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March 2015    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 30, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Stop Panic Before It Starts Underwater

simple exercises every diver should do

from the March, 2015 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Experienced divers are, for the most part, calm and collected, but there can be an unknown kernel of fear lurking inside that can explode if the situation underwater takes a turn. That's known as panic -- going from cucumber-cool to out of control. Though new divers are more apt to panic, experienced divers are also at risk of doing the same should a dive go awry.

Some divers are more susceptible to panic than others because they have higher anxiety levels. A 2000 study by David Colvard, a psychiatrist and divemaster who researches dive panic, found that 45 percent of men and 57 percent of women with a history of panic attacks reported panicking on one or more dives, compared to 19 percent of men and 33 percent of women who had never panicked before. They are more likely to panic when faced with a flooded mask, poor visibility or buddy separation. Even experienced divers with hundreds of dives experience panic for no apparent reason, most likely because they lose sight of familiar objects, become disoriented and experience sensory deprivation. So how can divers learn how to prevent panic before it even starts? It's all in how you breathe, Colvard says....

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How can divers learn how to prevent
panic before it even starts?
It's all in how you breathe.

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