Coping with Panic Images

Jerry Kennard Health Pro
  • During a panic attack some people see their worst fears as images. For example, if the panic event occurs while they are driving they may see pictures of themselves careering out of control, or lying dead in a pool of blood. Many panic attack victims are convinced they are having a heart attack. In their imagination they ‘see’ their heart struggling to cope, perhaps going into spasm or bursting under the strain of their increased heart rate.


    Typically we can listen to distressing news stories with relative ease, but seeing related images are much more graphic and affect us at a much deeper and more visceral level. Whether your image is one of fainting or something more extreme the fact remains these can be deeply disturbing and uncomfortable sensations.

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    Control over the power of such images begins by unpicking and understanding what is happening. These images reflect your worst fears and while they can be extremely frightening they are not in any way real. Because you generate these images it is possible to turn things around. Let’s approach the situation in a measured fashion.


    First, try to recall the images that come into your head during a panic attack. Now try playing with the picture in your mind. You might want to relax while you are doing this. Close your eyes and bring to mind your panic images. So, for example, if you imagine your heart bursting, try seeing it in new ways – perhaps as infinitely elastic, or so strong that it simply cannot burst. Incidentally your heart is designed to beat at different rates. Its only job is to pump blood and your increased blood pressure won’t make an iota of difference to its central function.


    What you are doing with image manipulation is something elite sportsmen and women do all the time. They ‘see’ their performance in positive ways and this not only changes how they feel but seems to have a positive effect on their actual output. If you practice the technique regularly at times when you feel relaxed and comfortable you’ll find you can begin to introduce your more positive alternative image during times when you panic.

Published On: June 12, 2014