Breath and Panic Control: Insights from AnsibleChat
During the AnsibleChat session that took place on November 27th, 2023 participants discussed their experiences with shortness of breath and the feeling of panic that often accompanies it.
Many individuals shared their personal struggles with conditions such as PTSD, COPD, and emphysema, which can cause difficulty breathing and lead to a panic state. The conversation delved into the connection between the brain and lungs and the role the amygdala plays in generating feelings of anxiety or panic.
Participants were encouraged to reframe their perceptions of these feelings, using alternative terms such as "pressure," "heaviness," or "tightness." By changing the language used to describe these sensations, individuals may be better able to externalize the feelings and reduce their power over them.
During the session, various techniques were introduced by AnsibleHelath’s medical director Dr. Victor Tseng to help manage anxiety related to shortness of breath. One technique involved focusing on different parts of the body during periods of distress, such as the tip of one's nose or a patch of skin on one's arm. By redirecting attention away from the feelings of tightness or discomfort in the chest or throat, participants may regain control over their breathing and alleviate anxiety.
Another technique presented was cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which involves practicing mindfulness and meditation to gain control over negative thoughts and emotions. One participant shared that they have used CBT techniques in conjunction with breathing exercises to manage anxiety symptoms.
The session also addressed misconceptions regarding oxygen saturation levels and difficulty breathing. While many might assume that low oxygen levels directly cause shortness of breath, it was clarified that this is not always the case. In reality, there are often other factors at play, such as muscle fatigue or lung issues that can contribute to shortness of breath.
By understanding these connections and implementing coping strategies such as mindfulness and meditation, individuals can better manage their anxiety related to shortness of breath. As one participant stated, "it's about control of attention... mastering where your attention is."
Through continued practice and support from medical professionals, individuals can begin to regain control over their breathing and reduce feelings of panic during periods of distress.
In the upcoming final AnsibleChat session of 2023, we will once again meet with Dr. Tseng to talk about the home digital monitoring devices for those living with COPD or other pulmonary conditions. Scheduled for December 11th, this session presents an invaluable opportunity for participants to not only learn about the latest advancements in technology designed to improve their quality of life but also connect with the larger AnsbileHealth clinical and non-clinical team.
As we wrap up this year's peer support sessions, we remain committed to providing practical tools and resources that inspire hope, resilience, and more control over one's well-being in living with COPD.
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