CENTERS' PIECE: Coping with debilitating anxiety - Odessa American: Centers’ Piece

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

CENTERS' PIECE: Coping with debilitating anxiety

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Sunday, May 13, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 4:13 pm, Wed Aug 29, 2012.

In both in our personal lives and globally, there are many situations that generate fear and anxiety. Many people experience fear and anxiety in unfamiliar surroundings or when doing something for the first time. For adults, job loss, financial problems, loss of a home, deployment of a family member or friend, or just watching the news can create anxiety. For children, school can be a source of anxiety, especially if they are having problems or being bullied. Over time, anxiety can take a toll on physical health as well as emotional well-being. When anxiety or panic limits life choices, it can become debilitating.

In his book “The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook,” Edmund Bourne explains that there are several levels to the development of panic attacks.

Level one is the awareness of the situation that arises to cause fear. For example, for those who have social anxiety, it may be noticing that you are surrounded by a crowd of people and cannot escape.

Level two is evidenced by a slight increase in unusual or unpleasant body symptoms such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, faintness, dizziness and sweating.

During level three there is an increased focus on symptoms that makes them more noticeable.

And finally, level four, which is an interpretation of the anxiety that is catastrophic and in which you may tell yourself the symptoms are dangerous, i.e. I’m having a heart attack, I’ll suffocate, or I’ll go completely out of control.

Here are some of the strategies Bourne recommends.

1. Exit or retreat from the situation until your panic subsides. Retreat means to leave a situation temporarily with the intention of returning when you feel better.

2. Talk to another person. This can help you get your mind off the situation.

3. Move around or engage in physical activity. This allows you to dissipate extra energy/adrenaline created by a flight-fight reaction.

4. Stay in the present. Focus on concrete objects in your immediate environment and helps to minimize the attention to your physical symptoms.

5. Engage in a simple repetitive activity. Distract your attention from the panic symptoms or anxiety-producing thoughts.

6. Express anger. Anger and anxiety are incompatible. Express anger physically onto an object when you feel sensations of panic coming on.

7. Do something that requires focused concentration. This is hard to initiate when feeling anxious but works as a distraction.

8. Experience something immediately pleasurable as feelings of pleasure are incompatible with anxiety.

9. Visualize a comforting person or scene.

10. Practice thought-stopping.

11. Practice abdominal breathing.

12. Practice muscle relaxation.

13. Repeat positive coping statements.

14. Combine breathing (or relaxation) with coping statements.

If you experience increased anxiety or panic that impacts your life negatively, it is advisable to seek medical help. Although the best combination of treatments is usually medication and therapy, the preceding strategies can help to reduce symptoms and manage fear effectively until you can get help.


Follow us on Facebook

Online Features

Pet Central


Having a pet is a lot of responsibility, and we’ll help by giving you lots of trips and tricks! More >>



Our fitness video product teaches you how to work out with gym- and home-based exercises. More >>



Enjoy the crosswords challenge in our free daily puzzles, from the harder Sunday crossword to the quicker daily. More >>



Every Sudoku has a unique solution that can be reached logically. Enter numbers into the blank spaces so that each row, column and 3x3 box contains the numbers 1 to 9. More >>

Gas Prices

Gas Prices

Local gas prices from over 130,000 stations in the U.S., along with maps to each location. More >>



Featuring sun signs, the Chinese Zodiac, a love meter, star charts, daily astro picks, daily peak time, and much more. More >>