Part 6: Other Techniques for Getting Rid of Panic Attacks

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Scaling Panic Attacks Down

The first technique is this: if you experience anxious or panicky sensations, you can rate their intensity from 1 to 10, full-blown panic being 10 and deep relaxation being 1. So, for example, if you are in a situation and begin to feel uneasy you could say to yourself ‘I am now at a scale 5’. If you began to feel worse you might say inwardly ‘I am now at a scale 6’. As you begin to feel better, you can count yourself back down to a 2 or a 1.

By scaling anxiety attacks in this way, you are doing three things.

  1. You are ‘putting a fence’ around the experience so the limits are clear. After all, it’s impossible for panic to go up indefinitely.it has to level off.
  2. You are using the thinking part of the brain. In order to stop and think about where you are on a scale of anxiety you have to use the neo-cortex; the part which is not so concerned with emotion but more with thinking (see emotional hijacking).
  3. For the time it takes for you to grade the panic you are less ‘in’ the panic attack and more outside it. like an observer. This dilutes the emotional content.
  4. You can get some better data on how long the anxiety attack lasts, how intense it is etc. This gives you more control. Although it can feel that panic attacks go on for ever, they can actually only continue for short periods - they are short-term survival responses.

The simple rule is that by giving the thinking brain a task we diminish the experience of unpleasant emotion. In the panic attacks audio program we look at how to amplify your positive emotions and diminish the less pleasant ones.

It’s good to use a pen and paper to scale anxiety because then you can see how things are improving. It also gives you something to do during an anxiety attack although people sometimes find it a little difficult to write as the brain is concentrating on larger movements at these times, rather than fine ones.

Be AWARE of Panic Attacks

The next technique with which I would like to arm you is the AWARE technique. You will find a card (see below) carrying the details of this technique attached to the insert in the panic attacks audio program. You can detach this and carry it around to use if you need it.

 

Panic Attacks audio program

So the ‘A’ in aware stands for ‘Accept the anxiety. Decide just to go with the experience. Fighting anxiety, getting angry or scared just fuels the fire. After doing this course, you know a panic attack is a perfectly natural response, so although it can be frustrating, there is nothing to be afraid of.

The ‘W’ in aware is for ‘Watch the anxiety’ Observe it without judging it to be good or bad. Remember - you are more than just your anxiety.

The next ‘A’ in ‘aware is for ‘Act normal’. Behave normally and continue doing what you intended to do. Breathe normally focusing on extending the out breath (se 7:11 breathing). If you run from the situation your immediate anxiety will of course decrease but this may lead to an increase in future anxiety.

Staying in the situation helps ‘decondition’ the panic response as your mind gets the message that it is not really threatening. This is why people often say that the first few minutes of public speaking are the worst. If you continue for longer than a few minutes then the mind gets the message that it’s not really that threatening.

The ‘R’ in ‘aware’ is for ‘Repeat the steps’. Continue accepting your anxiety, watching it and acting normal until it goes down to a comfortable level.

And finally the ‘E’ in ‘aware’ is for ‘Expect the best’. What you fear may never happen. You will surprise yourself by the effective way you handle situations when using the ‘AWARE’ technique.

Of course, getting rid of all anxiety is not desirable, or even possible, but getting rid of panic attacks is.

The Next Step

The next step in getting rid of panic or anxiety attacks for good is to re-educate the unconscious mind so that it understands that the situations that currently trigger your panic attacks are not actually dangerous.

The Panic Prevention Program CD Our audio program: The Panic Prevention Program is devoted to this.

Mark Tyrrell
Creative Director Uncommon Knowledge

Mark Tyrrell is a Director of Uncommon Knowledge and has been training therapists for over 15 years.

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