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Learning to deal with panic attacks and anxiety

Anxiety seems to be pervasive in our society today. More and more people are showing up at doctors’ offices and therapists’ offices complaining about feeling anxious and having panic attacks. Anxiety negatively impacts many areas of our lives. It affects our ability to function at work, socially, and in relationships. It affects our relationships, our ability to try new things and to expand into life. Sadly, it also hinders our ability to fulfill our purpose and to actualize our dreams.

I know about anxiety. Not just from books and training but also from personal experience. Anxiety can feel debilitating. An enemy at the front door always there to remind us how unsafe we are in the world.

“The APA [American Psychological Association] describes a person with an anxiety disorder as “having recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns.” Once anxiety reaches the stage of a disorder, it can interfere with daily function. In this article, I will discuss Generalized Anxiety and stress. There are other disorders that are categorized as Anxiety such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders that are outside the scope of this article.

Anxiety is a set of symptoms that are experienced in response to a known or unknown trigger and is felt subjectively as danger. Symptoms are generally experienced physically, cognitively/psychologically, and spiritually (unless they are related to a physiological condition which is outside of the scope of this article);

Physical/Somatic Symptoms:

  • Heart palpitations

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Sweating

  • Shaking

  • Restlessness

  • Other distressing physical sensations

Cognitive/Mental Symptoms:

  • Distorted, rigid, thinking

  • Fear-based thoughts

  • Excessive worry

  • Irritability

  • Sleep difficulties

Spiritual Symptoms:

  • Lack of purpose

  • Existential angst

  • Meaninglessness


The causes of anxiety are multifaceted. When anxiety is caused by a real threat it is a normal and healthy fight-flight-freeze response to danger. But when anxiety is caused by a perceived threat it becomes maladaptive and troublesome. We can often get trapped in a fight-flight-or freeze pattern that shuts us off from our natural healthy responses to life. Some causes for anxiety are;

  • Early childhood or late-onset trauma

  • Prolonged exposure to daily stress

  • Inconsistent parenting in early childhood

  • Attachment and relationship difficulties

  • Life events that are stressful such as job loss, divorce, parenting difficulties.

  • Unresolved grief and loss

  • Learning disabilities and other conditions such as ADHD

  • Confusion about ones purpose and feeling lost and overwhelmed by life

  • Lack of external and internal resources

  • Medical conditions

Anxiety is a complicated condition but you can learn to manage anxiety. Anxiety points to areas of our lives that need attention and can be a gift of growth if we are willing to engage with its teachings

Please note that the information in the article is the opinion of the author and is not meant as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment by a professional. It is intended for informational and educational purposes only.

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