A panic attack gets more intense when we fear one
Even though the feelings and symptoms of a panic attack will usually become more intense when we fear one, there is a ceiling. Whatever you fear happening during a panic attack – going insane, having a brain haemorrhage, blacking out, having a fit, slipping into unconsciousness, experiencing a cardiac arrest or whatever, can’t happen.
The only thing that will happen is the initial feelings and symptoms will feel more intense as a result of apprehension. Like I just mentioned, there is a ceiling. This means that panic attacks are capped. You will just feel more of the same feelings and symptoms in a more intense fashion because of your fear of them. Once you take away the fear of panic attacks, they (feelings and symptoms) will lessen in intensity by a great amount until you’re able to tolerate a panic attack into non-existence. Not sure if this makes sense but just go with it.
They won’t get any more intense beyond a certain point. When the adrenaline is all used up, it starts to stop. This is why you will break free from the fear of them because you’ll get to a point where you’ll know that there is nothing more to panic attacks other than what you are currently experiencing.
What keeps the panic attack alive?
Apprehension. Apprehension is what keeps the panic attack alive. The fear that something bad will happen as the result of experiencing a panic attack.
Many people (including me at one time) believe that their bodies must be breaking down because of a panic attack. I completely understand why people would think this because it certainly does feel like the body is breaking down.
Feelings are deceivers though. Our bodies are not breaking down. They are not becoming weaker or more prone to developing some kind of life threatening illness which will creep up on us in the long run.
We may feel like it is happening and we may have scary thoughts about dying or developing a life threatening illness, but it is all one big illusion. Smoke and mirrors. Nothing more.
What keeps the panic alive is fear. If we didn’t fear the experience of a panic attack and completely understood what was happening to our bodies and why no harm is being done, then the panic attack would fizzle out. It’s the fear of the panic attack and what it may do to us that keeps it alive.
Imagine the panic disorder cycle like a propeller. Our apprehension of the panic attack is what keeps the propeller spinning. Take the apprehension away and the propeller slowly comes to a halt.
So, how do we actually “break free” from panic attacks?…
Do the complete opposite of what you’d normally do
If we have not educated ourselves with the understanding that panic attacks are an inbuilt protection mechanism designed to keep us guarded from danger, then we normally perceive panic attacks as an enemy that needs to be feared and fought against.
However, It is these two responses of fear and resistance that keeps the panic attack alive. Fear breeds more fear.
The fear grows stronger when we worry that a panic attack is harmful to our health. When we fear a panic attack, we are showing our brain that the panic attack is a massive problem because our brain decodes fear into a danger.
When we fight against a panic attack, we are showing our brain that the panic attack is a massive problem because it needs to be fought against. As a result, the protection mechanism will continue to alert us of any danger.
Want to have a panic attack
Nothing takes away the power and fear of a panic attack as much as wanting to have one. There’s a huge paradox to this approach. When you want to have a panic attack, then it’s pretty much impossible to have one.
Why? Because panic attacks are born when we live from a place of apprehension. Let me just use a quick metaphor to explain the point I’m making here.
Imagine that there is you, a powerful gem stone that holds all power and a separate creature.
The separate creature is the panic attack and at the moment, because you are fearing the panic attack, it is in possession of this all powerful gem stone. Because you don’t have this stone, you are feeling very vulnerable and powerless, whilst it, the panic attack is laughing.
For you to get this all powerful gem stone in your hands, you need to take your power back from the panic attack. The only way to do this is overcome your fear of them. At the moment, you really don’t know how to overcome your fear of panic.
Out of nowhere, a rolled up piece of paper lands by your leg. You unwrap the rolled up piece of paper to discover that it’s an instruction manual for taking away the creature’s (panic attacks) power.
It breaks down the truth about panic attacks and how they keep bluffing us. It tells us that we no longer need to fear the panic attack because it is harmless and the only way we can reclaim our power and hold possession of the all powerful gem stone is to
How can you overcome your fear of a panic attack? By asking for more of it. By letting it do it’s absolute worst to you. Adopting the attitude where you just couldn’t give a damn anymore if it kills you.
Because you have stood up to this creature (panic attack) and allowed it to kill you (not literally but figuratively) you have taken back the gem stone and regained or gained your power from the creature (panic attack) for the first time. Now the creature feels vulnerable and powerless.
The next thing I am about to write is very important, so please can I have your full attention.
We have to consciously prove to ourselves through experience that a panic attack is completely harmless. The only way to do this is to take a leap of faith and see a panic through to the end. What this means is that we don’t try to stop the panic attack when we are experiencing one.
It means we don’t try to distract ourselves or think ourselves out of it because this shows our brain that we’re afraid of the panic attack.
What we do is completely allow and welcome all feelings of panic. Asking for more. Wanting it to be as bad as it possibly can be. Not turning away from the panic but turning into it and fully feeling everything that it “throws” at us. The only way out is through.
The only way to defuse the power and fear of a panic attack is to walk into the fire. Let yourself burn into the panic attack. Once you see that there is truly nothing waiting for you on the other side, then you will gain more wisdom and strength. There is no other side to a panic attack. We are already experiencing the worst that can happen when we are in panic mode.
What we fear happening is just a fiction of the mind. We play into this fictitious fear by being afraid of the unknown. Trust me, it’s just more of the same. It doesn’t get any worse.
When you encourage a panic attack to get worse, you are sending a fearless signal to your brain. It gets the message from this fearful signal that you are not afraid of the panic attack anymore. The brain, through the process of a feedback loop, will switch off the fight/flight response because it cannot detect any more danger.
Of course, you will feel the feelings of being afraid, but because you have walked through the storm and come out of the “other side” unscathed, you can finally trust that a panic attack isn’t going to lead to you passing out, having a heart attack or developing into some kind of long term, life-threatening illness.
With trust comes a lessening of fear. You will get to the point where you will be completely fearless in the face of a panic attack. You will understand that you are supposed to feel scared during a panic attack but it is a false alarm appearing to signify a real threat. You will not fear the feelings of being afraid.
As a result, you will walk through the panic and see through the illusion of it all.
I trust this post has gave you a lot of reassurance when it comes to dealing with panic attacks. I also trust that you are brave enough to face the panic head on and ask for more.
If you have any questions regarding this article, feel free to let me know. Like always, feedback is greatly appreciated.
Until next time.