The Panic Attack Imagery Isn't Helping as Much as Before. What Do I Do?

Hello Belleruth,

First I would like to thank you because your panic attack disk has helped me tremendously in the past and I still use the mantra meditations to get me through a lot.

The past few months I’ve been going through extra health problems that have brought back my panic attacks, more specifically a horribly intrusive gagging symptom. The meditations don’t seem to be helping as much as in the past. I even try acupressure points on myself. (Also currently on Ativan)

Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated since you’ve helped so much in the past! :)

Hi, (name withheld). Sorry you’re going through this. Gagging is one miserable symptom to contend with.

I do have some suggestions as to how you can ‘up the ante' on what you’re doing to quell this, that will increase the potency and efficacy of your tool kit.

First, for now, set aside the imagery for Anxiety & Panic that you’ve been using. Because now it’s associated with your struggles to get rid of the gagging.

Do you have another guided meditation audio? – some different imagery by me (maybe Relaxation & Wellness; General Wellness; or by somebody else – maybe Julie Lusk’s deeply relaxing Yoga Nidra; Traci Stein’s Self-Compassion; Karen Sothers’ Sacred Pause or Bodhipaksa’s Harnessing the Power of Kindness?) It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s fresh to you and you find it pleasing, relaxing and calming.

Then, try listening to this new audio, but in combination with some sort of biofield/energy work for few sessions, with a well-regarded practitioner in your area – This could be a certified Reiki Master, a certified Healing Touch practitioner (often a nurse or trained massotherapist); or a certified Therapeutic Touch practitioner (ditto).

The combination is powerful and it can make all the difference when you’re up against the wall with a nasty symptom like this. Use your own networks, or else suggestions from your local hospital’s Integrative Medicine department (they often have these folks working with patients for pre-surgical anxiety), or use Google to find a local list of certified practitioners. Talk to them on the phone first, to ensure you find them trustworthy and right for you, so you don’t waste your time or money.

Just to support this idea: When Camp Pendleton, in combination with Scripps Hospital, offered 126 Marines with posttraumatic stress, who were between deployments, on leave for only 3 weeks, the combination of playing our Healing Trauma imagery during 6 sessions (twice a week) with a Healing Touch practitioner (a deeply relaxing, heart-based practice which actually doesn’t physically touch you – just the field of energy around you -), the outcomes were jaw-dropping – symptoms of PTS dropped significantly, plus depression and cynicism as well.. And this in spite of the fact that these Marines knew they were going back to the same situation that brought on their symptoms in the first place.

If you’re comfortable with getting massage therapy, that’s an equally powerful combination with playing the fresh guided imagery during sessions, too.

And, needless to say, if you think this symptom is connected with some traumatic events in your history, either childhood or more recent, I’d, of course, encourage you to seek psychotherapy with someone experienced and up to date on treating PTS. Again, check and double check references, network, and pre-interview on the phone.

I hope this is a help. Let me know how it goes.

All best,