“Panic attacks were my prison; a life sentence. This book changed my life” more...
Michelle Miller Sept 2016
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension, tension, fear or jitteriness. We all experience anxiety at one time or another, it is a normal human experience – it keeps us safe at times of danger. Unfortunately however, many people experience anxiety on a daily basis, ranging from a mild feeling of unease to crippling panic attacks with extreme fear and sense of impending doom.
What is a Panic Attack?
A panic attack is a sudden surge of overwhelming anxiety and fear. The accompanying physical symptoms can be equally disturbing. Your breathing speeds up, your heart pounds, your armpits drip. You may be dizzy or nauseous, feel dazed and confused, and you may find it difficult to breathe.
Panic attacks may be a response to stressful or dangerous situations or to anxiety. Sometimes the panic can seem to appear out of the blue, or you can wake with it from a bad dream or following a sleep apnoea episode.
What is the breathing connection?
Acute hyperventilation/overbreathing is an obvious feature during a panic attack. While less noticeable, the chronic form of overbreathing is often present in people with anxiety and panic disorders. Research has found people with panic disorders breathing 12 L a minute at rest when it should be 5 L.
Chronic overbreathing contributes to a hyper-arousal state of your ‘sympathetic’ nervous system (fight or flight), with too much of the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol being produced. Chronic overbreathing is like having your foot on the accelerator all the time. You are ‘primed’ and trigger happy.
With a further increase in breathing when you are in a physically or emotionally stressful situation, your muscles tense up, your adrenal glands pump out even more adrenaline and you may tip into the distressing physical and mental symptoms of a panic attack.
Better Breathing Courses and Self-Help Programs
Correcting your baseline breathing pattern and learning to control your breathing when under stress, can make a big difference in both managing and preventing anxiety, panic and the associated symptoms.
Normal breathing and controlled breathing is very calming. It’s a natural sedative. Breathing retraining shows you how to access the parasympathetic– rest and digest – state of your autonomic nervous system. It’s a wonderful tool to have to get off to sleep, and to stay calm, relaxed and in control in stressful situations.
Breathing consultations in Canberra
Breathing courses in Canberra
Breathing workshops (half-day) – more information soon
Self-help program: Book and CD on breathing retraining
Book * – Relief from Snoring and Sleep Apnoea: A step-by-step guide to restful sleep and better health through changing the way you breathe. Tess Graham (Penguin 2012)
CD – Breathing Exercise Instruction CD – a companion product to the book.
* While the book is specifically written for people with sleep-breathing issues, the information, strategies and self-help breathing program in the book is helpful for many breathing-related conditions.
Take the Faulty Breathing Quiz