Anxiety on steroids
Are panic attacks curable?
The solution is never in solving the symptoms
Do you believe the basics?
Additional inputs that are useful
People whose panic attacks have been cured
SIMILAR AND ALL CURABLE
False thinking/beliefs... Anxiety/Worry... Panic... Depression... Hyperventilation... lack of self confidence or belief in your personal power...
All variations from the same basic syndrome and all based on natural body and mind reactions to fear. And the cures work.
And the cures work because we put together strategies that deal with all the components and get the necessary detail to know how things work. Because these conditions are syndromes that consist of many pieces, the cures lie in addressing each piece one by one and handling them as well as we can at the time - and then refining and revisiting until the new items become habitual, easy, and automatic.
All these have in common at least "loss" thinking, "lack of power" thinking (usually with some dependency beliefs), "I can't handle the outcome that I fear" thinking, the fight/flight physical reactions that fit with that thinking (with elements of breathing, tensing), accelerating the spiral upward. An example is in the piece Hyperventilation.
WHAT WORKS IS WHAT WORKS - YOU'RE NO DIFFERENT!
Many people say "but I'm different, that'll never work for me, it doesn't apply to me, or I tried it and it didn't work." Well, the cures do work if you work the cures (i.e. do the whole protocol and keep doing it until the habit is changed and the reasons are changed).
In the book Learning To Breathe, where Priscilla Warner "conquered" panic attacks and attained peace in one ambitious year, she asked Belleruth Naperstek earlier on if she could go from panic to peace, and she quotes the following:
"Yes. You'll get better and better at recognizing the earliest stages of triggering and you'll head panic off at the pass. And maybe sometimes you won't, but most of the time you will. You won't think about it every day,. You won't even know you're not thinking about it. Until one day you'll think 'Gee, I haven't worried about this for quite a while.' That's how it works."
Note that most of what works is simply doing the opposite of what was done to produce the undesired result. And note that it is simply about forming a new habit, as one is "x"ing out the old habit and/or doing the opposite (which does reprogram the brain). There is no magic. It is simple. Just do the opposite.
For instance, you'd do relaxation and deep breathing to offset the shallow, fast breathing that is the evolutionary reaction to extreme fear. And, of course, you'd do everything to offset the fear, including understanding fear completely (be an expert in it, rather than the victim of it). You'd assure and reassure yourself (talk to yourself with pre-prepared sentences) that the fear and the consequences are handleable and passing. You'd affirm what the truth is, rather than the false belief that creates the fear where it is not appropriate or useful - it's only useful in physically threatening situations, period. (Fear is different than concern or a desire to get something or keep something - and most of life simply consists of concerns and preferences, but need not have those be stress items.)
You also cannot dissolve the fear if you belief that it is something outside you that is causing it, a flaw in you makes it permanent, and/or some invisible force is overtaking you. The real whopper is to use the condition as the cause of the condition - "I am just a hyperventilator and that's my problem." No, hyperventilation is a result of a cause and it is addressing the cause that creates the solution, not just solving the symptoms over and over as they come up.
Most (all?) of the people who are now "cured" acknowledge that they began to see that, despite the discomfort and the sensations, they come out the other end intact (though often exhausted) and they see that it was strictly a mental creation and not a real threat that was not survivable. Perhaps that is just a repeat of the tritely used "don't sweat the small stuff, and it's all small stuff [almost]". (How To Deal With Fear)
ANXIETY ON STEROIDS
Panic is anxiety about anxiety such that chemicals and overwhelm start an incredibly uncomfortable cycle.
We are not trying to deal with this on this site, except to note that all the anxiety and fear handling material on this site deals with the underlying cause of panic - you do the recommended actions and your panic will decline or disappear.
It's all the same mechanism, whether it is mild or severe.
The causal chain for behaviors is always the same. A person dealing with anxiety must review and seek understanding until one sees that there is a mechanical process that is undeniable and totally scientific. Believing otherwise is attributing "magical" causes to what is mechanically determined.
The person must know that we are not just reactive animals, where an event happens and then an instinctive behavior happens. The human process is always:
Event --> thought/interpretation --> reaction from brain's systems --> emotion and behavior
While we don't have any choice about the mechanical part, where the "feeling" happens from what stimulated it, we do have a choice about the pieces that cause the feeling: the thought/interpretation. Thought/interpretation (beliefs) are learned and therefore can be unlearned and replaced. Our minds have the ability to choose which thought to entertain - this ability is unquestionable. Yes, we often don't use it, but that doesn't mean it isn't there. And, yes, we do have to "train" and repeat it in order to have it be automatic and stronger, but it is proven that we can do that.
It is proven scientifically that an emotion lasts no longer than a minute and half (i.e. it passes). It is only through restimulation (repeating the cause) that the emotion reappears - where it is an illusion that it is continuing because it doesn't look temporary. See Live A Life Dictated By My Feelings.
It is a "story" that anxiety cannot be cured, as the pieces that cause the anxiety can be changed. Anybody arguing to the contrary is "arguing for their limitations" with no scientific proof. And, please note, that one person not having cured their anxiety yet is never proof that it cannot be cured!
(Read and learn the materials in the Anxiety section.)
IMMEDIATE ACTION IN THE MOMENT
A key thing we recommend is that you have a checklist ready for what to do and that you have it memorized - for each type of trigger event. You must carry it with you. If one knows that one is going to go into a possibly triggering event, one would follow the whole checklist, which includes preparation beforehand. Such a list would include, possibly:
Getting plenty of rest and not entering the situation at all tired or stressed.
Arriving at least 10 minutes ahead of time.
Deep breathing and relaxation
Saying one's affirmations and reminders about how one can think and what one
Reading out loud a visualization, with lots of detail, on what you will do, seeing
yourself do well.
