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Psychologist wants to induce panic symptoms Watch

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    I have anxiety and agoraphobia and have tried CBT several times, but it didn't work for me for various reasons. I have just started seeing a psychologist who is going to use ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) with me. Before we do anything else he's planning on having me induce some symptoms of panic in our therapy sessions, which I'm not overwhelmingly keen on doing. He says it will help me see that my worst fears don't come true, but my worst fear is panicking and the symptoms of panic and if I deliberately bring on those symptoms then obviously my worst fears will be happening. His thought is that you can explore the symptoms in the 'safe' environment of a therapy session but seeing as I only met him last week I don't yet feel especially safe in therapy.

    I'm also a bit worried as I do seem to be making some good progress with my anxiety recently, and in the past when I have gone back and purposely thought about anxiety and all the symptoms it has actually set me back in my progress. I'm concerned that bringing on certain symptoms will set me back again when all I want to do is move forward. I also feel like I do enough confronting of symptoms in my day to day life.

    I know I should mention my concerns to him but obviously anyone with anxiety and a panic disorder would feel anxious about doing this so I feel as though he'll just want me to go ahead with it anyway. And obviously I understand why it's thought that this will help me in theory. I know all the facing your fear logic.

    The reason I'm posting this is to ask whether anyone has experience of inducing panic symptoms in the therapy environment and what it was like. Or if anyone has just straight up refused to do this kind of thing.
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    If it were me, I'd refuse. He wants to trigger a reaction in a safe environment but you don't feel safe, so all it'll do is stress your body out and make you trust him even less.

    See if you can find another psychologist and ask them what they think about this 'solution'. Tell them what you said here. One psychologist's methods may not be the best for an individual and just because someone holds a title doesn't mean they know what they're doing.

    Edit: And as an afterthought, don't worry about what other people think, yeah? If you have a concern about methods, always bring it up with your psychologist.
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    (Original post by Vennec)
    If it were me, I'd refuse. He wants to trigger a reaction in a safe environment but you don't feel safe, so all it'll do is stress your body out and make you trust him even less.

    See if you can find another psychologist and ask them what they think about this 'solution'. Tell them what you said here. One psychologist's methods may not be the best for an individual and just because someone holds a title doesn't mean they know what they're doing.

    Edit: And as an afterthought, don't worry about what other people think, yeah? If you have a concern about methods, always bring it up with your psychologist.
    Thanks for your reply, I really appreciate it. I'll definitely tell him about my concerns. This psychologist is on the NHS, but I might try calling some local private psychologists to see how they would approach this kind of thing (I've often thought about trying an initial appointment with a private psychologist just to see how their methods differ - I sometimes feel as though NHS psychologists/therapists focus on the diagnosis your GP has given you without going much further or exploring different avenues/approaches).
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    (Original post by mscaffrey)
    I have anxiety and agoraphobia and have tried CBT several times, but it didn't work for me for various reasons. I have just started seeing a psychologist who is going to use ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) with me. Before we do anything else he's planning on having me induce some symptoms of panic in our therapy sessions, which I'm not overwhelmingly keen on doing. He says it will help me see that my worst fears don't come true, but my worst fear is panicking and the symptoms of panic and if I deliberately bring on those symptoms then obviously my worst fears will be happening. His thought is that you can explore the symptoms in the 'safe' environment of a therapy session but seeing as I only met him last week I don't yet feel especially safe in therapy.

    I'm also a bit worried as I do seem to be making some good progress with my anxiety recently, and in the past when I have gone back and purposely thought about anxiety and all the symptoms it has actually set me back in my progress. I'm concerned that bringing on certain symptoms will set me back again when all I want to do is move forward. I also feel like I do enough confronting of symptoms in my day to day life.

    I know I should mention my concerns to him but obviously anyone with anxiety and a panic disorder would feel anxious about doing this so I feel as though he'll just want me to go ahead with it anyway. And obviously I understand why it's thought that this will help me in theory. I know all the facing your fear logic.

