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Unread February 26th, 2009, 05:01 PM
James Pretzer James Pretzer is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 283
Default Re: Headache as symptom of anxiety

Clients often have a hard time grasping the idea of adopting an attitude of acceptance and coping towards panic attacks rather than trying to "fight" them. How can you accept something that feels as lousy as a panic attack? One analogy I use (after already having explained the panic cycle and having explained that panic attacks aren't dangerous) is the way that they deal with getting the flu.

When they notice that they're coming down with the flu is their reaction "Oh My God, the Flu! I have to fight it!"? Probably not. Their reaction is probably "Oh shit, the flu. Oh well, there's nothing to do but deal with it." They know that having the flu feels miserable but that there's nothing gained by treating it as an emergency. What they need to do is to cope with it as best they can until it passes.

Suppose they were to simply cope with the panic attack until it passes rather than trying to fight it, control it, or make it stop? What would happen then? When they try to fight the panic and are unsuccessful, they typically feel more helpless and out of control and this generally makes the panic attack more intense and prolongs it. If they simply tolerate the panic attack and let it run it's course, it will eventually pass. Since attempts to fight panic typically make the panic attack worse, if they tolerate it rather than fighting it, the panic may well be less intense and pass more quickly.

Just as they might they might be able to find some ways to cope with the flu until it passes (such as getting extra rest, drinking plenty of liquids, and watching a DVD to pass the time), we can explore what they can do to cope with the panic until it passes. However, the point isn't to make the panic stop, the point is to cope with panic until it passes.

How does that sound?
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