Table of contents:
- ANCIENT FEAR
- FAILURE IN THE PROGRAM
- WHO LAUNCHES THE MECHANISM
- NOT TO RUN FROM HER?
- FILTERING THE INCOMING
- EXPERT OPINION
Video: Pan Chooses A Victim - The Quality Of Life
Panic. According to the ancient Greeks, it is this feeling that a person experiences in the presence of the god Pan - a terrible, horned, with goat legs, from whom even his own mother fled in horror. A terrible monster to this day haunts many inhabitants of the metropolis.
…Deep night. I lie in bed, tied in a knot, gasping for air. I am thirty years old, I have a job, family and loyal friends, and everything seems to be in perfect order, why is it so unbearably scary? My heart is pounding, my head is about to explode, I understand that something bad is happening to me, I wrap my arms around myself tightly, sway slightly and repeat: “My good girl, everything will be fine, everything is fine, do not be afraid, do not be afraid, Do not be afraid".
Maria, 32 years old
Panic is a sudden, uncontrollable, uncontrollable and seemingly inexplicable fear. The person is overwhelmed by the feeling that the mind has lost control of the body. For those who have experienced a real panic attack, the mere memory of it causes frenzied anxiety, and some compare the attack to a death rehearsal.
What happens at this moment? We used to think that man is a supreme being, the crown of creation or evolution, to whom it is closer. But we must not forget that our animal part, which has been forming for millennia, is sometimes much stronger than the intelligent part. And in the question of the emergence of fear, it is she who comes to the fore. For the most part, our psyche still lives in a hostile world full of threats to life and security. Behind each bush, a terrible predator is supposedly waiting for us, just waiting for a chance to eat a gape.
… The first time panic swept over me in a store, I rushed between the shelves and could not find a way out. The space seemed to shrink around me, it darkened in my eyes, the air ran out, my palms became wet, and my heart was beating very quickly somewhere in my throat. But the worst thing was the thought that maybe right now I would die …
Olga, 24 years old
FAILURE IN THE PROGRAM
In a simplified way, the brain works as follows: any situation in a split second after its occurrence is divided into two groups - the usual and the unusual. If the circumstances are usual, reflexes come into play (previously fixed by experience, successfully triggered response schemes), and stress and fear do not appear. If the conditions that have arisen are recognized as unusual, the brain assesses the situation for a threat - whether it is dangerous or not.
In animals, everything is quite simple - in an unusual dangerous situation, nature dictates: "freeze", "run" or "attack". And if, for example, a beetle has no choice - in case of danger it freezes, pretending to be dead, the squirrel is programmed by nature to run, and a large predator attacks, then a person can react in any of three ways or even prepare in advance and act in accordance with the plan developed for such a case. For how the human body reacts in a stressful situation, a separate part of the brain is responsible - the decision-making center (DRC).
We are all rather fragile creatures living in a very unfriendly environment. We constantly need to be a little on the alert in order to timely respond to danger. The environment, lifestyle, habits form "noise", which tests our CPR for strength, we constantly experience stress. With continuous stress, the body is mobilized to overcome the difficulties that have arisen before it, its resources are actively expended, and the most energy-intensive functions, such as digestion and reproduction, are inhibited. Depletion gradually sets in, reactions become unusual, unusual, unbalanced.
Panic attacks occur when the CPR starts to malfunction - it confuses non-dangerous and dangerous unusual situations or completely turns off so that the human body reacts according to the "animal" scenario, missing the opportunity to choose an adequate response option.
More about this:
Franchesetti J. Panic attacks. Gestalt therapy in the unity of clinical and social contexts. M.: MIGTiK, 2014.
… I was on the subway, and suddenly all the air was pumped out of my lungs at once. My stomach was twisted, my hands were shaking. It seemed to me that I was about to have a heart break, I did not feel my body. When the attack passed, until the end of the day I anxiously expected that it would recur …
Andrey, 40 years old
WHO LAUNCHES THE MECHANISM
Fear is the body’s normal reaction to a dangerous situation or a situation that our CLR has decided to consider risky. As if a saber-toothed tiger really lurked around the corner and is preparing to attack. But there is no tiger.
