1. 7 Signs You Have an Anxiety Disorder

    January 6, 2014

    7 Signs You Have an Anxiety Disorder

    It’s pretty normal to get nervous on occasion, as anxiety certainly can come when you find yourself in a new situation or having to speak to a crowd.  For some individuals, though, anxiety can become a hindrance to everyday tasks and can take over their lives.

    Maybe you struggle with anxiety more often than an average person or the intensity seems to get a bit out of control at times.  How can you tell if your anxiety is normal or has crossed over into an anxiety disorder?  It’s not always easy to tell, but there are certain signs that will help you identify where you are on the scale of anxiety levels.

    If you happen to experience some of the following signs, you may want to contact a health professional (such as psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist) to discuss your anxiety and how you can manage what you are contending with.

    1. Irrational or extreme fears.  If you are extremely fearful of something or a situation, you may be dealing with irrational thoughts, which can lead to an anxiety disorder called a phobia.  If that phobia disrupts your life in ways that you are not satisfied with, it is time to face that phobia and work on overcoming that irrational fear.
    2. Extreme worry.  Excessive worry is a very common characteristic of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). If you are worrying about all sorts of things most days of the week and your life is suffering in one way or another, you may be suffering from such. It is normal to worry on occasion about something, but when the emotions get out of whack from excessive worry and it is affecting you and others negatively, it’s time to take an honest look at the cause and check into treatments.
    3. Excessive self-consciousness.  Sometimes everyone is self-conscious, but if your world starts revolving around anxiety at the thought of being in public, talking to anyone, or eating in front of people, you may have a social anxiety disorder.  Do you find yourself sweating profusely, getting a stomach ache, feeling nauseated, or stumbling all over your words while being around people?  Feeling that eyes are always on you and being super self-conscious makes for a stressful and fearful life, so if this sounds like you, you could have an anxiety disorder.
    4. Inability to sleep.  Many people have sleep problems, but if you are tossing and turning every night full of anxious thoughts and concerns racing through your mind, you may have an anxiety disorder.
    5. Digestive issues.  Anxiety certainly affects the physical body. In fact, many indigestion problems are directly linked to chronic anxiety and stress.  If you have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, an ulcer, or other digestive issues, you may be struggling with an anxiety disorder.
    6. Feelings of panic.  Extreme feelings of panic and fear are termed panic attacks. If you find yourself suddenly gripped with paralyzing fear, a feeling of helplessness, intense emptiness feelings, racing heart, chest pain, and breathing problems, chances are you are suffering from a panic attack and require some help in order to manage such.
    7. Compulsiveness. One anxiety disorder that not many people are aware of in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  The anxious and compulsive thoughts that go along with this can make a person feel like he or she is going crazy. For example, if you have to have every item on your desk in a certain spot and get highly upset when someone moves something- to the point of yelling- you may have an issue with OCD.

    These signs are indicators that something is not quite on target with the way you process and manage stress and anxiety. Treatment for such includes a combination psychotherapy (e.g. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or CBT), changes in lifestyle (i.e. exercise, yoga, meditation), and healthy diet. Anti-anxiety medications may also be needed to manage severe cases of anxiety. Many people who struggle with anxiety disorders lead happy, healthy, and relaxed lives due to a variety of treatment options.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/spaceodissey/2580085025/

     


  2. Positive Thinking – Stopping Anxious Thoughts

    December 4, 2013

    Positive Thinking – Stopping Anxious Thoughts

    Positive thinking is a great way to combat anxiety and the anxious thoughts that go along with it. Although positive thinking may be hard for several people with anxiety, but it will help to take your mind off of the situation that causes you to be anxious, which will obviously reduce your anxiety.

    Reassurance To Your Body

    One of the biggest ways that positive thinking helps  is by providing reassurance to your body. This works by telling your body that everything will be okay. Knowing that everything will be okay causes anxiety being lifted from the body. This helps your body build confidence in yourself, which will help you in your current situation as well as future situations.

     

    Providing your body with reassurance to lift anxiety by positive thinking is extremely hard, especially in cases of severe anxiety. Positive thinking is always a hard thing to do. It gets even harder if you don’t have confidence in yourself or you feel like there is no way you will make it through. It may also be hard if you feel like something could go wrong that will mess everything up. However, you must try your hardest to look at the positives in any situation.

