Twelve step programs work great if you’re an addict who successfully completed an inpatient rehab program or an intensive outpatient program and you’re focused on your aftercare recovery.
Anxiety Advanced Tips
Exposure therapy is nothing revolutionary, but it is now being recognized as an effective method of conquering people’s fears and anxieties. It is now regularly included in a program of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which itself is one of the most useful ways of treating a phobia or anxiety program
There is no doubt that exposure therapy is unpleasant. If someone has a clinical mental condition, it will usually be based around a fear of some sort. This fear can be totally irrational, but it can also be a rational fear of a genuine problem – except the level of fear is higher than is necessary, and is out of proportion with the actual threat. Whatever the reason behind it, when people have a fear of something, they will do all they can to avoid it.
Yet avoidance actually feeds a fear and gives it weapons. Subconsciously, when we avoid something we fear, we are actually building another block of dread. We are relieved to avoid the situation, and when we feel relief at avoiding it, we also feel extra fear for what we have avoided. The feeling of relief reinforcing our mind’s incorrect assumption that something is dangerous.
Exposure therapy removes this element by forcing people to face what it is they fear. It works particularly well with phobias, as well as people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It is the epitome of confronting your fear. Yes, doing so is unpleasant and distressing, but with continued exposure therapy you will soon learn there is nothing to fear. Over time, and the help of a mental health professional, any anxiety or mental health condition will improve immeasurably.
We live in a fix-all society, where we are all programmed to think that problems can be fixed quickly and easily. This “have it all, now” mentally extends throughout our lives, and even into our health. It is therefore understandable that, for most people, going to see a doctor and getting medication is the obvious answer to any malady.
This is proven in mental health in that Prozac, an anti-depressant, is one of the most prescribed drugs in the world. Anti-anxiety medication, such as Diazepam, and other suppressants are also freely marketed and used as an answer to anxiety problems. Yet it is worth considering the downsides of such medication.
The problem with medicating yourself through periods of severe anxiety is that, at some point, you are going to need to stop taking the medication. The only other option is to medicate forevermore, and spend the rest of your life in a drug-addled state. All the anti-anxiety medications have a sedative quality, even if it is mild, which can make you feel sleepy and lethargic. This is the point, of course, as in quelling your conscious mind the medication in turn quells anxiety, but this is nothing more than a short fix solution.
While medication can dull an anxiety attack, they can’t cure it. No prescription medication can definitively “cure” a mental illness, they can only lessen its impact. So unless you are willing to accept that you will be heavily medicated for the rest of your life, it is more beneficial to seek psychiatric and psychological therapy rather than reaching for the pills. It may take longer, but the results will last longer, too.
Panic attacks can be the bane of your existence, and can make being out and about in the world extremely daunting. Never knowing when – or why – an attack can hit makes life unpredictable, and searching for a way to control your anxiety is a natural step to take.
Most anxiety attacks come on suddenly – however, there are usually warning signs that one is about to strike. It may only be a few seconds warning, but try and identify the signs that things are about to get complicated. You may feel your chest tighten, feel lightheaded or begin to shake – all are the immediate signs of a rush of adrenaline, which is one of the main identifiable psychological reasons for an anxiety attack.
As soon as you feel an attack beginning to develop, stop what you are doing. If you’re driving, pull over, and try and sit down if you’re standing or walking. As the attack begins to flower, take slow, steady breaths. Breathe in for five seconds, and out for five seconds. One of the main things people do when they are experiencing an anxiety attack is to breathe in short, sharp gasps; by slowing and focusing on your breathing, you are distracting your mind and resetting the scales.
Keep breathing in this fashion. If necessary, close your eyes and tilt your head back so you have a clear throat passage for air to move through. You may also find some form of self-comforting useful; try rubbing the side of your wrist with a fingertip. Remain calm, focus on your breathing and rest until the feeling has passed.
