Disorders and Treatment
- Mental Illness
- Bipolar Disorder
- Mood Disorders
- Borderline Personality
- Mental Health Diagnosis
- Mental Health Treatments
- Alternative Meds
- Case Studies
Flickr image by fedewild
In this week’s podcast we’re talking about how to protect yourself from being swept away by the awful thoughts and symptoms that anxiety can suddenly manifest.
Anyone who suffers from anxiety knows that one of it’s most disturbing features is a it’s definite physical presence - the way it makes you feel.
You might be feeling fine one minute and then feel completely overwhelmed by a suddenly pounding heart or racing pulse the next.
Some anxiety sufferers become dizzy and feel like they might feint, some have trouble catching their breath, or fear they might choke, and some fear they might loose control completely, or even die.
Anxiety causes such chaos in the body that your mind develops a strong reaction to the event and will do all it can to protect you from it happening again. Unfortunately, the way the mind often does this is by creating fear of the fear.
Fear is OK if it manifests as caution when we’re near the edge of a cliff, but it becomes a big problem when it develops in response to an internal event - which is exactly what an anxiety attack is.
Once you’ve had one anxiety attack, your mind will prompt you to avoid any place or situation where you’ve experienced anxiety before.
Avoidance is your mind’s way of trying to protect you. Once you have experience intense pain or anxiety somewhere, your mind will generate an aversion to going there again.
The mind thinks “last time you went there this happened, you got scared and hurt: don’t go there again.”
It’s the nature of the mind to start avoiding any place or situation that has caused you suffering in the past. It works in a similar way to a phobia - if something scares you intensely once, your mind will make you wary of that thing in the future in an attempt to keep you safe from harm.
Again: the problem here is that anxiety is an inside job, it isn’t caused by being in a specific place or situation, it is caused by us experiencing intense fear and unwanted symptoms internally and randomly - and that’s what causes a big problem for the mind.
The problem with anxiety and phobias is their all pervasive nature - the mind becomes so concerned that you’re going to have that horrible experience again that it starts making anxious predictions and starts looking for potential problems everywhere.
In a desperate and confused attempt to protect you, your mind starts sending you warning thoughts:
what if I have an anxiety attack here? what if I pass out during my presentation? what if it happens when I’m driving?
In the same way that a person who’s terrified of spiders might start fearing and avoiding all the possible places a spider could be lurking.
Instead of the anxiety incident being a contained event and the rest of your life feeling broad and positive, your mind will start feeding you anxious thoughts that soon have you boxed in by the threat and fear of repeat episodes.
The information provided on the PsyWeb.com is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of PsyWeb.com nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.