Anxiety: When a Useful Emotion Becomes a Problem

I was shopping at the mall. I felt good. I was looking at some clothes on a rack, when suddenly, without warning and without any reason, I felt terrified. My heart was pounding. I was sweating. I thought I was having a heart attack.” “I’m okay in most situations. But my job requires me to make speeches or presentations to large groups of people. I get nervous for hours before one of these events, even though I try not to think about it. When it’s time to speak, my hands start to shake. I start to perspire. I’m afraid people will notice, and that makes me even more nervous.” “I worry all the time. I worry about how I performed yesterday. I worry about what I have to do tomorrow. It interferes with my sleep. Then I worry about how I’ll be able to perform without enough sleep. If I get plenty of sleep, I worry that I’m sleeping too much.” “I wash my hands at least 30 time a day. If I don’t, I feel like they’re dirty, like I’ve picked up germs. I know this is silly. My hands are dry and irritated from all the washing. But Read More

Using Your Experience of Anxiety to Reduce Future Symptoms

Using Your Experience of Anxiety to Reduce Future Symptoms Overview: As you are experiencing stress at lower levels (see Stress scale) you can use current symptoms to create behavioral change. Understanding the original confusion behind your stress response is a key to creating better resilience for future stress of the same type. Bettina is struggling with her job because she is overworked. When she can stop and look for the cause she realizes that she actually volunteers to do more than her share. Her old identity is the “helpful child” to her overworked parents. Self-investigation functions as an educational path for change of the stress response in a pivotal moment. This moment is created by catching anxiety in action. When Bettina is at the office tomorrow she has to catch her response to help. When she does this she understands a second response; she is afraid that they won’t think she is valuable. The mechanisms for neurological plasticity seem to be the action of the brain in response to an experience. In this case choose the largest most dramatic reaction to stress you had in the past month to examine. Pay attention to the small signals as well as the Read More

Creating Resilience – Understanding your brains reaction to stress

Creating Resilience – Understanding your brains reaction to stressChronic Anxiety causes changes in the part of the brain known as the Amygdala. Your daily dose of stress also causes fatigue in the Medial Prefrontal cortex. This information should sound frightening. So now that you are worried about all the things you usually are, you can add on worrying about what the worry is doing to your brain! Goal: Creating resilience to stress The good news from research is also that the brain has something called neural plasticity. Humans have ability to rethink and re experience the events which occur so you can mold the brain back into pretty good shape with new experiences. New Behavioral therapy is based on understanding the adaptation (s) that occurred due to stressful experiences and creation of new relevant experiences to the same stressor. In this treatment a combination of, developmental, interpersonal, social situations, or thinking patterns creates a platform for the reengineering of current behavioral symptoms. Development of your response to stress was happening from birth till around age 21. Even now your style of stress response can be changed but only when you do something different in the moment when stress is triggered. Read More

The ABC’s of Psychotherapy

Deciding to pursue therapy, finding a therapist, making that first call and keeping that appointment are, from my perspective, huge and courageous steps. Moreover, these initial steps are usually taken partially in the dark, so to speak. You do not know this person, you have no clue as to whether they can help you, and here you are deciding to lay out for them intimate details about your personal life and struggles! People typically have all sorts of questions and concerns in beginning psychotherapy. Here I will attempt to address some of these. Your Passion for Health: I touch on courage, above, first because it is a combination of your courage and desire to be your most healthy self that are the biggest indicators of success in psychotherapy. If you think of psychotherapy as a journey to become your healthiest self, your courage and passion for health can best be understood as the gasoline in your car. This is not to say that you even need a clear picture of your desired destination or goals; in starting psychotherapy, it is not uncommon for people to feel confused about why they have even come. They might just have a strong sense Read More

Anxiety: Friend or Foe?

Anxiety: Friend or Foe?  We have all known the experience of being anxious, worried, and even panicked. While these symptoms can become overwhelming and debilitating, the good news is, generally speaking, anxiety is not difficult to treat. Let me explain. No one likes to be anxious. I am here to help you appreciate your anxiety as a very good friend who is trying to call your attention to a source of inner turmoil. Typically, anxiety is not difficult to treat because it is only a symptom. Its exploration in the course of psychotherapy offers clues as to the source of the problem, and once that cause is understood, and the work of resolving the underlying cause begins, the anxiety tends to remit. If you are feeling anxious, panicky or consumed with worry to the point of not being able to focus, concentrate, sleep, or comfortably interact with others, please don’t get caught up in what I call identifying with a diagnosis such as “anxiety disorder” or “panic disorder”. Diagnoses are merely tools mental health professionals use to describe a cluster of symptoms. Symptoms of anxiety are much like a fever, which we know indicates that we have an infection of Read More