Anxiety & Panic Attacks
Anxiety is anticipatory worry. It is energy spent trying to protect oneself from some kind of future unpleasant experience. Everyone has worries at times—about work, finances, health, relationships, etc.—these are the worries that most people associate with everyday life. Sometimes, when life is particularly stressful, people notice all kinds of symptoms that fall under the broad category of “anxiety.” The anxiety experience can include both cognitive and somatic symptoms that can cause a person varying degrees of discomfort and impairment.
Cognitive symptoms can include persistent worries, difficulty concentrating, problems with memory, and a feeling of confusion or being overwhelmed. Physical symptoms of anxiety can run the entire gamut and can include everything from heart palpitations to difficulty sleeping to numbness in the body.
One of the most important connections people experiencing anxiety can make is the link between anxiety symptoms and life stress. Often, when people have physical symptoms their first assumption is that they have something medically wrong with them. Certainly, if you are noticing new physical symptoms, it is worth your time to get a medical checkup. However, after you have been medically cleared, your energy will be best spent by exploring the causes of your stress and your strategies for releasing it.
Anxiety can be thought of as the body’s reaction to stress that has built up and has not been adequately released. An “anxiety attack” is a period of intense discomfort during which a person’s ability to bottle up their anxious feelings is temporarily overwhelmed. A panic attack is an extreme release of anxious energy at one time. Panic attacks are acutely frightening and result in many thousands of emergency room visits each year by people sure they are experiencing serious medical problems or “going crazy.” People experiencing anxiety and panic attacks are typically highly motivated to gather information, explore their lifestyle, and make changes to feel better.
I take a holistic, wellness-based approach to working with anxiety that is effective and supported by research. I will help you examine your exercise habits, diet, social interactions, sleep patterns, and coping style with emotions. Many people oscillate between using an avoidant coping style with unpleasant emotions and a style in which they “fuse” with their emotions and become overwhelmed. In real life this pattern looks like “contain and ignore” and then “explode.” The good news about anxiety and panic attacks is that there are typically many changes you can make that will help you feel better.
I can help you get perspective on your experience, provide you with valuable education about the anxious process, and work with you to generate a game plan that will assist you to make lasting changes and feel better.
If you have questions about anxiety, panic, or my approach to working with these experiences, please contact me:
Phone: (503) 757-6259
3050 SE Division, Suite 260, Portland, OR (In the ‘D Street’ building.)