Don't Panic


Last month an essay on panic [1] in Brownstudy (a blog by Mike Brown) led to a neat list of cognitive distortions:

  • All-or-nothing thinking ("always", "every", "never", ...)
  • Overgeneralization (making too much of isolated cases)
  • Mental filtering (focusing only on the negative)
  • Disqualifying the positive (shooting down good possibilities)
  • Jumping to conclusions
  • Magnification and minimization (exaggerating some aspects of the situation, ignoring others)
  • Emotional reasoning (relying on intuition rather than reason or evidence)
  • "Should" statements (looking at wishes rather than reality)
  • Labeling and mislabeling (naming things instead of understanding them)
  • Personalization (blaming oneself or others for random events)

Brown suggests that when you feel panic you might try:

  • classifying the scary thought(s) via the above taxonomy
  • looking at feelings and rating the level of discomfort
  • jotting down disturbing thoughts and refuting them

Brown also cites [2] (in Alex Lickerman's blog) which in turn suggests:

  • Carry anti-anxiety medication with you
  • Don't fight panic—accept it
  • Rate the severity of your panic moment by moment
  • Look for mistakes in the thought process that led you to panic
  • Desensitize yourself to situations that induce panic.

And of course there's my favorite strategy: try to identify what causes panic and avoid situations where it might arise.

(cf. BlameStorming (1999-05-15), KnowHowAndFearNot (1999-11-19), RepoMan (2003-03-10) SalmonOfDoubt (2005-07-07), ...) - ^z - 2010-11-17