What Happens During an Anxiety Attack?

What Happens During an Anxiety Attack?

When you’re in the middle of a panic attack, the most frightening thoughts go through your mind, “am I dying” or “am I losing my mind”.  You feel there is no escape and there can be overwhelming feelings of panic and despair.  Millions of people have these thoughts running through their heads while the physical symptoms make the panic attacks seem even worse.

Fight or Flight

Panic attacks strike out of the blue, you have a rush of adrenaline and your fight or flight instincts kick in despite the fact that there is no real danger to trigger such a response.  People who suffer from panic attacks become extremely sensitive to the physical sensations that are taking place in the body during a panic attack.

How you perceive these symptoms can exacerbate the panic attack.  If the physical symptoms bring about feelings of doom and fear you will release more adrenaline  feeding into a vicious cycle.  Here is a video outlining the symptoms of a panic attack.

What Happens During an Anxiety Attack?

  • Rapid heart rate or palpitations
  • Trembling
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Light-headedness or faint
  • Blurry vision
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Butterflies in your stomach

What causes an anxiety attack?

The physical symptoms that accompany a panic attack can easily lead you to believe that something more serious is happening, often anxiety symptoms are mistaken for heart attacks in patients.  Thinking you’re having a heart attack is what drives you from anxiety to sheer panic.  You’re so focused on the physical sensations that you don’t stop and think whether it is an anxiety attack or a legitimate heart attack.  Chest pains and shortness of breath are symptoms of a heart attack so it’s a fairly easy leap to make while you’re in the middle of the panic attack.

It is not uncommon for people suffering from anxiety to find themselves in the emergency room.  There is no physical danger around to justify the symptoms so the logical conclusion is that something must be seriously wrong with you.  When you’re so focused on the physical sensations it makes your panic attacks worse.  Each and every thought you have helps to compound the panic attack, releasing even more adrenaline into your body.

Learn your triggers

Recognizing the initial signs of a panic attack will help you learn to stave them off.  A good start is recording when they happen, if you keep a record of your attacks you can start to identify what leads to a full blown attack.  These are the triggers and learning your triggers will help you develop a coping strategy that can help you deal with mild anxiety and stop it from going into a full blown panic attack.

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What Does a Therapist Do?

What Does a Therapist Do?

If you put a group of adults in a room who aren’t very well acquainted one of the first questions they will ask each other is “what do you do?”  For many people it’s an easy answer, they are salespeople, tradespeople, pilots or firemen.  If you’re a counsellor the answer is slightly more complicated.  Answering with “I listen to people” is a gross oversimplification and if you answer with a long winded scientific answer you sound pretentious.

Counsellors do listen, in a very precise manner with their attention focused completely on their patients.  A cornerstone of the relationship between patient and counsellor is the counsellor’s ability to listen to what their patient says and the many things they don’t.  Simply having someone to listen to you is profoundly therapeutic.

Listening is a skill

If you have ever attended a Vancouver counselling session then you understand how much listening played a part in making your session successful.  Going to counselling can be painful.  Part of a counsellor’s job is creating an environment where their patients feel safe and comfortable so they can explore their inner most thoughts and fears.

With their attention focused intensely on their clients, the issues that clients face become personal to the counsellor during their time together.  Bombarding their clients with questions just makes the session counterproductive, instead a counsellor will offer responses that are reflective and will allow for deeper issues to rise to the surface.  While they are doing this they must also reassure their patients that their job isn’t to make judgments about right and wrong.

Getting to the truth of the matter

Your counsellor is not there to pass moral judgments or assess your personal value, they are there to help you find the truth and find the things that are important to you.  For most clients it is a relief to receive that attention without any personal judgement attached to it, while others will still find it uncomfortable to reveal your inner most thoughts or experiences lest they be judged for them.

It is your counsellor’s role to not only hear the words you are saying but to find the meaning behind them.  You communicate more through your body language, posture and tonality than you do through the words you speak.  Counsellors are very well versed on non-verbal forms of communication and this helps them help you get to the real source of the problem.  This also helps counsellors build relationships with clients and set them at ease.

What does a therapist do?

They listen, they help you get to the truth of what may be holding you back or disrupting your life and they can be the should you cry on that won’t judge you.  A therapist has many skills but at the end of the day what they do is help people.

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