“I don’t think anyone could ever criticize me more severely than the way I viciously criticize myself.”
Symptoms of a Panic Attack
Men describe panic attacks differently but they all say it feels like they’re being attacked. I’m fully aware of this because of my own experience with it, both as a therapist and as a client. It feels like being run over by an invisible semi-truck—over and over again—head on. It’s a deep and intense fear of what can happen, and when experiencing a panic attack, it’s like dying but you’re dead alive. It’s like feeling death in all its anguish.
Oh, and there’s an intense fear of a surprise attack and reliving all that anguish all over again, again and again.
Anxiety attacks have emotional and behavioral signs. These signs emerge from a focus on a doomed future, destruction, loss, dread and annihilation. It’s about taking extreme steps to avoid places or thoughts that set off the fear. And usually it’s never enough because panic is a sneak that makes fun of you and shakes the hell out of you. It lives and sleeps in your brain and consumes every little amount of success you have. It’s about high arousal (your body feels it) and inability to relax or stay calm. It’s uncontrolled emotional turmoil expressed by fear. Anxiety doesn’t visit alone. It’s accompanied by depression, helplessness and anger.
It’s a feeling of being trapped in a never-ending cycle of exhaustion and terror.
Anxiety is one of the most common reasons men see a therapist. They discover the effectiveness of proven scientific treatment and stop doubting their chances of living a functional life. They gain confidence and satisfaction in making right choices.
Doubt lingers but its in the background.
Men usually try to control their fear and anxiety by going to great extremes arranging their lives in such a way to avoid any reminder or known panic triggers. They hate themselves for having to do that. They can’t control it and they feel like a helpless victim.
Yes, it’s different for every man. It’s one situation for this man and another situation for another. It’s one thing for this man and another thing for another. The end result is terror.
How I Treat Anxiety
The key to breaking the cycle of panic attacks is not what you do when you start feeling the attack coming on; it’s what you do before you get attacked.
I use a focused and constant attention to define specifics. The specifics include memories of triggering experiences that keep flaring up in your mind. I also address the mental images that contribute to your anxiety. Those images create beliefs about yourself, people, places and things. Your beliefs produce the intense fear that gets away from you and becomes too big to control. Finally, I address the bodily sensations you feel when in panic mode. The goal is to reduce the impact these elements are having on you and to teach you how to do it yourself. The process takes between 6 and 10 sessions, sometimes longer depending on the man and his situation. The goal is a solution.
Physical symptoms of anxiety include:
Rapid heart beat and pain
Cold hands and feet
Shortness of breath
Emotional symptoms of anxiety include:
Always expecting the worst
Fear of losing control or going crazy
Inability to concentrate
Fear of dying
Avoiding certain places or situations
Feeling like things are not real
Signs you may benefit from counseling:
- Increased distance from your relationships or from your true self
- Continual conflict over serious and/or trivial things
- A pervasive unhappiness
- You’re drinking more
- No sex: erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation
- You or your partner want to divorce but you’re undecided about it
- Ignoring problems
- You notice a pattern with these things
As a counselor, I’m trained and experienced in helping men stop disabling anxiety and panic attacks.