Anxiety and panic attacks. Most of us know what these are and some of us have experienced them in varying degrees. I know first-hand how frightening and debilitating they can be. Hypnosis can help teen anxiety and panic attacks.

If only I’d known about self-hypnosis when I was young. I first started having what I called panic attacks, back in the ‘70’s, when I was a teen. They were such terrifying experiences that when they happened, I literally thought I was going insane.

A particular panic attack happened while visiting family in Colorado. I woke up late at night and could not fall back to sleep.  My heart was pounding a hundred miles an hour and I had an overwhelming sense of danger even though NOTHING was happening around me. My sister and cousin were sleeping safe and sound in the same room. I truly thought I was going to die. All I could think was to go to my mom. I went to the room where my parents were sleeping, woke her and asked if I could lay next to her because I was so afraid. She drowsily comforted me and I eventually drifted off to sleep.

High school panic attacks

These “attacks” happened randomly. I’d be sitting in class in high school and the overwhelming feeling of terror would come on suddenly. My breath would quicken, my heart would pound and my mind would race with crazy, panicky thoughts. I felt like everyone around me could sense that I was going nuts and any rational thoughts were obliterated. I’d bolt at the teacher and ask to be excused, rush to the bathroom to try and calm myself down in a stall, fearful, upset and crying-wondering what was wrong with me. Surely I was losing my mind. 

anxious young woman covering her face with her hands while lying down

Not alone…

I eventually learned that my mother had these kinds of issues when she was young. For instance, she told the story of how her panic attack caused an entire Greyhound bus filled with passengers to pull over so the bus driver could calm her down. And how she had to rest her cheek against the cold window of the bus and close her eyes to soothe herself. I felt such great relief. Someone else understood what I was feeling! I wasn’t alone and eventually found that others had experienced similar episodes of panic and anxiety.

It got to the point where just the thought of a panic attack happening would induce one in me. It was crippling and terrifying and as a result, I never spoke of it to my friends or classmates. I was an awkward, shy and self-conscious teen as it was, and so, to be singled out in any way (in my adolescent mind) was the ultimate embarrassment.

Young woman in black hoodie looking solemn

Patterns in the panic attacks

Over time, I noticed a pattern in my attacks. They frequently came on in the mornings as I’d be getting ready for school. I often overslept and then in my rush to get ready, my thoughts would start to race. One time, and I have no idea why, I just stopped in my tracks. I closed my eyes and started taking deep breaths, in an effort to relax myself. And I focused on my thoughts. I forced my thoughts to slow… way… down. I would pause between every word of my thoughts, keeping them slow and deliberate; at the same time taking deep calming breaths, in and out. Amazingly, my panic attack slowly diminished. Little did I know, I was using self-hypnosis.

I continued doing this any time I’d feel the beginnings of anxious thoughts, and eventually the attacks stopped. It was such a simple exercise and for me it was completely self-taught.  Other than my mom, I’d never talked to anyone about my panic attacks or how to stop them.  They did eventually stop by my early 20’s. And other than a couple of instances that were comparably quite mild, I don’t have them at all (I’m now in my 50’s).

young woman lying on grass making triangle shape with hands above her

A bonus! Self-hypnosis is drug free.

 Unknowingly, I was using a form self-hypnosis as a way to stop my teen anxiety and panic attacks. This was decades before I would even know what self-hypnosis was. It shows the power of the human mind and our own ability to harness it. Eliminating the attacks without the use of medication was also a bonus. I would have tried medication in a split second if that had been offered. Fortunately, that never came to be, considering the side effects of some of those meds and risk of becoming addicted to them.  But that’s a subject for another blog…

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