One Anxiety Trigger

Many things seem to trigger people into panic attacks: a sound, sight, smell, or sensation that reminds someone of a past trauma, anticipation of a perceived fear (such as, knowing you have to sleep alone when your partner is out of town next week), a physical sensation (nausea) or a certain emotion (feeling overwhelmed, guilty, embarrassed). However, when I talk to people about the details in the moment before the panic attack, what invariably happens between this trigger stimuli and the panic is a fleeting thought -- one that people hardly realize as it crosses their mind. This is the anxiety trigger.

Oh no! I think I am going to get anxious right now!

It goes something like this: “Oh no here it comes.” Or “Oh no what if I get anxious right now?”

If we weren’t afraid, it would just fizzle out. If we thought, I might panic, cool beans! It couldn’t come. If we said, “Bring it on!” It would stop the panic attack in its tracks. However, people, like me, who have experienced panic, know how horrible it feels and are afraid of it coming. We fear it taking our sanity as its prisoner. We feel stripped of our abilities and our confidence to ‘handle’ it. The fear infiltrates our very identity, taking over who we are, making us forget everything we know about ourselves and the world. We become Anxiety and loose ourselves. Fear becomes our time piece as we waste many minutes, hours, and sometime days to its control. We feel out of control to stop it, powerless to effect the agonizing discomfort, frantic for relief from its torments.

There are two common forms Anxiety takes.

The first form, I will call ‘temporary’ anxiety. This is not to suggest the alternate anxiety is permanent. (Remember this: All anxiety is transient!) Rather, I use the term "temporary" to describe how the person feeling the anxiety senses it. They expect that it is temporary. They know they will be okay again once the anxious moment passes. In this form, the panic steals our present, making us desperate to be other than where we are, as we wish for advancement in time when the feeling has already past. But there is less suffering in the panic, since we know it will pass and we will be alright again. I argue that this less fearful view actually helps us get through it faster.

The other form is the expectation that it is permanent or very long lasting. It is fearing that we may never be okay again. In the moments when fear exists, these folks picture themselves freaking out at all future events. It is scary to think we will feel like this again, and again, and again, with little or no hope for relief. The fear intensifies like the snowball effect, making us more afraid, which makes us more afraid, which makes us more afraid. Anxiety feeds on our fear, it needs us to be afraid for it to keep hold of us.

Stand up, face your fear and say, "Give me the best you got! I am not afraid of you!" and watch Anxiety slink away with its tail between it's legs. Trust me, (trust yourself) it works.

Tell me if you ever tried this! What happened?

By Jodi Lobozzo Aman

I blog here: Heal Now and Forever Be In Peace
and here: Anxiety-Schmanxiety Blog,
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APA Reference
Lobozzo, J. (2012, March 7). One Anxiety Trigger, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Author: Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R

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Joe Rehmeyer
March, 10 2012 at 8:11 pm

What do you suggest for the following. An incident will occur or I create in my mind with a perceived thought from someone's 'way' of putting something and my mind takes off.....they do not like me or I said something that was not called for.....I still do not really know the answer to my obsessing/fretting but somehow I have gotten the time it lasts from 10-15 years to a week or less even to a couple hours. But some stuff comes up from 20 years ago. It goes into the sick feeling and the 'sinking' feeling and there are many triggers that bring it up at any point in time! Like sound asleep and wake up and Bam! it is the first thought in my head and down I go for long lengths of time. Bad ones can last a long time if others say something that reminds me or just the thought of their name. The two things that help are time and talk to the person involved. I can tell myself over and over the facts are not there/imagined but then my mind just takes off again. Sometimes in a matter of seconds. This all makes me sick, wastes hours of time, seems and is never ending and I am at a loss of what to do. The worst one lately has been ever since my daughter-in-law became pregnant. I told someone and I was not suppose to and I have been paying the price due to myself and family that won't let me forget. Other things have kept happening to that upsets her and I find out a month later.....on and on and I have no chance to talk about it....I am to the point of just not seeing them or my granddaughter but I am trying to watch my mouth constantly, call them and talk anyway and trying to get beyond.....not easy when my mouth wags. Anyway I think you get the picture. My anxiety comes in from all angles...perceived, real, unreal, etc. Thank you for listening......that is important but then people get tired of hearing me spout to let it go. Keeping it inside is a killer. Again, thank you, Love Joe

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 11 2012 at 12:34 pm

Joe! I'll answer this is in my post Wednesday since I want to take time to reply thoroughly and have it available so more people can see it.

Laura Zera (@laurazera)
March, 7 2012 at 2:23 pm

I really like your approach to facing it head on. I was just talking to a friend on the phone this morning about your Two Minute to Peace meditation, where you counsel to not ignore or try to pretend that the worry/anxiety/bad feeling is there, you face it and breathe consciousness into it. I think that sometimes we think it's best to try and shut out these thoughts and feelings and not give them our attention, but then they linger, and then we feel bad that they're still there! So thank you, Jodi, for an empowered approach.

March, 7 2012 at 5:05 am

Thank you Jodi :)

March, 7 2012 at 4:11 am

I have a much stronger control over my anxiety, and the panic attacks are not as scary as they were since i can calm myself. What happens now when it's strong is that i just faint.
What is harder to control is the general anxiety. Maybe I must find articles about that too? when you feel anxious, agitated, scared, but for no reason. That is harder:(

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 7 2012 at 4:16 am

There is usually a reason, I will try to write about general anxiety next week!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 19 2012 at 3:52 am

Panic attacks as you said are usually triggered by something. Same trigger doesn't always lead to the same reaction? What creates the intensity or frequency of the panic attack when triggers are the same? Is it the general situation?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 20 2012 at 5:45 am

Yes, I would say, without hesitation, stress. Stress–in all forms-makes us feel vulnerable and will increase frequency.

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