Panic attacks can be terrifying. When experiencing a panic attack we feel out of control and at the mercy of what is happening in our bodies. We are overwhelmed and unable to ‘think our way out’ of what is happening to us; indeed, it is not uncommon to imagine that we may be dying.
As an integrative psychotherapist I have written extensively about the importance of integrating the body into psychotherapeutic work. The fundamental reason for this is because all of our emotions originate in the body and need to be felt in the body. We then use a thinking mind to make sense of what we are feeling. However, if we become overwhelmed we may experience a panic attack which is when the body has physiologically gone into a ‘fight – flight’ response to a perceived threat. Often, the threat is not actually life threatening – it may not even be ‘real’ in the sense that it is a repeat of trauma.
Panic attacks can be controlled. But only through the body. I have produced an embodied guide that literally walks you through becoming aware of a panic attack and managing it. This guide has been produced as a series of interviews and VLOGS into the topic of psychotherapy generally. So, please check out the interview and we would welcome any feedback or suggestions for future VLOGS.
Mark Vahrmeyer is a UKCP Registered Psychotherapist working in private practice in Hove and Lewes, East Sussex. He is trained in relational psychotherapy and uses an integrative approach of psychodynamic, attachment and body psychotherapy to facilitate change with clients.