     

    A Wish Has The Possibility of Coming True

    “Wishful thinking” is usually a term used to define a wish that will never come true. However, this is usually not the case when it comes to positive thinking to help anxiety. Positive thinking to help anxiety is usually reassuring your body that things will not go wrong (as stated above). Positive thinking may often be put of as “wishful thinking” to those who struggle with anxiety. Many people that try to reassure themselves that everything will turn out okay begin to think that things will not be okay, and that it is only a wish that things will be okay. However, you should combat this feeling and remember that your mind is tricking you into worrying. You should try your hardest to convince your brain that everything will turn out okay.

     

    Studies have shown that those people who think positively tend to go through life in a happier mood. People tend to be happier if they think positively. This simply means that if you think positively about situations, you will be happier in life as well as combat your anxiety. Thinking positively will help you be a better person in life altogether. It will help you go through life in a happier mood, and you may feel like walking around and smiling at people as you’re walking through the grocery store. This is simply because it is a great feeling to be happy, and when you’re happy and care-free, you want to spread the happiness to all of the other people in your life – whether you know them or not.

     

    In conclusion, it is a great idea to think positively. Not only will it help you combat your anxiety and provide reassurance to yourself, but it will also help you be happier in life. If you are happy, you probably will want to spread the love with everybody else. The world will be a happier place if people would think positively more often. Not only does positive thinking help to improve your anxiety, but it also helps to improve your mood. It will make you a happier person and allow you to control your anxiety at the same time. It is a great idea to try your hardest to think positively, as it will improve yourself as a person, and it may even have an effect on others around you.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindseykone/5362917664


  3. Using EMDR to Treat Anxiety

    November 30, 2013

    Using EMDR to Treat Anxiety

    by Dr. Wilfried Busse, PhD

    Your pulse is racing and your palms are sweaty. You are having trouble keeping your breathing steady. Your brain is misfiring, making you think that you may be having a heart attack. The chances are, if you have not experienced this for yourself, someone close to you has. Did you know that there are an alarming number of people who reach out to emergency officials for what is commonly known as an anxiety, not a heart, attack?

     

    Anxiety is a culmination of emotions usually associated with worry, fear and/or feeling severely uncomfortable in certain situations. Some people freeze, while others panic. However, only a select few experience an entire breakdown that requires medication to ease their nerves. Anxiety is now a major epidemic in today’s society. It makes one question what kinds of triggers set off an anxiety attack, and what kinds of methods of relief outside of medication?

     

    Take some time to reflect on your life where your body reacted with any of the above symptoms. Perhaps it was when you had to give an oral presentation at school or work. How many of us have experienced test anxiety where our minds went blank or were preoccupied with fear with worry? Other anxiety triggers involve social settings or feeling overwhelmed with financial hardship or medical processes.

     

    Anxiety can be crippling for many people. Those with academic or work-related anxiety frequently find themselves suffering from failing grades or a decreased work performance, even though they are good students or valuable employees. Some people with severe anxiety cannot hold down a job or successfully complete school. Anxiety has the potential to destroy lives, rendering them unable to function in everyday life activities. Simply put, anxiety is a form of trauma.

     

    Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers is a book that came out a few years ago.  The main plot explored how zebras have finely tuned brains that allow them to sniff out danger in the wild and to get a jump start on evading a predator.  Their brains, however, are not complex enough to “remember” the event and “interpret” its “meaning.”  Therefore, they do not worry about it once the danger is past.  What we can take away from this is since they do not worry, they do not get ulcers.

     

    With many of us, it is different.  We remember a dangerous or traumatic event and may develop anticipatory anxiety about it happening again.  Our nervous systems become overly sensitized to “expecting the worst,” and we may “see” the worst when there is no real threat.  Our brains become like an overly sensitive motion detector installed over the front entrance to our house. Just like how a light breeze or the motion of a fine rain drizzle can set off the motion detector, our bodies may react in similar ways even when in both scenarios, there is not a real intruder. When expecting and worrying about the “worst happening,” our brains go into a state of “fight or flight.”  In this state, a cascade of physiological responses is set off to protect us from danger.  Blood flow goes directly to the muscles to prepare an individual for “fight or flight” and away from the front part of their brain, which allow them to make a more calm and objective assessment of the perceived threat.  When fight or flight is set off prematurely, the body may feel like it is spinning out of control. It may feel like a panic or anxiety attack.

