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Searching for the Cause of Panic Attacks


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Many people have asked about the cause of panic attacks.  I would approach this question by discussing a documentary featuring Michael J. Fox.  In it Fox tries to figure out why some people are optimistic and how being hopeful and positive affects one's happiness and quality of life.  


In the documentary Fox makes a trip to a place called Bhutan. Bhutan is small Buddhist nation situated between China and India which has a government policy that dictates happiness.  Instead of a Gross National Product, they've adopted the idea of  Gross National Happiness.  The Bhutanese constitution states that government programs should be judged by the happiness they bring rather than by the economic benefit. 


This is interesting because many folks probably think of happiness as a state that just happens to them.  The truth is, happiness takes work.  That’s why I thought discussing Bhutan was such a great lead-in. 


What does this have to do with the cause of panic attacks? 


Because happiness is nothing more than a product of your collective thoughts.  But the same is true for your anxiety and panic attacks. 


Now we all have long held beliefs.  While many find it possible to change their thinking temporarily, in order to create real change in these deep seated beliefs requires a different strategy. 


But in tackling panic attacks and anxiety, the central “switch” is changing your thought processes. 


Really, though, your thought processes taken together are the root cause of panic attacks and anxiety. To be clear, I am not suggesting that the biological and neurological links are not real. They all must be considered. I am not suggesting that medication or other medical or biological interventions should not be considered. Click here for more clarification about my perspective would be helpful.


As you’ll know, if you’re a regular visitor to my website or a subscriber to my free newsletter, there is a process called Cognitive Therapy which allows you locate the specific Cognitive Distortions in your thinking and then replace them with more realistic thoughts. Cognitive Therapy is very important to use with your thinking.


In order to ensure you are using Cognitive Therapy on a consistent basis requires that you take control of your life – by creating an agenda to do so.


On a practical level, the key to taking control of your life requires two things:


1. Having an agenda in which you commit to taking control of your life 




2. being resilient. 


In #1 above I refer to having an agenda in which you committee to taking control of your life. 


In #2 above – being resilient – I’m referring to being committed to working on your thoughts each day, using Cognitive Therapy, whenever the need arises, in spite of how poorly you might feel, how many times you’ve had similar thoughts, etc. You need to keep at it! 


I'm not suggesting that doing these things is a small feat but it’s definitely worth the effort. I suggest that if you have not already done so, you get started on these steps today. A great way to achieve the above is to subscribe to my newsletter (below).

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Michael J. Fox. Adventures of an Incurable Optimist. ABC. 2009. No. 1.