Methods to "interrupt" the panic cycle (e.g. excuse self to go to the bathroom,
breathe into paper bag, relax, etc.)
After it happens, write down the degree and a few thoughts. Come back later
and finish all those off, especially using the problem solving methods on this
Panic is a highly learned habit and dysfunctional coping mechanism, so that means it needs to be dealt with very, very strongly - and extinguished!!!!!!
ARE PANIC ATTACKS CURABLE?
If you weren't born with anxiety disorder, then you acquired it.
Anything acquired can be "unacquired", with new programming. Although it may "seem" to be incurable, logic and evidence does not support that. The panic person must accept as a possibility that his/her "seeming" might not be true and that it could be true that panic is curable - after all there is substantial scientific evidence that proves it is curable! (The person who believes it isn't should google "Is panic curable?"
THE SOLUTION IS NEVER IN SOLVING THE SYMPTOMS
Panic susceptible people often make the logic mistake of trying to alleviate their symptoms and/or trying to change their circumstances. They often think "if only" people, life, circumstances, etc., were different then everything would be ok.
But the cause is always, always, always, the thought that creates the alarm - which then starts the loop of panic. The cure, then, is ALWAYS in changing the thought to what is true and workable. And the latter is always doable, if the person does the work to change the thought/belief. The person, if he/she truly wants it bad enough, will have to fill in the forms that guide one through the process - there is no easy way around it.
Yes, it is possible to cure the hyperventilation/hyperalarm reaction by drugs or perhaps training, but that is not the solution if the cause is still around. The cause must be cured regardless of whether or not one stops panicking, as the cause is creating havoc, panic or not!
And part of the work involves setting up a whole new foundation of beliefs and philosophies - which takes work, but it always works if one persists through to completion. The foundation is formed through completing the materials necessary to fill in the Reminders Notebook, where one established who one is, who one chooses to be, how one chooses to live, new beliefs, a philosophy of life, etc.
THE WORK MUST BE DONE! THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS, NO SAVIORS, NO MIRACLES!
DO YOU BELIEVE THE BASICS?
Take this test and report back to your counselor, as it may help identify why a person might be stuck on believing one's panic is not curable:
___ I believe; ___ I don't believe; the science is wrong.
Panic can only occur from a re-stimulating of the thoughts that cause the fear emotion.
___ I believe; ___ I don't believe; the science is wrong.
Help is virtually always necessary, by a professional specialist. You need a partner in the process.
Even if you partner with a lay person, you can make considerable progress. Being accountable to someone else helps keep one on track, while the partner will encourage you to do all the reading, learning, and doing recommended.
So read and implement the following top, top rated books:
When Panic Attacks: The New, Drug-Free Therapy That Can Change Your Life, by David D. Burns, M.D. - Also buy his Feeling Good Handbook.
Panic Attacks Workbook: A Guided Program For Beating The Panic Trick, by David Carbonell.
A free "disconnect" - Try this and see if it works.
ADDITIONAL USEFUL INPUTS
Slow down your breathing. During a panic attack, you often hyperventilate--and that short and shallow gasping only adds to your state of fear. "You have to make a conscious effort to take long, deep diaphragmatic breaths," explains Dr. McCullough. To practice deep diaphragmatic breathing, try to keep your chest and shoulders in position while you slowly expand and contract your stomach area.
Count backward from 100. "The purpose is to focus on something specific such as counting or touching, but not on your anxiety," says Jerilyn Ross, director of the Ross Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders in Washington, D.C., and president of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. "Counting backward, counting the stripes on the wall, snapping a rubber band--doing anything that takes your mind off your panic attack helps, because it refocuses your thinking. You pay attention to things around you, rather than trying to fight the anxiety."
Switch to decaf. People who get panic attacks are often highly sensitive to caffeine, says Alexander Bystritsky, M.D., assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and director of the Anxiety Disorders Program at the University of California, Los Angeles. So if you're prone to panic attacks, try to limit your intake of coffee, tea, chocolate and colas that contain caffeine.
Follow the Coaching Video related to the Attacking Anxiety And Depression program. Watch this to carry you through this with a "coaching" talk. Follow through to #2 and then others of "Chin Up!".
PEOPLE WHO HAVE CURED PANIC ATTACKS
For people to cure anything, they have to
1. Know that it can be done.
2. Know that they are capable of doing it.
3. Know the "how to" that worked.
There are many, many, many, many examples of people who have successfully overcome depression, anxiety attacks, and panic attacks. They are right in front of your eyes, if you look. Writers, therapists, meditators - many of them have gone into those in order to solve their own problems - so you can follow their path. And you can lend credence to them (i.e. believe them) and see which of the strategies work for you - but not discarding them too early, before you've completed the whole process. (See Completion and follow the law!)
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche (see his great book The Joy Of Living - Unlocking The Secret And Science Of Happiness) suffered greatly from panic attacks, Krishna Das suffered from depression.
I love the usable depth of solutions found by Priscilla Warner in her year of her panic-to-peace project, about which she wrote the very personable, fascinating, delightful book "Learning To Breathe - My Yearlong Quest To Bring Calm To My Life." And any panic sufferers know how valuable it is to be able to breathe!!!
Success Stories - Midwest Center - Videos - Lucinda Bassett herself, a principal in the center, had a huge success story herself. Marcel - On YouTube, get on there and then follow all the other stories
Lucinda has posted.
Donny Osmond - However, through hard work he has learned how to recognize and control negative thought patterns -- to the point that he is now able to manage the disorder without medication. (Book: Life Is Just What You Make It.)
People Who Suffered But Now Help People
Of course, many of these are for a price, but at least they are written by the voices of experience. These are just a few.
Books by recovered anxiety attack people
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See books on social anxiety under Social Anxiety page.