Random panic attacks are probably the worst symptom of anxiety that a person can suffer. I don’t think many people who have had one will disagree with that opening sentence. It can feel like you are about to die. It is responsible for many 999 calls for people falsely believing they are having a heart attack.
What could be worse than a Panic Attack? Well, Random Panic Attacks!
The triggered panic attack at least gives you some warning. That might be of little comfort, but you are at least able to employ avoidance techniques.
If we know why a Panic Attack happens, we can then further understand the Random Panic Attacks.
Panic attacks happen because your psyche believes that you are somehow in danger. At some point in your past, usually childhood, you have incorrectly believed you were in danger. From that moment on your brain was using that rule to attempt to keep you safe. The issue here is that, this rule is almost 100% likely to be incorrect. Consciously you go to do something. Subconsciously it believes it puts your survival at risk. To make sure you are aware that you are in danger, your brain release chemicals to change your physiological make up. These changes are then seen as the symptoms you experience i.e. heart racing. It is impossible to ignore these so you are primed to react. Unfortunately it was a false alarm and now you are left with these crippling symptoms.
If you ever find yourself in a real life or death situation these symptoms actually help you. But if they are present when it is a false alarm they are very unnerving.
Why do we pick up incorrect beliefs?
As children we have little frame of reference as we are still learning. In these years it’s easy for us to mix up real threats from perceived threats. These incorrect entries early on can then have devastating effects later on in life. We live adult lives, with adult wants and needs but these are governed by rules we created as children.
Are Random Panic Attacks, Random?
I believe they appear random from a conscious point of view. I once treated a lady that had one when driving home. She had to pull over and compose herself before being able to continue. Consciously she was unaware of why it had happened. She couldn’t put her finger on why it had happened.
When we create a belief it has many facets connected. It can have connections to Touch, Sight, Hearing, Smell and Taste. This means that anyone of those senses has the potential to trigger a panic attack. Going back to the lady who have a random panic attack in her car. One of those senses was triggered. Maybe she saw something that didn’t register. A shape or colour of a car was enough for her psyche to believe she was in danger so went off.
A hypnoanalysis case study.
Let’s look at another case. It was discovered via hypnoanalysis (more information here) so we know for sure the root issues. A soldier had returned from fighting abroad and had settled back to family life. Around a year after returning home he was in the shower. Following the same routine he had always done and suffered his first panic attack. Because he had a panic attack in the shower he then avoided the shower. He started to wash in a different bathroom and this time started to have baths. He then proceed to have a panic attack in the bath. So, he then stopped having baths and just used the sink, but again had a panic attacks. This made no sense to the man at all. He had fought in wars yet was now having panic attacks whilst using the bathroom and washing.
The solder undertook Analysis which unearthed the repression. The analysis had shown that when he joined the army at a young age he suffered a repression in regards to a bomb going off nearby when he was applying his deodorant. In that moment of the repression his psyche connected the smell off his deodorant with something bad happening. Fast forward a decade. He had been back enjoying family life for around a year when his wife changed shampoo brands. The new brand smelt exactly like his deodorant and was enough of a trigger to set off a panic attack. This incorrect entry in his subconscious believed he was once again in danger yet he was only in the shower.
My theory is that this is how random panic attacks occur. They are consciously random but subconsciously not. They follow a pattern, but this pattern is not available to us. A sense is triggered but we can’t join the dots up to its cause. Our minds are more likely to look at the situation than the potential of a sound/touch/smell. Random panic attacks are rarer to suffer from so there is the assumption that the other senses don’t get repressed and triggered as easy.
It could then be argued, most, if not all Panic Attacks start of random. Then we learn the trigger so they become triggered panic attacks. Random panic attacks are when we can’t fathom which sense is being triggered in a certain situation so appear random.
When treating panic attacks I have two highly effective solutions. Hypnoanalysis and BWRT.
My preference is to go with Hypnoanalysis because we are able to go to the root cause of the issue and flush it out. I have written a detail blog on Analysis here
Saying that, BWRT is not ineffective it just works in a different way. With BWRT we work on the feelings and known triggers. With BWRT we are not working on the root because we are working on the presenting problem. This means it is usually a quicker therapy.
For the sufferer of Random Panic Attacks I hope this give a small insight to your problem. That it helps you understand a little of what is going on behind the scenes and a solution to your problem.
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