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  1. Understanding what phobias are?


    Understanding What Phobias Are?

    If you suffer from panic attacks and anxiety then there is high probably you have developed lots of phobias.  This is perfectly normal as sufferers tend to associate places, people or creatures with panicky feelings, and this leads to phobias.  I developed a whole number of phobias whilst I suffered from anxiety.  These included standing in queues, heights, social situations, driving on motorways, being in meetings at work, standing in crowds, driving over long bridges, etc.

    These tended to have one thing in common – the feeling of being trapped in a situation.  Therefore if you actually defined what I was suffering from is fitted more into agoraphobia than any other category of phobia.  I also definitely had a social phobia as well.  Most people believe that people who have agoraphobia are restricted to the confines of there home but this is frequently not the case.  Many people lead apparently ‘normal lives’ with agoraphobia however they have limits to where they can go, i.e. they can only travel with a certain radius of where they live.

    what are phobiasPhobias can be over come.  We were not born with phobias and they have been learnt by faulty thinking.   They are a just bad habit, that’s the way I looked at them during my recovery.  They are NOT a form of serious mental illness even though they can lead to intense feelings of fear.  They can also seriously lead to person life being restricted according to what they fear.   Below is a short quiz that will test how much you know about phobias.  The answers are at the bottom of the article.  Think of it as just a bit of fun and test yourself!


    Phobias are: A. A mild kind of mental health problem. B. A disease. C. A set of deeply-ingrained thoughts and habits. D. A personality weakness.


    Anxiety and fear are: A. Natural reactions which are often useful. B. A useless hangover from the days when people lived in caves. C. A sign of weakness or cowardice. D. Something we would be better off without.


    People are said to have a phobia when: A. They worry a lot. B. They experience strong feelings of fear in situations that don't pose a real threat. C. They experience feelings of fear when they are in danger. D. They feel frightened all the time.


    The symptoms of fear are actually produced by: A. Unpleasant thoughts going round and round in the mind which can increase fear. B. The pulse rate continually racing. C. Adrenalin released into the bloodstream inappropriately. D. Picking up 'bad vibes' from others can make people fearful.


    Phobias are made worse by: A. Staying in the situation that makes you anxious. B. Not having an easy 'escape route' when anxiety starts to rise. C. Reading too much about them. D. Avoiding the situation that makes you anxious.


    Finding out the root cause of someone's phobia: A. Is an essential starting point for recovery. B. Is useful for recovery but not essential. C. Is relatively easy to discover. D. Is not worth spending time and energy on.


    The commonest single type of phobia is: A. Fear of dogs. B. Agoraphobia. C. School phobia. D. Dentist phobia.


    The most effective way to overcome a phobia is usually: A, By self-exposure treatment. B. With tranquillisers. C. By going into a psychiatric hospital for a period. D. By avoiding things that trigger it.

    The goals for recovery should be: A. Set as high as possible. B. Set at a realistic level. C. Set by a professional therapist. D. Set as low as possible.

    QUESTION 10.

    The steps towards the recovery goal should be: A. As close together as possible. B. Limited to five. C. Big enough to be worthwhile but not so big as to be too difficult. D. As far apart as possible.

    When fear becomes a phobia

    Phobia comes from the Greek word meaning "fear" or "morbid fear”.   Phobias produce fear or anxiety which happens at a time when there is no logical reason.

    Our species has survived by having fear and anxiety to act as a bodyguard, to warn us of danger and protecting us when it’s near.  Phobias have emerged due to the body having a badly trained bodyguard which constantly overreacts and rings alarms bells in totally the wrong situations.

    Sometimes the alarm bell is so frightening to some people that it keeps them confined to their own home in the belief that this is the only way to keep them safe.

    If you are someone who has phobia then you are probably doing one of two things.

    1. Your reaction (anxiety levels) are not suitable to the level of danger you face
    2. You are taking unnecessary precautions to avoid dangers which are unfounded.