Conquering Fear In Only 2 Weeks
The guide below is a brief, start up guide for those wishing to conquer their phobia (or phobias) once and for all. For ease of use, the fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia) is used as an example – though the steps are applicable to any fear.
1. Expose yourself to the fear. If you have a phobia, you probably go out of your way to avoid the thing that causes you to feel afraid. In the claustrophobia example, you may refuse to use lifts, as they make you feel uncomfortable. Unfortunately, by avoiding the scenario you fear – the lift – you are actually increasing your overall fear. Avoidance does nothing but make a situation worse, and you need to face the fear before you can conquer it. That means getting into a lift, even if just for one floor. Make yourself do it.
2. Positive reinforcement. After you have forced yourself to confront your fear once, you need to make it a positive experience. This can be having a dessert you enjoy following your ordeal, or buying something nice from your favorite store. Do this as soon as possible following your first attempt to confront the fear – in the example, you should tuck into a cupcake the second you step out of the lift.
3. Rinse, and repeat. The way to conquer a phobia is to do the above, over and over again. As you do so, you will learn to manage the fear, and you will also learn that there really is no danger in that which panicked you so badly before. By continuing to expose yourself to your fear deliberately and then allowing a congratulatory moment when you succeed, over time, you can rid yourself of the fear forever.
A phobia is an extreme, fearful reaction to an object, animal, insect, feeling or circumstance. They are wide and varied, and often have no rational explanation. The vast majority of the populace have at least one phobia, and many people go as far as to seek help for conquering their phobia from medical professionals.
So what are we all so afraid of?
The most common phobias
The most common phobias tend to involve insects and creepy crawlies. Polls done in the United Kingdom suggest spiders are the most common source of phobias, and other many-legged creatures also cause fearful reactions. Mice are another common source of fear, as are their larger cousins, rats.
In terms of animals, dogs tend to rank high on the phobia-causing list. This can be any dog, not just a big, growling Alsatian – some people admit to being afraid of the meek and mild poodle! The other domestic favorite, cats, also contribute their fair share when it comes to phobias.
Other phobias are more based on situations. Many people are afraid of heights, which connects with another popular fear – the fear of flying in aircraft. Another common situational fear is crowded spaces, known as claustrophobia, with sufferers refusing to use lifts. Furthermore, some adults even confess to being afraid of the dark.
More interesting are the uncommon phobias. Amazingly, a phobia of buttons is fairly common, consigning thousands of people to a life with zips. Other odd phobias include mirrors, large structures in general and even humble cotton wool.
When it comes to phobias, there really is something for everyone!
Everybody has fear. We fear losing our jobs, our homes, our way of life. We may even be a little afraid of the dark or nervous when confronted with a spider. Fear is just nature’s way of warding us from danger, telling us to flee from things we are subconsciously afraid of. Yet in some cases, fear becomes something more – a phobia. There is a difference between general fear and a clinical phobia. The difference is usually how extreme the reaction to the object of the fear or phobia is. If, for example, when you see a snake, you feel uncomfortable and your heart races a little, you are afraid of the snake. This is a normal reaction based on survival instincts. If, however, you see a snake and want to scream or run away, you begin to sweat or tremble or experience other symptoms of anxiety, then you have a phobia. Sometimes, a phobia can become so pronounced the person cannot even say what it is they are afraid of – the word alone is enough to bring on a physical reaction of terror. Thousands of people refuse to even come in to contact with the object of their phobia if they can avoid it, such as refusing to fly on aircraft if they have a fear of flying. Phobias are an extreme, natural overreaction to everyday things, events and circumstances. Phobias are primarily dealt with using exposure therapy, where a person forces themselves to ‘confront’ their fear. This can involve placing themselves in the same room as a snake, or boarding an aircraft. While terrifying, this kind of therapy is hugely effective, and phobias can be managed once and for all.