At first glance, a panic attack appears out of nowhere. It seemed that he was not worried, did not worry, the day passed as usual, why does the attack come so suddenly? What looks like unexpected, inexplicable fear always has real reasons behind it, due to which the panic attack arose. Our vegetative system works reflexively, anything could cause a reaction - a change in the degree of sunlight on the street, a special combination of colors, sounds, smells, as well as the thoughts of the person himself.
According to some estimates, this mechanism is launched within 0.8 seconds, which is why it can be very difficult to understand what exactly caused the panic.
… Suddenly I felt unbearably scared, and it was as if I was carried away from the rest of the world behind an invisible wall, where it was very bad. My heart was pounding, there was some kind of nasty weakness, in general, all this was not like any of my sensations until now …
Anastasia, 28 years old
NOT TO RUN FROM HER?
What to do when panic hits? First, you need to try to catch the first signs of an onset of an attack - anxiety, anxiety, increased heart rate, interruptions in breathing, while you still have the ability to control yourself.
In fact, panic never comes suddenly, it is usually preceded by a general nervous, anxiety state. At this moment, a special "scanning" DSP mode is activated - our brain analyzes the environment and highlights more and more dangers, thereby increasing anxiety to a critical state, which results in panic.
At the first signs of an impending attack, hold on to the thought that nothing terrible is actually happening, that everything is fine, you are not going crazy, you are not dying. Panic grows when all attention is focused on unpleasant sensations in the body and the fear of death, it seems to feed itself.
The most important thing is to try to concentrate on some external object, to shift the focus of attention from the inside out.
- Try to "ground", focus on tactile sensations - in the feet touching the floor, in your palms, pressing them to some textured surface.
- Try not to run away, not to make random movements, so the panic will only intensify, and you, like in a swamp, will sink deeper into this state.
- Concentrate on breathing - if your breathing is fast, breathe more regularly with your hand on your stomach. Observe the movement of the abdominal muscles, do not move your chest and shoulders - this will keep you from sudden inhalations and exhalations. Fast, shallow breathing will oversaturate the body with carbon dioxide, and oxygen is needed for the brain to function properly. At the same time, consciously trying to slow down your breathing, you will also shift the focus of attention outward, which will help to stop panic faster.
- Look at the situation from the perspective of an observer, a little detached - note everything that happens, as if you were filming what is happening on a video camera. Pay special attention to the small details - this will help distract from the growing panic.
… During an attack, a little spell helps me, which my therapist suggested: “I do not lose consciousness, I do not have a heart attack, I do not go crazy. I have now started my signaling system, which wants to convince me that there is a danger."
Natalia, 48 years old
FILTERING THE INCOMING
What can you do to prevent panic attacks and never face them again?
It is very important to treat yourself with increased care and attention, because panic attacks are a cry from your body that something is going wrong, that it is extremely exhausted. Tidy up your health, both physical and mental.
To begin with, heal your environment, reduce the amount of physical and psychological stress if possible. Try to disconnect from the negativity, put a filter on incoming news - now is not the time to think about the troubles and problems of the whole human race.
Take care of your health - get enough sleep, eat tasty and healthy food, be physically active. Relax regularly, rest as soon as you feel tired. It is also important to allow yourself small pleasures every day, be sure to take time for what exactly gives you pleasure.
Along with this, try to understand what is behind your panic, how it develops, what thoughts come to your mind. Explore the sensations that occur before, during and after an attack, because each case is very different. You can try to figure it out on your own, but it is much faster and more efficient to do it with the help of a psychologist - a specialist in panic disorders.
Observe yourself in the morning. If you're stressed, take a few minutes to yourself. Think about what feelings you are experiencing, if you are trying to suppress them. In the case of swallowing resentment and anger, these vivid feelings will find another way out. It can be panic for no apparent reason, and a state of apathy, boredom. When faced with panic attacks, I recommend that people keep an emotional journal. Fix the date, time, thoughts, feelings, sensations, notice what is happening around, what happened a few minutes before the onset of this state and after it. One of my clients, filling out a diary in the subway, drove three extra stations, and this is a serious achievement for a person who not so long ago was afraid to even go down to the subway!
Is it possible to change the situation, to cope with the state of panic yourself? Each of us has such opportunities. It is important to remember that emotions are given to my “I”, and not I is given to my own emotions. Therefore, I can recognize them, accept, change and control their manifestations.
consultant psychologist, member of the Professional Psychotherapeutic League