By: Elizabeth Welch, MSc. MBACP (Accred.), CBT Therapist, Group Therapist and Supervisor  04/07/2012
Keywords: Panic Attacks

Have you ever been told - "Don't worry its just anxiety", or, "You're just having a panic attack?" The use of the word just implies that if you ignore 'it','it' will go away

is the feeling we get when our body responds to a frightening or threatening experience. It has been called the fight or flight response and is simply your body preparing for action either to fight danger or run away from it as fast as possible.

As soon as you are aware of the threat your muscles tense ready for action. Your heart beats faster to carry blood to your muscles and brain where it is most needed. You breathe faster to provide oxygen which is needed for energy. You sweat to stop your body overheating. Your mouth becomes dry and your tummy may have butterflies. The flight or fight response is described as a really basic system that probably goes back to the days of cave men, and is present in animals who depend on it for their survival.

Fortunately, nowadays we are not often in such life or death situations but unfortunately many of the stresses we do face can’t be fought or run away from.

During this period you may experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Choking
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of dying

*Consider seeing your GP before deliberately confronting your fears. (It is rare for people to be advised against facing their fears).

What causes anxiety?

There may be many reasons why someone becomes anxious:

  • Some people may have an anxious personality and have learned to worry.
  • Others may have a series of stressful life events to cope with.
  • For example, bereavements, redundancy, divorce etc.
  • Others may be under pressure at work or home, eg. family problems, bills.

What keeps anxiety going?

Sometimes anxiety can go on and on, and become a life-long problem. There can
be a number of reasons for this:

1. If someone has an anxious personality and is a worrier, then they will probably be in the habit of feeling anxious.

2. Sometimes people have ongoing stresses over a number of years which means they develop the habit of being anxious.

3. As the bodily symptoms of anxiety can be frightening, unusual and unpleasant, people often react by thinking that there is something physically wrong, or that something truly awful is going to happen. This in itself causes more symptoms, and so a vicious circle develops.

4. Someone who has experienced anxiety in a certain situation may start to predict feeling anxious, and become frightened of the symptoms themselves, this in turn actually causes the very symptoms that are feared.

5. Once a vicious circle has developed with lots of anxious thoughts increasing the anxiety symptoms, avoidance is often used as a way of coping. It is natural to avoid something that is dangerous, but the sorts of things that people tend to avoid when they suffer from anxiety are most often not real dangers but busy shops, buses, crowded places, eating out, talking to people, etc. Not only are these things not dangerous but they are quite necessary. Avoiding them can make life very inconvenient and difficult. This sort of avoidance can also result in a great loss of confidence which can affect how good you feel about yourself, which in turn makes you feel more anxious – another vicious circle.

*The way we think has a powerful influence on whether we feel anxious or calm. Therefore, thinking needs to be changed from imminent personal danger to probable personal safety. Contact me to discuss the most effective treatment if you feel you are suffering from an anxiety disorder.

**It’s a good idea to have a physical examination before starting therapy.

Please if you would like to discuss anxiety counselling in Stockport, counselling for panic attacks in Stockport or any of my other treatments.

Keywords: Panic Attacks

Contact Elizabeth Welch, MSc. MBACP (Accred.), CBT Therapist, Group Therapist and Supervisor


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