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Anxiety and Panic Disorders

Anxiety and Panic Disorders

February 19th, 2015 | Posted in Emotions+Stress

Anxiety is normal and self-protecting in a life threatening or dangerous situation. People use it to survive and always have done.  It helps people by making their bodies work faster and harder if they get into dangerous situations. For instance, if you are crossing a road and notice a car coming rapidly towards you, it is your anxiety which helps you jump out of the way.


Undue¬† Anxiety has no basis in reality and is the feeling you experience when you are unduly over-concerned about the possibility of some dreaded event happening in the future over which you have no control and which, if it occurred, would be rated by you as ‘terrible’, or which would reveal you as a totally inadequate person in your own mind.

It isn’t the situation itself that creates the anxiety but the things you tell yourself about the situation..’what if‚Ķ’ and ‘wouldn’t it be awful if such-and-such were to happen and people were to think badly of me?’¬† It is self-deprecating thoughts at the possibility of some personal weakness or failure being publicly revealed.

What happens to the body when we get frightened?

We need to be aware that something is threatening us and this occurs through the senses. We see, smell, hear danger (e.g. a speeding lorry coming towards us). ¬†These signals send a message to our brain and to the adrenal glands to release adrenalin and prepare us to freeze, run away or fight ‚Äď the ‚Äėfight or flight‚Äô reaction. ¬†¬†Adrenalin is a hormone which, when released by the glands, is caried all around the body in the blood vessels to the heart, lungs, muscles,

What happens                                                                      What we may experience.

  • Vision sharpens, pupils dilate¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† visual disturbance
  • body fluid (e.g. saliva) is redirected to blood ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† dry mouth, hard to swallow
  • airways work harder to take in more oxygen¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† breathlessness
  • heart pumps harder to send energy to muscles¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† palpitations
  • the liver releases stored energy¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† tension
  • stomach and gut shut down, blood and energy¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ‚Äėbutterflies‚Äô, ‚Äėknotted‚Äô feelings
  • skin starts to sweat to cool working muscles¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† clammy, sweaty
  • blood diverted to muscles¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† pale skin
  • muscles tense, ready for use¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† tension, aches and pains, shaky
  • calcium discharged¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† pins & needles














The problem is that when we think we are threatened but when there is nothing to actually physically fight or run away from ‚Äď these reactions and symptoms are still aroused.¬† When there is a real threat and we act the adrenalin is used up and we feel better.¬† But if there is nothing to run away from or fight, we carry on feeling uncomfortable until our adrenalin is used up.¬† This can take quite a while, especially if we say upsetting or useless things to ourselves.

Differentiations of Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Constant, exaggerated worrisome thoughts and tension about everyday routine life events and activities, lasting at least six months. Almost always anticipating the worst even though there is little reason to expect it; accompanied by physical symptoms, such as fatigue, trembling, muscle tension, headache, or nausea.


  • Panic Disorder

Repeated episodes of intense fear that strike often and without warning. Physical symptoms include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, abdominal distress, feelings of unreality, and fear of dying.

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Repeated, unwanted thoughts or compulsive behaviors that seem impossible to stop or control.

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Persistent symptoms that occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event such as rape or other criminal assault, war, child abuse, natural or human-caused disasters, or crashes. Nightmares, flashbacks, numbing of emotions, depression, and feeling angry, irritable or distracted and being easily startled are common. Family members of victims can also develop this disorder.

  • Phobias

Two major types of phobias are social phobia and specific phobia. People with social phobia have an overwhelming and disabling fear of scrutiny, embarrassment, or humiliation in social situations, which leads to avoidance of many potentially pleasurable and meaningful activities. People with specific phobia experience extreme, disabling, and irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger; the fear leads to avoidance of objects or situations and can cause people to limit their lives unnecessarily.

Anxiety can also be due to Low Frustration Tolerance (LFT). ¬†¬†Overcoming anxiety means tolerating discomfort, so it is important to face and not shy away from feeling uncomfortable.¬† You need to choose a challenging situation (small to begin with), face it and practise adopting the attitude of ‘anxiety is most uncomfortable but not terrible’.¬† Panic lasts only for a very short time even though it seems endless at the time.¬† So use the same attitude; ‘if I panic, I panic; that’s very unfortunate, but not terrible’.

Do not be foolhardy and take risks where the odds are heavily stacked against you.  Instead, try for goals that you are not sure you can achieve; look for novelties that you are not sure you will enjoy; experimentally determine what it is that you really like and dislike and want to do with your life.  If you want to live fully, to be really alive-take a few risks and let yourself live!.

Note: Motorway driving is fast‚ÄĒfact;¬†¬† that it is necessarily life threatening, is not fact, (although over-anxiety might actually make it more so!)¬† Flying causes fewer deaths than walking on the pavement!


Overbreathing, where you actually take in too much oxygen, leads to such sensations as faintness, giddiness and heart palpitations.¬† A large number of people ‘overbreathe’ when they become anxious.¬† Without knowing this, the anxious person may consider that these sensations are evidence that there is really something wrong with them.

Without the presence of the anxious attitude of ‘wouldn’t it be terrible’, panic would probably not occur even if you overbreathe, so it is the anxious attitude that you need to identify and change.

Controlled breathing involves taking smooth, slow, regular and fairly shallow breaths.  Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth in regular (in-out) cycles.  Twelve such cycles per minute is often helpful but find your own breathing rhythm.  These cycles regulate the amount of oxygen you take in so that you do not experience the tingling, fainting, giddy sensation and palpitations which are associated with overbreathing.

Acupuncture can help overcome anxiety and panic attacks, by calming the mind and balancing the whole energetic system.

“Extreme fear,” says the “Huang Ti Nei Ching”, “is injurious to the kidneys.”

“Kidney Qi energies,” writes Leon Hammer, M.D., in Dragon Rises, Red Bird Flies, “help us to anchor ourselves in the gestalt of the ‘here and now’…”

Overall depletion of the kidneys is manifested in a deep, weak kidney pulse (the proximal position on the radial artery), lower back pains, tinnitis, palpitations, dizziness and dark pouches under his eyes. Chronic fear taxes kidney Yin, as dry hair, skin and acquired boniness attests. Depleted kidneys fail, as the Nei Jing says, “to do energetic work and excel through…ability.” The treatment is to supplement the kidneys, fill the essence, and fortify the will.

Some kidney-enhancing¬† shiatsu/massage can be used first and then persuasion of the person to accept just four needles (LI4 and LIV3 bilaterally) to “open the gates” and allow Qi to flow. If the patient can cope with these four, gradually more points can be added.