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Is your boyfriend fearing the actual journey? The flying or driving?

Or is he fearing what might happen there?

Or is he fearing the leaving of his routine and familiar surroundings?

Is he able to list specifically what he is afraid of? Is he aware of what has caused him to panic in the past?

I have an anxiety disorder and got much needed relief from learning how to breathe and how to "watch the right movie" in my head. People with panic disorders are often very creative, and they can "see" all the things that might happen in their head as though it were almost a movie, with color, pictures, sound effects and emotional reactions. For instance, if you're on a plane when turbulence starts, it's very easy to "see" the entire story -- the flight is bumpy, it gets chaotic, it starts to go down, you're trapped, people are screaming and praying, you're killed, your family is grieving -- and so on. And all the chemical reactions -- adrenaline, cortisol -- kick in, which only seem to reinforce the appropriateness of our panic.

However, once the turbulence stops, we don't make ourselves "watch" the CORRECT movie in our heads -- the plane is flying well, all systems work, the landing gear touches down, we hear it and feel it, the plane rolls to a stop, we have landed safely and exit easily and go on about our lives.

In other words, we need to use our creative skills to watch the movie that is actually likely to happen, rather than just watching the movie we fear.

Breathing and mental relaxation and control are key to this. There are wonderful audio CDs that can help with panic, as well as biofeedback. Would your boyfriend be willing to see someone (a counselor or therapist) on a short-term basis to talk about this? Would he be willing to see a naturopath for suggestions? (For instance, the Bach's Flower Remedies?) Or would he be more likely to read a book?

It takes a little while to learn to control a panic or anxiety disorder, but it can totally be accomplished, and life becomes a lot easier when you can.

September 15, 2009 - 9:12am


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