An article in Scientific American is entitled, Panic Attack Sufferers Are Unaware of Symptoms:
Panic attacks seem to come out of nowhere but research finds symptoms appear up to one hour before the sufferer is aware of the attack.
The conclusion of this article ends with a statement and a question:
The study authors note that this lack of awareness may explain
why meds work better for sufferers than Cognitive Behavioral Therapy does: How is the patient supposed to work on something that they are unaware is already in progress?
Why is it assumed that people need remain unaware of their physiological experience? This is exactly what meditation can attend to. It’s called “mindfulness” for a reason. It’s entirely possible to become aware of our bodies, minds and psyches. The fact that many of us are asleep does not mean we cannot wake up!
This sort of knee-jerk conclusion that determines we are helpless in the face of all our physiology strips people of their inheritance. We can be AWARE. We can wake-up. We can heal ourselves.
Even if there is a biological aspect to mental distress it need not remain beyond our conscious reach. We often need practice to get there, but it’s there for the taking. Handing people drugs that mask all these feelings without this understanding is a sure way to never get to the root of the problem and therefore makes healing and growing much less likely.
The most serious aspect of this assumption that if it’s the only thing a patient is told, they’ve not been able to give INFORMED CONSENT. One cannot choose medication if they’ve not been told there is an alternative. At this point the person has been manipulated to believe they need a toxic and addictive substance and most likely not been told of the potential dangers of such drugs either.
To learn to become aware of not just anxiety but other phenomena of the psyche one must be willing to feel uncomfortable sometimes. See: The practice of embracing everything (commentary and collection of links to help one learn to be with the darker aspects of the psyche so that one might grow and heal)
For information about benzos, the most popular anti anxiety medications on the market, see the below link. They are dangerously addictive and often cause disability upon withdrawal.
A program of mindfulness for learning to live with and get beyond anxiety that I like is:
For professionals the textbook is very good and comes with a CD-ROM full of exercises.
Those books are specifically designed with anxiety in mind. If you’re not drawn to them pretty much any teaching that helps one learn about mindfulness and being with what is can be helpful.
See here for a collection of books on mindfulness and meditation. I suggest browsing through the entire category as it’s not just books on mindfulness.
There are lots more posts on mindfulness here on Beyond Meds too.