Fairfield County Hypnosis, LLC


DISTINCT PHASES OF ANXIETY AND PANIC


Panic escalation usually exhibits four distinct phases.

1. You make unrealistic self-statements that keep you in a constant state of alarm. Your body tenses in the fight-or-flight reaction: your heart beats faster, you feel short of breath, you have butterflies in your stomach, and so on. This chronic state of arousal makes you “sensitized” to any hint of possible danger. Sensitization means that your nerves are set on a hair trigger. The least reversal, unpleasant surprise, or minor conflict can set off a siege of panic.

2. You begin to fear fear itself. As your body becomes more sensitized, you begin to anticipate panic attacks. You try to avoidthem at all costs. Now you have a new fear. You not only fear theviolence or the boss’s criticism, you also dread the symptoms thatfear causes in your body.

3. You reject your own feelings as your fear of fear escalates. You hate experiencing the symptoms of your fear: the pounding heart, the dizziness, the shortness of breath, the trembling legs, the lump in your throat, the hot or cold flashes, and the confusion you feel in your mind. You resist and fight against anything unusual happening in your body. You become hypervigilant for symptoms of an approaching panic. You come to fear any emotion or experience that triggers physical sensations that remind you of panic. Even feeling excited, exercising, or contracting innocuous illnesses such as the flu seems dangerous because the symptoms remind you of the feeling of panic.

4. You avoid, ultimately, any situation, person, or thing that evokes feelings of arousal or anxiety. What started as nervousness when walking empty streets becomes avoidance of going anywhere alone. What started as anxious thoughts when talking to the boss becomes avoidance of work altogether. What started as painful shyness at parties becomes avoidance of every social contact.