Dan Lippmann LCSW. Practical, Sustainable Happiness

Do Anxiety Attacks Keep You from Flying? The Mood Switch Can Help

Anxiety attacks are intensely frightening and upsetting.

And to make matters worse, traditional anxiety treatments — such as anti-anxiety drugs — don’t always work and are often accompanied by side effects.

That can compound anxiety and create a vicious cycle.

Drug-free alternatives, including talk-therapy, meditation, and hypnotherapy are also available, but often provide only partial, short-term relief.

My Mood Switch Method, on the other hand, is a drug-free approach for both quick relief and long-term improvement.

My client, Laura, who suffered from “fear of flying” panic attacks, experienced noticeable relief after completing the Mood Switch steps the first time.

Even better, she learned strategies for changing her negative thinking patterns, allowing her to experience greater confidence and ease in other stressful situations.

Laura was very direct at her first session. Her intense anxiety was now jeopardizing her career, since she had to travel for work.

She told me that she had seen two other therapists who hadn’t helped her with her anxiety attacks. She gave me two sessions to “cure” her, or she was moving to #4.

We got right to work. I knew it was essential for Laura to pinpoint her specific fearful thoughts so she could examine them with greater clarity. Since her panic intensified as the airplane door was closing, I asked her, “What are you thinking as the door is closing?”

On her Mood Switch form, she wrote:

  • I can’t breathe.
  • There isn’t enough air in the plane.

We then examined the “Thought Traps” present in each of her negative thoughts. Thought traps is the term I use to describe the illogical thought patterns underlying emotional upset.

Laura’s main Thought Trap was “Confusing Feelings with Fact.” Since she felt terrified, she assumed she must really be in danger.

As she examined this Thought Trap, Laura realized that fearing she couldn’t breathe wasn’t the same as not being able to breathe. Her illogical thoughts triggered her anxiety, not the reality of the situation.

I then asked Laura to write down realistic, logical thoughts to counteract her upsetting thoughts. She wrote:

  • I am breathing!
  • Everyone else on the plane is breathing.

She laughed when she read her thoughts, because they seemed so obvious when she wasn’t in the midst of an anxiety attack.

Finally, I led her through a guided imagery exercise to reinforce her positive thoughts. She pictured herself on the plane, saying her logical thoughts to herself, and noticing that she and everyone else was breathing easily.

Two weeks later, she took a plane flight for work and did not have a panic attack.

Afterwards, I asked her what made the difference.

She said, “The other counselors were trying to treat my overall fear of flying. The Mood Switch helped me pinpoint what was really bothering me, so I could counteract specific thoughts. I also learned that when I feel nervous, it doesn’t automatically mean that something bad is going to happen. That’s helped me feel less nervous in general.”

We all have irrational thoughts. The next time you experience anxiety or fear, the Mood Switch Method is a tool that can help uncover the source of your anxiety and take back control of your life.

Write down the specific thoughts you’re thinking at the time. You may find that you, too, can keep your fear grounded by turning your thoughts around.

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