The Anatomy Of A Panic Attack

Are there places you can’t go in case you have a panic attack? Are there things you can’t do for fear of panic?

A few Alexander Technique lessons will help most people to let go of panic attacks.

I had a girlfriend who could not go to courts or hospitals for fear of a panic attack.

“If you’d free your neck and think up, you wouldn’t have a panic attack,” I said to her.

My advice did not go over well. She just got mad at me.

It’s always easier to get mad at others rather than to take responsibility for your own situation.

So what happens when you have a panic attack?

The first thing that you notice will be a flooding sensation of fear, but you won’t get this without certain physiological responses to a stimulus.

If your neck is free and you have upward direction through your torso, in other words, if you are buoyant, you won’t be disabled by fear. To truly experience fear, you have to tighten and to compress your neck and to pull down and in on yourself. As you tighten up and compress, shoving your anxiety into your gut where the bile will likely flow up in reaction to your clenching, you’ll be flooded by fear and other unpleasant symptoms such as a racing heart.

With your neck and torso tight and your shoulders hunched, your lungs will have less room to expand and breath will become more difficult.

By contrast, if you refuse to tighten and to compress your neck, and instead expand into activity, your torso lengthening and widening and your face free of compression and your limbs loose, you’ll be tranquil. You won’t be a drama queen. You won’t need to demand that everybody pay attention to you and submit to your emotional and physiological blackmail.

Wikipedia says: “First, there is frequently (but not always) the sudden onset of fear with little provoking stimulus. This leads to a release of adrenaline (epinephrine) which brings about the so-called fight-or-flight response wherein the person’s body prepares for strenuous physical activity. This leads to an increased heart rate (tachycardia), rapid breathing (hyperventilation) which may be perceived as shortness of breath (dyspnea), and sweating (which increases grip and aids heat loss). Because strenuous activity rarely ensues, the hyperventilation leads to a drop in carbon dioxide levels in the lungs and then in the blood. This leads to shifts in blood pH (respiratory alkalosis or hypocapnia), which in turn can lead to many other symptoms, such as tingling or numbness, dizziness, burning and lightheadedness. Moreover, the release of adrenaline during a panic attack causes vasoconstriction resulting in slightly less blood flow to the head which causes dizziness and lightheadedness.”

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