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Panic Disorder and Social Phobia
What is Social Phobia?
The excess anxiety can manifest itself as phobias. For social phobia, anxiety arises from social situations such as going to meetings, speaking in public, making complaints, eating in public, signing with someone watching, traverse a room where several people are facing you, etc.
Symptoms and possible consequences
This feeling of anxiety (fear of something that might happen) can be extremely powerful and bring the person to panic attacks. It is, however, not to confuse the term widely used "panic" with these panic attacks. The term usually refers to a state of momentary despair, while the panic attacks are a physical manifestation sometimes really strong. The heart beats faster, breathing becomes breathless and often done through the mouth, the adrenaline is triggered as a situation of great (or maximum) danger, some people may experience dizziness, fainting, sweating, tremor (especially of the hands and legs) and movements get difficult to control. Sometimes there is a fear of death, in other cases, fear of loosing control over one's own body or going mad.
Understand what someone with social phobia may be suffering when in a panic attack
Panic attacks are felt like terror. In a social situation, the fear takes over and the body is now commanding for fight-or-flight. Even the person knows this fear is irrational, the more they aware that the more they panic because they know they are out of reality. The person with social phobia knows this fear is not rational, there is no use and it is even worst to make someone in a panic attack accomplish this thoughts. The body is ready for escape for life, so trying to hold the person is also something not to do. Do not ever minimize their suffering! The best you can do if someone near you is having a panic attack is to be calm, try to distract their mind from the panic, ask the person if he/she needs water, and do not leave the person alone. Now, the person has difficulty to put the mind in order, and can even do something dangerous in the need for escape. His/her terror is very real! Take it seriously!
Imagine you are driving a car and that in front of you come within milliseconds a violent accident in which a car is shot and is coming towards you ... that experience you feel in your body is often what we experience in panic attacks.
Relationship with depression
This excessive anxiety in social situations experienced in social phobia can, with time and fatigue that anxiety causes, lead to depression. Here, depression comes when the person suffering from social phobia is so tired of trying that starts believing that there is nothing he can do and that he's not at cause.
What is Panic Disorder (Panic Syndrome)?
For the accident, there is a real danger and as such the reaction of the body is considered normal and appropriate; the fear came triggering the adrenaline and preparing the body for a quick escape (fight-or-flight), but when this happens just because someone is watching us taking a coffee, or because we are meeting with a potential client, the situation is completely different and can even lead to panic disorder (also called panic syndrome). Panic disorder appears when there is panic arising from the situation of having a panic attack, meaning, we have fear of having panic attacks, and that fear alone can arise their own panic.
I will tell you an episode that demonstrates it. One day, sitting in a coffee, I saw a person (my acquaintance) arriving by car. The thought that the person could also go to the coffee caused me a panic attack. In fact, the person was not going there, went to another place, but I had to wait a good few minutes until my breathing normalizes and soothe the jitters enough until I could open the packet of sugar. When I finally did it, the tremors were milder but still not enough to hit with the sugar in the coffee ... no, really is not anything like the "shiver"!
In the following days, just the thought about the possibility of this happening again on going to the coffee made me feel an impulse from the heart and the increasing anxiety so I stopped going to the coffee. This is the panic disorder as I limited myself for fearing panic attacks, moreover, just that fear can sometimes generate panic attacks. In later stages, the panic disorder can cause a person to confine itself increasingly stopping more and more activities of his life and finally becoming agoraphobic by staying closed at home.
Self Help for Panic Disorder
As previously explained, panic disorder is the result of fear of having panic attacks, so if that fear does not exist, all panic attacks originating from the panic disorder have no place within us.
Ask yourself what are the reasons for you to fear having panic attacks. Write each one on a sheet. For each of these reasons, put its veracity into question. Is it really true that reason? Are you absolutely sure that is true? The thoughts are always arising in our mind and we are the ones who believe in them or not, the choice is ours, but it happens, that inattention to the veracity of these same thoughts make us take it as true and certain, but are they? Believing that thought does what for me? Who am I when believing in it? And who would I be if I did not believe that thought? Put all these questions for each of the reasons you gave to be afraid of having panic attacks. This technique is part of the work knew exactly as "the work" of Byron Katie, and makes us realize that we live according to what we believe.
- A reason to be afraid of having panic attacks: I am afraid of loosing control of my body and to look foolish.
- Is that reason really true? Yes, it's true. Am I absolutely sure? Absolutely..
- Who am I when believing this thought that if I have a panic attack I loose control of my body and will look foolish? I am someone who suffers panic of having panic attacks. I am living in fear and running away from all situations that my past experiences lead me to believe that it is possible to have another attack. I am someone who make excuses to avoid these situations. I feel frustrated by not being able to overcome this fear and by seeing myself confining more and more.
