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Excerpted from When Panic Attacks by David Burns. Copyright © 2006 by David Burns. Excerpted by permission of Random House, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 

"Imagine, for a moment, that you had to give a talk or take an important test tomorrow, and you could go to bed tonight without that knot in your stomach, feeling confident and relaxed."

  David Burns, When Panic Attacks, Part 2

Agoraphobia. You're afraid of being away from home alone because you think something terrible will happen -- perhaps you'll have a panic attack -- and there won't be anyone to help you. You may fear open spaces, bridges, crowds, standing in line at the grocery store, or taking public transportation.

Obsessions and Compulsions. You're plagued by obsessive thoughts that you can't shake from your mind, and compulsive urges to perform superstitious rituals to control your fears. For example, you may be consumed by the fear of germs and have the irresistible urge to wash your hands over and over all day long. Or you may get up and check the stove repeatedly after you've gone to bed, just to make sure you didn't leave the burners on.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. You're haunted by memories or flashbacks of a horrific event that happened months or even years ago, such as rape, abuse, torture, or murder.

Concerns about Your Appearance (Body Dysmorphic Disorder). You're consumed by the feeling that there's something grotesque or abnormal about your appearance, even though your friends and family reassure you that you look just fine. You may think that your nose is deformed, your hair is thinning, or your body isn't shaped correctly. You may spend vast amounts of time consulting with plastic surgeons or staring into mirrors trying to correct the defect because you're so convinced that everyone can see how terrible you look.

Worries about Your Health (Hypochondriasis). You go from doctor to doctor complaining of aches, pains, fatigue, dizziness, or other symptoms. You feel certain that you have some dreadful disease, but the doctor always reassures you that there's absolutely nothing wrong with you. You feel relieved for a few days, but soon you start obsessing about your health again.

If you're plagued by any of these fears, I have a question for you: What would it be worth to you if I could show you how to overcome them? Imagine, for a moment, that you had to give a talk or take an important test tomorrow, and you could go to bed tonight without that knot in your stomach, feeling confident and relaxed.

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