How Do You Cope If Stress Is Way of Life? A Centre Providing What Is Claims Is a Unique Approach to Treatment for Anxiety and Panic Sufferers Has Opened in the Midlands. Health Correspondent Sophie Blakemore Reports

The Birmingham Post (England), June 29, 2004 | Go to article overview

How Do You Cope If Stress Is Way of Life? A Centre Providing What Is Claims Is a Unique Approach to Treatment for Anxiety and Panic Sufferers Has Opened in the Midlands. Health Correspondent Sophie Blakemore Reports


Byline: Sophie Blakemore

Sweaty palms, palpitations, hot flushes and heightened senses.

Unpleasant but common reactions anybody who has had a sudden fright or been in a threatening situation will have experienced.

The adrenaline kicks in and the body's natural fight or flight mechanism takes over.

But how do you cope when these sensations begin to crop up in normal, everyday life?

Anxiety and panic disorders are among the most common psychological complaints in the UK, with about one in four people going through this rollercoaster of emotions.

Kidderminster-born Charles Linden knows all too well how it feels when anxiety rules your life.

His first experience of a panic attack was at the age of 14 while he was still at school. The condition re-emerged when he was 18 and working for Nato in Germany.

Over a four-year period his anxiety grew, he became agoraphobic and unable to go out unless he was accompanied.

He returned to the UK in 1991 and after years of unsuccessful treatment with anti-depressants, anti-psychotic drugs, counselling, hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and alternative therapies -house-bound and at the end of his tether -he set about researching his condition.

Mr Linden began to believe his anxiety was not a mental illness, but a habit his mind and body had fallen into, which could be broken with the right actions, lifestyle and mindset.

He weaned himself off medication and began to live by nine 'pillars' or rules which now make up the core of his approach to curing anxiety, dubbed The Linden Method . A decade on, he is panic attack-free and has just opened a centre in his home town dedicated to helping sufferers of panic, anxiety, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. His method is drug-free and does not rely on conventional psychology counselling. Instead it uses simple techniques to change a sufferer's mindset and 'disempower' anxiety.

'I firmly believe anxiety and panic are not mental illnesses, they are behavioural conditions built on habits and instincts that can be overcome with the right approach,' said Mr Linden, now a 36-year-old married father-of-one.

'I am not a psychologist but someone who has been at the sharp end of anxiety and I know what it feels like.

'When I started researching the condition I was desperate for a way out. I began comparing information about the way memory and the brain works in terms of building habit and things suddenly started to make sense.

'It is all about changing your behaviour and thought processes, but without raking up all the things that have happened to you in the past bringing them to the front of your mind.'

The list of people who have signed up to The Linden Method include students, successful businessmen, health professionals and the head of psychology at a leading UK university.

Dr Allan Norris, a consultant clinical psychologist and member of the British Psychological Society, who works at Birmingham's Nuffield Hospital, said the method appeared to be a sensible approach to dealing with anxiety. …

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