of being judged by others or not being accepted into a group.

So, people who are good at becoming anxious are very efficient at looking to the future and trying to prevent what’s coming, they generate a wide spectrum of scary ‘what if’ scenarios which, unsurprisingly, can overwhelm them. If we  could just accept that life doesn’t always go to plan, if we could accept that people might not like us, if we accepted that there are variables that we just can’t change, if we accepted that there will be spiders and dogs around, if we accepted life just the way it is – we could then just do the best job we can – and we would be better at coping with anxiety.

What is an anxiety attack?

Anxiety is a state of uneasiness, of fear, worry and apprehension that manifests itself with unpleasant and even fearful feelings when some identifiable (or unidentifiable) trigger stimulus occurs. It is an unconsciously generated emotion in response to worries or perceived  threats from future facing events.

These anxieties are fuelled by worry and constant internal dialogue as you think through all the “what if” scenarios should that perceived threat happen. For example; how you might feel when you make that speech – what will happen at the interview – will he be OK on his first day at school etc.

What makes anxiety frustrating and illogical is that our common sense gets hijacked and control is passed from our conscious mind to our unconscious animal brain (limbic system) and it just does what it thinks is right for us. It responds in a very basic animal like ancestral manner – it moves us away from perceived danger and towards perceived safety. For example, if you go to work and make the speech you’ll be in danger and if you stay at home you’ll be safe.

There is a time and a place for this old animal brain and it does (on the whole) serve us very well – If an object is zooming towards our eye we (unconsciously) immediately flinch and close our eye in a fraction of a second, if we had to consciously think about what to do it would take too long and we might end up with a damaged eye.

Anxiety sufferers often have a voice in their mind that goes around and around looking for answers and getting more and more frustrated and angry with themselves for feeling so helpless and a victim of these physical symptoms. They make fearful images in their minds of all the things that could go wrong and this makes them even more anxious. It is well known and well documented that your body responds to what you hold in your mind, for example; you may feel anxious walking through a subway at night and you get the uncomfortable anxiety sensations like a dry mouth, a racing heart and sensitive hearing, yet, you can get the same physical feelings when awaking from a nightmare of walking through a subway!! Your unconscious can’t tell the difference between the real event, a thought or a dream. If you think good thoughts, you get good feelings, if you think bad thoughts, you get bad feelings – try it.

The final part of understanding anxiety is the knowledge that your unconscious holds a kind of database of memories (metaphorically speaking), some real, some old out of date beliefs, some from dreams and some from films and it compares your anxious thoughts against this database to see if what you are potentially going to experience is good or bad. The problem is that sometimes this database gets out of sync and things that shouldn’t register as scary suddenly do, this is one way of looking at something like a phobia, which, of course, fires off anxious feelings.

Anxiety builds up slowly over time, until, one day it spills over and manifests itself in uncomfortable episodes. Often there are underlying drivers in peoples life for this – stress, upheaval, change, bereavement, pressure, depression, feeling lost or alone – then, when they throw in some disrupted sleep they have the right circumstances for anxiety to thrive. And that’s just the beginning!

Because as they try to understand what is going on, the voice inside their head (internal dialogue) is racing around trying to figure it out and it makes no sense. That frustrates and worries them and they begin to question themselves and their abilities. This leads to what I call “anxiety paralysis” – because they are questioning their own competence and are fearful of another anxiety attack they tend to restrict the things they do and try to stay in a safe world, trying to avoid events or environments where they previously experienced anxiety.

Associations begin to form, for example; if the original anxious moment was in a car then subsequently, enclosed spaces may be a trigger and driving long distances may become difficult and generate more stress anxiety. By this point everything seems to blur into one, what started off as a panic attack or anxiety attack becomes General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and can often escalate and include depressive feelings and may become anxiety depression (a combination of anxiety and depression).

Symptoms of anxiety

The symptoms of panic attacks and anxiety are diverse and you may experience; a racing heart, trouble breathing and a tight restricted chest (feelings of having a heart attack), headaches or migraines, churning stomach, feeling sick, drained of energy, a dry mouth, IBS like symptoms, sweats, aching muscles, blushing, trembling hands, whole body shaking, feeling light-headed, uncontrollable crying, trouble sleeping, trouble swallowing, difficulty concentrating – there are many more too.

Most people have two or three main feelings from the list above and when they all conspire together it can be very uncomfortable and emotionally overwhelming. During our therapy session I prove to you where all these anxiety symptoms come from, this knowledge allows you to remain more calm during any episode of anxiety or panic.

I’d like to just give you a small glimpse into the power of the unconscious nervous system that generates these powerful emotions. The nervous system is comprised of two parts, the central nervous system which is composed of the brain and the spinal chord, and the peripheral nervous system that has miles of nerve fibres branching out to all the organs, glands and muscles around the body. The job of this autonomic nervous system is to transmit signals from the brain to the body and it controls all of our bodily processes. Most of the processes served are  unconscious, such as, breathing, digestion and, importantly, the generation of our emotions – and all this happens very rapidly, very unconsciously, completely under our conscious radar – and it generally keeps us safe and operational.

To protect these miles of highly sensitive bundles of nerves from damage they are usually buried deep within the body, one area where these nerves are very close to the surface is at the elbow, here, the ulnar nerve is slightly exposed, we know it better as the “funny bone”,  just one knock and our arm tingles with an unpleasant sensation that shoots down the nerve towards our fingers. This gives us a tiny glimpse of the power of the sympathetic nervous system and it is this very system that generates your anxious feelings. In anxious people, metaphorically speaking, this system becomes tired and uncalibrated, leading to exaggerated emotions (anxiety) to triggers that are (unconsciously decided) and may be erroneous or out of date , however, they are unconsciously viewed as a threat to you.