    Many phobic people will go to any lengths to avoid the situation that make them anxious.  This is what they think will help them stay calm.  Therefore we know its more than just experiencing inappropriate levels of anxiety.

    A phobia is anxiety and avoidance put together

    scared manPhobias unfortunately handicap people quite severely.  Imagine you have been locked up in jail unable to go outside or open your windows.  Well phobias can make you become like this.  People with phobias become virtual prisoners in there own home.  For others there life is less restricted but still certain areas become very difficult like driving, eating out, creatures, entering social situations and public places.

    When a friend or relative is talked through how fear and anxiety work it all seems very logical.  But for ‘normal people’ it’s very hard to comprehend.  They tend to think phobias are a weakness in the person character.  They don’t understand how the fear has arisen and quite how ill and frightened the person feels.  They totally misunderstand and are unable top comprehend the fear in involved.

    In future blog posts I intend to show you how to overcome phobias and the roadblocks to recovery you must avoid.

    “It’s hard for everyone. It always seems like it’s hardest for you, but your success and your happiness has much more to do with understanding other people around you than it does with understanding yourself. And, guess what, the homecoming queen probably has crippling phobias too. It sounds cliche, but you have to think about everyone like they’re people, and suddenly you realize that 90% of teenagers have moments where they want to cut themselves, pull out their hair, punch their best friend and sit crying in the shower. And EVERYONE was once a teenager…that goes for your teachers, parents, rock idols, and grand parents…and those people all made it through.”   Hank Green



    Question1 - Phobias are a set of deeply-ingrained thoughts and habits.
    Question2 - Anxiety and fear are natural reactions which are often useful.
    Question3 - People are said to have a phobia when they experience strong feelings of fear in situations that don't pose a real threat. Question4 - The symptoms of fear are produced when adrenalin is released into the bloodstream inappropriately.
    Question5 - Phobias are made worse by avoiding the situation that makes you anxious.
    Question6 - Finding out the root cause of someone's phobia is not usually worth spending a lot of time and energy on.
    Question7 - The commonest single type of phobia is agoraphobia.
    Question8 - The most effective way to overcome a phobia us usually by self-exposure treatment.
    Question9 - The goals for a recovery programme should be set at a realistic level,
    Question10 - The steps towards the recovery goal should be big enough to be worthwhile, but no so big as to be too difficult.

    the secret blod the secret........



    Fear of suffocation and Claustrophobia

    Fear & Anxiety in the Brain

    Why Do Some People Suffer From Panic Attacks?

    Why do you Fear?

    What are the symptoms of Panic Attacks?

    Prevent Panic Attacks - Challenging the Thoughts which Cause Panic

    Tools of the Trade

    Claustrophobia: finding your way out. Hope and help for people who fear and avoid confined spaces

    How to Overcome Agoraphobia & Claustrophobia: Learn to Feel Calm & Think Calm (How to): Learn to Feel Calm and Think Calm [Audiobook] [Paperback]

    Overcoming Panic and Agoraphobia

    School Phobia, Panic Attacks and Anxiety in Children

    The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook (Anxiety & Phobia Workbook)

    large ebook

    Like what you read?   


    If so, please join to receive exclusive weekly tips & tools to overcome anxiety and panic attacks, and get a FREE COPY of my eBook, How to Recover & Cure Yourself of Anxiety & Panic Attacks! Just enter your name and email arrow right


  2. Self-Assessment Panic Disorder & Anxiety Attack Quiz

    I thought it would be helpful to devise a quiz that you can fill out to see if how you act and think would fit into the pattern of Panic Disorder or anxiety.   I know most people who read this will probably know if they are suffering anxious feelings.  However there is large number of people (including myself) who at the start of their symptoms had no idea that they were suffering from this condition.  

    The quiz is no substitute for having a proper diagnosis but it will help identify if you are likely to be suffering from panic attacks.   Please answer the following questions below truthfully.   It may be easier to print off the page to score and add up your total.

