Panic - You are NOT to Blame
by Mark Sichel, LCSW
In our culture people often feel that anxiety is self-inflicted, reflective of a weak personality, and that proper self-discipline can eliminate psychological symptoms. This is NOT TRUE.
Everyone, at some point in their lives, experiences some kind of anxiety or mood-related symptom. A panic attack is a mode of self-expression, although a dysfunctional one. Just as an athlete who overexerts their body will start to have leg cramps, back-aches, or knee problems, when people are psychologically overloaded with stress or anxiety one of the things that can happen to them is a panic attack.
After years of labeling anxiety as purely biochemical or as a medical disorder, we know now that the best way to understand this phenomenon is to see it and treat it through a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
When people are afflicted with a medical illness, they tend to feel that it's caused by bad luck, and/or a biological process of infection. When people are struck by a mental illness, they immediately start to blame themselves. Often this self-criticality makes a person's symptoms even more overpowering.
Yes, there is usually a psychological issue contributing to a panic attack, but overall, there's absolutely no reason to blame yourself. Cut it out! It's not your fault. It's not anybody's fault. It's much more helpful to see it as a short circuit brought on by many factors, and an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you try to understand the meaning of your panic attack.
If you would like to continue your lessons on Panic Disorders with a helpful tool for coping with panic, please read Relaxation Techniques: Breathing Exercises.
If you would like to start at the beginning of the Panic Disorder lessons, please read What to Expect When You are Diagnosed with a Panic Disorder.
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