Panic feelings are common. Nearly everybody, at some time or another, has felt overwhelmed by feelings of being afraid, sometimes for no very good reason. But at times these feelings can begin to happen quite often. If panicky feelings are preventing you from being able to do things that you want to do, or are making your normal life difficult, then it is time to learn more about them and how to control them.

One aspect of being panicky is usually a feeling of being unable to control your reactions. However, with some practise in methods of managing the feelings, it is possible to become quite good at controlling a panic. Once you are no longer frightened that you will be unable to cope with a panic it is less likely to happen in future.

What is a panic?

Panic feelings are simply an exaggeration of the normal reaction of the body to a fearful situation. One way of thinking of them is as the body giving a ‘false alarm”. Think of what happens if you have a near miss in a car accident. Or consider how you would react if you thought you heard a burglar in the house at night Your heart would pound, your palms feel clammy, and you might feel a knot of fear’ in your stomach. If you are going to an interview for a job , you might have butterflies in your stomach and your throat might feel dry. These are examples of the body’s fear reactions. They are normal, and useful, because they gear us up for action.

Though they are not pleasant feelings, we know why they happened. and once we know that everything is all right, we calm down again. The problem comes when the fear reaction happens for no apparent reason. To experience intense feelings of fear without knowing why, can be very worrying indeed. If you don’t understand what is happening, it is quite easy to imagine these are signals that there is something seriously wrong with you. All that has actually happened is that your normal fear reaction has become oversensitive. –


Why do panic feelings happen?

Fear reactions do occasionally happen for no good reason. This is perhaps more likely if you are very tired or under a lot of stress. However, the most important thing that makes a panic is not the fear reaction itself. After a fright in a car, you calm down, you know the danger is over. The difference in a panic is that you worry a lot about the feelings. Instead of telling yourself that you are safe now, you wonder what is wrong with you. You may also begin to wonder about what will happen to you in the long term, or whether you will ever get better. These are very frightening thoughts. They actually keep the panic going and make it worse.

Once you have had a panic, you will probably be warned about the possibility of it happening again. Once that happens, you are on the lookout for slight changes that may indicate there is something amiss. In fact, you become an expert at detecting the normal changes in your body which are usually ignored. Of course, once you begin to imagine that something may be wrong, you become a bit frightened, triggering the body’s fear reactions anyway. This vicious circle quickly builds up to a panic!

You can see from this that the greatest part of what makes up a panic is that your thoughts get out of hand and run away with you.


Can panic feelings harm you?

No. No-one can die of fright, and panic attacks cannot send you mad, although temporarily you may feel unlike yourself. Though panic feelings are unpleasant they cannot in any way harm you, or damage vital organs. The feelings themselves are quite normal. It is just that they are happening in an ordinary situation rather than in a dangerous or frightening one.


Guidelines For Handling Panic Feelings

It is important to understand what is happening to you. Understanding your reactions better is half the battle. Take the trouble to read these notes several times over and then try to remember the following points:

  1. Panic feelings are common.
  2. They are caused by a combination of:
    i ) The body reacting to an ordinary situation as if it were frightening.
    ii ) Your thoughts running away with you about what is happening.
  3. There is no real need for fear now.
  4. Panic feelings do not indicate that there is anything seriously wrong with you.
  5. Though the feelings are unpleasant no harm can come to you.

What To Do If You Have A Panic

  1. Try to stay where you are if possible.
  2. If not, do not leave in a hurry but walk away slowly and find a quiet-place to stay and concentrate on reducing panic feelings
  3. Practise in coping with panic feelings is an important part or overcoming them. Remember this is an opportunity to practise.
  4. Read through the list of important points about panics. Reassure yourself that there is nothing terrible about to happen.
  5. Accept the feelings of fear, and just give yourself a little time to calm down, and for the feelings to die away naturally. Try not to fight them.
  6. Then concentrate on your breathing for a while. Try to lower your rate of breathing, so that you are breathing slowly and calmly, at a rate of about 10-12 breath a minute. Try to use your stomach muscles (diaphragm) and not your chest.

  7. Practise relaxation and lust let go of the tension in your muscles.
  8. This should go a long way towards occupying your mind and diverting it away from frightening thoughts. However, if after all this you find you are still increasing the fear by dwelling on frightening things, try to concentrate on what is going on around you. Describe your surroundings to yourself in as much detail as possible to distract yourself.
  9. When you are feeling better, continue with what you were doing. Try to slow down and continue calmly. If you are out, do not rush home. Practice in coping with your panic feelings. In this way will greatly increase your confidence in your ability to manage in the future.
Information Courtesy of:
ASSIST
Assist is an organisation dedicated to offering support, understanding and friendship to individuals and families affected by Trauma

The Penthouse
11 Bank Street
Rugby
Warwickshire
CV21 2QE

Tel : 01788 551919
Helpline : 001788 560800
Email: assist@traumatic-stress.freeserve.co.uk

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