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Panic Attacks at Work

answered 04:12 PM EST, Mon August 01, 2011
I am having feelings of strong anxiety and panic at work. I have always been sort of an anxious person but recently things seem worse. There is a new manager in my department who has been making my life difficult and now sometimes when I see her coming towards me I start to feel anxiety so badly I can barely even keep doing my work. Is there some kind of therapy that will help me to get control over these feelings of panicking at work?

If I can’t get myself together I’ll probably have to leave because this is getting very hard to take. I go to work with fear every day now.

Art Matthews Says...

It's not the fact that your new supervisor is walking towards you that causes the panic, it's what you tell yourself it means that she's walking towards you that creates the anxiety.  This is the basic philosophy behind one of the most effective types of therapy for anxiety, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  In CBT, you are going to experience a component of therapy that is educational in nature.  The therapist will educate you on what is happening physiologically (in your body) when you feel anxiety and panic) and how you can change your behavior and thinking (cognitions) to change what you feel.

For example, if you are aware that when you first see your new boss coming down the hallway towards you that your thoughts are similar to: "Oh, no.  Here she comes again!  It's only a matter of time until she calls me in the office to discuss my productivity.  I bet they hired her to clean house.  I'm going to be the first one out the door, I just know it!" then how else could you feel BUT anxious.  The CBT therapist will work on helping you to identify ways that you can manage stress from a behavioral standpoint, and they will also help you to develop awareness of your thoughts, judgments and perceptions that are provoking the feelings of anxiety.  Essentially the goal of CBT is to help you to identify when you are making irrationally based evaluations and distrupt your thinking process with something more reasonable, rational, realistic and reasonable (or at the very least more effective in helping you to manage your moods and anxiety).  

Let's say you were able to accept that something more reasonable would be to think.  "Ah, here comes my new manager again.  I need to arrange a meeting with her so that she sees me as a go-getter and someone who is willing to point out concerns.  Being new, my manager probably hasn't developed his/her own evaluations of the staff so I can go in there and make a good impression."

Look for local therapists who are trained and experienced in CBT or Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). They will be able to provide you with effective care and treatment. 

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Page last updated Aug 27, 2012

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