Riding out panic attack symptoms is agonizing. Do you need breathing help? The ruse to tame the ordeal isn't as hard as you think.
A panic attack can happen to anyone. Often makes no sense as to why it appears. Moreover, the symptoms that go with it, are terrifying.
Frenzied anxiety can surface from not being used to having the sensations. And, the brain ties this to past situations with the same hair-raising reaction. Phobias can develop.
Luckily, the extreme discomfort can be pared down while riding out the misery.
Here's a clue,...
It's how you exhale during panicky moments.
You need oxygen to live. But, there's another major player in the equation. CO2 - carbon dioxide. The waste exhaled after breathing in air.
CO2 is tricky.
Too much carbon dioxide in your system and panic attack symptoms could appear. Too little may come from hyperventilating. Itself, a panic attack symptom.
When carbon dioxide doesn't readily leave your system, it builds up. And, the brain tilts towards acidity.
The amygdala, in your brain, picks up changes in brain acidity. And, has proteins sensitive to CO2.
Keep in mind...
The amygdala rules fear. And, directs how you behave when scared. Think of your reactions when anxiety disorders out-of-whack freeze fight or flight response kicked into gear.
When this super powerful brain structure notices something's not quite right, it gets excited. And, very uncomfortable sensations can erupt.
So, how can you banish panic attack symptoms because of CO2 buildup?
In comes oxygen, out goes carbon dioxide while you breathe. What counts
is how well the exchange goes. And, your body is more concerned with CO2
balance than it is with oxygen.
How you breathe is the key.
Years of poor posture, daily pressure, lifestyle may have changed the way you breathe. And, affected how well CO2 cuts loose and leaves.
Do you recognize these breathing patterns?
Breathing is shallow. Irregular. And, slow. Lungs never get a chance to fully inflate. You may be short of breath. Have disturbed sleep. May feel like you're suffocating.
There's too much CO2 swimming around. And, a natural response is breathe faster, deeper, to get rid of it.
Instead, CO2 levels drop. And, you can slip into the early stages of hyperventilation, a panic attack symptom.
...Is over-breathing. It's deep, fast. And, feels like you're getting not enough air. But, it's more than you really need.
The problem is an out of balance oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange. CO2 is leaving faster than it can be produced.
Over breathing can lead to...
...and scare the daylights out of you. Making panic attack symptoms worse.
Emotions change breathing patterns. When you're happy or sad. Feeling defensive or antsy.
To get the gist of your breathing patterns, check...
Notice breathing when...
Size up when breathing is smooth and even. Or, becomes erratic. What's it like when your anxiety disorder starts to churn?
Here's the next step to counteract CO2 levels riling up panic attack symptoms...
A terrific approach is to normalize your breathing rate. It'll flick a switch to bring on the relaxation response.
Shifting the fierceness of alarm bells going off to “There's no emergency here. Time to rest and recoup.”
Lungs get a chance to easily ventilate. Blood flow moves freely. And, CO2 leaves without a hitch. Uncomfortable sensations are then easier to ride out.
Your mouth may become moist. It is salivating again. A sign the switch worked. You can shore up the change with stress management by using your ears.
Here's what else...
Do you want to take the bite out of panic woes?
Exhale slowly, quietly and evenly. Without forcing it. It's the name of the game.
Lungs need to expand fully during inhalation, the 3-D way. Front to back. Side to side. Top to bottom. It's a recipe for more power to empty them.
The diaphragm is what's going to help you. Dome-shaped, this major, underused muscle is located below the lungs. Above the stomach and intestines.
To see how it works...
Check out this 15-second video to see a diaphragm in motion made by Animated Biomedical Productions.
It takes less effort and energy using the diaphragm to breathe. And, secures an easy in-out rhythm you'll be comfortable with.
To feel the diaphragm doing its thing, place one hand on your tummy. Or, just under the rib cage, so you can feel your chest expanding. Place the other hand on your upper chest.
Breathe in evenly, slowly, through your nose. Do not force it. Watch the hand's motion as your tummy and rib cage expand. The hand on the upper chest moves too, but, ever so slightly.
Exhale quietly. Preferably through the nose. Slowly,evenly. Watch your tummy drop as this occurs.
At first, breathing this way, may feel tiring. An effort. Years of poor inhaling/exhaling patterns do this. But, keep at it. It will become easier. Natural and normal.
Become lightheaded while practicing? It's an early sign of hyperventilation. You're inhaling too hard. And, CO2 is going out too fast.
Normalize the breathing rate through your nose. Softly inhale. Then, follow with a gentle, quiet exhale.
When breathing is in fits and starts, your upper chest may be doing all the work. And, it can take a few tries to get the hang of diaphragmatic breathing.
So, for starters,...
Practice 1-2 minutes, a few times a day. Then, build it up to 5 minutes at a time. Your breathing will find its natural rhythm. Trust it. It will soon become automatic.
Take a crack at diaphragmatic breathing in several positions. Lying down (the easiest), sitting, standing up. Try it when you're tired. A little excited. Or, while waiting in line.
Practice till you feel comfortable. If panic attack symptoms do appear, in a snap, you can usher in diaphragmatic breathing. And, save the day.
Panic attack symptoms and CO2 are tied together at the hip. And, CO2 calls the shots. Too much or too little of it can easily set off awful sensations. Normalize how you breathe. It is the genuine peacemaker to help you get through the experience.