The Dare Response Steps for Reducing Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Barry McDonagh’s book Dare: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks is one of the most well known and highest rated self-help books for anxiety.

Barry has lived experience of anxiety and used his insights to develop The DARE Technique – a 4-step, easy-to-follow process for effectively reducing anxiety and panic attacks.

The DARE Response Steps

  • DEFUSE: Respond to your anxiety by saying “so what?” “who cares?” or whatever phrase you prefer for acknowledging you're not in any real danger.
  • ALLOW: Accept the anxiety and allow it to manifest in whatever way it wishes. Become the observer of your anxiety – notice it with curiosity, welcome it, and allow it to stay.
  • RUN TOWARDS: Run towards your anxiety by telling yourself you are in fact excited by your anxious thoughts and feelings.
  • ENGAGE: Your anxious mind might still be clinging onto whatever it can to keep you in an anxious, panicky state, even after completing the previous steps. To avoid this, you need to engage with something else that takes up your full attention.


Why The DARE Response Works

As Barry explains, “The idea here is to stop your brain from wrongly interpreting the sensations of anxiety as a threat and instead to trick your anxious mind into an excited state, the same kind of arousal you might feel if you were riding a roller coaster.”

Crucially, when you focus on allowing anxiety and running towards it, you’re signaling to your brain that you’re safe.

Fearing your physical sensations and focusing on the 'what ifs?' and worst case scenarios does the opposite. This kind of negative thinking sends ‘danger signals' to your brain, which intensify and prolong anxiety.

The DARE response is a clever way of combining cognitive restructuring, expansion and cognitive distraction methods.

And it works – as you can see from the many 5 star Amazon reviews!

A user of The DARE Response told us how much it worked for them:

“I bought the book and honestly I just needed the first two steps. Once I practiced the “So what if I’m having an anxiety attack? I’ll just let it happen,” I got over it real quick. I’d guess there was a 90% reduction in my anxiety after about two months, and I never have the full-blown panic attacks anymore. I just don’t think about it anymore. I live my life like a normal person and don’t worry about anxiety.”

Listen to Dare for Free on Audible

Dare is available to listen to on Audible, and you can access a 30 day free trial here.

Easily cancel your subscription if you decide Audible isn't for you.

The DARE App

Barry offers an accompanying app with several free audio recordings to help you ride the waves of anxiety.

Here's an example of the audio from Help! I’m having a panic attack:

“I know that right now you’re feeling so uncomfortable and scared as that sense of panic and dread hangs over you. But don’t worry – I’m going to talk you through this. You’re going to be absolutely fine. You’ve nothing to fear. You will push through this. We’re going to do this together – you and me, right now. You see, anxiety arrives in waves, and your wave of anxiety is going to peak and subside. Trust me on that. The wave of panic you’re feeling right now isn’t going to last forever. It’s not going to cause you to pass out. It’s not going to stop you from breathing. It’s not going to cause a heart attack. Your body is so well able to handle this. Think of all the panic attacks you’ve had in the past – you’ve survived 100% of them.”

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