What is anxiety?

And what is a panic attack ?

Being given a label or diagnosis of “anxiety “or “panic attacks “is an important first step but we must remember it is just that – merely a first step…..

There are different causes for anxiety and panic attacks. For one person it might be that their blood sugar levels are out of balance, for another it can be a hormonal imbalance and for someone else it can be a sensation triggered by unhelpful thinking that keeps on re-playing in their mind again and again.

By knowing that that sensation in your chest is not a heart attack but is in fact anxiety can help someone understand it and not be so frightened by it .

However so often people can get “stuck “in this first step…..

I remember the woman who came to see me with a self diagnosis of anxiety that she had struggled with and lived with for several years and base line bloods showed that her thyroid gland was out of balance. Her anxiety was a result of her over active thyroid.

Or the young woman who came to see me again with a history of anxiety and she was iron deficient.

Or the child whose anxiety resulted from a high copper.

Or the man who saw me with anxiety caused by constantly stressing about his boss and worrying about when and whether she would tell him off for something that he had done wrong. He got so stuck in this groove of worry and ruminating about this that his worry turned to anxiety and soon – with daily practice – became full blown panic attacks.

The point that I’m making is that so often people think that anxiety is caused by over worrying and therefore since they somehow created it they can heal it – however hopefully I have underlined the fact that it really helps to get checked out thoroughly and once again start with the physical. Get your bloods tested. Get someone to help you look at your diet. Then get help to find a way to break the pattern from trigger to anxiety or panic attacks.

I  remember many years ago a woman coming to see me in my surgery and she told me she wanted some pills for her anxiety.        I asked her to describe what she meant……. she showed me in her body where “it “ started……

Explain this “it “ I asked.

Ten minutes later she was laughing at the sensations in her body . Sensations that she had previously called anxiety ………or depending on the severity, a panic attack. Now they felt more like a “slinky” moving between her belly and her neck….. A very strange sensation she said as she laughed with surprise and delight !

She saw me the next week and told me that she’d had that strange feeling several times since she’d seen me and how she would so often find herself laughing out aloud much to the quizzical amusement of her friends.

So much for a debilitating panic attack she said ! And yet had I not been able to be with her giving her permission to safely feel those feelings she told me that she would still be dis-abled and controlled by them for ever.

For the past five years of her life since she had started experiencing those sensations that quite rightly she called panic attacks, she had not dared to travel overseas or even go to another city by herself incase she experienced one.

But now the world was totally different………now it was her oyster !

I am sharing this with you to encourage you to start thinking differently. To encourage you to seek the right help so that you too can discover what the underlying cause of that anxiety or panic for you. From the man who was buzzed out on excess caffeine triggering anxiety to the woman with an overactive thyroid – the cause can be different for everyone.

I was able to help the woman with the sensations in her body by using the tool of mindfulness – so helping her to stay with her experience long enough so that she didn’t freeze frame the experience in fear.

In my practice I found that most people need help and support to do this level of change for it can often be too frightening to do something like this alone.

For me this was the beginning, all those many years ago, a beginning of seeing panic attacks in a different way. Instead of giving out a pill taking a little more time to go deeper.

You can image that I was intrigued by what happened with that woman. I was fascinated by how quickly she was able to transform panic into an interesting sensation. It certainly opened up my eyes to a different way of looking at things. It was the start for me of working with people in a whole new way.

What I realized is everyone is different ……..that’s the beauty of this work……that everyone is different and it certainly not one size fits all.