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Self Help for Panic-Anxiety: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You

May 20, 2008
Most people dealing with panic-anxiety tend to turn to the medical community first, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. It is generally accepted that some anxiety symptoms can be the result of a physical problem with the body -- abnormal thyroid activity is one obvious example.

But the vast majority of anxiety and panic problems are not medical "conditions" caused by a physical ailment. They are emotional problems caused by poor "thinking habits."

With every year that passes, the medical community is becoming more and more aware that our emotions have a profound effect on our physical health. For example, physical symptoms of panic-anxiety often seem so strong and pervasive, that can be difficult to believe they are caused by emotions, NOT a physical disorder in the body.

But even though doctors are becoming more aware of the connection between our state of mind and our physical health, unfortunately, this area of medicine is still not a priority in most medical schools. As a result, there are plenty of physicians out there who seem a bit clueless about the connection between emotional and physical problems.

Anxiety symptoms such as upset stomach, rapid pulse, breathing difficulty, compulsive yawning, tingling in the arms and legs, etc. are often treated with medications, as if they were caused by a physical health "disorder" or "disease." In reality, this is a lot like putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg -- it does not address the root cause of the problem, and isn't likely to do much good.

What many doctors don't tell patients with panic-anxiety is that anti-anxiety medications do not "cure" anxiety problems at all, or even treat the cause of the problem, which tends to be emotional in nature, NOT physical.

The truth is that overcoming these types of emotional issues requires an individual to change their lifestyle and their habits. If you continue the same lifestyle and especially "thinking habits" that brought on the anxiety problem in the first place, you can be sure the problem will continue. Prescribed drugs may alleviate some of the symptoms temporarily, but the problem itself won't go away until you address the emotional issues that are causing it.

Bad Emotional Habits

As a former sufferer of anxiety I saw many physicians about the problem over the years, and not once in all that time did I ever hear a doctor mention the word "habits" in regard to my anxiety problem. This seems odd to me today, as I have come to realize that anxiety is ALL about habits.

The simple fact is that we all get into routines in life, and when a person is suffering with anxiety or panic attacks, it is clear that they have gotten into a routine (a series of habits) that does not serve them well at all. The solution is to simply change the routine, and first and foremost, this requires developing new "thinking habits."

One powerful way to shake up your old routine, and develop new habits is to become very aware of what you are focusing on in your day-to-day life. Author and psychologist Albert Ellis is famous for saying "we become what we think about all day long," and this is especially true when it comes to anxiety.

When we focus a lot of attention on anxious and worried thought, we tend to become more anxious and worried ourselves. To overcome these problems we must begin to take back control over our focus, and stop filling our minds with images of drama and conflict (especially unresolved conflict, like you'll find in many television shows).

Panic-anxiety is usually a clear signal of an imbalance in our lives. Addressing the problem requires us to "shake things up" and challenge some of our old ways of thinking -- those old (and unhelpful) "thinking habits."
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