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Suffer from panic attacks? Breath retraining helps

Breath retraining reduces frequency of panic attack, restores oxygen during acute phase of panic attack, provides emotional stability and complements other stress coping strategies.

A panic attack eventuates as a result of intensely inflated anxiety. It can come very unexpectedly or may have apparent triggers. Those who have faced it know it to be the most fiercely daunting, disturbing and afflictive experience in ones life.

The main symptoms of panic attack are light headedness, giddiness, dizziness, numbness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain, dry mouth, clammy hands, difficulty in swallowing, profuse sweating and tremors.

Correct breathing pattern helps control panic attack

1. Breathing issues affect many people having frequent panic attacks. In some cases, panic attack can be brought on by poor breathing habits. While in others panic attack can be caused by constant stimulation of autonomic nervous system towards sympathetic dominance.

2. Poor breathing habits can restrict blood flow to the brain, affects brain neurons and cause dizziness, lightheadedness and tingling. Continuation of this habit can lead to exhaustion, anxiety and frequent panic attacks.

3. Breathing retraining by correcting the rate, depth, pattern and rhythm of breathing can increase the amount of oxygen that is reaching your vital organs.

Learn to EXHALE totally

Other common concern with people having panic attacks is that they tend to have short and shallow breathing mainly by using chest muscles (instead of diaphragm – chief inspiratory muscle). This can increase work of breathing, chest pain or heaviness (mainly because of tightened chest muscles), dizziness and a more accelerated heart rate.

Learn to exhale fully, before taking one in.

Why? Because, in panic attacks when you are already having shortness of breath you can’t take a deep inhale. Instead, I always recommend my patients to learn deep breathing by using belly muscles or diaphragmatic sine wave breathing.

Try NOT to Hyperventilate

About 60% of panic attacks are accompanied by hyperventilation or over-breathing and most of the people with anxiety over-breathe even when they think they are relaxed.

During hyperventilation, your body cannot retain much of CO2 and thus your body does not use oxygen your blood have leading to chemical imbalance.

This chemical imbalance is the root cause of many of the symptoms of panic attacks. Breath retraining can help restore the correct chemical balance and allow a sufferer to have control over symptoms of panic attacks.

Try to calm your Breath

By practicing relaxed breath awareness, you will be spending too much time concentrating on your breath, instead of paying attention on fearful and worried thoughts. So in this way you give yourself a better chance to control your thoughts by eliciting the calming response.

In addition, practicing breathing exercises can increase your heart rate variability (HRV), which causes shift from sympathetic dominance to parasympathetic one.

Higher value of HRV is associated with healthy cardiovascular system and a strong stress-response system

Avoid sensitisation of your body to stressors

Stresses are inevitable, but if your body becomes sensitized to it, even a mild form of stressor can trigger a panic attack. Regular practice of correct breathing by regulating levels of stress hormones (cortisol, adrenalin and nor-adrenalin) creates needed distance from gloomy thoughts.

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