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PANIC ATTACKS

Take it easy! It is just a panic attack.

Anxiety symptoms are very common in our society and take multiple forms. They are very disturbing because they can disorganize both personal and professional life to a large extent. What can you do if you unexpectedly face the demon of anxiety?

Many people who visit doctors or psychotherapists report situations in which they experience great tension associated with anxiety. The intensity of their symptoms vary - from a flowing form of apprehension of unknown background, nervousness, to debilitating panic attacks. Patients develop different understanding of these symptoms and their causes. Some remain utterly unaware and therefore feel helpless. They stay at home and try to avoid situations in which they had experienced anxiety before.

Ann (age 42) has not gone out alone for many months now. She also avoids all kinds of crowded places. Her problems began when she experienced a panic attack in a supermarket, while doing shopping with her son. She suddenly lost him from her sight. In an instant, she started trembling and had a feeling that her legs became soft. She thought that she would lose consciousness and no one would help her. She imagined herself lying on the floor, surrounded by a staring crowd. The only way to calm down until her son was back was a telephone conversation. Ann always carries her mobile, so that she can call her husband, her mother, or a therapist when the anxiety level grows high.

Jack is a conscientious and hard-working person. He runs his own business in which he employs a few dozen people. He has always been considered resourceful and reliable. No one knows that for a couple of weeks he has been struggling against anxiety. His symptoms have become so strong over time that Jack would stay at home and inform his secretary that he is taking a day off because of migraine or indigestion. To move around the town, he only drives his own car and chooses well known streets, where he can avoid traffic jams. He feels more relaxed if he can journey along the road in stages. “I can reach a particular base”, he says, “home – pharmacy – gas station – my parents’ bakery – work and backwards”. Jack is afraid of experiencing a panic attack, similar to the one he had many years ago. Right after that unfavourable event, he would have palpitations, cold seat, a choking sensation and derealisation every time he went beyond his parcel’s border. “It is like being stoned, even though I never use any stimulants. I have a feeling that I hear everything from a distance and lose touch of reality,” he describes. “It is a very unpleasant state and sometimes I think I am dying. It is overwhelming and I feel terrified.”

People in both examples suffer from anxiety (or panic attacks). Panic is considered a specific disorder or a symptom accompanying other disorders, e.g., agoraphobia. Agoraphobia usually refers to the fear of situations associated with being in crowded places (a cinema, a bus, a church, or a supermarket). Subsequently, one usually avoids them. A person may also be afraid of travelling alone and staying away from home. Generally speaking, these are situations in which receiving help or getting out of them may be limited or embarrassing (especially when a panic attack occurs). Being anxious, such people may tremble, shake, sweat, experience heart arrhythmia or a feeling of heavy chest and dryness in mouth. They may also experience breathing problems, pains, nausea or discomfort in their bowels. These symptoms may often be accompanied with a fear of dying.

How to treat anxiety?
In most cases, psychotherapy is recommended to treat anxiety symptoms. Sometimes, it is aided with pharmacotherapy - psychiatric medicines, such as tranquilizers or anxiolytics (e.g., Lorazepam, Diazepam, and Alprazolam) which reduce muscle tension and may additionally cause sleepiness. These medicines work fast and reduce anxiety efficiently. Unfortunately, used over a longer period of time, their effect weakens and they may result in addiction that is hard to treat. Sometimes, antidepressants are also used to cure anxiety disorders. The common ones are Fluoxetine and neuroleptics (e.g., Promazine). They are effective after longer use. However, they may also produce side effects, such as dryness in mouth, hyperactivity, sleepiness, headaches.

Back to nature!
Many people use natural Bach Flower Remedies to aid their treatment of anxiety disorders. For those who struggle with panic attacks, we recommend Rescue Remedy as the first aid. It is a mixture of five essences which reduce high levels of stress. This original emergency formula can also be used in stressful situations, such as exams, visit to a dentist, job interview etc. It is also reasonable to analyse the symptoms and consider additional remedies: White Chestnut if one tends to dwell upon one’s problems, Mimulus for shy and timid individuals, Aspen for irrational fears and apprehension with no specific cause. Those who are overprotective and constantly worry about health and security of their relatives may benefit from Red Chestnut. Larch, on the other hand, is a remedy for those who lack self-confidence, feel incompetent or inferior. Chicory may also be essential to boost self-reliance, so that it is easier to go out without someone’s company. You can feel free to experiment with the remedies. However, the selection of appropriate remedies is essential to obtain the best results it is recommended to consult a Bach Practitioner.