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Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5425
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I am continually having a hard time with repetitive thoughts

Customer Question

I am continually having a hard time with repetitive thoughts about having a heart attack. I have been checked out by a doctor and and a cardiologist and I am fine. When I am stressed the thoughts get worse and many times these thoughts spur a very bad anxiety attack in which case then I'm convinced something bad is happening. i wake up with these thoughts, they sometimes subside in the afternoon but I am very a ware of my body, my breathing and my heart rate.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Ryan LCSW replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for your question.


It sounds like you have correctly identified this as an anxiety attack, and while those can be very crippling, it is good that you have been able to rule out any health problems. It is great that you are aware of your body, breathing, and heart rate. By continuing to work on slowing down the breathing and the heart rate, it will allow you to also slow down the mind and make it easier to avoid getting caught up in these irrational thoughts. One of the most effective ways to treat anxiety is through breathing techniques, and if you are not familiar with any of these I would be happy to help you out with that. The difficult thing is that once anxiety gets past a certain point it can actually feel like you are having a heart attack, and that is a very scary feeling that takes some practice to gain control over.

If your anxiety is to the point where is preventing you from living a normal life, it is generally time to consider medications and you are taking the correct steps by meeting with a psychologist and a psychiatrist. Studies have shown that the combination of talk therapy and medication is most successful in treating these types of problems. In general, medication should only be used as long as necessary, and once you feel confident in your ability to manage your anxiety, you can start to transition off of it. In the short term, you may find that the medication makes this a lot more manageable and that you will be able to make more progress in counseling as well.

Although this can be scary and frustrating, it appears as if you are taking all of the proper steps to begin to get this under control, and I suspect as long as you continue that you will start to see some improvements. One of the best things you've done already is to be able to identify all of these things as symptoms of anxiety, and that already shows that you are already able to see things in the right perspective. If there is anything else I can do to help, please let me know.

Ryan

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Relist: Answer quality.
I need help coping with the OCD thoughts that are automatic and bringing on the panic and anxiety to begin with.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

When you experience panic, it usually begins just as you described- with thoughts that bring on the anxiety. Your thoughts seem focused on your health which is a common focus for people who have anxiety. Many times, these types of thoughts are about having control. You fear your going to lose control through having a heart attack and those thoughts are what bring on your fears.

Here are some ways you can deal with your thoughts as soon as you recognize you are having them:

Learn to relax- this helps a lot because one of the main issues with these type of repetitive thoughts is the anxiety you experience with them, triggering a panic attack. So learning how to keep calm when dealing with these thoughts can help. Here is a link to help you learn Progressive Relaxation, one of the best ways to control your anxiety:

http://www.guidetopsychology.com/pmr.htm

Write down your thoughts- by keeping a journal so you have a place to express your thoughts when they do bother you. It can also help to go back and see your progress or look at repeating patterns and how you handled them. If you can see a pattern to your thoughts then notice that each time you have them nothing happens, it may begin to lessen your anxiety.

Make a list of activities- things you can do to distract yourself when you do experience these thoughts. Exercise, calling someone or watching a movie for example.

Repeating good thoughts- Make a list of thoughts that comfort you. "I am ok" "My doctor says I am fine" "I am healthy" etc. When you feel anxious or even when you just have a few moments in your day, read these thoughts through. It can help to have something to turn to when you feel your thoughts going in a bad direction.

Give yourself a break- realize that anxiety is caused only by your thoughts. It does not mean anything is wrong with you. Tell yourself things like "I can control this any way I want" and other power statements can eventually help you gain control again of your thoughts.

Do not give your obsession meaning- The more you focus on it, the more importance you give it. So treat it like it's nothing. "It's only my thoughts. It does not mean anything".

Cognitive behavior therapy can help a lot as well. It assists you in "retraining" your brain to think other thoughts and calming yourself so you don't feel the need to respond to the thoughts as much. You mentioned seeing a therapist so that is a great step to take to feel better. YOu can work on some of these exercises in therapy if you feel it would help.

I hope this has helped you,
Kate
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5425
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Can I help you any further?

Kate
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

you have been very helpful and comforting. This is a very distressing thing to be dealing with a lot of the time. Thank you!

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
You are very welcome! I am glad I could help. Take care.

My best to you,
Kate

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