Anxiety, depression, and panic attacks are triplets. They live together and feed on one another. The sources of these three demons are usually childhood experience, past trauma, and family history. While panic attacks are extreme episodes of anxiety and are relatively common in the general population, their frequency of them is noteworthy in those of us with fibromyalgia.
We are prone to catastrophic thinking which often initiates extreme anxiety that can be pushed into a genuine panic attack. While the duration of them usually lasts for a short period of time, those of us with fibromyalgia, PTSD, Chronic Fatigue, and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities can experience panic more frequently, and the duration is much longer.
The symptoms are common. They include faster heart rate, the pounding of the heart, palpitations, shortness of breath, muscle tension, tingling, dizziness, dry mouth, and severe itching, among a host of others.
We all share some of the ill effects that arise from anxiety that triggers panic. We lose our ability to concentrate, have negative feelings about ourselves and the world, become restless and easily fatigued, we are fearful and always on guard that something will go wrong. The glass is always half empty. Oftentimes we aren’t even aware of the trigger that precipitated the attack but can bring it on ourselves by remembering a traumatic event.
I have recently watched a TED talk with Dr. Daniel Amen whose works I have often cited in the past. He speaks of the function of our brain and ways in which to change it, in particular using computer technology, as neuro-feedback in which a person can receive moment-to-moment feedback on the physiological functioning of the central nervous system and the brain.
He speaks of the ‘Brain Smart Program’ as a way in which imaging can provide the person with information to help in the process of changing the brain. In his view, psychiatrists are the only medical specialists who never look at the organ they are treating. But with imaging, those who are working with people with such conditions as anxiety can receive immediate feedback about the state of their brains. In my view, it is a state above talk therapy that is helpful as a first step toward understanding the root cause of anxiety, depression, and panic attacks.
Fibromyalgia is extreme anxiety of an ultra-sensitive person in which the CNS is in a state of hyper-arousal, often resulting in panic attacks. What better ways of working with changing our brains than uncovering the mystery of our condition and actually seeing the state of our CNS and brain? Anxiety= panic= flare-ups.
There IS hope: After finding someone who is a good therapist, cut down on caffeine and sugar, avoid alcohol, practice breathing exercises, engage in a movement exercise such as walking, and Chi Gong, or gentle yoga, and practice being aware of triggers that cause flare–ups, and avoid becoming overly stressed and excited. Above all, meditate regularly and practice mindfulness during your waking hours, but then I have written extensively about mindfulness on these blogs and risk boring readers!
Here I present my former yoga teacher David in an Iyengar supportive yoga pose.
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