Coping with Anxiety and Panic when it is All Around Us

“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.” ~ Charles Spurgeo

My first encounter with panic attack and anxiety,  was being rushed to the emergency room during college..I was still very far from being a psychotherapist…

Holiday Stress -

My heart was pounding, my chest hurting, my breath short and shallow, my vision tunneled and I was getting light headed quickly.  Thinking I was having a heart attack, (I was in my 20..), I was hooked to monitors and machines for a long time, only to be ‘dismissed’  by a caring attending physician reassuring me ‘It’s just a panic attack‘.. I was given a Brown bag to breath into .. some anti anxiety meds, and sent home..

As those panic attacks did not subside.. I was later on in the year given a heart-monitor to wear for some weeks.. nothing was wrong with me… I was suffering from, what I learned later on, as I was becoming a well educated psychotherapist, was Anxiety and Panic disorder.

Statistics are that Anxiety disorders are the most common of all mental health problems. Research into these disorders has shown that up to 1 in 4 adults will have an anxiety disorder in their lifetime, and that up to 1 in 10 people will have an anxiety disorder each year.

From resuoreces to recovery: There are several different types of anxiety disorders.

The most common anxiety disorders are:
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Specific Phobias
  • Agoraphobia
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder

In a BuzzFeed excellent portrays of anxiety BuzzFeed Staff, illustrates how the cycle of anxiety looks like, and how it hijacks us in unexpected moments..

Another good article on DoSomething.org : 11 facts about anxiety, shows that

  • Anxiety affects a sufferer physically as well as mentally. Some physical symptoms, especially during a panic attack, include shortness of breath, shaking, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat, dizzy spells, and more.
  • Surpassing even depression, anxiety is the most common form of mental illness in the United States. It’s estimated that approximately 10 percent of teenagers and 40 percent of adults suffer from an anxiety disorder of some kind.
  • Despite its high level of treat-ability through therapy and/or medication, 2/3 of adults with anxiety do not receive treatment. Teenagers with anxiety receive treatment even less frequently – only 1 in 5 teen sufferers do.
  • Biological factors contributing to anxiety are still being studied, but brain scans of people suffering with various anxiety disorders have often shown evidence of chemical imbalances

What I discovered for myself after years of dealing with Anxiety and Panic is that sometimes,  ‘what we can name, we can tame’, I realized, that being aware of triggers, and being away of my own reaction and actions, was a beginning of a road to understanding and ultimately to coping.

I wanted to know ‘what is happening to me and why’.. What became obvious is that as the sensations of panic and anxiety started to build up, so did the adrenaline in my system..  The more I felt ‘strange’, the more my body with flood with adrenaline, the more I felt worried and the sensations will accelerate. The more catastrophic thought lingered and were allowed to run free, the more I became scared and sensitive, the more panic and anxiety I felt.

The idea of  regulating the sensation by trying to circumvent the cycle, was a beginning of a mindfulness and awareness practice that I could then help my clients with. I have come to understand that anxiety and panic attacks are ‘normal reaction to abnormal situation’, life can be tough, stressful, threatening, and our survival mechanism will react ‘appropriately’ to alert us to danger.  The important issue is that we need to be able to assess and respond in the right way. Hearing steps behind us in a dark alley will prompt our adrenaline to activate the ‘fight -flight’ survival response, whereas most of the time the mechanism gets triggered when no survival is threatened. Same as when our fire alarm gets triggered from the wind or when we are cooking fish… Coping can be the ability to rationally  regulate our nervous system and learn to relax and calm.

In this article, How do I know if my anxiety is a problem? Shara Marrero Brofman, PsyD,  writes, ‘Anxiety is a normal, expected, and common experience in life. As human beings, we worry about keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe, and anxiety is an important evolutionary tool to ensure our survival. But in the era of constant news and information about potential threats to our safety, it can be hard to determine what is reasonable to worry about – and when your level of anxiety becomes problematic.’

Though I have moved a long way from my first trip to the emergency room with an diagnosed panic attack, I still have panic and anxiety on a regular basis.

There is a lot of causes for anxiety in our lives. We have a lot to be a anxious about. No matter what side of the isle you are on politics, health care, parenting, economics, media and social media; things are moving and changing in an alarming rate causing us to feel more vulnerable and uncertain.

Couples regularly find themselves hitting pitfalls of uncertainty and anxiety. Weather fighting about money, children, sex, infidelity, caring for older parents, or an empty nest, relationship can suffer anxiety and panic. 

The need to depend on each other, can cause alarm when that sense of security and dependability become shaken, causing alarm and anxiety. When our ‘person’ is not available to us, that Primal Panic for survival get triggers and couples can get activated into anger and disconnection.

At our Hold Me Tight couples workshop, in a safe, intimate, private setting, we hold space for couples to become vulnerable and open to explore, experience, touch and talk through issues that have been untouched. We help couples learn how to reach for your partner at times of anxiety and uncertainty.

This is a great opportunity to have a deeper and vulnerable look at your relationship, develop new skills to recognize the cycle and patterns that inflict the relationship and keep you separated and apart, and It is also a beautiful time to connect and highlight the strengths of your relationship, and built on the positive that already exist.

Hold Me Tight Workshop-Northern California-June 24-25 2017

Please do not hesitate to call me with any questions or for more information. Looking forward to sharing the workshop with you. To sign up please to to www.daliaanderman.com/workshops