Panic attacks are definitely horrible to experience, and many people who are experiencing a panic attack for the first time sometimes wonder if they're having a heart attack. The unpleasant experience of a panic attack is usually so awful that people fear having another one - which fuels the undercurrent of anxiety and makes it more likely for the sufferer to experience another one.
Hypnotherapy is just one of the ways used to treat panic attacks. Quite often, medication is used to treat panic attacks and to combat anxiety, which often is the condition underlying panic attacks (other conditions may trigger them, but anxiety is by far the most common one these days). This medication works by manipulating your hormones and brain chemicals so you don't get that flood of adrenaline that sets the panic reaction in motion.
But adrenaline isn't all bad. Do you really want to stop this chemical going through your bloodstream? The human body needs adrenaline to fire up the muscles and the heartbeat in a genuinely dangerous situation, or even in a benign situation such as on the sports field. The rush of adrenaline can even be pleasant, which is why people participate in thrilling experiences and activities that will release it. These activities can be as sedentary as reading thrillers, watching action movies or playing computer games; or they can be as intense as bungy jumping or parachuting - and lots of things in between, such as horse riding, rollercoasters and motorbikes, to name a few. It would be a pretty dull life if you never felt that surge of adrenaline coursing through your veins, or else it would be a very short one, as adrenaline is a survival mechanism for when you need it.
So medication, while it is a short-term fix for panic attacks, isn't the best in the long run. The thing with panic attacks is that your body produces that surge of adrenaline and goes into a fully stimulated state - and then gets into a negative feedback loop that makes the symptoms worse and worse. You could say that panic attacks are triggered by too much adrenaline or a flood of adrenaline at the wrong time.
The key to this release of adrenaline, which is what hypnosis aims to target, is the mind and the beliefs. People often try using a stream of positive self-talk to help them through a situation that is likely to provoke a panic attack, and these phrases are often similar to the suggestions planted deep within during hypnotherapy. This positive self-talk keeps up a steady stream of phrases like "You're all right. Nothing's going to hurt you. Nothing bad is going to happen. You can do this. There isn't really anything that's going to hurt you. You're not really in danger - you're quite safe." And for many people, this stream of positive self-talk is often all it takes to get though a panic attack and head one off before it starts.
A second way that people often try to head of a panic attack is to deliberately control the breathing. One of the characteristics of a panic attack is that the lungs and heart work overtime, and many of the symptoms associated with a panic attack overlap with those of hyperventilation. Deliberately slowing the breath down - something that all humans can do deliberately, which we can't do with our heartbeats - often helps to dispel the sense of panic. Did your mother ever tell you to take a deep breath and count to ten when you got angry (another adrenaline-intense situation)?? This often works to help treat panic attacks. To break the negative feedback loop of a panic attack, inhale and exhale slowly and deeply ten times - it often works.
But this stream of positive self-talk and slowed breathing aren't always all that it takes. Often, you can be trying to tell yourself that everything is all right and you are perfectly safe, but your nerves and your heartbeat and your emotions are telling you the reverse - and before you know it, you're into a full-blown panic attack. This is because deep down, part of you does not believe the rational mind's reassurances. In your core, you lack the confidence and courage to tackle the situation, and this deep part of you still feels afraid, in spite of the mind, and this fear takes over. If anything is going to treat a panic attack, it has to be work deep down in the mind and the self - down in the part that could be known as (depending on your overall belief system) your soul, your spirit or your unconsciousness. Hypnosis is used during hypnotherapy to access the spirit and to change it at this deep level. Counselling also tries to plumb the depths of the soul to discover the root of the problem and get deal with it. Religion (including mainstream churches) also aims to heal the "wounded" parts of the soul that cause panic attacks.
You can try other natural, holistic methods alongside these deep treatments methods such as hypnotherapy. Many people find that aromatherapy works to complement hypnosis, with essential oil of lavender being both readily available and good for relaxing and calming the nerves. The best method is to take a handkerchief or similar with a few drops of essential oil of lavender with you if you know you are about to face a situation that is likely to trigger a panic attack. When that lurch in your stomach and the racing heartbeat start, take out the hanky and take a deep breath. The combination of the deep breathing and the essential oil of lavender often work wonders. However, this method won't work if you are caught out unexpectedly without your "magic potion". Ultimately, you will need to treat your tendency towards panic attacks from within at the deep spirit or soul level.