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Breaking the Anxiety/Panic Cycle

answered 07:27 PM EST, Mon September 26, 2011
I have suffered with really bad anxiety after a severe panic attack, in 2008 (I'm a real estate agent, the market had collapsed overnight). Ever since then I can't stop myself from worrying and at the same time I am also obsessing over worrying. It has become so bad I feel like I am no longer my self. I have become detached from my environment, distanced from other people - even those I love, and my life has become like a bad dream... I would like to wake up again now! I hope I'm not going mad...

Art Matthews Says...

You aren't going mad, but to find out what is really going on, you need to start investing in your health by getting a full physical and psychiatric evaluation to find out what organic sources may be causing or contributing to your condition. Some organic causes a doctor can rule out include thyroid condition, heart arrhythmia, adrenal issues, respiratory issues, Meniere's disease, etc.

In that meeting you can discuss psychotropic medication and whether or not it is right for you. I don't suggest people run to their doctors demanding medication, but in situations where people are starting to show more severe symptoms (depersonalization and isolation) or have had a chronic anxiety problem, medication may be extremely helpful in getting a jump start on making the changes you need make. Starting medication does not mean you can never get off. Some anti-anxiety medications do have an addiction potential and others do not. Some drugs like Paxil have been associated with an uncomfortable "discontinuation effect" that has raised some eyebrows in the past few years. Paradoxically the people who are most often concerned about becoming addicted are the least likely to take the medication that would help them deal with their anxiety. Remember that it is always YOUR health care and you have a right to make the choices you want. Just because you are handed a prescription doesn't mean you are forced to take it against your will.

The next step is to talk with a psychologist or other mental health professional. The kinds of therapy that can be helpful to the anxious brain are those in the Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and behavior modification realms. Learning more about stress, stress management, relaxation, and meditation can help you change your body's reaction to stress and allow you to cope with the ever changing levels of stress we experience.

Developing awareness and intention to observe and reframe your thoughts can help you to avoid developing anxiety and panic attacks down the road. The anxious brain is one that anticipates, is pessimistic, is perfectionistic, uses lots of comparisons and is judgmental. Developing realistic, reasonable, and rational beliefs about yourself, other people, the world and the Universe/God will detail the stress train that keeps delivering you to Panic Town.

To find a CBT therapist om the US, go to the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists or the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.

You have taken this step to reach out, now take the next. You are not alone, many walked this walk before you and many will follow in your footsteps. I and tens-of-thousands of others are walking testaments that it can get better.

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Page last updated Oct 04, 2011

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