Panic attacks cause many changes in physiology, including anxious breathing, hyperventilation, and muscle tension.
An elevated breath count leads to a number of physical and psychological changes. The normal breath rate in adults is between 10 and 14 breaths per minute. Anxiety and panic increase that rate and the optimal amount of oxygen and carbon-dioxide become unbalanced and an individual breathes out too much carbon dioxide. When the body is unable to return the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide, an individual can experience light-headedness, dizziness, headache, weakness, and muscle tension. If an individual is experiencing panic attacks, it may be helpful to consult with a psychologist in Richmond.
Panic attacks can be prevented or overcome by gaining control over one’s breathing. Gaining control over one’s breathing means they are able to slow their breathing and change the breathing style. To do that, it’s necessary to focus on one’s breathing and not on other sensations or situations happening. Inhale should take 3 to 4 seconds and exhaling 4 to 6 seconds, with pauses between those two for 1 or 2 seconds. Repeating this process for a few minutes should help to bring a normal breath rate back.
Muscle tension occurs during stress, anxiety, and panic attacks. Muscle tension helps the body prepare for potential danger as a part of the ‘fight or flight’ response. Muscle tension happens even when there isn’t actually any danger, but the body and mind feel like there is.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation or PMR is a helpful technique used by many people in different situations. PMR takes a few minutes and results in the relaxation of muscles. This procedure affects arms, head and face, neck, back, chest, stomach, and legs. Progressive Muscle Relaxation is done in a quiet and peaceful surrounding. All muscles are tensed and then relaxed in a particular sequence which allows the whole body to relax.
Internal physical sensations that cause panic attacks are not harmful but they cause fear. That fear is what triggers a series of symptoms and can be a result of negative thinking styles, exaggerated focus on bodily sensations, or avoidance of those sensations.
Exposure to panic sensations helps by providing evidence that panic attacks are not physically harmful. Exposure provides evidence that those sensations are not catastrophic, which reduces the fear of them. Being repeatedly exposed to physical sensations makes an individual used to them, and it decreases anxiety so an individual doesn’t have to avoid possible triggers.
One can avoid certain situations that can cause fear and panic, but this sometimes only re-enforces those fears and causes more frequent panic attacks. Graded exposure is a helpful way to overcome fear and stop avoiding activities and situations. A good way to start is with situations that are less likely to cause a panic attack and are easier to handle. Situations that increase confidence and improve the skills needed to overcome anxiety and panic attacks. It might be difficult at first and one can expect increased stress and panic short-term, but in the long run, exposing oneself to anxiety-inducing situations builds confidence and prevents frequent panic attacks in the future. A psychologist in Melbourne will be able to assist with more information on exposure exercises.