Why do people panic? (Instalment 1)


In this instalment of my blog I want to focus on Panic situations and how people can try to gain control over themselves with the help of Yoga and Cognitive Behavior Therapy. This article will appear in 3 instalments. I had planned on writing on Ashtanga yoga. That will follow later as I want to put this discussion out first as it might have more interest for readers. This is a simplified explanation. For those with a more scientific bent of mind, there are many texts out there that can serve the purpose of more complex information.
When I have analyzed situations where people panicked, I have often observed that the reason for the panic is not the situation itself but worry of the consequences. This concern could be as a result of previous experiences either ones own or hearsay – what has happened to others in similar situations. For example you are unable to find your phone … you find your blood pressure shooting up, you feel dizzy and faint and your brain is foggy disabling any ability to think logically. Therefore, the tendency is to immediately jump to the conclusion that it has been stolen. Then it occurs to you that someone could steal your bank details, buy stuff from the shopping aps you have etc. you run around in circles asking everyone if they have seen your phone. You’re wondering if you should report it to the police. What will people think of you, what will your family members say? They will call you careless. Where will you get the money to buy another phone? Such thoughts according to Cognitive Behavior therapy (CBT) theorists are automatic thoughts that can occur to anyone. However, if one is unable to control such spiraling thoughts and reaches a state of panic, it becomes a behavioral disorder.
What you should do to overcome the panic is to stop for a moment and ask yourself what you should be doing when you have discovered that you no longer have your phone with you.
Maybe you should look again in your bag/car/wherever it is that you have been? You could retrace your steps and look in those spots that you have just been.
Maybe you should ask someone to call your phone?
Maybe you could enlist help of others to search?
Losing your phone is worrisome. But often we have just temporarily misplaced the phone.
This is easier said than done. Anyone who panics knows that at that moment rational thought is almost impossible. Here is where Yoga can help. The breathing techniques of yoga which are now often used by psychotherapists can be used to rein in such panic states. .
Instead of fast forwarding to consequences, one could stay in the moment. Breathe deeply because panic constrains the breathing pattern, deprives the brain of oxygen and causes dizzy spells.
Long term practice of Pranayama or breathing practices help control impulses during problem situations. These practices work on the autonomic nervous system and cause the brain to calm down the neuro transmitters. While practicing deep breathing the mind calms down and the person can think more clearly understanding the realities of the situation and the requirement. The questioning mind needs to know how this happens. There is a biological explanation. It has to do with the functioning of the brain – The nervous system.

3 comments on “Why do people panic? (Instalment 1)”

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