Anyone who has ever had a panic attack will tell you that they are one of the most frightening things that has ever happened to them, and that’s the problem. They believe the experience is happening to them (meaning that they have no control over it), and that it scares them to death because it feels like they are dying.
In other words, the initial feeling of panic feels like something is being done to them, and it is so scary that it triggers more feelings of out-of-control panic. While this is understandable, this also explains how to go about dealing with them. In other words, in order to stop panic attacks, we must be able to have some influence or control over the experience, and to do that, we must understand the underlying science behind them.
For those who follow my “Life from the Top of the Mind” philosophy, you know that these experiences (like everything else) has to do with how the brain processes information. That is, the middle brain (limbic system) has unconsciously interpreted some thought, situation, memory, etc., as dangerous, and has thrown us into the part of the brain that is designed to deal with danger (the brainstem).
Unfortunately, this results in the release of massive amounts of stress hormones (adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol) and we experience the racing heart, tight chest, and other reactions that make us feel like we are having a heart attack, or even dying. This would be bad enough if it stopped here, but unfortunately, this only has the limbic system thinking something really bad is happening, which results in it once again engaging the brainstem, and a cycle of panic is created.
Therefore, the key is to break the cycle by having the upper 80% of the brain (the neocortex, what I call the “Top of the Mind”) regain control from the lower brain so that it begins to trigger serotonin and endorphins (the chemicals that help us think clearer and feel better) versus the chemicals associated with panic.
This is what I teach…how to engage the clear, confident, creative brain, regardless of the situation, and then live life from the “Top of the Mind.” If this is something you would like to learn, feel free to contact me. I mean, what do you have to lose except the experience of panic?
~ All the best, Dr. Bill