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The Truth about Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Aug 17, 2007
Instead of false claims, I offer you a beautifully simple insight into panic which will change your reaction to it. Immediately you'll start you on the path to calm. That insight is: "Accept your panic symptoms and they'll go. Fight them, and they'll intensify."

Look at that word 'inTENSify'. It's about TENSing up. Becoming worried and even more panicky about what? Your feelings of panic. Once you really genuinely realise that they're only feelings, you'll also come to accept that they can't harm you.

Yes, I know you don't want them. Yes, I know that they are frightening and uncomfortable.

But tell me this, my sweet one, "in the past, has tensing up and worrying even more about feeling panicky helped those feelings to dissipate?" Your answer? I know it's NO.

Just so you're very clear: tensing up and fighting your symptoms of panic help did not help in the past. It will NOT HELP YOU today. Tensing up and worrying will not help you in the future.

One person selling his e-book on the Internet claims that that 'float with your panic' insight is his unique discovery to send panic away. The truth? The truth is that we've known for decades that instead of fighting panic and tensing up, you must do the opposite. More than three decades ago, the Australian General Practitioner the late Dr Claire Weekes advised people that instead of fighting panic and tensing up, they should float into their panic, and welcome it like an old friend.

From my counselling practice, I know that you know there's nothing to fear at a rational level. At an emotional level, you still feel overwhelmed. For many of you, the fact that you can't explain why you feel so terrified is often the most upsetting.

Once you accept that there is no real danger, you'll see that your real and lingering fear IS THE FEAR OF THE PANICKY FEELINGS. If you let those inappropriate messages of fear come and do their worst, you'd learn how to send those fears packing.

So to summarise: When your pulse races, your heart pounds, do the opposite of what you normally do. Do this:


SMILE. Even though you mightn't want to

B R E A T H E D E E P L Y,



Just as the grass and the trees sway with the wind, rather than fight and rigidly resist it, let your fear feelings come. Then, just observe what happens as if you are watching a science experiment.

You might want to practise that simple approach at home a few times. You'll soon see how well it works. I know you can make yourself feel great fear. Bring back those memories of your last panic episode. Right now. Recall every detail. Feel those fear symptoms and then, just welcome them. Just accept them.

That's right. I'm not saying TRY to relax. I'm not saying TRY to divert yourself from your fear-filled thoughts. I'm saying - do absolutely nothing. Accept your feelings.

If you normally use various tricks to divert you from the intense feelings of fear, please reconsider that tactic. It may help in the short term, but all those tactics (counting backwards, counting bricks, etc), keep you imprisoned in what Dr R Reid Wilson calls 'the panic cycle'. They can become habits, and as difficult to break as the panic cycle itself. You'll find Dr Wilson's anxieties website if you key in his name to any search engine.

When you recognise your role in your own panic episodes, you're 90% closer to the solution, to a life without panic attacks. Next time you feel the first fluttering of fear and panic follow the simple steps above.

If you've been experiencing anxiety and panic for a while, I have to let you know that it's your fear of the fear-filled symptoms that feed your panic. You are a major part of your problem. But you're also the total solution.

If you feel terrified standing in that queue at the supermarket, or sitting in the middle of the row at the cinema, the feelings you feel are fine. They're a perfect reaction to danger. Where none exists.

Your mind sent the wrong message 'danger, danger' to your body. Your body has then had the right reaction to that danger message - it's sent the adrenaline surging to get you out of danger. To end with the good news: those messages can be rewritten, re-learned.
About the Author
Based in Melbourne, Australia Dr Jeannette Kavanagh is a solution-oriented counsellor helping people overcome anxiety and panic attacks. Read about her self-help kit
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