Panic No More: Hypnosis for Anxiety
Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.
–Arthur Somers Roche
I work with many clients who suffer from crippling anxiety and acute panic disorder. I work in as comprehensive and holistic approach as each individual situation allows.
I have a saying that goes like this: “every mind I’ve ever encountered has been attached to a body and every ‘body’ I’ve ever encountered has been attached to a brain/mind. Working on one without the other is like what: sweet without sour?”
I have just never felt that you could treat one without consideration of the other. With that said, let’s take a look at the body/brain/mind interdependence as it applies to anxiety in any form and in every intensity.
Let’s look at the physiology first. In the simplest of terms, any event which triggers in a person the feeling of being threatened (and that includes emotionally threatened or distressed) will set off a specific cascade of biochemical and physiological responses that we recognize as the sensation of anxiety.
Any event that feels like a threat will cause a release of adrenaline and other neuropeptides that hit the body like ‘speed.’ The pulse, the heartbeat, the respiration speed up. The person will feel shaky, sweaty, light-headed, about to have a heart attack or pass out, weak and out-of-control. Indeed, he is out-of-control.
He is as out-of-control as if he had ingested far more caffeine than any sensible person should. The blood is forced from the middle of the body to the extremities to lend extra power to be able to run or fight. That’s why anxiety disturbs digestion. Blood flows from digestive system into the extremities. That is one of the reasons why anxious people often have many different kinds of digestive issues.
In addition, even the brain loses connection with the logical, thinking, reasoning part of the brain. This is called “Emotional Hijacking,” a very important phenomenon to understand for the treatment of almost any problem of human existence. I will explain it fully in another article but look it up if you’re interested. You’ll be glad that you did.
Back to anxiety. You should be able to see easily by now that anxiety is not only an “emotional” problem, per se. While it is true that you experience a physiological response that has been triggered by a fearful thought or thoughts, the body “feelings” are physiological. The exist and can be measured empirically. Then it becomes self-perpetuating. Every panic response leaves the sufferer with the additional fear about the next attack. Like the snake swallowing its tail, it can become endless.
The very first thing I try to impress on my clients is that what they are experiencing is not “all in their minds.” By the time you experience the sensations of anxiety/panic/fear, it is already “in your body.” Yes, whatever scary thoughts started the cyclical response of panic, what you are feeling are body feelings. They are as real as if you had drunk all those pots of coffee.
The reason I keep impressing this idea that the sensations of panic are real body sensations is to drive home the idea that expecting yourself to just ‘STOP’ is beyond your control. A good example might be that you can hit the brake on your car, but the car doesn’t stop immediately. It stops some distance and time after you hit your brakes. That distance is based on the speed and weight of the car and things like that. The cycle has to complete. It is the same with the panic response.
So how, then, do you make it STOP? I’m going to answer that more fully in my next article, but I’ll give you a quick idea.
There are some physical things that you can learn to do that will interrupt the release of adrenaline and trigger instead the release of neuropeptides that have a calming effect on the brain and the body. There is a release of serotonin, which creates endorphins, GABA, noradrenaline, and other calming neurochemicals.
This can be triggered by the panic sufferer in real-time (i.e., just as it feels like it’s going to be released) by a relaxation-inducing breathing technique familiar to those who have done Yoga, Lamaze natural birthing, other relaxation breathing for birthing, singing or playing a musical instrument: anything that requires breath control. There are several specific techniques, done in a particular way. These have been clinically demonstrated to induce this relaxation response.
The next thing that we do, mainly in hypnosis, is to redirect the “scary” thinking to neutral or calming thoughts. Hypnosis is the most effective vehicle for doing this kind of thought reprogramming. The redirection of thought begins to rewire the brain to bypass the kinds of thinking that would trigger the anxiety response.
I hope this has been helpful for those of you who suffer this horrible, debilitating, devastating, immobilizing condition or for people you may care about who suffer. There’s more to come. Make sure look for Part 2.
There is no need to continue to suffer. This is a very effective and well-documented treatment protocol. If you need help with anxiety, please arrange a free consultation session in which we can discuss your individual questions and concerns.
If you prefer, there are a number of really good and really reasonable mp3 recordings for specific anxieties, phobias or generalized anxieties. These are not yet recordings made by me but they are really wonderful and they are the ones I listen to when I don’t feel like doing self-hypnosis.
Here’s to your success always…
Susan French –Hypnotherapy Practitioner
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