    The reason I'm posting this is to ask whether anyone has experience of inducing panic symptoms in the therapy environment and what it was like. Or if anyone has just straight up refused to do this kind of thing.
    This doesn't seem too ethical… I'd recommend asking to see another psychologist if this one is making you feel uncomfortable. If you don't want to do it, remember you're at absolutely no obligation to :hugs:
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    (Original post by mscaffrey)
    Thanks for your reply, I really appreciate it. I'll definitely tell him about my concerns. This psychologist is on the NHS, but I might try calling some local private psychologists to see how they would approach this kind of thing (I've often thought about trying an initial appointment with a private psychologist just to see how their methods differ - I sometimes feel as though NHS psychologists/therapists focus on the diagnosis your GP has given you without going much further or exploring different avenues/approaches).
    No worries mate. I hope you find the support you need.
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    using the categorical imperative the action of the psychologist is not moral because it violates the "using people as a means to an end" rule. thus shouldn't be carried out

    they're using you to try and help which of course generally won't help. the whole reason you went there was to get help, wtf is the point if you get there and the person there is basically saying help yourself by facing your worst fears?
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    (Original post by iEthan)
    This doesn't seem too ethical… I'd recommend asking to see another psychologist if this one is making you feel uncomfortable. If you don't want to do it, remember you're at absolutely no obligation to :hugs:
    I don't know much about psychological methods and what's considered okay and what's not. This particular method seems to be quite common in the NHS service in my local area. When I first saw a therapist back in 2009 when I moved here she wanted me to do things like spin on the spot to induce dizziness (I have migraines which cause dizziness/vertigo and they're a big reason for my anxiety sticking around - because it comes out of the blue and I can't stand/walk by myself when I get migraine associated vertigo I have a fear of it happening when I'm outside/alone). I refused to do it because I was scared that it would trigger my vertigo and then, not only is that experience terrifying, I would also have to get home from therapy while feeling awful. None of the therapists I've seen take my vertigo seriously, though. I think they all just think it's an extension of the type of dizziness you can get when you're anxious, but I've been diagnosed by my GP and a neurologist and I have medication for my migraines.

    (this kind of vertigo isn't the fear of heights kind, it's when your balance centres are off and you basically feel like you or the room is spinning - with me it can last for a couple of hours, but there are people who experience full on vertigo for days at a time and all they can do is stay in bed)

    (Original post by thefatone)
    using the categorical imperative the action of the psychologist is not moral because it violates the "using people as a means to an end" rule. thus shouldn't be carried out

    they're using you to try and help which of course generally won't help. the whole reason you went there was to get help, wtf is the point if you get there and the person there is basically saying help yourself by facing your worst fears?
    This was my problem with CBT. My last CBT therapist actually said to me that if I couldn't accept the tasks she was setting me I should just leave, which I did. But the tasks were things like going outside by myself for at least 30 minutes in order to face the panic and pass through it. I was like if I could go out by myself for at least 30 minutes I'd be cured. The reason I was there was I couldn't do things like that.
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    (Original post by mscaffrey)
    This was my problem with CBT. My last CBT therapist actually said to me that if I couldn't accept the tasks she was setting me I should just leave, which I did. But the tasks were things like going outside by myself for at least 30 minutes in order to face the panic and pass through it. I was like if I could go out by myself for at least 30 minutes I'd be cured. The reason I was there was I couldn't do things like that.
    well i guess building things up is the ay to go right? so probably going into your local shop and buy something then go back home then increase that and do other stuff a bit more hardcore like going to asda or tesco and shopping there
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    (Original post by mscaffrey)
    x.
    Hey

    I don't really have any answers but I wondered if maybe it would be something that should at the very least be left until later on in treatment where you have a better relationship? I am told by professionals that I need to just go out more and go further and then I will see it's ok but if I could just walk out my flat and go shopping or something then I literally would just do that.

