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Workplace Bullying Recovery:

Dealing With Anxiety and Panic Attacks Caused by Workplace Bullying


By Richard Schwindt M.S.W.,R.S.W.

  Richard Schwindt M.S.W.,R.S.W.

Richard Schwindt M.S.W., R.S.W. is a psychotherapist and hypnotherapist specializing in the emotional recovery of targets of workplace bullying and mobbing. He can utilize Skype and Paypal for Canadian clients. For more information visit

My family doctor offered me an SSRI anti-depressant but I decided to fall back on my own resources. Between congenital heart disease, a workplace mobbing and subsequent stroke, I had the anxiety trifecta.

Targets of bullying go through long periods of time where they feel endangered. Someone, or many are devoting time and energy to destroying their spirit and their lives. The primitive mechanisms of our sympathetic nervous system try desperately to protect us. The result is catastrophic thinking, severe stress, chronic physical arousal, anxiety and panic. No one who hasn't experienced true anxiety or panic can imagine the hellish fear that pushes you further and further away from your family, friends, work and life. Driving by your old office, running into a workmate or even something irrelevant to all of it may send you into a panic, complete with thoughts of death and despair. A psychiatrist friend told me afterwards that he knew I would be OK because between my determination and clinical experience I was going to "throw the kitchen sink at it". And I'm here to tell you that it was fun. The more fun you have fighting your anxiety; the more irreverent you become, the better the outcome.

I know what you're thinking: anxiety is destroying my life; it certainly is not fun. But to succeed anxiety counts on you taking it very seriously. It cannot bear being laughed at. You say to yourself: "So I'm anxious, it's not going to kill me today, I've got stuff to do" and your anxiety recedes. You say to yourself: "I got screwed around at work, woo woo, guess what - I Iived to tell the tale" and your anxiety has a pout. Better still - and this is cool - anxiety cannot co-exist with laughter and sexual arousal. You watch your favourite comedy on TV, or sneak off to bed early with your partner and Mr. Anxiety has to put a damp cloth on his head. Negative thoughts and ruminations lead directly to anxiety. As a sophisticated psycho-clinician I get rid of my bad thoughts by keeping an elastic band around my wrist and thwacking myself every time my mind wanders into negative space.

Throw the kitchen sink at it. There are some excellent workbooks in your local bookstore on managing anxiety and panic. For forty bucks you will have dozens of practical and helpful ideas. It will be ongoing work but you will get results. There are some easy to use assessments on the net (eg The Beck Anxiety Inventory) that will measure your anxiety and demonstrate the positive changes that comes when you throw your heart into change. Here are some effective approaches. Again, this is the short list. There are many more possibilities but these happen to be the things I tried:

1. Threatened people never relax. So achieving deep relaxation is healing. Try Mindfulness, Bodytalk, Reiki, Massage, Qui Gung, or Tai Chi.

2. Also in the Eastern tradition, acupuncture can help heal and quiet your body.

3. Workbooks on depression and anxiety with a Cognitive Behavioural bias (most of them) will teach you how to do a thought record to understand and modify your negative thinking.

4. Hypnotherapy is a powerful and natural tool for restoration of composure and calm. Any good hypnotherapist will be able to teach you self-hypnosis so you can achieve deep relaxation at home.

5. Exposure therapy is a time tested approach to addressing your fears and re-engaging the world.

6. If you can drink moderately, throw in a scotch. (I did say these were things I had tried)

By all means use your doctor, a therapist or medication if required. Sometimes people find themselves in a well so deep only meds can get them out. Do whatever it takes to feel healthy and well.

And don't forget to have fun.

Next: Thinking Makes It So

5 Part Series by Richard Schwindt:
Getting Help To Come Back From The Dead
Seven Principles For Recovery
Dealing With Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Thinking Makes It So

Richard Schwindt M.S.W.,R.S.W. is a social worker in private practice in Kingston, Ontario. His website is


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