DBT and Panic Disorders
Panic disorders are mental health conditions where you feel anxiety, panic and fear on a regular basis. Some level of fear is normal, it alerts us to danger, but when aniexty and fear cause problems in your every day life, you may have a panic disorder. People with panic disorders report high levels of anxiety, and frequent panic attacks.
Panic attack symptoms include:
- shortness of breath
- racing heartbeat
- feeling faint or dizzy
- sweating or hot flushes
- a feeling of dread
- a churning stomach
- dry mouth
Panic attacks can last anywhere between minutes nad an hour. They are not dangerous, they won’t cause you any physical harm, but they may make you feel like they will.
One particular DBT skills that can help during episodes of anxiety or panic, is called the TIPP. TIPP stands for:
- intense exercise
- paced breathing
- paired muscle relaxation
This one is quite straightforward – change the temperature. You could splash your face with cold water, immerse your hands in a sink full of cold water, add ice cubes to a drink and drink it slowly. While you do this, count to the highest number you can.
A 20 minute session of aerobic exercise, such as a quick run, star jumps, running on the stop, is great for releasing any built up frustration or anger, and exercise has been proven to improve a low mood and energise you.
This is a technique where you breathe out slower than you breathe in, staring with a 1-second difference. Breathe in for 4 seconds, then breathe out for 5 seconds. Increase the breath out as far as is comfortable for you. Sometimes when we feel panic our body genuinely thinks we are in danger. Breathing like this communicates to your body that you are not in danger, if you have time to do paced breathing.
Paired muscle relaxation
This is a good exercise for when you are in bed at nite, or feeling anxiety in public. You can pick a muscle, such as a toe or fist, and notice the tension in it. Then tense the muscle as hard as you can while you breathe in, and as you breathe out your relax the muscle and say the word ‘relax’ (in your head if in a public place!).