The Panic Attack Relief Workbook by Mayra Diaz lays out a seven-week plan for people to be able to better manage panic. It incorporates cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and exposure therapy. As the title indicates, it’s a workbook with exercises to fill out.
The book begins with background information about how panic affects the brain and body, as well as different disorders that can involve panic. It also provides background information about different CBT and ACT strategies. The rest of the book is laid out as seven chapters to cover week by week, with a different focus area for each week’s exercises.
The first week focuses on understanding how panic impacts your well-being. It included keeping a panic attack log to connect situations, emotions, and sensations, along with exercises to examine and identify panic’s impact on your life, the fears that your mind is treating as threats, and triggers. There are also exercises involving deep breathing, grounding, and progressive muscle relaxation.
Other weekly focus areas include breaking the cycle of negative thoughts, facing your fears, and mindfulness acceptance. There’s a mix of education, self-monitoring, self-reflection, coping tools, exposures (including exposures to feared bodily sensations) and other strategies to address thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. There are also coping statements scattered throughout the book.
One line I quite liked was “You can’t control your emotions, but you can feel capable of managing them.”
A wording choice that struck me as a bit odd was when the author encouraged readers to teach others about what they’ve learned, while at the same time being careful to avoid playing armchair therapist. She wrote, “You have learned a lot about panic, but you are not a mental health expert.” It’s a very minor thing and I know what she was going for was “you are not a mental health professional”, but I’m kind of feisty, and telling people living with mental illnesses that they’re not experts in their conditions sparks a bit of that feistiness.
I thought the author did a really good job of providing clear, concise explanations, which allowed a lot of useful stuff to be packed into a book that’s relatively short and very easy to read. It’s also very aesthetically appealing. I liked the short sections and point-form key takeaways at the end of each chapter. The tone was supportive and encouraging but not preachy, which I also liked. Overall, I thought it was very well done.
The Panic Attack Relief Workbook is available on Amazon (affiliate link).
I received a reviewer copy from the publisher through Netgalley.