    Also (sorry this isn't answering YOUR question) I was wondering how you were diagnosed with agoraphobia? do you still leave the house?
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    (Original post by Jenx301)
    Hey

    I don't really have any answers but I wondered if maybe it would be something that should at the very least be left until later on in treatment where you have a better relationship? I am told by professionals that I need to just go out more and go further and then I will see it's ok but if I could just walk out my flat and go shopping or something then I literally would just do that.

    Also (sorry this isn't answering YOUR question) I was wondering how you were diagnosed with agoraphobia? do you still leave the house?
    I'd prefer to leave it until later but he seemed to like the idea of doing it first. I think it's difficult for psychologists and therapists who haven't experienced it to know how bad it feels when you're panicking. They see it as a textbook thing and apply things that should work in theory to your situation, but our minds aren't theoretical and advice like 'just expose yourself to your fears!' don't really work. My appointment is on Wednesday so we'll soon see what happens.

    I was initially diagnosed with anxiety because I was having lots of symptoms and was just generally terrified on a daily basis, and then it quickly spiralled into me avoiding or leaving situations. The avoidance thing and having to escape situations (or at least be hyper aware of escape routes) is classic agoraphobia and it just became clear that I had it. It's a while ago now so I can't remember if I said 'I think I have agoraphobia' or if a professional first mentioned it. It's just been down in my notes as agoraphobia ever since, and GPs/therapists/psychologists have always confirmed it. It's not the kind of mental illness that requires in depth psycho-analysis or anything - it's usually diagnosed based on your experience and behaviours.

    I do still leave the house, and I feel lucky that even at my worst I continued leaving the house with my mum (sometimes only once a month, or even less during winter, but it meant that I was always making some kind of progress however slow or invisible that seemed to me). I was at sixth form when it first started and I ended up having to pull out of classes altogether in the last few months of my A2 year because I just couldn't face the journey to college or manage to stay in classes when I did get there. My mum travelled on the bus with me when I went to sit my exams and I had to sit them in a smaller room rather than the big exam hall. When I got to Cambridge I hoped that the change of scenery would pull me out of things and I didn't feel too bad for the first couple of weeks. I had to call my mum when I walked up the street to the mini Tesco and I panicked like hell while walking there and back, but I was managing to attend my lectures. After a couple of weeks things spiralled, though, and I got so bad I daren't even leave my room to go to lectures (which were literally next door to my accommodation block).

    When I first arrived back home I was terrified of going out for a good couple of years. When I went out with my mum (you'll see a pattern here - often people with agoraphobia do manage to go out but only with their 'safe' person or safety behaviours) I used to link arms with her because I felt so scared/off balance and I often begged to go back home immediately. I particularly struggled in supermarkets, on buses (which I used to use by myself with no problem up until I was 18 and this all started), and while walking or standing for any period of time. I am getting better, although I still rely on going out with someone. I still find supermarkets difficult, but I'm much better than I used to be in them. I can also now stand to walk longer distances.

    I'm sorry to give you what feels like my whole life story in response to a simple question, but I think agoraphobia has a reputation of being a 'fear of outside' or 'fear of the marketplace' when in reality (like most mental health issues) it's complicated and can differ in presentation from person to person and situation to situation. There are levels of severity with it and also what some people struggle with might not be the same thing that all agoraphobics struggle with. I think that its reputation sometimes stops people from getting help or a diagnosis, because they think that they can't possibly have agoraphobia if they still manage to leave the house on occasion. For me, and a lot of people with agoraphobia, the fear of being alone can also be very high. As well as struggling to go out alone I would also struggle with being left in the house by myself, which seems like the opposite of the public perception of agoraphobia. I think that honestly stems from a fear of your own body and the symptoms of anxiety - you don't trust your own ability to take control if anything were to go wrong or you were to feel ill/have a panic attack.

    If you have any more questions feel free to ask
 
 
 
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