Anxiety Attacks

February 13th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Have just finished a short little book called “Relax – Say Goodbye to and Panic” by Wellington GP Dr .

It is for people who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. I don’t get either of those but I do have some issues in that general arena, so was interested to read the book. I learnt (or relearnt) a few facts:

  • We have two nervous systems – our central nervous system and our autonomic nervous system. The former controls speaking, reading, movement and the latter heart rate, blood pressure and flow, breathing etc.
  • The automonic nervous system has two types of fibres – sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic is like the accelerator and will increase heart rate, blood pressure, tighten muscles etc.
  • Rapid sympathetic responses are known as fight or flight – the increased heart rate as you narrowly miss a car or how you become incensed at something. They occur quicker than waiting for the logic of the central nervous system
  • Caffeine is a sympathomimetic drug that activates sympathetic nerve fibres
  • Anxiety occurs when you have sympathetic over-activity.
  • Switching on your parasympathetic nervous system relaxes you – you can not be anxious if if you in a state of parasympathetic predominance
  • Medical self-hypnosis can use the imagination which creates anxiety to counter it by getting into a parasympathetic state.
  • Trying not to think of something is like throwing petrol on fire. Thinking NOT just makes you visualise it more.Think of what you want, not what you don’t want
  • Avoid the word try – it is associated with failing

I found the book very fascinating. It comes with a CD also. If you have anxiety issues, it could well be worth checking out.

The book is available from Huia or Amazon.

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15 Responses to “Anxiety Attacks”

  1. Akaroa (552 comments) says:

    Fascinating!

    Thanks for that, David!

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  2. beautox (437 comments) says:

    >> Avoid the word try – it is associated with failing

    You’ll never make an All Black’s coach ;)

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  3. jims_whare (399 comments) says:

    Send a copy to David Shearer??

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  4. Bob R (1,357 comments) says:

    Do or do not… there is no try

    Yoda

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  5. Bob R (1,357 comments) says:

    ***» Avoid the word try – it is associated with failing***

    I was reading the Inner Game of Tennis. There’s a story about a Zen master who asked a group of Westerners what they thought was the most important word in the language. According to the Zen master the most important word was the word “let.” The idea is to trust yourself, let it happen, without trying too hard and actually getting in your own way.

    If you want another way to relax, this one minute meditation video is pretty cool. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6eFFCi12v8

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  6. tamati (70 comments) says:

    Just to correct some neuro-anatomy David,

    The nervous system can be split into the central nervous system (Brain and spinal cord) and peripheral nervous system. (The rest of the body)

    The peripheral nervous system can further be divided into the somatic nervous system (voluntary actions) and the autonomic nervous system. (Body does automatically)

    The autonomic system can further be divided into the into the sympathic and parasympathic systems, as you described correctly.

    Additionally some also consider the sensory nervous system as an additional system.

    Obviously neuro-anatomy is a very complex subject!

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  7. Steve (North Shore) (4,524 comments) says:

    Um Bob R,

    I watched the youtube clip. I see these people all the time, making out like they are doing something.

    They need to do it in their own time because they are being paid to do nothing

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  8. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    It’s actually: “flight, fight or fuck”.
    I’ve had a coffee induced panic attack. It was not long after Sandyhook. The only thing that bought me back was staring into the desperate eyes of another parent. Whatever the perception of Americans by others; – we were a nation of panicked individuals with the solidarity of parenthood.
    If I feel overly fearful tell myself it is nothing but an overly responsive lizard brain .

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  9. pq (728 comments) says:

    soon as I read it Farrar I started worrying again, but I will try to stop

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  10. Judith (8,462 comments) says:

    I have a bio-feed back device that runs from a USB IOM that clicks onto three fingers. Teaches you how to lower and control anxiety using visual effects and by measuring heart rate, skin moisture etc. Enabling you to develop appropriate responses to control heightened anxiety naturally. Put together by Depak Chopra and friends it is used by some clinicians, but is great for domestic use as well.

    Cost me a fortune and sits in a box!

    I should use the device whilst I read kiwiblog ;-), the readings it produces might surpass the caffine effect.

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  11. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    Dr Pat McCarthy is known by that simple aphorism: “Don’t Try. Do!”

    He is also known by living to it.

    (With a name like McCarthy, it sounds better with the right accent.)

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  12. hannity (152 comments) says:

    Monique Watson, good on you ,for finally recognising your overly responsive lizard brain.
    They say that admitting your problem ,is the first step, Good luck.

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  13. noskire (835 comments) says:

    I might recommend this to my neighbour. He is a dyslexic agnostic insomniac and lies awake at night wondering if there really is a dog.

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  14. howdarethey (32 comments) says:

    There’s now some evidence to suggest men and women react to stress differently. The Flight or Fight phenomenon is well-known, but what is now known is that in females, being under chronic stress will result in their bodies releasing large amounts of oxytocin into the blood system. This is in addition to the release of adrenalin and cortisol, which are the brain chemicals responsible for elevating the heart rate, causing our thoughts to speed up, and so on – the classical symptoms of stress, experienced by both men and women.

    Oxytocin is present in the system of women at child birth, and present in both men and women during sex. It promotes feelings of wanting to be close to others, and to trust them.

    When men are under stress they are often observed to ‘close down’ and to become taciturn and reluctant to discuss their problems. Women, on the other hand, often seem to reach out to others, particularly female friends, and want to discuss their problems.

    From an evolutionary perspective this phenomenon would seem sensible. Way back when tribes were the norm, the menfolk would leave the women and children to go fight. The women and children would be left to support each other, and therefore, oxytocin being released by the brain would seem to promote processes of cooperation and solving problems as a group. Safety in numbers.

    This phenomenon has been given a name. Whereas the Flight or Fight scenario is useful to explain a short-term stress reaction in both genders, in men the process endures, but women can be said to react to long-term stress with a choice of Tend or Befriend – tend to the problem or befriend others to help you sort things out.

    No wonder women want to talk so much, and we guys just want to brood!

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  15. liarbors a joke (1,069 comments) says:

    Thanks for that. I suffer from those conditions and it aint pleasant. I’ve just purchased it it via Huia.

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