Dr. Reid Wilson on Panic Attacks and General Anxiety

“Your resistance…your commitment to fight or avoid your discomfort actually causes your continued problem with panic.” Dr. Reid Wilson

Dr. WILSON is a licensed psychologist who directs the Anxiety Disorders Treatment Center in Chapel Hill and Durham, North Carolina. He is also Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. He is author of Don’t Panic: Taking Control of Anxiety Attacks and co-author of Stop Obsessing! How to Overcome Your Obsessions and Compulsions.

I wanted to interview Dr. Wilson immediately after reading his book Don’t Panic. He truly understands that to eliminate panic disorder, a paradoxical approach is the best solution. In this interview he explains why a change in attitude is so very important to recovery and how resistance to anxiety only worsens the problem.

Other topics covered in the interview are,

  • how best to deal with general anxiety and anxious thoughts and
  • some of the latest understanding on why people experience anxiety disorders in the first place.

I encourage all Panic Away members to listen to this insightful interview as everything Dr. Wilson talks about aligns perfectly with the program.

Click to play the interview

Click Here to Save this MP3 to Your Drive

You can learn more about Dr. Reid Wilson and his work here www.anxieties.com


  • Jerry Johnston Reply

    Barry – This is probably known but not expressed as much as it should be, but your taking the time to interview these well known psychologists with books of their own, and ways that work for panic or general anxiety that is exactly comparable to yours, is so very admireable on your part to reach out constantly to continue helping more and more people in these ways with your own money, (I’m guessing). It’s just a very heartfelt thing to do for all of us out here.
    This last interview with Dr. Wilson was, for me the most interesting, as this Dr. for one hasn’t had to go through the fear as you and I and all the thousands you’ve helped did, but still had an affinity, or understanding of this horrifying problem. He also seemed very well established, and clear in his knowledge of how the mind works in relation to different parts of the mind talking to each other, or learning to override each other to get through fear. This to me seems to be a helpful tool, as least it would have been for me in the way my mind works to known how one part wasn’t allowing another part to be overridden, me being a left brained person that works a lot with logic. Also he gave constant examples of anything he felt hard for us to understand. This helps us, that even thou not educated, pick things up quickly as examples are so very helpful.
    Again, what you doing is beyond words. You give the impression you truly, as do the Dr.’s you interview, understand how fear can be so crippling. They are truly helpful and also very importantly tell the same story as you, ( to flow with the fear opposed to resisting it ), and hearing this new concept, as Dr. Wilson says must be pushed threw the old concepts to be heard, as each therapist has there own technique, and yes it is frustrating that they don’t all use this new approach. Personally I have a Perfect Master in India, and meditate daily, and know there to be a truth long known to the mystics called karma, that states that we are all destined to do the things we do as a payment for something we did conversely to deserve it, and is frustrating for me that people don’t see it, as your frustrated by psychologists that don’t see your theory as the one that’s working. Karma helps me understand why all of us are destined to only do what we do, and can’t change from its path as its a payment from some past life of doing something to another person that is equal to what we are doing back to another. And this is why we can’t change in our path as its predestined. This is karmic theory but helps me to see why we are where we are. However like Dr. Wilson said, it not good to focus on why, as many panic folks do, but to concentrate more on the solution. Therefore in karmic theory, I’ve found it’s not to helpful to always say it karmic all the time, when one can’t address the reason why something is happening because it may be from many lives ago, but to focus always on the present and how to carry on, with our best ability. It was also very interesting to hear our country is always geared to hurry up and get it done, when in your cure to panic its hurry up and wait and let the sensation pass after telling them to come on in full force as see they’re nothing but as Dr. Wilson says the ability not to be able to push on. I don’t know if it too much trouble but to be able to go back and re- copy the Dr.’s that agree with your approach that you’ve interviewed, as I just opened up the interview instead of saving it as I didn’t know what drive to put it on. My microsoft vista OS gives me an option to save it somewhere I didn’t know where it was so now I do and wondered if those interviews can be re-sent for saving purposes. They are a true gift as it give more than one way of seeing the light. Thanks Jerry Johnston

  • shery Reply

    If you give the whole interview like as a news letter, it will be nice.

