Treating Panic Attacks with Flower Essences
This initial formula of Agrimony, Cherry Plum, Chestnut Bud, Impatiens, Red Chestnut proved really effective. Already from the first few days, patients would experience a profound relief from their symptoms. Their panic attacks would either very much decrease in frequency and intensity or would not appear at all. Gentian was added to protect from disappointment from possible setbacks. Sometimes, particularly sensitive people would experience 'uneasiness' or anxiety for a few days in the beginning of flower therapy, which might be compared to a 'therapeutic crisis', as a result of a big change in awareness. Star of Bethlehem helped to overcome or minimize this problem.
But relief from symptoms was not the only benefit. The important thing was the change in consciousness. Already from the second session, the patients would shift their attention from being symptom-oriented to becoming insight-oriented. Spontaneously, they were now able to perceive what was happening in them. Even though they were not able to handle situations in a different way yet, the fact that, finally, they could be in touch with their own emotions and understand the psychological issues responsible for their situation, had a profoundly calming and liberating effect on them. Chestnut Bud was 'pouring' insights into their consciousness, and this gave them a sense of safety and self-confidence, because they could now understand what was being wrong, which was giving them control over their situation. The beautiful thing in the use of Chestnut Bud was that symptom interpretations came directly from the patients, based on their insights. They were not a professional' s interpretations, which the patients were asked to adopt. Cherry Plum was catalyzing this process, by 'melting' the explosive inner tension, educating them in the language of feelings, opening the way for an inner dialogue. With Impatiens they could calm down and give time to the process instead of aimlessly rushing around in panic. Agrimony was giving them the freedom to genuinely experience and express thoughts, feelings and worries that, until then, they found 'unacceptable' and to work with these psychological issues in a therapeutic context. Finally, Red Chestnut was freeing them from dysfunctional attachments and fears about others, so that they no longer had to feel guilty about attempting changes, which were necessary for them.
Interestingly, none of the above essences are directly related to fear or panic. However, as I was becoming familiar with more flower essences over the years, a few more essences were added to the combination mentioned above. These are: three Australian Bush essences, the Dog Rose, for worry and fear, Dog Rose of the Wild Forces for the 'somatization of anxiety' (to keep the emotional tensions from affecting the body functions), and the Emergency Essence for courage in facing threatening situations. Also, three Pegasus essences: Pimpernel (for coordinating the awakening energy, to be released into the personality in an organized fashion), Blackberry (for fear of coming death, to the self or to a loved one), and Apricot (for lightness and cheer, to lighten up the patients' burdened state of mind). With the addition of these essences, the panic symptoms now practically disappear during the first week.
No special treatment has ever been necessary for the possible accompanying agoraphobic symptoms, as they subside by themselves, following the general improvement.
Although the person no longer experiences panic attacks, the above combination of flower essences is being repeated for several weeks or months, depending on how long it takes one to work out the basic underlying causes and make the necessary changes in life, in order to feel solid and free. Each person follows his/her own pace. They all do amazingly well, with the exception of few cases, where the person refused to continue the process when she started to realize the impact that a dysfunctional relationship with her spouse was having in her life. Although they reported that their panic symptoms dramatically decreased during the first few days, they prematurely discontinued therapy, because of the unrealistic worry that, becoming aware of problems would be a threat to their relationship. However, with the assistance of flower therapy, the big majority of panic attack sufferers experience personal transformation and change as an easy, exciting and enjoyable process.
During the first session, I usually do not talk much with the patients. The main issue is to decrease the level of their panic and also provide them with the ability to access personal insights. With flower essences, both these goals can be achieved very fast, while talk would be of very little help in this stage. I only listen to the patients describing their physical symptoms and just give them the essence bottles, simply telling them that they are going to feel a lot better soon. I tell them that, their symptoms, no matter how annoying, are not dangerous for their health. I tell them that I will be available in case of any questions or acute complains. In this first session, I always avoid to schedule the next appointment, as they still feel in an emergency and need to know they can come whenever they feel the need to. Also, as for most of them this is their first time to try flower essences, they need to feel free to check if this sort of therapy is helpful and suitable for them, before committing themselves to continuing with it.
In the second session, usually about two weeks later, they come with sufficient insight about their situation, enabling psychological work to begin.
It is not very unusual for a panic attack sufferer to experience a sort of therapeutic crises during the first days of taking the essences. As contact with suppressed emotions is made, and they are brought face to face with realizations they have avoided so far, in some cases people react with anxiety. Star of Bethlehem can be of help here. Informing the patient in advance about the possibility of such a 'therapeutic crisis' is important. It needs care to tell something like that to someone who is in panic, and there have been a few patients who did not dare to take their flower essences after this remark. But usually, reassuring them that nothing dangerous will happen, that this will rather be an indication that profound changes are taking place in them, helps them adopt a positive, courageous attitude. I suggest that, if they experience this sort of problem, they either stop taking the essences for a day or two or try to take them less frequently for 2-3 days, slowly increasing the frequency to normal, or just call me if they feel uneasy.
While improvement is visible in the first 2-3 days, fears about possible recurrence of panic symptoms take longer to disappear. However, no matter what difficulties a person may encounter in the future, panic symptoms have never re-appeared in the follow ups for years, apparently because people acquire a much better level of awareness and body-mind connection, as well as functional, conscious defenses and strategies in handling their problems.
Concerning chemical medication, I never needed to prescribe drugs for Panic Attacks. In cases of people who were put under drug treatment before coming to flower therapy, I do not suggest they stop taking the medicine at once, as this could make them feel anxious or insecure, not to mention the symptoms that could arise because of the sudden discontinuation of the drug. I tell them that soon they are going not to need the drug, but for the time they can do as they feel, perhaps try to gradually take less of the medicine to the point they feel comfortable to. So, they reduce and finally stop taking the medicine, usually during the next few weeks. An exception concerns people who have been using Lorazepam for their panic attacks for many years. They develop a strong dependency on this particular drug and refuse to give it up completely. However, soon they are able to reduce the quantity to placebo levels (0,5- 0,25mg/day).
So, Panic Attacks have proven to be one of the easiest and most rewarding issues to work with. Prognosis is excellent for all those who go through the process. Z. S., a 23-year-old girl who came with panic attacks about a year ago, told me lately: Last week I became One Year Old!!! I have been living only for one year. It was not life, that what I was living until a year ago