What Is Polyvagal Theory (and Can It Actually Stop a Panic Attack)?

by Msnbctv news staff

Image for article titled How to Stop a Panic Attack With Frozen Meat

Picture: Georgy Dzyura (Shutterstock)

I’m all about “it’s not TMI, it’s transparency,” which is why TikTok is the perfect social community—a spot the place folks don’t have any drawback getting nakedly confessional in 15 seconds or much less. It’s additionally an exquisite place to discover the extra…unconventional aspect of wellness and psychological well being developments. My telephone and/or TikTok account could or could not have been listening in on a latest remedy session whereby my therapist and I had been speaking about my pandemic panic dysfunction and the recent new coping technique on the road today: polyvagal principle, also called nervous system hacking.

What are we hacking now?

Principally, the speculation goes that you may speak to your self all you need about the way you’re not truly being chased by monsters, however your physique—or moderately, your mind—doesn’t care, and goes to ship you into flight, struggle, freeze, or fawn mode whether or not you’ve taken a deep breath or not. Coping with these adrenaline rushes of panic, then, requires rewiring of your nervous system’s automated responses.

My therapist despatched me this podcast about it and I listened to it twice, making an attempt to soak up as a lot as I may. I believed it sounded cool and I used to be for positive going to look into it, as quickly as I acquired again from trip. Then one thing occurred and it reactivated a bit of little bit of my trauma response. Then I had a trauma anniversary. Then my nervousness assaults, beforehand properly managed, snuck up on me once more.

Ice your boobs to cut back stress?

Quickly I used to be strolling round my home buzzing and crying and never consuming and never sleeping. To disassociate, I went on TikTok and noticed this video of a girl sticking frozen beef down her shirt, adopted by different movies of individuals sticking cups of ice of their sports activities bras, folks saying “vagus nerve,” and “polyvagal principle,” and “panic assault,” and “trauma” time and again.

After I panic, my thoughts goes offline. Ideas—the way in which I make my residing—cease. I wanted a approach to come again, someway. So I crammed a mason jar with ice, wrapped it in a child washcloth, and caught it in my bra. My son stated, “You’re performing bizarre.” He was not fallacious. However instantly, I felt proper once more.

Is it the placebo impact, or the true deal?

Absolutely that is simply the placebo impact at work, proper? I needed to discover out. I started asking therapists their ideas, researching the vagus nerve, and icing my boobs as crucial. As at all times, the web is torn on whether or not or not this viral hack is a “professional tip” or just, properly, hacky. True, most of the so-called specialists on TikTok are usually not licensed psychological well being professionals. A number of are mere people making an attempt one thing that works for them, and, as they are saying, if it feels good, do it. To a degree, anyway.

It’s price noting that many of those content material creators proclaim themselves to be skilled psychological well being specialists, even when they don’t maintain any superior levels or haven’t undergone specialised coaching. They earn a living off of individuals’s psychological well being crises. Be cautious of those “coaches,” “gurus,” or “docs.” Panic assaults usually mimic signs of different life-threatening well being situations like coronary heart assaults, and it’s at all times higher to get checked out by an actual physician and be informed you’ve got nervousness than to self-misdiagnose a cardiac situation. In case you are experiencing extreme psychological well being misery and have ideas of suicide or hurting your self or others, search assist instantly by calling 911 or a Suicide Prevention Hotline.

There’s some fact to the speculation

Therapists say there’s a scientific and subsequently actual purpose the ice on the chest trick does work to calm you down. “Placing ice, frozen meals, or one thing chilly will help cease or stop panic assaults. In remedy phrases, it’s known as ‘grounding’—participating a number of of your senses as a type of distraction,” says Lindsey Mannon, a LCSW of Malaty Remedy in Texas. You cease focusing in your nervousness when you possibly can give attention to the chilly as an alternative.

One other therapist explains the nervous system’s response to chilly: It, ”restricts blood vessels, and prompts the vagus nerve,” says Christina P. Kantzavelos, a LCSW psychotherapist in Joshua Tree, California. “When the vagus nerve is activated it takes you out of the sympathetic response (struggle or flight) right into a parasympathetic response (relaxation and digest) and slows down your coronary heart fee.” Principally, it makes you in a position to take care of your stress as an alternative of constant to spiral additional.

Different “ice remedy” strategies like ice baths or chilly showers have been making the viral rounds, and there may be in reality medical and anecdotal proof that they will help folks with nervousness and panic assaults. Nonetheless, it gained’t work for each particular person or eery panic assault. “When you shock your physique an excessive amount of whereas it’s already in a weak state, it could take longer to do away with the panic assault,” says Chris Tompkins, a psychologist and creator. Different grounding workouts may be simpler.

Substantive therapy is extra essential than ice powers

Understand that, “it is very important know that though [ice] is a instrument, it doesn’t exchange remedy to deal with the underlying concern of why the panic assaults are occurring within the first place,” Kantazavelos says. Whereas it’d really feel good to ice your chest in a second of stress (and if it does, go for it), it’s additionally essential to research why you’re reaching for into your freezer within the first place.

As an alternative of looking for solace solely in TikTok, take into account speaking to a therapist, an excellent buddy, or a cherished one. Feeling such as you’re so anxious you have to quiet down isn’t “regular,” even in these endless “unprecedented occasions.” You deserve reduction a bit of extra complete than quickly thawing some meat in your sternum.

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