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Bronwyn Fox  


Power Surge™ Live!
March 20, 2003
Host: Dearest
Guest: Bronwyn Fox
Anxiety-Panic Management

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"Power Over Panic"

(Bronwyn Fox's 4th visit to Power Surge) Dearest: My guest tonight is Power Surge's Anxiety-Panic Expert, the author of "Power Over Panic: Freedom From Panic/Anxiety Related Disorders," "Working Through Panic," (which you can get on Bronwyn's Web site) and the audio cassettes, "Anxiety Panic: Taking Back the Power". Having been housebound with panic disorder/agoraphobia for over two years, Bronwyn was able to overcome it through the power of Mindfulness Meditation. This has helped her gain control over her fears and she's been involved in the area of Anxiety Disorders since. Bronwyn co-founded PADA, Australia's Panic Anxiety Disorder Association. Her award- winning Panic and Anxiety Management Workshop is in every capital city in Australia. She also does workshops online on her Web site, The Panic Anxiety Hub. Leading anxiety disorder specialists have assessed her workshop to be 85% effective for people who experience an Anxiety Disorder. It's great to welcome you back to Power Surge, Bronwyn :) Bronwyn Fox: Thank you Alice it is great to be back. Dearest: You say in Power Over Panic, "Healthy self-esteem and anxiety disorders are mutually exclusive. A healthy sense of self-esteem comes from a strong case of authenticity. A sense of 'who I am' that when we know and understand ourselves, we are able to deal with the variety of stress that comes our way without violating or negating ourselves". Can you elaborate on that statement because I know many people who are confident, have good self-esteem, but are very stressed and/or anxiety ridden. Bronwyn Fox: No I don't! Many people who have an anxiety disorder, do feel that they have good self esteem but (there is always a but with me) if we investigate further we will find that under the surface, the need to be liked to be loved, to be all things to all people is extremely strong while it is normal to want to be liked / loved. People with an anxiety disorder have 'dedicated' their life to this and sacrificed much of themselves to the point that they do not know who they are and feel they have no inner resources to help them work through their anxiety disorder. Not knowing ourselves means we do not trust ourselves and this impacts on our ability to work with our anxiety disorder. Dearest: So, like I said in one of our previous chats, anxiety can actually be an addiction of sorts? Bronwyn Fox: Not so much an addiction, per se, as people work through to recovery they discover that so much of their anxiety is now being generated by trying to be all things to all people. For some people learning to become who they are, can be very frightening and it can seem easier to stay with their anxiety rather than get to know themselves. Moozie: I have very bad health anxiety, I worry about every symptom like I am going to die. Also, can anxiety only be dealt with only using medications? Bronwyn Fox: Moozie, this is very common. Many people do worry 24 x 7 about their symptoms and do think that they are going to die. And it is these fears that keep all the symptoms going. Cognitive Behavioural therapy is the most effective therapy in the long term for anxiety disorders. Many people use medication but also learn cognitive behavioural therapy as their skills develop they then slowly with draw from their medication under medical supervision and then manage any anxiety / panic themselves. Heights: I think I have a pretty good sense of who I am, yet I have such a debilitating fear that prevents me from going over bridges or driving in unknown territory. Bronwyn Fox: These two fears could be more specific phobias rather than part of the mix of anxiety disorder fears you can learn to work with these fears by also using cognitive behavioural therapy. Dearest: Heights, if it's any consolation, I, too, had a phobia about bridges and elevators and eventually I overcame it with some practice, through methods similar to what Bronwyn teaches. Bronwyn Fox: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy = CBT which will be my short hand version. Dearest: Bronwyn, can you give us an example of how you'd help someone overcome such a phobia? Bronwyn Fox: Working with specific fears also means that we need to see our thoughts that are creating the fear and as we practice going over a bridge, driving to unknown places we need to allow ourselves to feel the fear and our anxiety / panic. Many people make the mistake of trying to fight it. That only makes it ten