Anxiety, Panic Attacks, and Hypnosis
Anxiety is considered to be a normal reaction to stress. It may help a person to deal with a difficult situation, for example at work or at school, by prompting one to cope with it. When anxiety becomes excessive, it may fall under the classification of an anxiety disorder.
Wikipedia defines anxiety as a psychological and physiological state characterized by cognitive, somatic, emotional, and behavioral components. These components combine to create an unpleasant feeling that is typically associated with uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry. Anxiety is a generalized mood condition that can often occur without an identifiable triggering stimulus. As such, it is distinguished from fear, which occurs in the presence of an observed threat. Additionally, fear is related to the specific behaviors of escape and avoidance, whereas anxiety is the result of threats that are perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable.
Another view is that anxiety is “a future-oriented mood state in which one is ready or prepared to attempt to cope with upcoming negative events”, suggesting that it is a distinction between future vs. present dangers that divides anxiety and fear.
Panic attack has been described as an episode of incredibly intense fear or apprehension that is of sudden onset. The DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) describes a panic attack as a discrete period of intense fear or discomfort in which (at least 4 of 13*) symptoms developed abruptly and reached a peak within 10 minutes.
According to the American Psychological Association, the symptoms of a panic attack commonly last approximately thirty minutes. However, panic attacks can be as short as 15 seconds, while sometimes panic attacks may form a cyclic series of episodes, lasting for an extended period, sometimes hours. Often those afflicted will experience significant anticipatory anxiety and limited symptom attacks in between attacks, in situations where attacks have previously occurred.
The effects of a panic attack vary from person to person. Some, notably first-time sufferers, may call for emergency services. Many who experience a panic attack, mostly for the first time, fear they are having a heart attack or a nervous breakdown. Experiencing a panic attack has been said to be one of the most intensely frightening, upsetting and uncomfortable experiences of a person’s life
The ABC’s of Anxiety, often called the ABC model:
The situation A, gives rise to the thought B, which in turn causes the anxiety C. This sequence can escalate by virtue of a feedback loop.
This happens when the feeling of the anxiety itself becomes the stimulus for a further catastrophic thought. You may make a second predicition for yourself, such as “I feel scared. This is really dangerous.” The new catastrphic thought makes you feel even more anxious, which promotes more thoughts about the danger, and so on.
This type of emotional escalation is particularly difficult to stop when you are in a situation that you can’t avoid: For example when you’re stuck in traffic or you are at a party and you can’t leave, or you’re at work, where you fear your boss’s anger, but you can’t go home. Or you feel an unsual pain or sensation in your body. In these types of situations you feel as though you are not in control and that an added danger exists: the situation might overwhelm you.