Fear is a part of everyone’s life. But what if fear determines your life?
Fear is a normal part of life and a necessary state to be able to survive. After all, if there is a real risk or danger, fear causes you to take action.
You experience fear in your head and your body. It acts as an alarm bell that activates the nervous and hormonal systems to bring your body into a state of readiness. The adrenaline, blood pressure and heart rate go up and your breathing speeds up, which allows you to act immediately to protect yourself.
However, if there is no immediate danger this alarm bell is counterproductive. The body automatically prepares to react when it does not need to. If that happens often, it will be physically and mentally very stressful, and it can eventually lead to burnout or depression.
When fear controls your life
Fear is not useful if you feel (excessive) fear when there is no real danger. This is called a phobic fear of phobia. You may recognize yourself in this: you know that you don’t have to be afraid, but you still feel an uncontrollable fear. You probably also try to avoid situations or look for safety outside yourself.
Symptoms that come with it are both psychological (e.g. feeling intensely uncomfortable), physical (including crying, gastrointestinal problems, fainting) and behavioral (with all kinds of variations in avoidance and safety behavior). When a phobia prevents you from working, maintaining social relationships or doing normal daily activities, there is reason to do something about it.
You may suffer from repeated unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack usually peaks within a few minutes and lasts up to 30 minutes. Although panic attacks can be very frightening, they are not dangerous and do you no harm. Symptoms range from palpitations, faster heart rate, trembling, feeling breathless, gasping, sweating, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, getting hot or cold, fainting, or being afraid of going crazy or dying.
If you are constantly worried about having new panic attacks and you change your behavior to prevent a panic attack (avoiding and frantically seeking safety), then you may have a panic disorder. However, you can completely recover from this. The sooner you call for help, the better you will be able to deal with it.
Panic and hyperventilation
Hyperventilation can play a role in the development of panic attacks in people who are sensitive to them. While not everyone who panics also begins to hyperventilate, it is quite common. A study from 2001 showed that people with panic disorder are more susceptible to hyperventilation.
People with panic attacks often show chronic hyperventilation. They continuously breathe too much air, causing the CO2 in the blood to drop. According to Ukrainian doctor Buteyko, this leads to hypersensitivity to CO2 in the longer term, which is more likely to cause shortness of breath. People with panic disorder do indeed feel stuffy more quickly, with the feeling of choking, and are also more likely to panic. It’s a vicious circle.
Therapies for anxiety
To help you overcome your anxiety, we look at which approach suits you best. I work with methods that can be used separately or in combination. To give you an idea of what to expect, below is a brief description of how each method works.
Several therapies have been developed for anxiety disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the best researched and appears to be highly effective. The starting point is that your fear stays and worsens as a result of avoidance and safety behaviors. So we first have to discover how your behavior, thoughts and feelings, and the consequences of your behavior are all related.
During therapy, ‘exposure’ to what triggers your fear – is crucial. In hypnotherapy we work with ‘imaginal exposure’. Guided by hypnotic suggestions, you can experience the situation as intensely as in real life. Having learned about helpful thoughts and behavior while in hypnosis, you do behavioral experiments at home. By gradually confronting more difficult situations, your fear will fade away and disappear. You get your freedom back.
A phobia is often caused by (a) previous major event(s), depending on how they are ‘stored’ in your mind. The event may have happened to you, but not necessarily. What you have seen in others, or fantasies about what could have happened of might still happen, can also play a role.
A key premise of EMDR is that traumatic experiences may leave traces of memory in the form of ‘images’. These images contain information about who and how you are as a person, how others are and how the world works. It is these dysfunctional images that cause the phobic fear or panic. When these images are activated, it triggers a fear response in your body. With EMDR we influence these images in such a way that they no longer affect or disturb you emotionally, and you will become able to overcome your fear.
With chronic hyperventilation, the likelihood of having acute hyperventilation attacks and the associated panic increases. The Buteyko breathing therapy is a program of breathing exercises to get a normal, functional breathing pattern again. Not only does breathing become structurally calmer, the hyperventilation attacks themselves and the fear of a new attack also disappear.
The essence of a Buteyko breathing exercise is to consciously create a slight hunger for air and to hold it briefly. During each exercise, the CO2 in the blood rises. By regular exercising you learn to both evoke and tolerate the effect of air hunger. In addition, the hypersensitivity to CO2 gradually decreases, your breathing normalizes and the activity of the nervous system is balanced again.
During the intake consultation we will assess your problem situation and issues, and the goal you wish to achieve. At home, you have already filled in the intake form, so you are well prepared for the interview. Together we come to a preliminary conclusion about the causes of the problem and what the best approach is. We may need a second session to clarify this.
Depending on your situation, what you have experienced and the changes that lie ahead, I can work with you with specific methods such as EMDR, cognitive hypnotherapy, breathing therapy or cranialsacral therapy. We discuss this in the course of the coaching process, and together we decide about the excercises or treatment during sessions. Often you get some homework.
Rates and registration
- For private clients, see the different rates on this page. A partial reimbursement from the healthcare insurance is often possible.
- Different rates apply for coaching programs for business purposes, or paid for by the employer.
Do you want to overcome your anxiety or fear and improve your health? Via the button you can immediately make an appointment for a free telephone call or an intake session.