times worse. We need to allow ourselves to feel it and not run from it and work with our thoughts i.e. not become involved in all the "what if" / "ahhhhhhhh" type of thinking. Dearest: So, in short, we need to go through the storm in order to find the calm. Bronwyn Fox: Exactly Alice, and if we are practising CBT we can get through the storm more easily. Jane25: I had severe panic attacks, about 6 years ago. I was afraid to leave the house they were so bad. But now I am fine and never had medication for them. I think, but will never know, mine were caused by perimenopause but I had no idea what was happening or why. Dearest: That's not uncommon during perimenopause. Bronwyn Fox: This can happen Jane at the moment researchers are still trying to find the link between hormones and panic/anxiety and hopefully they will find it soon! Dearest: Isn't panic / agoraphobia often the result of trauma? I would imagine to many women being thrust into perimenopause can be traumatic. Bronwyn Fox: There is no doubt that many people with panic disorder had a major life stress prior to the development of their disorder and I think the stress of the hormone changes can play a major role as you say Alice. Glady: Even when I feel like I have everything under control and am feeling fine, the fear is always there that the anxiety attack will rear its ugly head anytime. What can be done to prevent one from occurring? I take Xanax but I still keep thinking it is not going to prevent another attack. Bronwyn Fox: The ultimate prevention is for us to lose our fear of having a panic / anxiety attack for most people with panic disorder there is a genetic contribution to having panic attacks and so in times of major stress etc we may have an attack. I will still have an occasional attack, but because I no longer fear them they are over in 30 seconds and there is no residual anxiety it becomes so what rather than what if. If you use mindfulness or another cognitive technique, you can learn to lose your fears and as I said this is the ultimate prevention. Dearest: What is the singularly most important thing you would say to someone suffering from anxiety / panic attacks? Bronwyn Fox: That they are not going to hurt them in any way, it is the way we perceive and think about them that causes the damage. Glady: How do you make yourself do that? Bronwyn Fox: Glady the way to do this is to see a cognitive behavioural therapist. They can teach you how to do this. Glady: When these attacks are happening, and they could be anywhere anytime, deep breaths at what make them stop. Bronwyn Fox: Deep breathing is only a temporary relief. It doesn't teach you how to lose the fear of them. This is why learning CBT is so important. Debrikkia: The first time I had a completely debilitating anxiety attack (body froze) was about 10 years ago while doing something that I totally enjoyed, bowling. Out of the blue, I just froze up and couldn't move when I went to throw the ball. I didn't try to bowl again until 2 years ago. Lo and behold, without there being a thought in my head about it, it happened again. Can you give some insight as to why this might happen? Bronwyn Fox: Ah, Deb, there is always a thought in our minds! If we have not learnt to be mindful/aware then we don't see the triggering thoughts. If you think back on the way to the bowling centre I think you will find that you would have been thinking, what if it happens again? Next time you go to bowl become aware of your thoughts, they will be what if-ing or anticipating in some way. Jane25: I'm with Heights about bridges. Mine started after the 1989 earthquake here when the Bay Bridge was damaged and the Cypress. I agree with trying to over come it, but what would happen if someone had a full blown panic attack trying to cross a bridge. That would be a horrible place to have one. What would one do? And to answer Dearest I have had therapy after the earthquake. Bronwyn Fox: Jane do the bridges have stopping lanes? If so then you can slowly move over into it and stop until the panic subsides. If not move to the slow lane and slow down. If you don't have any cognitive skills, slow you breath down and you will find that the panic will ease but be aware any panic on the bridge will be triggered by the way you think about crossing the bridge. There will be a lot of what if thoughts before you get to the bridge. If you can learn to control these, then you won't panic. Dearest: Bronwyn, what about just going with the feelings when you're panicking in the middle of a bridge? I mean, letting the panic happen and just keep going. Bronwyn Fox: Yes, I always teach this Alice, it is all part of it but it can be too