Offering CBT for Panic Attacks, Phobias, and Treatments for GAD was created by anxiety treatment expert David Mellinger, MSW (RESUME). Click on the links to learn more about anxiety, worry, phobias, and obsessions and compulsions (OCD). Continue viewing this website and find out more on CBT for panic attacks, panic disorder, and treatments for GAD.  Learn about sticky thinking – repetitive negative thinking or  the tendency to worry ourselves sick, or about the role of sticky thinking in both depression and anxiety.  Find out how mindfulness and acceptance serve a vital role of promoting well-being and health in modern-day psychotherapies.


Anxiety is our emotion when we’re faced with a threatening or frightening situation, event, problem, or issue; while panic disturbingly adds waves of nerve-wracking stress symptoms to the mix. Anxiety and panic disorders painfully put the squeeze on our emotional feelings: They inhibit our ability to achieve what we care about the most, provoke avoidance when we feel trepidation; and constrict our richest, most vital emotions. But please be aware: Anxiety and panic disorders are very treatable.

Panic Attacks

Are seemingly uncontrollable bouts of intense physical stress symptoms, accompanied by high anxiety about what the symptoms could mean or lead to. Anxiety attacks are panics with a lesser sense of chaos or being out of control. Panic disorder is a condition consisting of a pattern of panic attacks along with daunting apprehensions about coping with potential physical or psychological harm. Discover how you can cope and relieve panic attacks with CBT.

I’ve developed a swift treatment for panic disorder which I utilize with my clients. I’ll share it with you now. “Urgent Care for Panic” involves reducing the disturbing power of the physical and emotional feelings, becoming able to realize that you aren’t in jeopardy, and engaging specific skills for working with your mind to gain the upper hand over panic.” It takes valor to face your fears, but this treatment can sometimes turn the tide for panic attack sufferers. See the article “Urgent Care for Panic

How Phobias Develop

Phobias are learned fears. If a neutral object or situation – like the presence of a dog, driving or riding in a car or an elevator or on an airplane, going to a dentist, or going out on a date – becomes connected or associated with an aversive experience, the person to whom this occurs literally learns to fear recurrence of the frightening event. If a dog bites them, for instance, or if they have a bad experience with a dentist’s drill or are involved in a car crash – people vulnerable to phobias may become apprehensive and feel frenzied sensations of panic and a frightening sense of losing control when they are in similar situations again or even think about them.  Neutral situations, events, or activities have become “phobic objects” – they evoke fear automatically. They’ve learned to associate fear with dogs, driving in a car, or going to the dentist.

Our immediate reaction to aversive experiences is fear which occurs at the very moment that bad things are happeningThe “training” that engenders mental association with all sorts of phobic objects is known as fear conditioning. The sense of threat or menace that is felt at the possibility of harm or damage is anxiety, as well as negative expectancy about the feared object and emotional and behavioral avoidance – escaping or staying away from aversive feelings or dreaded situations. The journey in our mental “time machines” from the aversive event to the imagined, threatening future that’s triggered when we see a dog or think about driving in a car is known as fear of fear or a phobic reaction.

Some fears are hard-wired within us, perhaps because throughout human evolutionary history people’s well-being and survival have been menaced by environmental dangers and predators.  These are known as “biologically prepared” fears.  Because our ancestors were very vulnerable to harm in ancient days when many predators with better night vision, agility and senses of smell had unhealthy interest in us, humans are born being prone to fear of the dark, or being trapped or cornered, and of being attacked by snakes or bees.

Despite our biologically prepared and conditioned fears, and the just plain terrible misfortunes that befall us, with our capacity for profound understanding of the hazards that face us, the courage we must muster up and that infuses us when it’s vital for us to cope, and our joy, strength, and love of being alive, we stride forth to face what awaits us tomorrow.

Exposure therapy is the Blue Ribbon treatment for phobias.  To learn much more, go to High Octane Phobia Treatment and Enhanced Exposure Therapy.

Fear of Flying

Q: My anxiety is for air travel.  What could cause me to be afraid of flying?

A:  Fear of flying is mainly anticipatory anxiety – active worry about the future.  In our minds, we “ride the time machine”:  We envision boarding the airplane that will transport us to our destination; but then we become afraid that a catastrophe will occur during any or all of seven different events that normally or very likely will occur during a flight.

  • When the flight attendant turns that big wheel and seals the plane, many people with this phobia feel trapped.
  • The plane completes its leisurely taxiing tour of the airport and is cleared for takeoff.  Suddenly, the huge jet engines are gunned and roaring at speeds of ninety miles an hour, and many people’s panicky feelings go right through the roof.
  • While the plane is in flight, many fearful flyers become acutely anxious about squeezing through to the aisle and the long walk to the tiny bathroom.  How often they plead with Mother Nature, “If only I can hold it til we land!”
  • Glancing out the window and viewing the landscape below from seven miles up in the sky.
  • The sharp, loud, mechanical thud of the emerging landing gear spikes a number of people’s anxiety.
  • Finally, landing and feeling trapped by the crush of people between you – the really really frightened person – and the exit.

These anxieties can lead to feeling panic, a sense of being immobilized, and urges to avoid flying.  All are treatable:  through psychological treatment they can be overcome, and we can gain the upper hand over fear of flying.

David Mellinger has successfully helped many hundreds of people overcome fear of flying and fear of freeway driving.  Come do therapy with David Mellinger at his office in Agoura Hills.

Conditions with Sticky Thinking

Active worry, bouts of self-blaming, obsession, and brooding rumination . . . all of these can be sticky thinking – bursts or clouds of negative, repetitive, complicated, unproductive thought that are tough to stop once they’ve begun.  Even worse – the more we try to control sticky thinking, the more anxious, down, or riled up we’re likely to get.  Sticky thinking plays a major role in OCD and often in GAD, as well as unhealthy worry and phobias, and can draw us down into anxiety and depression.  It can govern our bad moods:  In fact, our bad moods may actually lead us into sticky thinking.  Therefore, the most effective therapies for conditions with sticky thinking may either work principally with disturbing cognitions (like CBT) or upsetting feelings (therapy focused on emotions).

Worry and Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Worry is a common, sometimes helpful, way to think about problems, threats, or danger. Sometimes our everyday worry or negative thinking starts lasting too long or happening too often, perhaps even to the point where it becomes difficult to control. Also known as “going down the rabbit hole (with apologies to our cute, pink-nosed friends), this becomes evident as a problem if you wind up devoting a lot of energy to “sticky thinking” – dwelling on worries, rumination, or barraging yourself with self-criticism or blaming .

Do you become so uptight  that you sometimes feel gripped with anxiety? People with consuming worries about everyday matters whose physical tension becomes elevated during episodes of worry may be suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Through effective, specialized psychotherapy,  focused on:

  • Relief of stress and tension
  • The depths of our emotions bound up in the high anxiety
  • Heightening awareness of the things  we care about the most, and
  • Getting to know the quiet strength within us all

women and men are enabled to overcome their anxiety and the tendency to engage in excessive sticky thinking and  vanquish GAD.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Persons with OCD dwell on highly disturbing thoughts or mental images that spin through their minds, intensifying their anxiety.  They may engage in compulsive behaviors or actions, as well, in an effort to control their overwhelming anxiety. OCD compulsions never feel pleasant and may even feel like as if they’re driven by something outside oneself.  OCD is a difficult challenge to deal with on one’s own, but is very effectively treated through Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.