  • Lauren Reply

    I listened to Dr. Wilson’s interview this morning. I do have panic attacks although right now I’m feeling more “general anxiety”. I’ll clarify that by saying I live in southern Israel and missiles have been flying around since last week’s terrorist attack near Eilat. While my home is “out of range”, my daughter and granddaughter’s home is not. Sirens went off last night by her just as I’d got to bed. I felt very anxious till she texted me she was OK but still took some time to relax…till the next time. I’m about to travel now and within 1/2 an hour I will be in missile range. I’m not denying my anxiety but am going ahead with my plans; I have a gig tonight in the center of the country. (I’m a folksinger.) Been practicing and getting ready all morning despite the anxious feeling. I know I’m not alone on this. It’s not a dreamed up fear at all. It’s very real. Your input is welcome.

  • Carissa Reply

    Thankyou so much! i have come a long way!

  • Brad Earl Reply

    These interviews that you have organized have helped irriversably. I am able to put them into action even while first listening. It is so recognizable when talked about in 3rd person, but when you are left with yourself and your fears logic goes right out the window. I find that there has to be a constant spiritual comfort that is felt within and that is what I was so reluctant to learn. I always wanted instant gradification and drugs seemed to supply that.We are not alone. We are one body in God.

  • Stan Reply

    ok here we go. from a person who have dealt with anxiety/hypochondria/panic attacks and agoraphobia, this interview was a lot of fun listening to, because i can finally listen to the whole thing and say “yep” in agreenment. listen carefully. all of this is a paradox and the more you struggle the worse it gets, THE MORE YOU WANT TO GET BETTER, THE WORSE YOU GET. forget about getting better, just move on with your life….”but what if i feel uncomfrotable and i have a panic attack???” you might ask…so what? who cares? learn to enjoy them, bring them on and have fun with them. it takes months for your body to eventually realize that it’s been producing too much stress hormones and starts to stabilize back to normal, but it will never do so if you keep the fire alive with your thoughts. any desire for it to leave any questioning of it, will cause you to think, obsess and therefore add stress hormones to yourself. adopt an attitude of wanting to be uncomfortable, wanting to feel it as much as you can because its your practice with it. it’s like “flight hours” you need your “anxiety hours” meaning the more experience you get with it with the right attitude the less scary it becomes…everytime it happens, smile at it because you’re getting better. the concept of letting go is very simple, LIFE is your best therapy…what does that mean? live your life as you would and forget about trying so hard to be better. everyone gets anxious, even this doctor described a moment of OCD while hiking..OCD is an anxiety related disorder….we are all human we all get it and it will never stop, the idea is what do you do when you get it? do you flinch and run? or do you reset and say..oh well…on to my next adventure?

    whatever happens, happen. you have one life to live, so live it…there is nothing complex about anxiety, theres no need to know why, when and how. live with uncertainty and with risk. uncertainty is your best friend, make friends with your anxiety…tell it thank you when it comes to visit you and move on with your life. beating anxiety is simple in concept, but hard in implementation. the key is to keep this attitude for months and eventually you’ll start feeling the results and it will push you to do even more. the moment you start telling yourself …i;m gonna go here regardless whether i have panic or not, thats when you’re on the right path. never hide from being uncomfortable, being uncomfortable means you’re getting better.

    good luck to all.

  • Marjie Reply

    Listening to the interview… interesting and reassuring but less easy to hear and understand when IN anxiety. and the frontal lobes are not accessible…..sure there are a few right now.
    I spent last night mostly on the phone with my son ( 29yrs) who was in a full fight/flight anxiety state which seems to get triggered when he can’t fall asleep, full of ‘What ifs’ in thought and resisting his experience with “I just want it to go away ” I had little awareness at the time how I was getting flooded so that when I put the phone down at 6am, I was feeling fine but my body was off…numb arms, aching legs, churning stomach.
    Today I have not felt bothered by the symptoms…thoughts are ok, I can live with this..I am just on high drive so not yet let down and tired.
    I have learned ways of being with mine but so sad to hear my son suffer too. My first major attack happened at the same age as his. Through my journey with anxiety, I have learned so much and awoken to the moment even if I can’t stay there long. As I spoke to him last night the words that comforted and moved me most were, “This too will pass”..something about a trust in life and a connection to others who know their own nightmares and look them in the eye.
    I trust he will find his own way with his and very reassuring there are now people out there doing some wonderful work. Thankyou all