     

    Psychiatrists and trauma therapists have been trying to find the most effective treatments for anxiety.  One of the types of therapy becoming more common with anxiety treatment is known as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).  A body of research continues to confirm its effectiveness.  EMDR is typically used with patients who suffer from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) as well as other types of trauma. It has also been found to be effective in addressing anxiety or panic episodes, especially those that were precipitated by a traumatic event.

     

    How does EMDR work to address the debilitating effects of panic or anxiety?  At the risk of oversimplifying, EMDR calms the nervous system by desensitizing the fight or flight response.  In fight or flight, the front part of the brain is “hijacked.”  Remember that the front part of the brain allows us to analyze a situation objectively and realistically and to take appropriate action.  When “hijacked” by the fear center of our brains (fight or flight), the frontal lobes tend to be biased by distorted perceptions by sensing danger when none is present.  EMDR calms the fear center and allows more realistic perceptions to take hold and allows more access to positive memories of how we acted in past stressful situations without going into a panic state.

     

    Therapists using EMDR may solely use this technique or combine it with other forms of therapy to help people, at the very least, cope with anxiety. Any tools that anxiety-sufferers utilize will help them regain control over their lives because the concept of control is highly important to them. If you are ready to stop the health-limiting effects of anxiety, you can regain control of your life by seeking assistance from a licensed psychiatrist or trauma-specialized therapist.

     

    Author Bio: Dr. Wilfried Busse is driven by evidence-based therapy methods and integrates these methods into his practice for new or current patients dealing with trauma, PTSD, depression, grief and ADHD. Located in central Maryland, specifically Bethesda, Dr. Busse’s office reaches a wide variety of communities for those seeking help. Dr. Wilfried Busse can also offer alternative forms of therapy, including phone or Skype® calls, for your convenience. Do not let anxiety control your life any further. Please contact us at 301-656-0701 today for your initial appointment in assessing your anxiety.

    Image Credit: www.flickr.com/photos/thelotuscarroll/6847105674

     

     


  4. What is Panic Disorder?

    November 23, 2013

    What is Panic Disorder?

    Have you ever experienced sudden attacks of fear and uneasiness? Have you ever felt physical symptoms such as sweating, chills and a pounding heart without warning? Have you ever believed in a stressful situation that at any moment you are going to die? When these symptoms have no relation to the environment or context, the cause might be a panic attack. When these attacks repeatedly happen to a person, they might be suffering from a psychological condition known as panic disorder.
    Panic disorder is a sub-type of anxiety disorder.  The reactions of a person suffering from a panic disorder are different from our normal reactions to everyday stressful occurrences. This disorder manifests a severe form of anxiety; the symptoms are sudden and intense. The comorbidity of panic attacks with other anxiety disorders has made it difficult to diagnose. The latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), which mental health professionals use to diagnose patients, lists the following symptoms and criteria of panic disorder (DSM-5, American Psychiatric Association, 2013):

    1. Recurrent unexpected panic attacks

    2. At least one of the attacks has been followed by 1 month (or more) of one or both of the following:

    –  Persistent concern or worry about additional panic attacks or their consequences (e.g., losing control, having a heart attack, going crazy).

    –  Significant maladaptive change in behavior related to the attacks (e.g., behaviors designed to avoid having panic attacks, such as avoidance of exercise or unfamiliar situations).

    3. The panic attacks are not restricted to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., an illegal drug or a medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., hyperthyroidism, cardiopulmonary disorders).

    4. The panic attacks are not restricted to the symptoms of another mental disorder, such as Social Phobia (e.g., in response to feared social situations), Specific Phobia (e.g., in response to a circumscribed phobic object or situation), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (e.g., in response to dirt in someone with an obsession about contamination), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (e.g., in response to stimuli associated with a traumatic event), or Separation Anxiety Disorder (e.g., in response to being away from home or close relatives).

    Panic attacks are mostly prompted by situations that are perceived to be very stressful, such as speaking in front of a crowd.  A sense of panic quickly overwhelms the victim and the immediate response is to completely remove them from the situation. Chances of experiencing a panic attack increase if person is away from home and out of their comfort zone. Some attacks may last longer than others, but in most cases they reach the peak symptoms in 10 minutes and return to normal in 20 to 30 minutes. Unfortunately, it is not possible to predict when it will happen again, but we know that the chances to have another attack are greater for people who have already had a panic attack . Women are also at a greater risk for having panic attacks, and most of the cases have supported the fact that it usually occurs during early adulthood.  Depressions, drug abuse or suicidal attempts may go hand-in-hand with panic disorder.