hard for people to do if they are not aware of how their thoughts are creating it all. When people try and let go, if they are not also working with their thoughts they become more anxious because it hasn't disappeared. GoodLife: I've had two incidents, very rapid, pounding heart,sweaty palms and feet, burning chest. The first one last 9 hours (I did go to emergency), a year later, last week another one that lasted a few hours. Both times I awoke out of a deep sleep with them. I thought attacks were short-lived. I just started Zoloft. Is one medication better than the other for anxiety? Bronwyn Fox: Nocturnal panic attacks happen on the change of consciousness, either when we move into sleep, or into dream sleep or into deep sleep or back into dreaming sleep and when we are frightened of them they can go on for an hour or more before we drop back into high anxiety. I used to have many of these attacks and spent half the night at the ER LOL. Now if I have one I just roll over and go back to sleep. So what! This is what we can do when we do not fear them any more. In regards to medication, if you have just begun to take Zoloft, the panic attack may be a side effect of your medication why not have a word to your doctor about this. I don't offer an opinion on any of the medications, because what works for one person may not work for someone else. Zoloft is one of the most common medications prescribed for panic disorder. Jane25: Thank you very much Bronwyn. Those are great suggestions for my fear of bridge crossing. Dearest: And, Jane, read Bronwyn Fox's book, Power Over Panic. You can find links on her transcripts in the Power Surge Library at JKern: I seem to have palpitations mostly at night and at certain times of the month they are worse. They seem to come mostly with hormone changes like the start or end of my period or ovulation. How do you tell if palpitations are connected to something physiological or with anxiety? Bronwyn Fox: Your doctor will be able to tell you if there is any physical cause and you can explore to see if they way that you are thinking is triggering any anxiety about it. That makes sense. Not LOL JKern: Are palpitations typically part of the anxiety attack or can they be sometimes? I got it. Bronwyn Fox: What I meant was if there is a hormonal link, you can learn to see if you are adding anxiety into the mix by the way you are thinking. Dearest: And, for the menopause part, palpitations are a common vasomotor response to hormone fluctuations - which can bring on anxiety - which can then bring on more palpitations and panicky feelings. SdeeK: What about Effexor as a medication for anxiety/panic? I've been overwhelmed lately with anxiety/panic/what if's? because of life's lovely surprises and I'm looking for something other than Xanax to help. Don't want to be addicted to it, and find I'm taking more and more crumbs. Where does one purchase your book? I have two adult children that also suffer with this. Mother recently fell in the basement and broke her hip - life as we know it is over. She lives with me. More anxiety heaped on - also PVC's that cause anxiety. So very tired of it all. Have had periods in my life where I was anxiety-free but they creep back in when stress is on. We really do all live through this - it hasn't killed any of us yet and probably won't. What an awful feeling though. Hmmmmm. depressing. Our thoughts truly do control us - Do you experience panic/anxiety, or did you? What is your story? How fortunate for you that you can just roll over and go back to sleep. I can too when not alone. I fear other things now, and I know they are all anxiety/panic related. The grand and glorious "what if's". How do we conquer them? Bronwyn Fox: I really don't want to comment on individual medications, except to say overall that any of the medications, SSRI anti depressants and tranquillisers can have withdrawal effects and any withdrawal of our medications needs to be supervised by our doctors. In regards to my own experience, I was bedroom bound for almost two years. I had rolling panic attacks and anxiety 24 x 7 for almost 4 years. SdeeK: Oh - doesn't sound fun. Bronwyn Fox: I used meditation and a mindfulness cognitive technique and this is how I recovered and stayed recovered. SdeeK: Is that info in your book? Bronwyn Fox: You are certainly under a great deal of stress. Why not consider seeing a CBT therapist? Yes it is in my book! Dearest: For those who don't know, Bronwyn offers an anxiety/panic management program ONLINE. I've attended it twice and it's very effective. You will find a link to Bronwyn's books on her transcripts - the last one is /transcripts/bronwynfox3.htm