- And who would I be if I did not believe that thought? I would be someone who would go anywhere and face any situation besides the possibility of having a panic attack, if I do not believe panic attacks makes me loose control or look foolish then I have no other reason to have fear of having a panic attack ... I would be someone much more free, more relaxed, happier with myself ...
- Now ask yourself ... have you ever lost control of your body in a panic attack? Who do you think will think you look foolish? Who is the judge?
Physical component of panic attacks
What physically happens in a panic attack is a response of the body to something that we have to flee quickly, as is the case of a dangerous situation (like the accident approaching). It triggers a high level of adrenaline in the blood, that is, physically speaking, is something that many people have paid for, or doing skydiving or racing bikes or cars, or amusement machines at fairs, etc.. Good news: This means that your body and your metabolism are working well! Another news: You are trying to eliminate what many people pay to have!
This fear of "being afraid" (panic disorder) is a part of the person, not the person, so talk with that part of you. When you feel it, give the part welcome, even if for now it seems absurd. That part of you has a positive aim, it wants something good for you, so thank it for wanting your sake, talk with it, ask it what it wants, let the answers emerge in your mind, if you are receptive they will arise. Repress it only make fear getting stronger, instead, accept it! Talk with the part and show how the tactics for achieving the goal are not working.
When performing these exercises, you will verify that the "fear of fear" dissipates. Even when it starts arising, just the beginning of the conversation with the "part" will make it difficult to continue because it starts to go away ... why? Because by talking to the part you stopped being afraid of it, no longer afraid of being afraid!
Self Help for Social Phobia
The root of a phobia is made on a belief acquired at the time that root is formed. Somewhere in our past, recent or distant, we begin to believe in something that makes us behave as we do today. You may need guidance to clear negative emotions from that past and to teach your subconscious a new perspective and learning, however, as a rule, some exercises like the aforementioned and the next will be sufficient, or even the only necessary, so your subconscious and your body collaborates in what you want.
Take two sheets of paper. Choose two pens or pencils, one with the color of your panic feeling and another with the color of the feeling you want to have in this social situations. Now, in one sheet, let's call it the panic sheet, draw whatever for you represent the state of panic with the respective color; make drawings that express this feeling, also write the words that describe it, example: panic , palpitations, fear, etc. Draw yourself in that state on that sheet; you can override the other drawings. When you feel ready, start the sheet of the feeling you want. Draw with their color, images that represent how you want to feel and write words to describe this feeling. You can even put temperatures as "heat" / "freshness" etc. Draw also yourself in the state you want to be in these situations.
When you feel that both sheets are in agreement with the sentiments, grab the panic sheet with your left hand and the other with your right hand. Place at arm's length, the panic sheet in front of you and feel that emotion. When it arises, overlay the sheet with the other one of the right hand. Now, bend the arm approaching the sheet of the feeling you want to feel, while away the other sheet. Download both arms and breathe deeply. Repeat several times ever quicker, less time on the panic sheet, until you cannot feel the effect of the panic sheet.
It is interesting to note the breath changing, the facial and abdominal relaxation that your body experiences when appears the sheet of the feeling you want ...
After this exercise, test it. If you cannot do in practice, imagine. Imagine the situation of your social phobia with as much detail as possible and verify the change.
What to do in panic attacks?
This exercise is not intended to quell the panic; as we have seen, the panic comes from a part of us that just want our well being, even if often in inappropriate ways, and so it is positive to make peace with him.
Not forgetting or neglecting the conversation with this part of ourselves, we can add an exercise that calms the symptoms and then to get this healthy internal conversation.
When you are panicking two things happen at the outset: the breath quickens and your also does your heart beating. This breathing occurs in the rib cage above the diaphragm and generally with open mouth (hence ultimately dry mouth). When you realize that this is happening, inhale slowly through your nose, but instead of filling the rib-cage, fill your belly, hold your breath for 2 to 3 seconds and exhale slowly through your nose. Repeat the abdominal breathing at least 3 times. The heart responds immediately slowing down with the breath. All the other symptoms will not even occur or, if they had appeared, dissipate, some quickly, others take a few short minutes away. If you already did the previous exercise (the sheets), you can visualize the sheet of the desired feeling. You can also bring to mind a memory that has given you the feeling you want to have right now, hear what you heard in that memory (should have some memories in advance, like right now, because at the moment of panic there is more difficulty concentrating to remember memories with certain characteristics).
We live our beliefs, running away from our fears, believing in our thoughts without paying attention to what we think ... it is up to us, as we are responsible for our person, to choose what we believe and the fears we intend to keep. Our life quality is our responsibility.
This thought is useful to me? It does me good? Believing that thought improves my life? Note: Do not forget that feeling of fear can be useful in many circumstances, it exists to protect us from something , however, there are cases of irrational fears where there is no real danger and that ultimately takes us quality of life.
Lyndie N. Mornith© 2012 All rights reserved. Lyndie N. Mornith is a certified Life Coach.
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