    The reasons behind panic disorders are currently unknown, but there are several potentially contributing factors.  These include genetics, as well as with major life changes such as entering college, joining the professional workplace, and any life stressor like the death of loved one, loss of major possessions or marital problems.  It can also be the result of traumatic or embarrassing experiences that occurred at some time during their lives.  The mere thought or recall of those memories can trigger an attack.

    The positive: panic disorder is treatable. Anti-anxiety medications are not the only option. Cognitive behavioral therapy has proven to be the most effective therapy for treating panic disorder.  It focuses on changing the irrational thought patterns in the patients mind that are instigating the attacks. Exposure therapy, group therapy, self-help techniques, and alternative treatments such as acupuncture are also being used for treatment of panic disorder.

    The suffering is not only experienced by the patient; family members, friends and many others that are exposed to the panic disorder suffer from its negative effects. But, they can also be the best source of emotional support, understanding, hope and recovery. It is not easy to deal with a family member or friend who has a panic disorder.  However, one of the most difficult challenges can also yield the greatest rewards.  By simply listening and supporting the person suffering with this disorder, everyone can start down the path to recovery.

    References:

    1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Arlington American Psychiatric Publishing.

     

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/challengeconvention/8106671053

     


  5. Different Types Of Anxiety Disorders

    April 17, 2013

    anxiety disorders

    by Tsvetan Petrov

    Everyone feels anxiety at certain point in their life. It’s completely natural to feel anxiety in challenging or dangerous times. That can come when a person is just feeling uncomfortable or in real threatening danger. Spending too much time in that state of anxiety can mean that there is an underlying disorder. Different things can cause these anxiety disorders and each one has their one particular effects.

     Anxiety Disorders – Most Common

     

    Generalized Anxiety Disorder

    A person that consistently feels anxiety when there is no practical reason to remain in that state might have a generalized anxiety disorder. When a person with this disorder is asked why they’re feeling that way, they won’t be able to answer clearly. The typical bout will take around 6 months. It’s particularly common in women. The anxiety doesn’t go away and continues to eat away at the people suffering from generalized anxiety disorders. That can lead to a number of medical concerns like insomnia, heart palpitations, dizziness, and headaches.

     Phobia’s

    People with a phobia don’t have consistent anxiety without a trigger. They typically have a very specific trigger for their anxiety. They develop an overbearing fear of something or some situation. That fear can be something close to reasonable or something completely unnecessary depending on the severity. Whenever that fear begins to kick in, the person suffering may experience strong feelings of fear. That includes trouble breathing, heart palpitations, nausea, and shaking. Some of the most popular phobia’s that people have are blood, small areas, animals, and heights. Phobia’s can lead people to make poor decisions in an attempt to escape a high anxiety situation.

    Panic disorder

    People suffering from Panic disorders or agoraphobia will unexpectedly suffer from massive bouts of anxiety called panic attacks. They’ll often include chest pain, dizzy spells, fear, shaking, and discomfort with being alone. Many panic attacks are completely irrational and sufferers often even know that is the case. Often people will go out of their way to not be alone or in a public situation for that reason. Panic attacks can be minor or severe enough that someone may cause self harm.

    Social Anxiety

    Social anxiety is a phobia of social situations. People suffering from social phobia will often suffer symptoms like a panic attack when they’re exposed to public situations. They may become dizzy, shake, feel short of breath, and they may even have heart palpitations. This social anxiety can occur with strangers or close friends. It’s often most severe when the person becomes the center of attention of the group.

    OCD – Obsessive-compulsive Disorder

    OCD is an anxiety disorder that is caused by an obsessive feeling or thought. They often will manage their own anxiety by doing repetitive tasks that don’t allow anxiety to slip in throughout the day. One common example is someone that is OCD about cleanliness. They can feel anxiety at the sight of a little bit of a problem. That will lead to the person cleaning and reordering continuously without any logical end in sight.

    Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

    When a person suffers through a particularly damaging event in their life, they may end up suffering from recurring bouts of that anxiety and stress. That is Post-traumatic stress disorder. It can often be caused by a simple similarity between the damaging event and what is happening (familiar object or person.) The person may suddenly fall back into reliving the events that they suffered through. This can lead to panic attacks, loss of control, and crying. Often people suffering will have less obvious symptoms like avoidance of certain situations and trouble sleeping. Post traumatic stress disorder can start instantly after the event or it can start decades later.

