View Full Version : Extreme Anxiety over Specific Tasks - Advice Wanted!

12-15-2011, 03:28 PM
Hey Everyone,

I will start of with saying that I am new here, and I will be extremely grateful for anyone who perseveres through this long post.


For the last two or three years, any time I sit down to begin a programming (computer programming -- writing code to make stuff) assignment, I am overcome with emotion. I immediately feel overwhelmed, panicked, my thoughts race, I cry, my hands shake, I start near hyperventilating, and become unable to logically function. I ultimately stop work on the project or put it off just to make the anxiety stop. Since my classes have deadlines for assignments, this does not work indefinitely, and is impacting my emotional health and actual grades.

The intense panic fades once I commit to stopping the work, but the general anxiousness and emotional exhaustion linger for hours.

It was not always this way, my first year was fine.

Background: Some Context

I am a computer science major, so this panic/avoidance cycle is a common occurrence. It is worth mentioning that I chose this major because it was a subject that was interesting and challenging. While I can excel in many areas, computer science felt the most intellectually stimulating for me.

The most frustrating part is that I know how to approach a programming problem-- I even help my peers get going when they are stuck. It is just problem solving. Analyze what you are being asked to do, think about it until you understand the requirements, and create a plan of action. Start by doing the simplest aspect then slowly build from there-- I just cannot practice what I preach.

I feel I am an inferior programmer, that I am terrible at it, and when I am panicking my thoughts are of the nature that, "I don't know how to do this. I can't figure this out. I am not good enough to get this finished. I don't have the ability to do this." My fiance, also a programmer, is very supportive but I just cannot seem to truly hear him.

My Cycle

I procrastinate my projects because I want to avoid subjecting myself to the panic and feelings of just being stupid. Then I worry about the due dating looming over my head. When I cannot wait any longer I begin, I try to start. I go through my panic, but cannot really afford to stop. Then I get more anxious because now I am not working fast enough. The result is a lot of time staring at my monitor so overwhelmed that I just do not know what to do with myself.


Does anyone have advice for overcoming intense crippling anxiety that comes from an activity you have to do? I let the panic overwhelm me to the point I cannot function, and it is ruining my life. My own willpower is not enough, and I am at a loss.

I have extreme debilitating panic attacks any time I think about starting or start programming projects for my classes. These stem from lack of faith and confidence in my abilities-- others tell me I am entirely capable of the work. Since avoidance or removing myself from the situation is incompatible with deadlines, does anyone have advice for helping me overcome it in the moment?

12-20-2011, 01:08 AM
I have a lot of the same symptoms that your explaining, I have generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. I've been going to therapy for 4 yrs now and im just starting to get a hold of my condition. In sessions my theripst would suggest I use a coping skill of my choice. What really seems to help alot is focusing on any object or multiple objects and just saying what they are for example: One day I had to go to an apointment but the bus was late nd that set off my panic so i used my coping skill. I looked at the trees and said trees in my head, then i looked at the cars and so on and so forth. This coping skill gets your mind to focus on 1 thought that isnt stressful so you can correctly calm down. I hope this helps if not my theripst gave me coping skills work sheets nd if you want i could type them up here for you