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Carl Benedict offers online counseling on his web site Serenity Online Therapy.
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Online Counseling Therapy for Anxiety and Panic Attacks with a Licensed Counselor

Anxiety and Panic Attacks: "I just want to feel safe!"

Online counseling therapy can be an effective treatment for anxiety and panic attacks. But, first, what is anxiety? And when does it become a disorder? Anxiety is a universal human emotion that helps us survive by warning of approaching danger by switching us into fight-or-flight mode so we can protect ourselves. Anxiety is like an internal smoke detector, but instead of warning only of smoke, it warns of any threats. Anxiety becomes a disorder when it frequently throws us into fight-or-flight mode without the presence of a real threat. Panic attacks are an extreme form of anxiety disorder where we feel like we're going to die, go crazy, or completely lose control even though no real threat is present. Anxiety can last for days, hours, or even longer, but panic attacks are brief and exhausting, usually less than 30 minutes but can occur repeatedly.

So, to continue with the smoke detector analogy, if a smoke detector is calibrated incorrectly, it might falsely  "perceive" steam from a shower as smoke, thereby triggering an alarm. Similarly, if a person has an "incorrectly calibrated threat detector," it might produce anxiety or panic attacks by falsely perceiving danger where none exists. Thus, anxiety disorders and panic attacks are like smoke detectors run amok. Except worse - much worse!

Living with anxiety and panic attacks is not easy. In fact, it can be an ordeal. Alarms are triggered everywhere as sufferers struggle to feel safe. Have you ever felt in serious danger - in combat, escaping a fire, being assaulted, during a car accident, or enduring a hurricane? If so, then you might begin to grasp what sufferers of chronic anxiety and panic attacks experience on a daily basis as they struggle to feel safe.

What causes some individuals to have incorrectly calibrated threat detectors? The Anxiety means you are not feeling safe. Photo by Carl Benedict.answer falls within two areas: genetics, biochemmistry, and environment. From my years as a therapist, I have observed that most sufferers of chronic anxiety and panic attacks either have family members with anxiety disorders, or they grew up in alcoholic, abusive, or other dysfunctional or tragic environments, or both.

How does the environment produce anxiety disorders? In an experiment, rats were put in two cages where painful electric shocks were delivered. In cage #1 the rats received shocks exactly on the hour and half hour. In cage #2, the rats received shocks that were random but no more frequent or intense than the shocks in cage #1. So, what happened over time? In cage #1 the rats quickly learned the schedule of the shocks and then braced themselves on the hour and half-hour, endured the shock, and then relaxed and went about doing what rats do. In cage #2, where the shocks could not be predicted, all the rats developed anxiety disorders where they could not stop shaking! Growing up in the chaos of addiction, abuse, or other severely dysfunctional or tragic environments is similar to the conditions of cage #2, and many survivors of such situations develop anxiety disorders because their wounded brains are "programmed" to habitually tell them they are not safe, even when they are.

What helps? Surprisingly, antidepressants are the most effective medications for anxiety because they seem to "recalibrate the threat detector in the brain" so it isn't triggered so easily, which gives long-term relief. Anxiety medications, on the other hand, give only short-term relief, so are less effective. And they're addictive, which antidepressants are not. However, many of my clients manage their anxiety effectively without medications.

How can online counseling for anxiety and panic attacks help? My role as a licensed counselor is to help you improve your understanding of anxiety and panic attacks; increase your awareness of how your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations come together to create anxiety and panic attacks; and strengthen your self-care and coping skills so you can manage anxiety and panic attacks more skillfully to the point that they become bumps in the road rather than crises. And for sufferers of anxiety and panic attacks, this provides welcomed and empowering relief.

Below is Carl's 6-minute YouTube video explaining how online therapy can help anxiety sufferers manage anxiety and panic attacks more effectively.


To view all of Carl's YouTube videos on anxiety, click here.

As online therapy progresses, you'll become more confident in managing your anxiety, which will improve your functioning and self-esteem. As a result, you'll be able to enjoy life's pleasures more and cope with life's challenges better. Anxiety disorders can be disabling, but they are also quite treatable with online counseling therapy. Are you ready for the challenge? If so, I can help. Click on the picture below to begin.

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Copyright 2005-2022 Serenity Online Therapy
All Text and many photos by Carl Benedict

"Our very life depends on everything's recurring till we answer from within."  Robert Frost