    Anxiety disorders need to be understood to be treated effectively in a healthy way. Many of the methods used to work with an anxiety disorder, not only control the symptoms, but also aim to strengthen the natural mechanisms. A person must be diagnosed and treated accordingly to eliminate the anxiety that they feel.

     

    Author Bio: Tsvetan Petrov is the owner of the famous blog Get Holistic Health.

    Image Credit: Daniel Horacio Agostini


  6. Curing the Curse of Depression and Anxiety- Could Hypnotherapy Help You?

    April 14, 2013

     

    Depressed girl

    Image Credit: Coralie

    ‘Snap out of it’, ‘pull yourself together’, ‘look on the bright side’…all common but misguided words of advice from well meaning friends and family once you’ve mustered up the courage to let them know you’re suffering with depression or anxiety. If only it were that simple eh. It is not uncommon for someone suffering from anxiety to also suffer from depression and vice versa. Almost half of people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with anxiety disorder. Experiencing constant anxiety leads to feelings of hopelessness and misery which undermines a person’s ability to cope with everyday life leading to depression. Although it probably feels like it, you are not alone. Many people suffer silently and secretly. According to statistics released by the NHS about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men will experience a severe episode of depression at some point in their lives and it is a growing problem. The World Health Organisation predicts that within 20 years depression will affect more people than any other health problem. Unfortunately during depression the natural desire to make your self feel better in the present often leads you to do precisely those things which perpetuate and even exacerbate the problem. For example, avoidance tactics such as the person with agoraphobia staying at home to prevent the possibility of an anxiety attack. This allows the illness to control you. The simple act of seeking treatment can enable you to begin regaining that control.

    What Does Hypnotherapy Do to Help?

     

    It was reported in the press recently that in 2011 more than 43 million prescriptions for anti-depressants were handed out but instead of improving the situation the report shows that the side effects of these pills can actually make depression worse. Pills don’t address the fact that depression tends to recur once a person has suffered it once, it recurs because they become stuck in a pattern of negative thought, and this negative thinking links a person’s self esteem with events outside of their control. To make permanent changes the root of your negative thinking need to be addressed, to do this you need to tackle the deep inner causes buried at the back of your mind, in other words your subconscious. Whilst you are in a state of deep relaxation you are more open to suggestion and the use of your unfettered imagination whilst you are under hypnosis can help you cement the behaviour changes necessary to free you from negative thoughts. General life stresses and how we deal with them are major factors in determining who will suffer from depression. A life event doesn’t necessarily have to be unpleasant to result in anxiety or depression. For example, marriage, moving home or the birth of a child can all trigger anxiety and depression. Certain memories or pent up emotions that have been pushed to the back of your mind can subconsciously inform your reactions to such events. Hypnotherapy can help in how you formulate responses to general life stresses and help you in overcoming anxiety by helping you learn how to halt excessive worry and fear in its tracks before it spirals out of control.

    Is There Any Real Evidence that it Works?

     

    In 2007 the first controlled comparison of hypnotherapy for the treatment of depression was carried out by the University of Calgary in Canada. It concluded that it was effective in producing a significant reduction in depression, anxiety and feelings of hopelessness in the participants of the study. Since then hypnotherapy has fast gained the recognition and approval of the medical establishment. In 2012 it was reported that although there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ treatment for depressive disorders, cognitive hypnotherapy, that is hypnosis combined with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), offers the best solution for long term, successful treatment. Hypnotherapy is scientifically recognised as a comprehensive and evidence based treatment for clinical depression. This empirical evidence suggests that hypnosis treatment can help cure anxiety and depression by empowering you with depression fighting techniques to combat the negative feelings that are often at the root of this common and debilitating illness. It can help you realise your own power to create your own solutions to the problems life will inevitably throw at you. It is fast and effective and, unlike medication, has zero side effects. It is not dangerous and cannot make a person do something they do not want to do. By addressing the underlying problems rather than attempting to mask them hypnotherapy provides the tools to help you deal with any future difficulties thus assisting recovery and preventing depression and anxiety recurring. It can help you keep things in perspective and not worry about the things you can’t control.

     

    This is a guest post by thetherapylounge.com, specialists in both anxiety and depression hypnotherapy treatment.