Anxiety attacks are not fun. Most people describe them as uncomfortable,
even acutely painful, even though usually there are no obvious physical
traumas. There are very definite physical symptoms: rapid breathing,
sweaty palms, heart palpitations, even fainting.
Anxiety attacks come without warning to a great majority of people.
This is what makes them so baffling. They are not rational in the sense
that what caused them does not seem to be related to what is going on
in the moment. This produces a feeling of panic, which is why anxiety
attacks are often referred to as panic attacks. Then fear of losing
control or having an anxiety attack becomes just as worrisome as the attack
itself. Psychologists call this secondary anxiety; that is, worrying that
an anxiety attack will occur no matter what and that one has not control
over that, either.
If there is a specific experience or item (a thing or object) or situation
more or less consistently associated with these anxiety attacks, the panic
attack is called something different--a phobia. This is just a panic
attack that has developed a little further. It is nonetheless just as
painful and can occur just as often and be caused by the same dynamics
What causes these things to happen? The short answer is that anxiety is
about fear of loss of control. Losing control of what? Most people do
not realize it but the fear is of losing control of their feelings first,
It is usually the environment that triggers this"dynamic." There is something in the environment that triggers the
response, which is usually very far out of awareness. So most of us think
it is the environment that is the problem. This is not true. The
environment acts to remind us of feelings, associations and thoughts that
are lurking in the back of our awareness. The triggering of these things
produces the anxiety. Subjectively, anxiety surges, seemingly without a
cause. But there is always a cause. It is just out of awareness, and
usually the feared object is some aspect of self, symbolized by something
and associated to something in the environment that set off the reaction.This is more complicated than what appears on the surface, and the subject
of many a book on anxiety. This author has written a very thorough ebook
on How To Diagnose Your Anxiety. In it are listed the thirty-three
symptoms that characterize anxiety attacks. The reader can rate their
symptoms according to frequency and severity, then plot the results on one
of three charts. This will quickly tell the reader whether the symptoms
add up to much and whether or not to seek professional help. Usually by
the time a reader seeks out help, anxiety has reached a peak and is
More importantly, it is vital that the reader understand the genesis of
anxiety/panic attacks. The reasons this dynamic develops are well
understood and the treatments follow from the understanding of their
beginnings. Some treatments promise instant or nearly instant cures,
while others are more thorough and tend to be more permanent. The most
successful treatments are those that combine insight into the causes with
specific cognitive/behavioral techniques.
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