“It feels like you are going to die”
A significant proportion of the people that come to see me have anxiety as either their main or accompanying problem. In many unexpected ways, modern life is more stressful than ever before, and there is potentially a lot to be anxious about. Although not directly life-threatening, the people I see have their lives blighted by anxiety and panic attacks and it is a major limiting factor in their happiness.
Drugs and CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) can offer relief in the short term, but seldom resolve the root of the problem. My approach to anxiety is first to understand what is going on in someone’s life to make them anxious, either now or in the past, and then to assess how this manifests as actual symptoms. By checking breathing, the ability to relax and noting areas of tension in the body, it is possible to provide the correct treatment and support that to rehabilitate an anxiety pattern.
If you are having anxiety or panic attacks, you most probably have either been told or have received the message that it is psychosomatic, or physical symptoms with a mental health basis. This is an over simplification and rather out dated notion (see MUPS). It is also not helpful, as the implication is that you either just have to deal with it or take medication.
Everybody is different, but approaches I commonly use to rehabilitate anxiety symptoms includebreathing exercises and Mindfulness training, stress-reducing acupuncture, tension-release massage and talking based therapy (Somatic Experiencing). Herbal medicine is often also very helpful, and some people’s anxiety is partly due to nutritional deficiencies, for which diet and supplements can be used.