Sleep patterns often get disrupted whilst going through stressful anxious times. The constant ruminations and negative thought patterns (racing mind) cause the amount of recuperative deep sleep to be reduced and the time spent in high energy dreaming (REM sleep) to increase, this really saps your energy and runs you down, it also turns down the minds natural feelings of drive, so you might find your levels of self motivation waning.

What are panic attacks?

Occasionally, when the conditions are just right – prolonged stress, tired, over worked, over anxious and something finally happens that tips you over the edge, a full blown panic attack may happen. Panic attacks are very real and they can be very distressing – when a full blown panic attack fires off, a person could be anywhere and all they’ll want to do is run away, to flee that environment. Their heart will be racing, their chest constricted, often feeling like they are experiencing a heart attack. These anxiety symptoms are often compounded because they can feel their heart pumping violently (even in the neck area) and hearing the blood pumping around their ears and head. They experience trouble breathing, their hands begin to sweat and they feel faint, other symptoms include tingling sensations, headaches and muscle tension – all in all, a very scary situation.

Many people after a major panic attack visit their doctor or hospital fearing something is wrong and are often surprised (and embarrassed) when they are told it was a panic attack or overwhelming anxiety and that just adds to the feeling of being out of control. Whenever it comes on and whatever you call it, it is fear based and feels very real. It may seem ridiculous that a person cannot even walk to the end of his street without feeling anxious, but that ’s the power of fear. It may seem totally out of proportion, however, it is paralysing and it can affect anyone.

A new perspective on overwhelming emotions

Anxiety depression as with most forms of anxiety disorder are treatable. By teaching you what anxiety is, how it works, how the biology and physiology work, how your conscious & unconscious mind interact to generate these frightening emotions – you are then able to see everything from a completely new point of view. The emotions become less scary when you know what is happening and then we work on updating the old database in your mind that keeps erroneously associating your thoughts with perceived dangers. Finally, I work with you applying strategies that lessen the volume of negative and worrying thoughts in your mind, as these were the old fuel that stoked the fire.

To do this I use a range of therapies for anxiety, including hypnotherapy, NLP, CBT, Metaphoric Story Telling and general education on how the biology functions. We work with your unconscious mind to understand and mitigate whatever the underlying issues are that caused your unconscious to “keep you safe” by forcing you to move away from certain events or circumstances. Once done the anxiety tends to dissolve of its own accord.

Overcoming anxious feelings

Experience advises to take action sooner rather than later, because, it’s not just the anxiety that causes emotional discomfort, if untreated anxiety slowly affects other aspects of your life and often becomes quite specialised, leading to issues such as:

  • Agoraphobia – Feeling like you can’t leave the house because you will have a panic attack
  • OCD – Where you become obsessive about certain habits or procedures
  • Emetophobia – An unwanted fear of vomiting and this may limit the foods you are prepared to eat
  • Social Anxiety Disorder – Where you cut yourself off from friends, fearing anxiety whilst in their company
  • Irrational phobias – that tend to keep you away from recovery
  • Low self esteem – As anxiety continues, restricting your activities, frustration lowers your self esteem
  • With your confidence knocked for six, you do less things and believe in yourself less
  • Dependency on family and relations for emotional and perhaps even financial support
  • Depression – As you continue to restrict your life depressive feelings may begin to reign
  • Insomnia and disrupted sleep

Where appropriate our initial meeting may be at your home (extreme anxiety or agoraphobia) as I understand what a big step this is and how your anxiety will be on full alert.  I often travel with clients to help them confront their fears too, my calm nature and understanding of how types of anxiety work allows me to keep you calm, as we  work through a range of behavioural therapy and cognitive therapy that allows you to get back on the road to recovery and back functioning with normal levels of emotion once more.

 

Top tips to reduce anxious feelings

Whilst anxious, other factors should be considered, try to restrict your intake of caffeine, this will also help you sleep and refrain where possible from smoking and alcohol, as they are known to worsen the symptoms of anxiety and do disrupt sleep. Take time to relax each day read, meditate, take a yoga class, try to find time away from the everyday issues you face.

Realise that the feelings or anxiety are the same as those of excitement, if you kiss a lover, your heart races, your eyes dilate, your legs go shaky, you may blush and your stomach has butterflies. The human body only has one set of responses, it is how we interpret them that makes all the difference.

The symptoms of anxiety will not kill you! By their very nature they are trying to protect you and keep you safe (ironic, I know). Anxious episodes will pass, they always do. They calmer you stay, the sooner thay pass.

Light aerobic exercise is good as you can regain confidence in your heart and body (remember, as horrible as an anxiety attack is – it won’t kill you!) and you can burn off the chemicals and adrenaline that is pumped into your body during anxious moments. In addition, it is important that you accept that you are working through your anxiety at this time in your life and ensure that you are not taking on too many responsibilities – It is OK to say no, explain your circumstances and ask people to help; you’ll be surprised how they may respond.

Anxiety treatment therapist helping you take back control

If you have really had enough of this give me a call or email me and we can informally and confidentially discuss what is possible to get you out of this very treatable condition. See what my clients had to say here. I am located in Buckingham, Bucks. Close to Milton Keynes, Aylesbury, Bicester, Brackley, Winslow and Towcester and 20 minutes from M1 Junction 13 or M40 junction 9/10