Meditation and Panic Attacks

People who suffer from panic attacks start off by having extreme fear of whatever thing they are anxious about. It normally starts without notice, reaches a peak within minutes and subsides again. How sufferers feel during attacks and how long the panic attacks last mostly depends on the cause of the attack. The causes of panic attacks have been traced to various things. Some may be due to hereditary, fear, phobia, medications, personal loss and many other causes.

Panic attack sufferers normally have shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, heart palpitations, dizziness, light-headedness, nausea, difficulty breathing, a sense of feeling smothered, tingling or numbness in the hands, hot flashes or chills, trembling and shaking, sweating, trembling, a feeling of choking, chest pain, nausea, and dizziness. Meditation has been known to assist in panic attacks in various ways. Some types of meditative practices go a long way to combat panic attacks as you would will soon discover. You will find out why meditation helps in panic attacks and the role of diaphragmatic breathing in solving panic attack problems.

Why Would Meditation Help Panic Attacks

Meditation normally allows sufferers to experience panic attacks with less fear so that they can see their way through the problem. This is why meditative practices like visualization where people are guided to visualize things is encouraged for people who suffer from panic attacks. Images that look disturbing during attacks can now be viewed with ease. With this new perception the image will pass through the mind without disturbing the victim. Regular meditation will enable the victim to get used to how panic attacks should be seen and handled.

Apart from this, meditation also plays an important role in easing the nervous system, the brain and the glands responsible for reacting to fear and panic. This is the main reason why experienced meditators don’t suffer from panic attacks. Some of the meditation techniques that are used for controlling panic attacks are guided meditation, muscle relaxation, yoga and diaphragmatic breathing. Techniques like yoga offer a wide range of stress-reducing tools. Now that you have seen why meditation would help panic attacks, let’s find out more about diaphragmatic breathing.

What is diaphragmatic breathing?

Diaphragmatic breathing is a popular breathing technique because of the meditative and health benefits it gives to people who practice this form of breathing. This breathing technique is also called belly breathing, deep breathing, abdominal breathing or costal breathing. Though this type of breathing has been called various names this breathing technique is simply the act of natural breathing that allows you to contract your diaphragm during breathing. This allows your lungs to expand downwards without increasing the size of your rib cage.

Diaphragmatic breathing uses the diaphragm muscle (a strong dome shaped muscle) located under your ribs and above your stomach. Your abdomen expands rather than the rib cage in your chest when breathing.

It is generally considered a healthier and better way to intake oxygen, and is often used as a therapy for disorders like panic attacks. People who panic will find that diaphragmatic breathing not only calms the effect of arousal at the time of panic, but also provides an way to focus attention on their breathing, instead of on their panic symptoms. As diaphragmatic breathing becomes a habit, the nervous system is less susceptible to panic in the first place.

The main benefits of diaphragmatic breathing are to;

  • Strengthen your diaphragm
  • Reduce the effort you put into breathing by slowing down your breathing rate
  • Reduce your oxygen intake during breathing
  • Use less energy during breathing

This breathing technique can be practiced while lying on your back or sitting on a chair. These are the steps to follow while lying down.

Steps to Follow:

1.      Lie down facing upwards either on a flat surface or bed. You can raise your knees by supporting them with a pillow.

2.      Place your two hands on two different parts of your body. One on your upper chest and the other one on your abdomen. This will enable you to monitor the movement of your breathing.

3.     As you breathe in through your nose, feel your hand on your stomach move upward. Keep your shoulders relaxed. The hand that is on your chest should not move at all..

4.      Exhale slowly and gently through your mouth, as if you were going to whistle or blow out a candle. The hand on your stomach should move in as you breathe out.

5.      Rest and repeat.

Learning diaphragmatic breathing takes patience and practice. As you become more comfortable breathing with this technique, you will notice that you will be using it all the time. It is the natural way to breathe. It usually takes about two weeks to become accustomed to the feeling of diaphragmatic breathing, and about six months of regular practice to make it a habit.

Meditation can help panic attack victims a lot. You have seen the reasons why meditation helps people who suffer from panic attacks and what diaphragmatic breathing is all about. This knowledge can help you to find a solution to your panic attacks.


One Response

  1. rob July 25, 2011

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