panic attacks

4 Myths About Anxiety Damaging Your Mind and Health

"How can I stop a panic attack IMMEDIATELY?"

Kate* implored me to help her cure her panic attacks with counseling.  She wanted an answer fast!

Unfortunately, in working with Kate on her counseling for Panic Disorder, it became clear that she had suffered from high stress and anxiety for a number of years without seeking treatment.  This led to more serious problems than if she had created a stress management plan when symptoms were less severe.   

Kate's anxiety didn't develop all at once.  It had slowly crept in after a breakup with her long-term boyfriend and coworker, Joe.  Immediately after this breakup, Kate found herself regularly waking at 3AM, when her mind seemed to turn on with worries about how she would manage to continue working with her ex.  Kate soon began to avoid certain meetings or areas of her workplace because she didn't want to risk running into Joe. 

Avoiding important meetings meant Kate fell out of the loop in her job, and she dropped the ball on a few projects.  When her boss gave Kate a bad performance review, her worries increased tenfold.  Some days she felt so paralyzed with worry during her commute that she became physically sick and would pull her car over to avoid vomiting.  

Knowing she couldn't avoid any more lost time at work - especially now - Kate began visiting walk-in clinics in an effort to get her stomach issues under control.  This lasted for nearly 2 years before Kate came to my office for help after she was diagnosed with a panic attack by her OBGYN on a routine visit and was subsequently referred to my office.  

I realized quickly that because Kate's early symptoms of stress (sleeplessness, avoidance) were unmanaged, full-fledged panic attacks (vomiting, nausea, racing heart) ultimately ensued. 

You see, Kate believed a number of damaging myths about anxiety.  She's not alone.  From where I sit, there are 4 major myths that need to be addressed.

4 anxiety myths

 

4 Myths About Anxiety That Are Damaging Your Mind and Health

1.  "It's not that serious...it's just the way I am."  I hear this line every week from potential clients who believe their sleeplessness, muscle tension, or excessive worry are just simply their "nature."  While it's true that some of us are naturally more high-strung and prone to stress, it is false to believe that living with the symptoms of this stress is healthy or "normal."  

Symptoms of anxiety can actually cause or exacerbate a number of health problems:

  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Eczema
  • Common colds
  • Insomnia
  • Panic attacks
  • Acne
  • Substance abuse
  • Hair loss

Obviously you realize that some conditions, like diabetes or a heart attack, are very serious.  However, it can be easy to think that symptoms like sleep loss are possible to simply ignore.  Consider for a moment how serious insomnia could be if it causes you to nod off while driving.  Or how repeated bouts of the common cold could lead to serious work absenteeism with major consequences.  

It's always best to treat stress and anxiety when symptoms are at a lower level rather than when they become utterly debilitating.

 

2.  You should hide clinical anxiety or be embarrassed and ashamed of it.  Because I treat dozens of high-achieving, well-dressed, well-liked people for anxiety, I often forget how stigmatized people can feel when admitting to their symptoms.  I regularly tell friends that if they knew how many "normal" (their words) people confidentially come into therapy every day, they'd be a lot more apt to visit a counselor themselves. 

According to the DSM-V, almost 20% of people have anxiety worldwide.  What's more, anxious distress can be inherited just like diabetes or high blood pressure.  Do you fault a person who inherits a predisposition to breast cancer?  Then why get so freaked out when you think someone you know has anxiety?  

In fact, statistically one in five of your friends does probably have anxiety.

It's also worth noting that some anxiety is not inherited, but rather is situational.  Consider Kate:  she'd never experienced anxiety before in her life and had no family history, but a few stressful events left unmanaged caused her to develop symptoms.  

 

3.  You can just snap out of it.  If you're an anxiety sufferer, it can be incredibly frustrating to hear loved ones say, "Just stop thinking about it." By definition, anxiety means you find it difficult to control the worried thoughts that enter your mind throughout the day.  

This means that anxious can't be effectively managed or resolved by simply ignoring the problem. 

I would venture to say that burying your head in the sand can, in fact, worsen the symptoms.  What if I told you, "Don't think about pink bunnies right now.  No matter what, just ignore any thoughts of pink bunnies that enter your mind.  Don't think about their little pink tails, or their two big ears, or their little pink feet."  What's the only thing on your mind right now?  Pink bunnies!

Managing anxiety and simple daily stress takes an arsenal of coping skills that you use on a regular basis.  

