Book Review: Stop Panic Attacks
by Carol Wiley
The fastest and most complex reactions known in the human body result from a panic attack, according to Reid Wilson, Ph.D., author of Don’t Panic: Taking Control of Anxiety Attacks. This book shows you how you can stop panic attacks.
During panic, many of the changes in your body are the same as those that happen during an emergency. However, panic is an exaggerated emergency response and the variety of physical panic attack symptoms feels overwhelming.
Role of the Brain
Panic disrupts your body’s natural balance by sending false emergency signals to the brain, leading you to doubt your natural abilities. Why does the brain select inappropriate emergency responses? There are two possible reasons:
- Something is preventing the brain from gathering relevant information in the moment. “If you suffer from panic attacks, it means that a faulty belief prevents your brain from receiving a critical message.”
- The brain doesn’t know another, more appropriate response.
Wilson writes that “Left on its own, the unconscious mind will seek health. But social learning and certain traumatic experience tend to override the unconscious mind.” Once you have one panic attack, the mind stops working creatively in your favor and begins focusing on the problem rather than the solution.
Thoughts and beliefs are the keys to your brain’s activity. Your beliefs and values develop mostly out of life experiences and your memories of them. Strong beliefs can block natural protective mechanisms of the brain and mind.
According to Wilson, to stop panic attacks when they happen, you need to know and believe:
- You can trust your body and unconscious mind to perform essential roles in an emergency, because the body has an emergency response.
- When panic activates the emergency response, you can consciously turn it off.
- You can learn to consciously stop panic before it takes control.
You have the intellectual and psychological abilities to reverse the emergency response, and Donâ€™t Panic gives you strategies to identify these abilities, master them, and use them to control panic.
The most effective way to take control and stop panic attacks, according to Wilson, is to be willing to face doubt and discomfort and to believe you can deal with any consequences of your actions.
The first step is to change your interpretation of events, a key component in cognitive behavioral therapy for panic attacks. Wilson provides detailed strategies for:
- Changing your attitude
- Looking for opportunities to embrace discomfort, so that you can learn from experience
- Letting go of coping strategies (for example, asking a friend to accompany you someplace) that serve as safety crutches but also prevent you from living a full, strong life
- Becoming an objective observer of your negative thoughts and reactions by mentally stepping back and using your observations to develop skills to override the negative and support the positive.
If you are looking to take control and stop panic attacks, this book provides a lot of good information. Of course, panic attacks are a serious and multifaceted medical event that may require professional help. For someone who wants to gain more professional knowledge, one option is to pursue a public health masters online to properly understand and work with medical issues such as panic attacks.