How to Overcome Anxiety & Panic

If you’re reading a blog post from a doctor of psychology about how to overcome anxiety and panic you’re probably expecting to learn about therapy techniques and medications.

Well, I have a surprise for you.

You don’t necessarily need therapy or medications to overcome anxiety.

How do I know this? Because I experienced it!

Unlike other psychologists and psychiatrists who approach this topic from a clinical perspective, for me anxiety is personal. I’ve been where you are. I’d like to share with you my story.

As a child, I slept with the door open, the light on, a wiffle bat by my side, and whatever else I could come up with that would give me a tactical advantage over the monsters hiding in my closet.

And that was the problem at night. During the day it was worse, when my mind was flooded by relentless “what if” questions.

I was a leader in school and I had lots of friends, but underneath the veneer of confidence was a terrifying fear of failure that crippled my productivity. I struggled to concentrate, so completing simple tasks required a herculean effort. Finally, in my first year of graduate school I had a full-blown panic attack. Unfortunately, it was the first of many.

By the time I reached my thirties, anxiety had robbed me of many otherwise joyful and enriching times in my life. I couldn’t go to summer camp, I canceled my senior trip, and I passed up opportunities to travel abroad. In my mind, the world was a dangerous place. And I was on guard.

I was especially scared of trying anything new. Change was really hard for me. Routine was my pacifier, and my prison. I avoided new places. I didn’t answer calls from people I didn’t know. I even avoided people who could help me with simple things like finding something in a store.

I was also incredibly indecisive, partly because I was filled with self-doubt and terrified of making the wrong choice. Whether I was picking a candy bar from a shelf, a college to attend, or a career to pursue, I was always stuck. I could never get enough reassurance to move forward.

Social situations made me anxious too. I feared conflict. I became a people-pleaser. I would often say “yes” even when I was thinking “no.” I was easily manipulated and often ended up feeling resentful toward others.

So what did I do about all this?

At first, nothing. I tried to ignore it. That didn’t work. And it won’t work for you either. No one outgrows anxiety problems.

By the time I was 31-years-old, my anxiety was wearing on my marriage, hurting my ability to parent, and distracting me at work. Basically, it was messing with everything I cared about.

I hated my life.

One day, a friend suggested I see a professional. I booked a session and was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I left the psychiatrists office with a prescription for anti-anxiety medication. I never filled the prescription. I was anxious about the side effects.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. The National Institute of Mental Health reported that 18% of adults and 25% of children have or will have some sort of anxiety or panic disorder. And that doesn’t include all the people in denial!

Unfortunately, many people never get the help they need. And many people in therapy or on meds don’t get better. Many get worse!

I had to get better.

Anxiety had robbed me of the life I wanted. It got so bad I couldn’t sleep at night (not because of the monsters in the closet). I was fed up. I was determined to figure this out, and I wasn’t going to resort to medications or spend years in therapy.

I started reviewing all the literature on the psychology of anxiety. I read the popular studies, and I dusted off research that hadn’t been taken seriously. I compiled a list of the most effective interventions and techniques for relief.

Then I started testing.

My first patient?

Me.

It took some time to prune out the duds, refine the keepers, and find the right mix, but in the end I did it. I found the recipe. And anxiety lost its grip on my life. I was free.

Then I started testing the techniques on others. Many of these people had suffered for years never finding relief. Many of them were in therapy and taking meds without results. I was really curious. Would the techniques work for them too?

They did.

And Dr. Dan’s Anxiety Plan was born.

Let me translate all this into some bottom line advice for you.

1. Don’t give up. Don’t resolve yourself to living with anxiety forever. This is not a lifelong condition. There are answers. There are solutions. You can break free from anxiety and panic.

2. Consider all options. The traditional path is therapy and/or medications. Sometimes that works. But often it doesn’t. And therapy is lengthy and expensive. Meds have side effects. This may not be as complicated as you think. For most people, the simple techniques in Dr. Dan’s Anxiety Plan do the trick.

3. Don’t ignore the problem. To repeat an important point: no one outgrows anxiety or panic. Relief is available only through effort.

4. Get help. Anxiety and panic is a bear of a problem. Once it has its grip on you you’re in trouble. You can’t go at this alone. I was lucky. I have a PhD is psychology and had access to research and the background to interpret it. Most people need direction and clear, simple, user-friendly instruction. That’s why I created Dr. Dan’s Anxiety Plan.

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I can’t even tell you how much I love your program…My daughter (who surely inherited her anxiety from me!) is going through your program now and with great results. Both of us feel that you get us. Your own experience with anxiety makes us feel that we are not alone. Thank You.

Marla Holt

Greensboro, NC

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