Bronwyn Fox: I will send Alice our CBT links for the USA there may be a therapist in a town close to you. Lee: I have had hot flashes for about 5 years, I am on Vivelle Patches. Have you heard about this HRT? Bronwyn Fox: No I haven't, Lee. Sometimes medication and / or patches have different names here in Australia. SuperGrammieJean: I started having panic attacks after the birth of my second child. I was only 24. They got worse and developed into agoraphobia and after awhile the fear of driving and having an attack, I stopped driving. Do you think that it was caused by hormones at such a young age? I am 53 now and have come a long way, but still won't travel by myself or drive yet. Thank goodness I have an understanding husband. Bronwyn Fox: Many women do develop post natal distress, (also known as post natal depression) after the birth of a child. What can happen is the stress of the birth, taking care of the baby etc can trigger the genetic predisposition for panic attacks once this is triggered then our fears and anxiety can keep it all going. Although you haven't been able to drive or travel for so long, you can fully recover the latest CBT techniques are very effective so long as we are prepared to do the work necessary. Glady: I am very confused by what I have been told is panic attacks and when I read all these other descriptions I guess I need to have a definition / symptoms again and are anxiety and panic attacks the same thing? Bronwyn Fox: They can be, but people who have 'spontaneous' panic attacks do have a number of symptoms that are different to the normal anxiety symptoms. These include the feeling that nothing is real and/or perhaps we are not real, looking through a white or a grey mist, perhaps the feeling of having an out of body experience, many people experience these symptoms first and panic or become anxious about them. We have a full list of symptoms on our website. I will send Alice the link to this for you. PeriGirl: I've had attacks over the past 15yrs, so bad at one point I lost my job. I was successful for about 3yrs with the cognitive approach, then 2 years ago, I could not get my thoughts under control. I try deep breathing, counting the alphabet backwards a gazillion times, telling myself this will pass, not to fight it, etc. I even go through the whole thing about diaphragmatic breath and it's link to the parasympathetic nervous response. Yet I still can't seem to get this under control. I'm currently on Klonopin, a low dose, which helps reduce the frequency and intensity. I've been on it before, and I look forward to being off of it, except for the detox part. I've discovered there is a definite link to my hormonal cycle, in addition to the random attacks. I've also had these in conjunction with Atrial Fibrillation, which makes things more festive, but fortunately I can differentiate between the two. Though the A-Fib can certainly trigger anxiety. What other suggestions might you have for me? I'm currently seeing a CBT. Bronwyn Fox: What you need to work on, is learning to lose your fear of your symptoms. When we don't lose our fear it can all be triggered again. I understand about the A- fib my sister has this and also had panic disorder, but she lost her panic fears and is able to keep her A-Fib under control. I would suggest that when you are having an attack, try and stay there with it and work with your thoughts. If we use distraction techniques such as counting backwards, forwards, or using the alphabet or deep breathing, all we are doing is distracting. We are not learning about our attacks/ anxiety and we are not learning how to control our thoughts and controlling our thoughts and losing our fears is the way to long term recovery. Dearest: Bronwyn, look at the political climate we're living in. Is it any wonder that anxiety and panic are at epidemic levels? It would seem this is the most difficult time to overcome anxiety while we're in the midst of war and terrorism. I can't even turn on the news, it makes me so nervous! What are your thoughts? Bronwyn Fox: I agree with you Alice. I have been feeling anxious since it began 24 hours ago, and what I have been doing is just allowing it to be there while making sure I am not going through it in my head over and over again. It is very normal for people to be anxious and frightened at the moment even if they don't have an anxiety disorder. When we have a disorder we can make sure we don't add to it by thinking "what if" about it all, and as I said, allowing ourselves to be anxious. Debrikkia: (No--haven't had therapy) I moved cross country a little over 2 years ago from CA to VA. Since then, I will only drive around my