 

4.  Everybody gets stressed.  A part of this statement is true, granted.  I will wholeheartedly agree that everyday life is full of stressors like bills, traffic, parenting, and dinner plans.   

But when it affects your sleep, appetite, digestion, muscles, fatigue or energy levels...we're dealing with more than stress.

In my Quiet Mind Collective Monthly Survival Guide, I interviewed Samantha Johnston, who shares how a time of incredible stress actually led her body to rebel against her with an autoimmune disorder that caused incredible pain, joint stiffness, and other negative effects.  She shares the incredible ways that simple stress relief routines actually relieved the physical pain symptoms and swelling she was experiencing.  

My Quiet Mind Collective Monthly Survival Guide can be an invaluable part of your monthly stress management and anxiety relief routine.  Through this powerful online course, you'll learn the exact same strategies I'd teach you in therapy... but for a fraction of the cost of counseling and in the privacy of your own home.  

 

Quiet Mind Collective offers:

  • Transformative coping skills for any level of anxious distress
  • Research-backed psychoeducation broken down into easy-to-understand lessons
  • Powerful worksheets, videos, and audio recordings to help you take back control over the fear and stress affecting your health

 

While traditional therapy could cost you up to $3500, Quiet Mind Collective Monthly Survival Guide delivers:

  • A value-packed subscription of new lessons every month for one year
  • Videos, worksheets and interactive exercises to help you plan for stress management
  • A private, nurturing community filled with support for your concerns

 

Pay not $3500, but only $997.  For your convenience, you may also choose to make 12 monthly payments of $97.

 

A daily, weekly and monthly routine for stress relief helps keep the stressors of life at a manageable level rather than allowing your body to build up damaging symptoms that affect your mind and physical health.  Don't wait to invest in your wellness!

 

 

*Kate is a fictitious character created from an amalgam of actual client stories to demonstrate common signs of Panic Disorder.  

Why Does Deep Breathing Reduce Anxiety?

In this video, I'm going to share a bit about why deep breathing works to reduce anxiety.

I can see you nodding off right now.  Don't click away!

Deep breathing gets such a bad rap, because it seems entirely cliche.  Well, I'm here to show you that there's a reason relaxation training always involves mindful breathing.  Whether you're a sufferer of social anxiety, panic attacks, burnout, stress or generalized anxiety... this coping skill will work for you.

Relaxation is a skill that we lose as we age, due to the stress of parenting, financial worries, work/life balance and more.  The good news is that you can learn to reduce your anxiety with techniques like mindful, intentional breathing.

Don't forget to take our quiz, "Is it stress or anxiety?"

deep breathing for anxiety

In the video I'll share about:

  • The fight or flight response
  • How this response is not helpful to us any longer, despite having been really beneficial to our ancestors 
  • Exactly how to breathe correctly for maximum relaxation
  • How to incorporate deep breathing into your daily life for stress reduction and anxiety relief

One more thing... Be sure to check out the quiz mentioned in the video so that you can get all of our downloadable audio files that will walk you through deep breathing exercises.  Just click the button to take our "Is it stress or anxiety?" quiz, and then enter your email when prompted.  

 
deep breathing reduces anxiety

What are the subconscious triggers for your anxiety?

If you can identify the trigger that sets off anxiety, you're half way to stopping panic attacks in their tracks.  In this video I explain the psychology behind training your brain to actually trigger panic.

Pavlov was a scientist who found that when he fed his dogs, they drooled in anticipation of the meal they expected.  Furthermore, Pavlov noticed that even as he entered the kennel to feed his dogs, they would begin to drool.  After a bit of investigation, Pavlov realized that the bell attached to the kennel door became a trigger for his dogs to salivate... the physiology of their bodies (saliva) was actually caused by something that only REMINDED them of food... not actual food itself.

Your anxiety and stress reactions might be caused by some kind of subconscious pairing in your life.  Does a certain text tone set off shortness of breath because you associate it with work?  Does drinking coffee cause your heart rate to increase and thus set off the fear of having a panic attack?  

We also discuss desensitization in this video:  how to train yourself not to respond to panic-inducing stimuli.  For example, if a certain text alert causes your heart to race, try learning relaxation strategies (like the ones mentioned on this channel!).  As you practice these relaxation techniques, play the text alert continuously... pretty soon you'll have your body trained to respond to that same sound with relaxation instead of nervous energy.

anxiety triggers