    Score each questionpanic attack assessment quiz

    1=never    2=occasionally    3=sometimes    4=most of the time   5=always



    1. Difficulty concentrating_______score
    2. Tiredness and being irritable_______score
    3. Shortness of breath and problems taking a deep breaths_______score
    4. Episodes of feeling tense and unable to relax_______score
    5. Heart palpitations or periods where your heart races for no obvious reasons_______score
    6. Situations where you feel panicky and intense fear comes out of the blue_______score
    7. Sensations of feeling hot flushes and sweaty_______score
    8. Anger which is unlike you and not being patience with other people_______score
    9. Feeling dizzy and weak at the knees in crowded areas_______score
    10. Numbness in your fingers and get the shakes_______score
    11. The feeling of not being connected to your body or feeling ‘spacey’_______score
    12. Intense physical symptoms in anticipation of going somewhere new or when you are in that situation_______score
    14. Fear in social situation with negative thoughts_______score
    15. Feelings of being trapped when in certain situations and the overriding feeling to escape and look for ways to make excuses to leave_______score
    16. Thoughts that are difficult to get rid of and seem to race through your mind over and over again_______score
    17. Thought patterns that assume the worst and you have lost that sparkle for life_______score
    18. Times where you just feel so stressed and unable to cope with even the easiest of tasks_______score
    19. The need to please other people and get annoyed if they don’t live up to your expectations
    20. Thoughts to avoid certain situations and find yourself staying in more_______score
    21.  The need to keeping pushing yourself even when you are emotionally and physically exhausted_______score
    22. Fear to go into places you have never been before or meeting strangers_______score
    23. Negative ‘self-talk’ with words such as shouldn’t, can’t, not good enough, etc_______score
    24. Feelings and thoughts which conclude you are going crazy or losing control_______score
    25. Phobias that you have never experienced before such as heights, social situations, etc_______score
    26. Feelings of being worried and a sense of lack of hope for a few months_______score
    27. That life no longer is fun and exciting_______score
    28. Unrealistic expectations of yourself  coupled with the fact you’re a bit of a perfectionist_______score
    29. That you no longer are in control of your thoughts and emotions_______score
    30. Difficulties in expressing how you feel to other people_______score
    31. Limitations in your life due to anxious thoughts and sensations_______score
    32. The only way you can live a normal life is by self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, caffeine, etc_______score
    33. Habits the involve repeatedly checking things to make sure there correct or safe_______score
    34. Anxiety due to a traumatic experience which cause you either physical or mental pain such as the loss of  a loved one, accident, abuse, etc_______score
    36. Changes in your eating or sleeping patterns_______score
    37. That you hide your symptoms from others? _______score



    Self-Assessment Panic Disorder & Anxiety Attack Quiz Results...

    Add up your total number of points. If the TOTAL is greater than 105 then it’s likely you are suffering from panic attacks or anxiety.     Therefore I would recommend you see your GP and certainly read other articles on the Positive Panic Attack Blog which will help you overcome this condition.  For a more structured approach I recommend you read my free eBook below.

    Yann Martel“I must say a word about fear. It is life's only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease. It begins in your mind, always. One moment you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy. Then fear, disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy. Doubt meets disbelief and disbelief tries to push it out. But disbelief is a poorly armed foot soldier. Doubt does away with it with little trouble. You become anxious. Reason comes to do battle for you. You are reassured. Reason is fully equipped with the latest weapons technology. But, to your amazement, despite superior tactics and a number of undeniable victories, reason is laid low. You feel yourself weakening, wavering. Your anxiety becomes dread.

    Fear next turns fully to your body, which is already aware that something terribly wrong is going on. Already your lungs have flown away like a bird and your guts have slithered away like a snake. Now your tongue drops dead like an opossum, while your jaw begins to gallop on the spot. Your ears go deaf. Your muscles begin to shiver as if they had malaria and your knees to shake as though they were dancing. Your heart strains too hard, while your sphincter relaxes too much. And so with the rest of your body. Every part of you, in the manner most suited to it, falls apart. Only your eyes work well. They always pay proper attention to fear.

