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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5809
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My 26 year old daughter is experiencing severe anxiety. Has

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My 26 year old daughter is experiencing severe anxiety. Has had off & on panic attacks since she was 17. Has really worked hard to manage it breathing, daily exercise and diet. Thought she had it beat...2 years pretty symptom free. Shortly after becoming engaged panic attacks started & anxiety back with a vengeance. Barely managing her days at work, little appetite and terrified of negative thoughts she's been having. Her scariest thought in the past was having a heart attack. Knowing she's in such good physical shape she knows this isn't a possibility. Her scary thought for the past few weeks has been what if I kill scary she tries not to be alone. She went to doctor and has been on effexor for two weeks. She doesn't know if it's working. Her psychologist who specializes in anxiety says she's fine & those thoughts are her anxiety. I actually agree with her being very familiar with anxiety myself. But it's still so tough to see her suffer! My question is what's next...should she see a psychiatrist , go back to her psychologist, any suggestions we may not have thought of would be appreciated...Thank-you!!!!
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

Panic attacks and anxiety respond very well to treatment. It can be therapy or self help, but doing both together is helpful as well.

Panic attacks and anxiety are caused when your body's flight or fight response is triggered. A person with panic begins feeling afraid. Their body senses danger so it releases adrenaline to prepare the person to fight the danger or leave quickly. But when the person is not really in danger, the adrenaline has no use. So the person experiences the symptoms of an adrenaline rush but has no where to use it. This is what causes the heart palpations, rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, shallow breathing and other symptoms of a panic attack. Stress can also be a trigger. In your daughter's case, she may have felt stressed by her upcoming wedding and this triggered her anxiety. Once she understands how anxiety works, however, these kinds of triggers will has less effect.

Your daughter has now developed scary thoughts in addition to her anxiety. This is caused by her mind finding ways to scare itself. Her thoughts have been on danger mode for a while and are used to scary thoughts. So she is continuing to scare herself with "what ifs". Having these types of thoughts is very typical for someone with anxiety and they will not harm her. If she was going to kill herself, she would not be afraid. She would be focused on dying, not anxiety. And the feeling that something is physically wrong with you is very common for people with anxiety. That is often how many people discover they have anxiety in the first place. They seek medical attention when they have a panic attack. The doctor rules out a physical cause and diagnoses anxiety disorder.

There are many ways your daughter can help herself. Going back to therapy is a great option. She can either continue with the psychologist she sees or find someone she wants to work with on a long term basis. Medications can also help. But medications are to be used only so she can function until therapy and self help begins to be effective. Staying on medications does not cure anxiety and can make it worse, since certain medications cause addiction and dependency. And the original problem is not solved either by medicine. Therapy and self help are much more effective.

Here are some self help resources she can use to work on her anxiety and panic at home:

The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne

The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Anxiety: A Step-by-Step Program by Bill Knaus Ed.D. and Jon Carlson Psy.D. Ed.D.

A Life Less Anxious: Freedom from panic attacks and social anxiety without drugs or therapy by Steve Pavilanis and Patricia Alma Lee

You can find these books on or your local library may have them for you.

Anxiety and panic are highly curable with help and patience. She will get through this and be able to live a panic free life.

I hope this has helped you,

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