Using CBT to Overcome Panic Attacks
By Roger Tilton, Ph.D.
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What Are The Most Common Beliefs That Cause Panic Attacks?

  People who have panic attacks are remarkably similar in the specific catastrophic thoughts they have.  The most common of these are: 

·        You misinterpret rapid heartbeat as meaning that you might have a heart attack or heart failure.


·        You misinterpret tightness in your chest or throat or rapid breathing as meaning that you might choke and be unable to breathe.


·         You misinterpret lightheadedness as meaning that you are on the verge of fainting.


·         You misinterpret harmless feelings of depersonalization or unreality as meaning that you are about to go crazy and wind up in a mental hospital.


·         You mistakenly believe that when you panic, you might lose control and do something rash or impulsive, such as losing control of your car, running from your car in traffic, or flagrantly embarrassing yourself.


·         Even though what you fear never happens, you mistakenly tell yourself, "This time is different".  

Good News:  None Of These Things Are Going To Happen.

·         Rapid heartbeat and “respiratory” sensations are merely normal sensations of physiological arousal, mobilizing you for fight or flight. 


·         Fainting is caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure, but when you become anxious, your blood pressure goes up, making fainting almost an impossibility. 


·         People with anxiety disorders never go crazy.


·         People experiencing a panic attack never lose control and, in fact, are actually more in control than they need to be.


·         This time is not different nor will the time after this be different.



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