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Anxiety Disorder Treatment

by guest writer: Sam Tellman

In the fifties and sixties they had it, but it was less present in the typical nine-to-fiver and it was not nearly as complicated: I’m talking about anxiety disorder or panic disorder—a malaise characterized by what are today called anxiety attacks that feature symptoms that simulate those of the sympathomimetic system (the fight-or-flight state) in overdrive: increased heart rate; edgy/nervous, “stinking” thinking; intense feelings of dread or impending doom; impeding, irrational thoughts; feelings of light-headedness or vertigo; tingling/chills in the extremities; nausea; tense(d) muscles; constricted chest; dryness of mouth; trembles; shakes; sweats; breathing struggles; and/or odd feelings of being detached, or that things are unreal or strange.

In the fifties, sixties, and early seventies (and sometimes probably now), my mother had panic attacks. She would call for one of us to “go get her one of [her] pills”, would remove herself from the source—usually one of us—of the anxiety, and be fine within twenty minutes to a half an hour. While this is seemingly a now obsolete or defunct anxiety disorder treatment, my mother—whom people labeled as “oh, just a little high-strung”—was actually making use of some of the more effective of anxiety disorder treatments available at the time.

Yes, the sixties were for homemakers and mothers working two jobs a time for pills. The sixties were the place also known as the Valley of the Dolls. But maybe pill-popping as an anxiety disorder treatment is not so antiquated a strategy nor so knee-jerk a solution. The response for some—especially those who are physically ill and therefore more susceptible to the disorder and the panic instances—is the only thing that works.

Others also use one of the oldest self-help anxiety disorder treatments—the paper bag.

Right before I would come to befriend her, one friend in the eighties (now a contemporary of over 25 years) would walk into the classroom before philosophy class began with her backpack, a drink, and a paper bag bunched at where the neck would be. She would breathe deeply into and out of the bag inhaling and sucking the paper with a crackle and exhaling and returning the brown lunch bag back to an expanded balloon state. Evidently, her need for this maneuver was brought on by an anxiety attack (a. k. a. panic attack)—a sudden surge of dread and fear combined with a variety of the above-described symptoms.


The anxiety attack instigates an imbalance of blood gases, for want of the appropriate amounts of carbon dioxide in the blood (often caused by the unwitting hyperventilating the anxiety-stricken individual is doing. Inhaling and exhaling steadily through the paper, then, levels out the carbon dioxide.

Because the anxiety syndrome has become more prevalent in specific cultures and countries, experts in the medical and therapeutic fields have added to their list of suggestions for self-help anxiety disorder treatments. Some of these include talking yourself up (or down, but not depressedly or negatively), taking your point of focus to a place outside of your body and bodily reactions/symptoms, and sitting calmly with a “this too shall pass” approach and attitude or mindset.

Sometimes, the anxiety attacks are not psychologically -based, but are instead symptoms accompanying a physical illness (such as hypertension, for instance). Then, the anxiety disorder treatment you seek might be more involved. Some chronic sufferers consult doctors or therapists or visit clinics dedicated to such disorders. In addition, people access the options and alternatives for anxiety disorder treatment: they partake of medications prescribed for them, get therapy (such as biofeedback/Neurofeedback or psychotherapy), or learn new life-management skills. As well, some experiencing chronic anxiety will endeavor to learn new techniques for breathing, stress-management, and better problem-solving.

While time has passed, some symptoms, syndromes, and treatments have not. And some are new and improved, depending upon severity, need, and response to healing strategies…whether it is pills for the “high-strung” or paper bags for the harangued.



“Anxiety is the space between the "now" and the "then.”

~~ Richard Abell

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