What is your worst fear that you have faced

Panic attacks "The worst is actually the fear of fear"

"Hello, Ms. Aumüller, then I would like to welcome you at this hour."

Thursday morning, Bonn University Clinic, Petra Aumüller, in her early 40s, comes to see the psychologist Corinna Klein at the Clinic for Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy.

"Today we would like to deal with your anxiety symptoms and I would be interested to know what the current anxiety symptoms are like? - At the moment it's worse again. I've been going back to work for about six weeks and that has caused the fears to split up in different ways Reinforced situations. "

Analyze symptoms

The behavior therapist asks which situations are those in which fears occur more intensely.

Aumüller: "At the moment I can only go shopping in certain stores, actually only in two, it is very difficult for me to move away from my car."

Klein: "I would be interested in what symptoms do you experience when you have fears, i.e. what physical symptoms, what feelings and what thoughts do you have?"

Aumüller: "The worst thing is actually the fear of fear. I think a lot before I know that I am going into a situation where I could be afraid. And then I already notice that my pulse is faster, that I am partially I have the feeling that my throat is swelling, I have a stomachache and when I am in the situation I start to breathe faster, I start to shiver and when that comes I go running because then I am scared in the situation and which cannot stand. "

Klein: "Are you looking for a place where it is better to be afraid?"

Aumüller: "For example, I leave the shop and go back to my car, then have a drink and if I'm lucky I can go back in. If I'm unlucky, I drive home."

Graduate psychologist Corinna Klein asks how strong the fears are on a scale between 0 and 10, 10 would be the maximum fear. Petra Aumüller answers: between 8 and 10.

Aumüller: "The worst thing that happened to me in the past is that I often hyperventilated and then people didn't know what was going on. I then lay on the floor in the paw position and could no longer breathe properly and then the ambulance was called and then I was taken away. It has a lot to do with shame that I'm afraid that someone would notice. I try to keep it a secret from most people. "

Confront fearful situations

Klein: "Here in the clinic, we have the opportunity to visit such situations together, to do what is known as an exposure exercise. This is an exercise in which you learn to experience a reduction in anxiety, and I would suggest taking the bus as a possible option for you The goal of this exposure exercise is that we reduce levels of anxiety. "

Aumüller: "Ok, it's hard to imagine that I dare to go into this situation, but yes, I'll do it."

Klein: "So, Ms. Aumüller, we have now got on the bus, what are your symptoms of anxiety?"

Aumüller: "Quite high, on a scale between 9 and 10. I have trouble breathing, my hands are trembling, I would like to run away."

Klein: "It would be important to me that you remain attentive to your symptoms and observe them in the near future. So we have now got off the bus: You did a great job, how are you afterwards?"

Aumüller: "Well, it was bad on the bus. Sometimes I also had feelings of fleeing, but I noticed the longer I was in the situation, in fact it got better, now between 5 and 6."

Klein: "Very nice result"

Aumüller: "Yes, I'm also happy that I made it."

Klein: "Then I would say goodbye to you today and we can discuss this again in detail in the next hour and plan further exercises"

Aumüller: "Ok, now my courage is a little bigger, thank you very much."