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Why do I get anxiety attacks when reading?

Posted Oct 07 2009 4:41pm

Posted:  anxiety attacks

I have anxiety disorder which sometimes border on panic attacks. I seem to get them more so when I am reading or studying, especially if I am at the library. I get these rushes of anxiety and sometimes feel that my mind is disconnecting with my body. In any case, why does this seem to happen when I am reading or studying? Anyone have any good tips on how to control anxiety attacks?

Hi agua,
in my experience anxiety can sometimes be triggered when there is too much mental stimulation… reading or studying might be mentally stimulating enough for you to trigger anxiety feelings… when you are reading or in a library, it is hard to distract yourself from the sensations that you are experiencing, and so you probably find it hard to ignore them, then worry about them and so they increase… they increase and so you start to panic about what might happen… its a bit of a visious circle!

That disconnecting thing that you experience… thats perfectly normal for people who suffer from anxiety… its a self-protective way for the brain to decrease the experience of fear, by removing itself from the situation… this might be helpful in a place where having fear is appropriate (like being attacked by a lion), but it doesnt help us, of course, when we are just having panic attacks for no reason! You are not alone with these experiences!

The best way i know how to control these experiences is by not trying to control them, but doing the opposite… encourage them! That sounds stupid? let me explain…
If you try to stop these sensations, you imediately focus in on them and so they intensify… its like telling someone not to spill a drink… imediately they tense up and watch the cup, and start shaking etc… instead, say to yourself "i' m going to allow myself to have anxiety"… give yourself permission to be anxious… allow it to happen… relax and allow yourself to fully experience your sensations, and your worries, and your thoughts… allow it all to happen… let it wash over you… you' ll find that it carries on briefly and then it loses its energy and fizzles out… you' ll start to relax and the tension will subside…

if this all sounds crazy to you, then i encourage you to give it a try at home first, where you are in a totally safe environment… it takes a bit of courage to allow yourself to experience your feelings, especially if they are feelings that you dont like…

its not a case of ' resigning' yourself to having anxiety, its just a case of ' accepting' things as they are… accepting yourself for who you are and what you are experiencing… only then, when you accept it for what it is, can you start to work on addressing the anxiety and reducing your symptoms.

give it a go,
and always try to relax… breath slowly, relax…

jtnccc (above) has some good tips…
he says:
you could use relaxing music with an mp3 player…
take regular breaks from your studying (every 15 mins?): to have a walk around, distract yourself, relax and breath slowly and deeply

best of luck and take care

BTW, i recomend CBT therapy… its very effective for anxiety. i' m still looking for a good book on the subject tho.
give me an email thro my profile if you' d like any more tips

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