The journey to treatment for hyperventilation
She sat before me with a smile on her face because she could feel that the anti worrying exercise worked. A content sight of relief went through the room. Yes, this is the first time that I tried something of which I can feel an immediate effect, she said with a beautiful, sweet, and relaxed smile. And hesitatingly she added:
At emergency care they told me that there is no treatment for hyperventilation.
I tried to calm her down by telling here that there sometimes is a large gap between the physical medical world and recent scientific developments in medical psychology. Deep inside I felt a bit sad because as a doctor I know that it can sometimes take several decades before scientific developments enter the entire scientific community. This is not only so in medicine, but also in other sciences. Between the day on which the first researcher discovers a new technique and the day on which this knowledge has become known by all professionals, years pass, sometimes even decades. And to some extent this does make sense - that is what I tell myself, at least - because if scientists would start to experiment with new things on a large-scale too quickly, wrongful techniques could also be developed. The slowness of the process has its advantages, but this does not mean that it sometimes also is the reason that people cannot be helped earlier.
It was a long journey, to get to this point, she told me. I have bought several books and tried many things, before I found the flyer for 15Minutes4Me. When I read that, I knew it was what I had been looking for, and that is when I looked for contact.
Is hyperventilation caused by stress?
I had read that stress is an underlying cause of hyperventilation so I thought that, if I could solve my stress, I could also get rid of the hyperventilation.
While stress does not need to be the only cause of hyperventilation or anxiety, it is so that nearly all types of hyperventilation are kept up by stress. That does make sense: if you feel weird symptoms like dizziness, tingling sensations, feeling your heart beat, and completely losing control of yourself, your adrenalin will increase. Your tension increases. Because of the adrenalin increase you will become even more agitated, causing you to worry even more, and this worrying in itself increases stress, and thereby the risk of hyperventilation. So, stress always plays a role at some part, even in the cases where the starting cause of the hyperventilation was not stress.
Treating stress as therapy for hyperventilation?
If you learn to reduce stress, you reduce the stimuli to your nervous system, thereby reducing the chance of another hyperventilation attack. That is why the self-help program "15Minutes4Me.com" starts out in the first days by teaching an anti-worrying exercise. This helps the participants to re-gain control of themselves and their worrying thoughts, meaning they start breaking out of their vicious cycle of stress. Then, we teach them at the hand of solution focused questions to gain insight in all the small tools in their daily lives which they can use to increase their self-control even further. This way, they learn step by step to see how anxious thoughts can be tuned down and how to reduce the chance of getting a hyperventilation attack or panic attack.
Self-test hyperventilation, anxiety, and stress
How can you know if this self-help program will help you? We developed a simple self-test with which you can test yourself on general tension, anxiety, stress, or even feelings of depression. If any of your 'stress meters' ends up in the red or orange zone, you know that stress plays a part as an underlying mechanism, and then you can start to break out of this by signing up for the online self-help program "15Minutes4Me.com".