    Quickly you make rash decisions. You dismiss your last allies: hope and trust. There, you've defeated yourself. Fear, which is but an impression, has triumphed over you.

    The matter is difficult to put into words. For fear, real fear, such as shakes you to your foundation, such as you feel when you are brought face to face with your mortal end, nestles in your memory like a gangrene: it seeks to rot everything, even the words with which to speak of it. So you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don't, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.” Life of PI

    How did you fare on the quiz ?  Do you exceed 105 points ?

    the secret blod the secret........



    My Tools of Recovery

    20 Strategies to Help You Cope with Panic Attacks

    How to Stop a Panic Attack?

    What are Panic Attacks?

    The Anxiety Nervous system

    What are the symptoms of Panic Attacks?

    The Panic Attack Recovery Book

    Overcoming Panic and Agoraphobia

    Panic Attacks: What they are, why the happen, and what you can do about them: What They Are, Why They Happen and What You Can Do About Them

    large ebook

    Like what you read?   


    If so, please join to receive exclusive weekly tips & tools to overcome anxiety and panic attacks, and get a FREE COPY of my eBook, How to Recover & Cure Yourself of Anxiety & Panic Attacks! Just enter your name and email arrow right



    Panic attacks can be categorised into 2 areas -

    •The non-phobic panic attack that seems to come out of the blue (the spontaneous panic attack)

    •The triggered panic attack

    fearThe non-phobic panic attack tends to come out of the blue, or so the person believes, but there is often a trigger.   This could be stress, diet, thoughts, etc.  The brain usually has been stimulated by being over sensitized by a trigger which is not obvious.  It leads to us feeling unable to breath, impending doom, heart palpitation, suffocation feelings, etc.   There is also a theory called the suffocation alarm theory which suggests the brain is triggering a panic attack.  Let me explain……..

    As you probably know when we exhale carbon dioxide is produced.  Our brains via neurons in our solitary nucleus are forever monitoring the blood circulating in our brains for levels of carbon dioxide (CO2).    These neurons will activate if they sense a drop in CO2.  This will cause the feeling of being unable to breathe properly.  In this case your body is saying I really need to take over and make you breath as CO2 has dropped.  As a panic attack sufferer I often felt my breathing go haywire, and feel like I was not getting enough oxygen and try to breathe more.  After this process, the locus coeruleus is essentially sent a message.  But what is the locus coeruleus?

    The hypothalamus is the main fear centre of the brain and has been traditionally known as the bodies sentry and alerts us using various sensations to warn us of danger.  The locus coeruleus is a lot smaller than the hypothalamus but virtually all the bodily functions are linked to it including the hypothalamus.

    ElectricResearch has shown that if the locus coeruleus is electrically shocked a panic attack can be induced.  So it may be that the locus coeruleus is the first button to be pushed in the brain to fire off the flight or fight response.  Whether it’s the locus coeruleus or the hypothalamus (or both) the same process is happening – a burst of electricity is being triggered within the brain. fear and anxiety in the brain

    The EEG (Electroencephalography) measures voltage fluctuations resulting from ionic current flows within the neurons of the brain.  However it’s not sensitive enough to pick up electrical activity deep inside the brain.  I don’t want to get too deep into the technical science stuff as to fellow panic attacks sufferers all we feel is all the nasty symptoms of racing heart,  headaches, confusion, etc.  It doesn’t really matter to us what is calling the shots.

    Opiate Receptors

    Further studies of the locus coeruleus have shown that they have high number of opiate receptors.  You may ask what is an opiate receptor?

    They are a type of protein found in the brain, digestive system and spinal cord.  Opiates activate the receptors once they reach the brain, which they tend to do quite quickly.  Any effect on the brain directly correlates with what has been stimulated.  Opiates facilitate the feel good centre of the brain and help stop pain.  This is why you often hear about drug addicts injecting heroin (an opiate) into their bloodstream.   

