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Tel: Haslemere (01428) 724 333
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Tel: (01428) 724 333
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Panic attacks and the ‘fight or flight’ reflex
We are all born with a reflex action that helps us to escape from acute danger. It is called the “fight or flight” reflex, and comes into play if we suddenly find ourselves in danger and need to quickly escape or perhaps fight.
Our cave dwelling ancestors would have had use of this reflex action if suddenly confronted by a sabre-toothed tiger and would have been running away before even thinking about it. Their heart and respiratory rates would have increased and the blood vessels of their skin and intestines would have contracted, all having the effect of directing oxygenated blood to the muscles and brain. This same ‘fight or flight’ reflex happens to us if we encounter danger today (the sabre-toothed tiger could be an on-coming car) and we do not have to think about it.
Panic attacks are an example of a ‘fight or flight’ reflex but the response is happening at an inappropriate time. The same reaction of increased heart and respiratory rate, skin pallor, shaking and desire to be somewhere else can happen under conditions that present no real danger at all. Panic attacks may be associated with a particular place or event, such as in a supermarket, or while driving a car, or eating in a public place. The attacks may also appear to come on spontaneously, although an underlying cause can usually be found. This reflex action, the panic attack, may have been “learned” at some point in the past but the time it was learned is not always clearly remembered.
Hypnotherapy for panic attacks
Whether or not the cause of the attacks is known, hypnotherapy can be very effective for controlling panic attacks.
There is, very often, an associated underlying problem leading to stress or anxiety and this will be discussed in detail during the first part of the initial one-hour session. During the actual hypnotic session, messages will be passed to the subconscious suggesting a general increasing calmness and control, together with the specific use of an ‘anchor’ to be used when the panic attacks occur. The ‘anchor’ is a method, or technique, that you can use to switch off the unwanted and unnecessary reflex (see Hypnotherapy Explained for more about anchors).
Hypnotherapy can be very effective on its own for treating panic attacks. However, it can also be used in conjunction with other therapies, including medication and cognitive behavioural therapy.
If you have any queries, or you would like to make an appointment, please telephone Haslemere (01428) 724333, or send an email using the form on the contact page.