Category Archives: Panic attack

Phobia and its Brain Chemistry

Phobia and its Brain ChemistryFear can make a moth seem the size of a bull elephant.” – Stephen Richards, Releasing You from Fear

Close your eyes for a moment and try to imagine the following situations: gasping for breathe in a crowded or closed place, trembling with fear prior to public speaking, panicking with dread be seeing heights and water, experiencing palpitations and profuse sweating by seeing animals… Well, you must be thinking that what is so great or wrong in all these stuff, right? As in what is wrong with closed places, water, innocent animals, heights or public places??? Well, for many people it may seem silly, but those are the difficult symptoms one goes through when he/she experiences phobic episodes.

Phobia is technically defined as an intense, irrational fear. You can develop phobia towards animals, insects, heights, water, closed places, public places and virtually anything that has the potentiality to trigger phobia within you. Before telling you the brain chemistry related to phobia, let me take you towards a quick tour on the causes and symptoms of phobia.

Causes of Phobia

  • Genetic Causes: If there is a family history of phobia
  • Observational Learning/Modeling: Sometimes one tends to develop phobia by seeing others reacting with intense fear towards a particular thing or situation.
  • Life Events: If a life event is too traumatic to bear, then the event or similar situations related to it can potentially trigger phobia symptoms.
  • Problems in coping: Lack or ineffective coping with different life events and situations can also cause phobia
  • Apprehensions and anxiety: Sometimes phobia is also created due to our speculations or apprehensions, without the situation/thing being a threat in reality.
  • Abnormalities in the brain: Maladaptive functioning of the brain chemicals or neurobiological elements can also trigger phobia.

Symptoms of Phobia

Physical Symptoms

  • Restlessness
  • Palpitations, shortness of breathe
  • Profuse sweating
  • Frequent urination
  • Changes in sleep and diet patterns

Psychological Symptoms

  • Intense fear
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Social withdrawal
  • Depressive feelings
  • Apprehensions

So folks, we looked into the basics of phobia, its causes and its symptoms. Though phobia is caused by genetic factors, situational factors and so on, abnormalities in the brain chemistry or functioning also leads to phobic reactions in some cases. Let me tell you how:

We all have a brain center known as “amygdala”. Its shape is like an almond. It is linked to the brain’s perception of fear. Amygdala has an area called, lateral nucleus. This lateral nucleus is associated with fear responses. The amygdala is also a storehouse of emotional memories too. So what goes wrong and causes the brain to cause phobic reactions in an individual? Subsequent studies and findings have shown that brain lesions and damage to the amygdala cause phobia to a significant level. Other brain areas related to phobic causes or reactions are hypothalamus, hippocampus, and brain stem and so on. Damage to those areas due to any accident or medical cause can trigger specific phobias of different kinds.

Phobia caused due to abnormal functions of the brain is usually treated through an amalgamation of psychotherapies and biomedical drugs. Gone are the days when irrational intense fear was considered as untreatable and overwhelming to bear. Today, advancement in the treatment models of psychological disorders has changed the entire scenario of treatment and well-being. With the help of professional help you can deal with phobia in an effective manner and lead a normal life ‘n’ lifestyle. In the beginning, things may seem devastating to bear and overcome. But, once the treatment process starts, the road to recovery becomes smooth and steady.

When you explore your fears then you set yourself free.” – Stephen Richards, Releasing You from Fear

How to Survive a Panic Attack

Panic attack

Panic attack

A panic attack is certainly not welcome. Once it comes it takes a toll on you and makes your life horrible. Though it only lasts for a few moments, these moments can become the most difficult moments of your life. That is why it is very necessary to know about some major techniques to prevent and manage panic attacks. If you are someone who wants to know more about panic attacks, who is suffering from it or who’s loved one is struggling with it…then this blog post is meant for you.

A panic attack is a sudden onset of intense anxiety and panic episode. It is often accompanied by high anxiety levels and physiological problems like palpitations, shortness of breathe and nervous breakdown, trembling, shaking, etc. Whenever it strikes, it can be too overwhelming to handle. Here are some important proactive tips on how to  prevent or deal with panic attacks:

  •  An early diagnosis and timely treatment can help a lot in developing a chronic panic attack. When you start feeling overly anxious over a long period of time or if you feel panicky over small things, do not neglect it. Seek the help of a psychiatrist or a psychologist as soon as possible.
  •  Do not let your potential problems overpower you. Of course, there are times when situations become too hard to bear. This is quite natural and happens with almost everyone. When you face such situations in life, try not to freak out. Try to stay as calm as possible. Take your own time to come over it. Do not leave it remain unresolved since the same issue or similar issue may keep on haunting you over and over again.
  •  Maintain healthy eating habits, exercise regime and lifestyle. A daily workout, walk, balanced diet, meditation, massage, stress management, hobbies, relaxation can go a long way in helping you prevent or manage panic attacks.
  •  Yoga, meditation, massage, alternative therapies (color therapy, aroma therapy, etc), music therapy, breathing exercises can help a lot in this too.
  •  Try to abstain from alcohol and drugs as much as possible. If that is not possible then, try taking alcohol within the safe drinking limits.
  •  Certain medicines lead to anxiety and panic attacks. So whenever you get any medical condition, do not self-medicate or resort to taking over-the-counter pills. Always consult a doctor for your ailments and also remember to enquire about its possible side-effects. It is always wise to share all your problems, allergies in detail with your Doctor.
  •  Journal writing (diary writing), time management, proper planning and execution of work or things, staying in a clean environment are also important to avoid unnecessary anxiety and panic attack.
  •  Do not run away from your fears or problems. Always learn to accept your weaknesses and celebrate your strengths. Try to challenge your weaknesses, face your fears and tackle your problems strongly. Believe in yourself and your potentialities. There is no problem without a solution. You just need to strike it off in the right manner and at the right time. So rather than fearing the problem, avoiding it or crying over it, learn to resolve it positively and effectively.

What to do during a panic attack:

  1. Loosen all tight clothing first.
  2. Try to go to an open place where you can have plenty of fresh air.
  3. Take deep breaths again and again.
  4. Have a list of phone numbers (family, friends or relatives, doctor, ambulance, etc), as emergency numbers whom you or people around you can easily and quickly contact.
  5. Try to distract your mind from the attack to some other positive thought. Doing this can be next to impossible during an attack. But, if you force or push yourself to do this, you will yourself see the positive change.
  6. If you are on medication, then always keep your medicines ready with you as a SOS help during distressing times.
  7. See a therapist as soon as you can.

Anxiety and Panic Attacks can be managed properly if you are well-informed about them and if you know the right things to do under the influence of an anxiety or panic episode.

Stay healthy and stay safe!

Best Wishes,

Sareeta