Irrational fear brings more people to psychotherapy than any other mental disorder
CBT has long been recognized as the first-line treatment for panic attacks, generalized anxiety, social fears, phobias and OCD. In addition to dozens of powerful CBT tools I also offer patients mindfulness-based and yoga therapy exercises that research demonstrates helps reset the brain from a state of “fight or flight” to the normal resting state known as “rest and digest” or “tend and befriend.”
Fear itself is a healthy response to some concrete, immediate threat. All vertebrates exhibit fear behavior, which indicates that nature selects for this mechanism. Healthy fear helps protect us from real threats –hence increasing the odds we’ll live to pass our genes on to the next generation.
Irrational fear is something very different. While it might feel like healthy, rational fear, it arises not from a concrete threat but from a distorted thought. All such thoughts reduce to some version of the cognition “Something bad is going to happen!” In OCD the bad thing might be infection by germs, losing something important, or impulsively acting against one’s core values. In the case of phobias the bad thing could be an airline crash, or fainting or vomiting while giving a public presentation. With social anxiety the bad thing is usually rejection by someone, or ridicule and denunciation by one’s entire community. Panic attacks too are always triggered by some version of this thought – though it may currently be below the level of conscious awareness.
Your next step
I love helping patients crush irrational fear and walk forward into lives free of this most-common form of human suffering. If you are feeling more worried, anxious or panicked than you care to be, please reach out today. I look forward to walking with you the path to recovery.