Anxiety and Autism, is it possible to get rid of Anxiety?

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Joined: 29 May 2008
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04 Sep 2008, 1:40 pm

I have been reading a book called "From Panic to Power" by Lucinda Bassett, a woman who has founded the Midwest Center for anxiety or something along those lines. She has had a strong struggle for a long time and has found out how to conquer anxiety/fear or at least some way reduce it.

I haven't finished the book yet, but I kept pondering about a certain thing that the book said. It stated that the reason people have anxiety is because they obssess over an anxiety producing event, filling their mind with "What-IFs". By doing this, a message is sent to their brain of their fear, and the stimulants adrenaline and cortisol are released into blood to help them deal with the real or imaginary danger, commonly referred to as the "fight or flight" instinct.

She says that "how you interpret engery, as negative or positive energy, is all up to you". If you think something will be scary and frightening, it will be frightening, but if you think it is fun and exciting, it will be fun and exciting to you.

Now here comes my question. Obviously this book was written for neurotypicals who suffer from panic attacks or high anxiety. Even I, although slightly autistic (P.D.D-NOS), feel the same extreme nervousness and fear around things like people I don't know too well or like, or when I'm boxing, because I love the sport of boxing. This is because I can't mentally comprehend what people are up to emotionally and physically, as you know all autistic people suffer from. When I see one of those two things above, I don't have a cognitive reaction of "Oh, I'm afraid of that", it is like a knee jerk reaction and I feel fear without even thinking. It is instantaneous.

Therefore I want to know, based on your prior experiences, do you think it is plausible for someone who is slightly autistic to get over anxiety? Like I said, I have no cognitive reaction to fear, it just happens, so I question whether people can be mentally re-programmed to think about the illrationality of their fears. What do you all think?


Joined: 18 Jun 2008
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04 Sep 2008, 1:47 pm

It's true, this obsessing or "ruminating" about events just feeds the worries and anxieties. It helps me to pretend like i have a shut off switch in my brain and when I flip that switch all thinking stops.
Others might want to try anti anxiety meds.

We hang around singing out everything on the radio.


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04 Sep 2008, 1:49 pm

but does getting rid of this anxiety really makes it easyer to think need a finaly answer


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04 Sep 2008, 1:52 pm

Only if the fear is irrational (like phobias, OCD, etcetera).

If it's just plain old anxiety for you have fudged up emotions from the ASD (no control over the environment, a need for routine which is easily broken, sensory bombardment, etcetera, are all included also), no, no amount of CBT/exposure therapy will work, as it's not a thought (cognition), it's a structural abnormality of the brain [compared to normal people] that induces the anxiety.

In my experience, this logic above is true for me in relation to OCD and Autism. The former could be treated with CBT (and was), the latter doesn't change (it actually becomes worse).


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Joined: 23 Feb 2006
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04 Sep 2008, 1:55 pm

I had anxiety really bad for several years. I learned that if I embraced my feelings of panic and intentionally sent the anxiety love and acceptance then it immediately went away. Anxiety is mostly about fear of loss of control. If you can counter that by sending the anxiety 'love and acceptance' the anxiety disappears.

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Joined: 22 Aug 2008
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04 Sep 2008, 2:01 pm

I believe that what you are seeking is meditation. Take it seriously (not to seriously :)) and begin to practice it often. Ideally a quiet or relatively calm environment is preferred. Though meditative practice can still be successful in chaotic or noisy environs, it generally seems to take longer. Some good advice might be to research it online. Once you become adept at this practice it can also assist you with lucid dreaming and other things that you may not be aware of currently. Breathing and relaxation exercises as well as self reflection and allowing yourself to be open are key components of this practice. You can allow yourself to absorb the associated spiritual practices as well if you like, though a parallel study is not absolutely required. Over time, your spiritual aspect should develop naturaly as you become more experienced.


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04 Sep 2008, 2:47 pm

I think there's a slight difference between anxiety and panic. Panic attacks are often induced by obsessive worrying about potential outcomes. Anxiety on the other hand can be an instantaneous and involuntary reaction to overwhelming stimulus (or perhaps I'm getting that backwards).

Example: Three customers came into the tattoo shop the other day (true story). A young woman and her husband, and her husband's buddy. The rest of the crew is already working on other projects, so I'm up by myself. The girl knows what she wants, is very specific and quite clear. The two guys are loud, self-absorbed looky-loos, constantly interrupting my efforts to help the girl, with shouts of: "DUDE! how much for this? DUDE! could you do this like thus-and-so?" I told them three times to hang tight and somebody would help them in a minute, but they WOULD NOT SHUT UP. As fellow Aspies will have already guessed, my internal anxiety level was rising like a cartoon thermometer. By the time i got her in the chair, I was a nervous wreck. She was thrilled with the piece, but I knew it could have been so much better and it ruined my whole day. In that case, my initial anxiety was not caused by worry over a potential future event, but an inability to effectively process too much sensory input at once. The rest of my anxiety WAS personal concern with something I could no longer control, but was more of the 'what might (or should)-have-been' nature, which is basically the same as the what-ifs. I know at least one other Tattooist on the spectrum who has similiar issues with anxieties and can become physically ill from supressing a meltdown.

I don't know if that's helpful or germaine, but I'm not sure thinking 'happy thoughts' under those circumstances was much of an option. My brain functions quite well at it's own pace, but when you start to cram too much stimulus through my little funnel at once, the result is instant anxiety. It's just a natural psychological reaction to the pressure of overstuffing. Make sense?


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04 Sep 2008, 2:58 pm

I have anxiety and anti-anxiety meds and therapy will help reduce it. I am also that "what if" type thinker... and logically we know how little good that thinking does for us. Thats because we have a strong fear of the unknown and I know I sure do. I am not the type that has an easy time with letting things happen the way they are meant to. We need control of some kind. But the irrational side usually takes over and before you know it, you are in the middle of having an anxiety attack. If you can find a way to get the logical area of your mind to take over that, then anxiety will be reduced. So it is possible to work on it but it's sure not easy!! !

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