It can be useful to provide anxiety management strategies early in therapy because (1) they can give patients a degree of control over their distress, and (2) these techniques are relatively simple to use. Be aware that most patients experience considerable distress during the initial sessions because they are confronting and expressing upsetting memories. The utility of reducing arousal in the acute posttrauma phase is also indicated by evidence that acute arousal is associated with chronic PTSD (Shalev et al., 1998). Giving the patient some tools to assist mastery over the acute anxiety can provide both a sense of relief and a motivation to comply with more demanding therapy tasks. Anxiety management often involves progressive muscle relaxation (Ost, 1987) and breathing retraining, which aims to achieve 10 breaths a minute. Although these techniques are simple, therapists need to be aware that focusing on bodily sensation or on breathing can trigger reminders of the trauma. First, individuals who experienced panic, suffocation, or choking need to be approached with caution because muscle relaxation or breathing exercises can elicit flashbacks. Second, requesting recently traumatized people to close their eyes can be a threatening experience if they have concerns about losing control. Therefore, it may be better to conduct these exercises with eyes open.
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With all the stresses and strains of modern living, panic attacks are become a common problem for many people. Panic attacks occur when the pressure we are living under starts to creep up and overwhelm us. Often it's a result of running on the treadmill of life and forgetting to watch the signs and symptoms of the effects of excessive stress on our bodies. Thankfully panic attacks are very treatable. Often it is just a matter of learning to recognize the symptoms and learn simple but effective techniques that help you release yourself from the crippling effects a panic attack can bring.