Important information for anyone suffering from anxiety or panic.
What makes us fearful? Almost everything at one time or another-heights, social situations, being left alone, being in a crowd, snakes, cars, and mice, going outside, staying inside, having hope, losing hope, working, not working-even, as the old saw goes, fear itself. Panic attacks are often inspired by the thought that we might have one.
Things that retrospectively seem quite small may loom terribly large when we are frightened of them. Fear is like the shadows that move across a room at night-in the light of morning we see it was just a drape or a coat or a branch blowing in the wind. Until the sun comes up, however, it can be immobilizing.
When we don’t deal with our fears, they can completely disrupt our lives as we modify, move around and manipulate ourselves and everything else to try to avoid confronting them.
How Fear Manifests:
Fear is first and foremost experienced in the body-sweaty hands, dry mouth, upset stomach, heart palpitations, bowel cramps, muscle tightness, headaches, tunnel vision, breathing difficulties. The list goes on but essentially starts in certain portions of the brain and involves numerous glands, particularly the adrenal s.
Everyone is different-not only in what makes us fearful, but in how that fear manifests in our bodies. Some people experience a persistent, general state of fearfulness that wears them over time. Others have specific fears and/or sudden attacks.
How Fear Starts:
Fears often follow thoughts -”I’ll never get that job!” “They’re going to laugh at me when I speak.” “The bridge is going to fall.” Some of the thoughts that initiate the chemical cascade of fear are rational, others are not. Some thoughts lead us to protect ourselves (staying away from a dark alley), while others make our days unmanageable (avoiding other people).
The first part of dealing with fears properly is the skillful art of discernment: Is this fear helpful or hurtful? Is my fear rational or not? Most people who suffer from persistent fears know their fears aren’t helpful, but aren’t sure what to do.
What You Can Do:
*Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy involves examining “cognitions” or thoughts and modifying them and our behaviors to help change those thoughts and relieve the fear.
*Desensitization is the gradual, gentle exposure of a fear-producing stimulus (such as a snake) to a person so that it can be seen in the healing light of day.
*Breath work helps when the panic attacks are related to low blood oxygen levels, such as in cases of acute and chronic respiratory illness.
*Medication, both homeopathic and allopathic, can be helpful in the treatment of acute and chronic states of fear.
*Hypnotherapy utilizes imagery and suggestion to help us change the way we see things as well as to modulate our own physiological responses. It can be enormously effective in a relatively short time.
*EMDR is a specific technique that works with rapid eye movement to release us from old patterns and traumas. This is very helpful when the fears are due to specific event.