Paul was a 22 year old freshman in college and was just beginning his second semester. The first semester went well and he had confidence in his ability to continue to do well in school. But, one day in a class, his life changed, and now, some 20 years later, he is still dealing with that first attack of panic. It began with a strange sensation washing over him that he was unfamiliar with. His heart began to beat fast, his hands became sweaty, and he felt almost like he would faint. Feeling very insecure, he left the class and returned to his dorm room to lie down and try and recover. After an hour or so, he felt better and decided to go to another class later in the day. But, the same feelings occurred again and he left the second class. He now began to worry that something was wrong and went to the college health clinic. There, a doctor advised him that it was an anxiety attack and prescribed a tranquilizer. During the next week, despite the use of a tranquilizer, the attacks continued, and he followed the earlier strategy of leaving class and returning to the safety of his dorm room. Two things are very important at this point and need to be considered. First, Paul reacted to the "attacks" by escaping to the safety of his dorm room. Second, the attacks were "officially diagnosed" as anxiety. What he was learning was that he had some condition that caused anxiety, and that the best course of action was to get away from the situation. Both of these factors set Paul up for the continuation of his reactions to panic attacks.
In order to keep these post entries short enough to read easily, I will continue Paul's story with the next post. As always, comments are welcome and encouraged.