I remember my first known panic attack. I was in a plane coming back from the middle east. I was thinking about how I felt with my marriage and I knew that my decision to end the relationship would be solidified as soon as I saw him, and I was right. A feeling of dread and fear gripped me like a vice. It was tight and restricting. I couldn’t breath and my efforts to breathe, inhaling were shallow. I started sweating furiously, I became nervous and panicky. Flooded by hormones and an overwhelming sense of “get me out of here”. I wanted to jump out of the plane. Thank god my sister noticed, aware of my distress, alerted the professionals which helped. Phew, at least they knew what to do! To have a panic attack is not much fun and very distressing to say the least. It’s like the engulfing fear and terror of running from the jaws of a lion!
I am not a specialist in this field nor to I advocate to be one, but as I chatted with my GP in a meeting one afternoon, he nonchalantly told me that everyone suffers from mental health and when I asked him why, he reacted quickly with the word, “stress”! So the question is does stress affect you so greatly that your brain becomes frazzled and unwired or do you suffer from stress because your brain is unwired? This is a rhetorical question you may say, in truth, there are likely to be a hell of a lot of people that are not diagnosed as such but are genetically predisposed of having misfiring chemical activity within the brain causing that flight or fight syndrome, commonly called stress. Unfortunately for us we have to deal with it or rather manage it , so it does not manage you!
Stress inducing panic attacks effect millions of people every day. Panic attacks are truly terrifying and can happen without warning or reason, causing sudden fear and extreme nervousness for 10 minutes or more. Physical symptoms intensify the attack: sweating, racing heart, rapid pulse, feeling faint or as if one is choking, and-perhaps worst of all-the sense of "going crazy."
So one could easily ask How does one manage these fateful kind of episodes? After all the situation is real and not made up and life happens every day with very real life threatening situations some within and some with out of our control. Somehow we must remind ourselves that we can only do what we can do and by not placing ourselves in the stressful situations in the first place may be a good place to start. If work stresses you change jobs. If your husband stresses you talk to him, if your children’s full on activities stress you then think about options as to handle them better, well differently. All’s well that ends well, funnily enough, (in most situations in any case). I recently had a panic attack whilst doing a talk on “trust your gut” at a national conference for the hydro colonics association in Australia. It was a nightmare. I just wanted to go home and shoot myself! You would think by now I would have understood the triggers but I guess it could be the one lesson in my life that I need to learn better. Be prepared for a start. My colleagues saw the comical side of this rather unfortunate incident and laughed saying, I forgot to employ the 7 Ps of any performance, meaning “piss-poor preparation promotes piss-poor performance. And that was the end of that conversation!
No one really knows what causes panic disorder, though researchers suspect a combination of biological and environmental factors, including family history, stressful life events, drug and alcohol abuse, and of course thinking patterns that exaggerate normal physical reactions. SO I guess the solution is to readdress our perceptions of any events and prepare ourselves so that we can avoid a reaction and respond in a rational manner. I remember once a successful business man once told me that at any time when you are feeling “out of control” ask yourself the question “will it really matter tomorrow?” For most times the anxiety that we feel is a useless waste of time and energy.
Fortunately, panic disorder is one of the most treatable of the anxiety disorders. Talk therapy, or Psychotherapy, cognitive, or biofeedback therapy can help alter a person's response to stimuli. Although Medications, such as antidepressants and beta-blockers are options, seek an alternate solution with herbs and cofactors as they can help in altering your thinking patterns by modulating the neurochemical overload or underload. Certain lifestyle changes, such as eliminating sugar, increasing neurotransmitter producing proteins, limiting alcohol consumption and sticking to a daily exercise plan, may assist in a decrease of symptoms.
Just remember , to look after you, because when the plane is going down the first person to put on his oxygen mask has to be you !
Caroline is a clinical Nutritionist practicing on a consultation basis. Caroline's experience encompasses research and writing on disease prevention with natural herbs, spices, foods and supplementation. Caroline practices holistic nutritional medicine that combines the three elements of being human. Those being, the physical , emotional and the mental components that make us who we are. All of these criterior is fueled by the fundamental of all health, food .