    Once the heroin gets into contact with the brain, its changes to morphine which stimulates the receptors.    Research shows that once the opiate receptors are stimulated by heroin and other drugs there is a feeling of a great satisfaction.  There is also a feeling of euphoria as large amounts of dopamine are released.  After the initial rush there is a state of calm and relaxation which can last for many hours.  You can see now why heroin is so addictive!


    The mystery to scientists was how did the human body know man would inject himself with heroin to get the rush of euphoria, or was there some naturally occurring chemical in the body with the same the structure, which was doing the same job.  Eventually they found it and called the chemical endorphin.

    Endorphins are great for us.  The diminish pain and anxiety, help promote our immune system and ability to withstand stress, and help us feel pleasure more easily.  Endorphins and opiate receptors are like peas in a pod, the fit together perfectly to inhibit panic and fear.

    After scientist discovered the fear centre in the brain and that this centre had opiate receptors, it was a great breakthrough.   By knowing this we can tackle the fear factor in our brains.  

    So if we can increase the endorphins in our brains we stand a good chance of lowering the fear response to events in our life. 

    Locus Coeruleus

    Lets go back to the out of the blue panic attacks, when the locus coeruleus has been aroused and symptoms of panic occur.  When we feel fear and the need to escape, our respiratory rate increases.  Hyperventilation can kick in making sure we breathe faster taking in more oxygen.  This can occur when our respiration system slows down or CO2 builds up if we exercise.   Thus it’s possible that panic attacks can occur during sleep or as one falls asleep or after relaxing.  This is because our oxygen intake has decreased allowing the carbon dioxide level to rise.  This can then trigger the over sensitive suffocation alarm system (solitary nucleus).  If you suffer this type of panic attack you will frequently suffer hyperventilation.  

    It’s worth noting that women are more susceptible to panic attacks after child birth and during periods.  Both of these times are when levels of progesterone drop very sharply.  Progesterone can lower levels of carbon dioxide in the brain by making us breathe faster.  The loss of progesterone can increase carbon dioxide and make the body more susceptible to panic.

    The second type of panic is phobic panic or triggered panic attacks.  It’s more common and is the fear of fear.  Sufferers also tend to suffer from anticipation anxiety.  The symptoms include feeling like you want to escape, unable to concentrate, shaky, sweaty, etc.  Remember out of the blue panic attacks tend to be feelings of breathlessness and suffocation sensations.  The difference with this type of panic attack is the locus coeruleus is stimulated by a perceived threat in the mind.  In other words the threat is by negative, panicky thoughts

    Sometimes these thoughts are so instinctive we don’t actually realize we have thought them.  In other situations it might be some sort of traumatic incident that that keep triggering the same anxious thoughts habitually.  For example if you were involved in a bad car crash, you might every time you drive a car, get panic attacks.  The unconscious mind associates cars with a stressful event and the locus coeruleus is activated because the brains thought patterns (neural pathways) have linked car driving and scary experiences together.   The fight or flight response is then activated, and adrenaline is sent around the body and noradrenalin (more commonly known as nor epinephrine) to the brain.

    Whether your experiencing 'out of the blue' panic attacks or if you know whats triggering them (or both), then my two articles WHAT ARE PANIC ATTACKS & THE ANXIETY NERVOUS SYSTEM will help you overcome them.

    Eleanor Roosevelt“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt - You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life

     What triggers your panic attacks or do they come out of the blue ?


    the secret blod the secret........




    Why do you Fear?

    What causes Panic Attacks?

    What are the symptoms of Panic Attacks?

    How to Stop a Panic Attack?

    What Triggers Panic Attacks?

    Tools of the Trade - Recovery

    What are Panic attacks

    The Nervous System

    Self Help for your Nerves - Dr Claire Weekes

    Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway: How to Turn Your Fear and Indecision into Confidence and Action

    Instant Confidence (Book and CD)

    Overcoming Panic and Agoraphobia

    The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook (Anxiety & Phobia Workbook)

    Control Stress : Stop Worrying and Feel Good Now