town, and within a 10 mile radius due to a fear of the traffic here, and the thought that if I take a wrong road, I may end up in DC or Pennsylvania! I don't force myself to drive farther because I don't trust my instincts behind the wheel should panic take over. I couldn't bear to be responsible for causing an accident that injured someone. Are you saying that CBT could help with this? I would love to feel confident to drive wherever I want to again. (You addressed a similar question a few ago--but am asking this again anyway-sorry) Thanks Bronwyn Fox: If you see a CBT therapist they will teach you how to work with your thoughts and they will also help you to work on your driving so that you can expand the distance that you can drive. Dearest: Bronwyn, please give some information about your online program for anxiety/panic. Bronwyn Fox: I run a six week online mindfulness panic anxiety management program. In this program I teach people how to meditate and how to use a mindfulness based cognitive technique. We also discuss how to work with our avoidance behaviours and how to work with set backs. Thank you Alice! Dearest: And how can people get in touch with you if they're interested in the program. I know women in Power Surge have used it and benefited greatly, including myself. Bronwyn Fox: They are most welcome to email me at E.mail me and I can send them the details and link to our website. The next program begins Tuesday night 8th April at 8.00 PM USA ET. Vickie: I get anxiety really bad and it seems to be perimenopausal related. I have tried Zoloft and felt totally "spaced out" on it and had a bad headache every day. Also tried Paxil with the same feelings. I tried these for about 7-10 days each. Then they switched me to Lexapro which made me feel great for a couple days then brought on very bad anxiety....The anxiety level goes up and down with my cycle. Progesterone cream seems to help somewhat. HELP! I get very anxious also when in a car. Bronwyn Fox: It can, as you say, be peri menopausal related, but because we hook into our thoughts about it. What if, etc. This generates more anxiety and panic. This is why learning either a mindfulness based cognitive technique or another cognitive technique is so important because it assists us to not add in anxiety / panic thoughts about it all. Vickie: But I can be sitting there watching tv when all of a sudden - wham - it comes over me. Bronwyn Fox: Ok, this tells me Vickie that you are dissociating. Many people with panic disorder do this, including myself. I will send Alice the link to this page on our website. This will help you understand it more. Dearest: If you're not on the mailing list, Email me at and I'll send you the welcome letter with lots of information and links to Bronwyn's area on Power Surge as well. SuperGrammieJean: So when we are having a panic attack, exactly how do we "control our thoughts" I always use the distraction technique. Bronwyn Fox: It is not easy for me to go through it in this forum. For this to be taught properly we need quite a few hours to go through it all. Dearest: Use the message boards also. There are numerous threads on just these topics. The boards are at /php/forum/index.php. MomBear: Can you tell me what causes middle of the night panic attacks. I go to sleep fine and peaceful, then wake up two or three hours later with a pounding heart and a great feeling of dread. I know what they are but I am interested in why they happen in the middle of the night. Dearest: Oftentimes, hormones. Bronwyn Fox: The nocturnal panic attacks happen on the change of consciousness as we go to sleep or move into dreaming or deep sleep or back into dreaming sleep. Dearest: Bronwyn, thanks for spending this time in Power Surge tonight fielding our questions about panic attacks and anxiety. I recommend Bronwyn's books, "Power Over Panic" and "Working Through Panic," plus her excellent cassette tapes, "Anxiety Panic: Taking Back the Power". You can visit Bronwyn's Web site, The Anxiety Panic Hub at: Read Bronwyn Fox's first transcript Read Bronwyn Fox's second transcript Read Bronwyn Fox's third transcript Disclaimer: Every guest in Power Surge is a highly respected professional whose opinions are his/her own. An appearance in Power Surge does not constitute an endorsement of a guest's views. None of these transcripts may be reprinted or reproduced without the express permission of Power Surge™ and the respective guest. Read other transcripts by returning to the Library. Dearest aka Alice Stamm Power Surge Founder, Facilitator, Host Copyright©1994-2005 by Power Surge. All Rights Reserved.

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