Breathing Techniques

Written by James Lyons
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Back in my senior year of college, I was diagnosed with acute panic disorder. On the verge of graduation and buried under a mountain of papers and senior projects, I found myself curled up on my bed, hyperventilating. My roommates called an ambulance and I was taken to a nearby hospital. At the time, my blood pressure had skyrocketed to 200/180 and my pulse was at 200 beats per minute.

I thought I was going to die. In fact, I came dangerously close to cardiac arrest and I was only 21 years old at the time. I was instructed to see a psychiatrist, given the fact that my panic attack was triggered by emotional distress. The psychiatrist I visited instantly diagnosed me with acute panic disorder and wrote me a prescription for some psychotropic drug. I refused to take the drug and chose to deal with my disorder some other way.

Breathing Techniques Avert Panic Attacks

A doctor who is a friend of the family told me that my panic was a result of emotional distress and faulty breathing, the latter of which severely aggravated the physical manifestations of my panic attacks. Slow, measured, abdominal breathing alone can dispel a panic attack when one occurs. Most people with panic disorder are chest breathers.

I was a chest breather and it took over a year of consistent practice to change my breathing habits. I sought the counsel of a breathing expert and started taking Yoga classes. Today, I breathe the way Mother Nature intended me to breathe, with my diaphragm doing the work instead of my chest. I haven't had a panic attack in seven years largely because of the breathing techniques I've integrated into my daily life.

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