  • Nancy Gratias Reply

    Thank you for responding to my request for assistance. I listened and now, I think, I can change my mind at what I am doing at the time. Also, I wake up from a sound sleep with an attack.. I realize that when I have a panic attack I let it carry me away. I will get out of bed, watch TV for a short time and then go back to bed.
    Thank you again. God Bless

  • Sharon Levin Reply

    It is most interesting , Barry, that when you came into my life, I had been educating my patients about stress management, how to conquer fears, I am too an addictioons and behavioural addictions counsellor et al for many years, of course including anxiety and panic attacks, in a v holistic way and was so glad and relieved that some one who was a victim to both, became an educative advisor and survivor of these ‘crippling conditions’, which of course they nio longer have to be. At the time of our introduction, I had NEVER had an anxiety/panic attack. but had been extremely ill for 23 yrs, and too, had taken the roads less travelled, and won with helping myself 1st, learning, hearing, studying, becoming part of the universal world, etc, to reach wellness and 18 yrs later am still inremission of all past ills/ailments so I resonate with you, and Dr Burns and too to Dr Wison. I have experienced great anxiety the past 8+1/2 months, however, as my beloved. treasured mother who was also my best friend always, became v ill and spent the last 6 months of her life in hospital, with the ‘hospital family’ becoming my 2nd family. Of course here began the anxiety attacks, on and off, but taking your STEP 1 of counting back from 20-0, so many x’s I just do that automatically now, to catch myself, help myself, and go on to your other exercises. I have done meditation and quiet for so many years, and have escalated deep breathing too. So in essence, if I am doing these wonderful small exercises, without further treatment, and remembering what I am teaching patients, I have been asking every patient to make the count down from 20-0 and hourly habit + deep breathing and some small amount of homeopathic sublingually for immed positive effect – all have found your advise invaluable in the understanding of what to do when anxiety +/panic begins. The child, bythe way, no matter who raises them SEES AND THEN HEARS – so internalising becomes an ANS (involuntary Nervous System) disorder which settles in the brains’ ‘memory banls/memes. Get to the cause after tackling the immediate stressors. Thanks you for all continue the great work! Sharon Levin

  • Fatima Reply

    Dearest Barry
    Thank you so much for your free correspondence. I have come a long way ! I am an anxiety sufferer for about sixteen months now and is on mild meds. I am very grateful to you for your invaluable support, as I have been implementing your suggestions into my life and has made great progress since then. I live a full life once again eventhough I must admit that I occasionally find the “check-in” times a bit unsettling, but I somehow try to accept it and endure the short wait thru’ period(a few seconds mainly while driving).I would like to purchase your panic away programme but cannot afford to do so just yet !
    Please stay in touch , much appreciated, thanx again, Fatima

  • Kara Heissman Reply

    It is great to actually hear insights and advice from true professionals who have the right knowledge regarding panic disorder and other anxiety-related conditions. There are a lot of people out there who are claiming to know so much about these conditions (telling people what to do, what not to do) when in fact they really have no sufficient background on the subject.

    Panic and anxiety-related disorders are serious conditions which have the ability to take away the joy in living. And a lot of people out there do not understand what exactly these conditions are, more so how to treat them. I am glad that someone is actually making the effort to make this valuable information available to people who actually need it.

    I agree with Brad’s assertion, I believe that there is a way to permanently cure anxiety and panic-related conditions. People who suffer from it are just so consumed of their fear that they end up believing that their case is hopeless and that they must simply go on coping with their condition.

    Enough of me, just wanted to give my support to what you’ve said!

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