Panic attacks are frightening. The anxiety that leads to an attack is debilitating. We can feel powerless when certain triggers send our bodies into a fight, flight or freeze response. Our whole being is created intricately and we can affect our response to these triggers.
It is crucial to understand how three brain centers work.
Amygdala: This warrior springs to action when we have a real or perceived threat. It is responsible for our quick response when we almost step in front of a speeding car or dodge a falling object. It can also mistake ongoing stress for an immediate threat and keep us from receiving vital information from our Pre-frontal Cortex.
Pre-frontal Cortex: This genius informs us to make wise decisions. It sends and retrieves memories from the Hippocampus. This provides knowledge about how a previous experience could teach us how to navigate a current one. However, when the Amygdala is overwhelmed, the PFC is not able to send and retrieve informative memories.
Hippocampus: This data center records our memories. When the Amygdala is in warrior-mode, the hippocampus is prevented from recording significant events.
In moments of panic, our job is to calm our brain and get each center working in conjunction with the others. Yoga, bilateral stimulation (i.e. walking), EMDR, writing, prayer, meditation, and acting are all tools that can be used to regulate our bodies. The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel Van der Kolk.
What is your plan for using calming tools to regulate your body?
Contact us at Stonebriar Counseling for more tips on overcoming panic attacks.