We all have things in our past we do not like and the memories of which make us feel uncomfortable. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is where a past event comes back to haunt someone’s present, to the point where it affects their ability to live a normal life. Sometimes, these events are what the rest of the populace would consider small matters that should bear no relevance. This, however, does not mean that these events cannot trigger Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As long as the past event has a bearing on how a person feels in the present, it is severe enough to that individual and therefore relevant. What is a bearing on the present? Well, those with PTSD will find they cannot function normally due to some fear invading their life. They may often feel depressed, withdraw from society or fearful in what should be normal situations. They may experience flashbacks – intense periods of memory – to the event that has caused the problem, as well as general anxious feelings of fear, worry and stress. Sometimes, the event is a large, life-altering event such as an assault or house fire. The sufferer may seem find after the initial event, but will later go on to develop PTSD – sometimes years later. Not everyone who has experienced trauma goes on to be diagnosed with PTSD, however. PTSD, like all anxiety disorders, can be controlled but not cured. Treatment is usually behavior therapy with a psychologist, and sometimes counseling and even medication can help one overcome fearful memories.
Agoraphobia is, by strict etymological definition, the fear of open spaces. However, it tends to be most commonly used as a clinical medical term for those who have a fear of being outside. These fear can become so crippling that the sufferer will avoid leaving their home altogether, which in turn has a huge impact on their quality of life and working prospects.Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder, a clinical grouping of mental health issues for which there is no definitive known cause. It is often partnered with another anxiety disorder, such as Social Anxiety Disorder or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, though it can be a standalone issue. It has also been linked to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is important to know if the agoraphobia has an underlying cause or if it is a single issue, as if one is treated for the actual condition (OCD or SAD), then the agoraphobia itself usually fades. In cases where agoraphobia is the only anxiety disorder present, sufferers will feel an overwhelming fear of being outside. This can sometimes just be in unfamiliar or crowded places, but some affected by agoraphobia will not wish to be out of their home at all. If an agoraphobia is required to leave their home, they will become increasingly panicked – often suffering anxiety attacks and physical fear symptoms, such as shaking or feeling sick.The main treatment for agoraphobia is exposure therapy, whereby a person gradually increases the amount of time they spend outside. This is usually done with psychiatric assistance and observation. While agoraphobia can never be cured, it can be managed, and with effective treatment sufferers can go on to live normal, happy lives.
Many of the most common anxiety disorders, such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Social Anxiety Disorder, are well known.This, naturally, may lead people who suffer with anxiety or their nerves to wonder if they themselves are suffering from these clinically defined illnesses.
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While some sufferers are born with their anxiety disorders, many find that they do not “trigger” with their illness until later on in life. Do not assume that because you have previously had no problems with anxiety that you will not be suffering from a disorder now or in the future; they can appear quite suddenly. If you have “triggered”, you will find a definitive change in your thought patterns and behavior cycles. This is something you will notice as different from normal and how you usually are, and is often easily recognizable as an anxiety problem. If this sounds familiar, seek medical help – but have cheer, for those who “trigger” and can definitely identify a change in their behavior are more likely to get the correct diagnosis and treatment. The problem is more compressed for those that are born with an anxiety disorder, as they have no period of “normality” to be able to compare their thought patterns with. These sufferers’ tend to exhibit symptoms from an early age, and will often be diagnosed by the time they are 18. If, however, you are a somewhat nervy person, you must ask yourself: do my nerves stop me living life as I should? Are you able to live a normal, functional life despite your anxiety issues? If so, you may have an anxiety problem, but it is not a clinically asserted disorder as such. If your anxiety does affect your life, seek medical help for a diagnosis.
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Social Anxiety Disorder (known as SAD, but not to be confused with Seasonal Affective Disorder) is an anxiety disorder that results in extreme shyness.
It affects both men and women equally, and in its severe forms can result in an inability to work or live a normal life. While many people are shy and find it difficult to be around new people, those with Social Anxiety Disorder suffer more than would be considered normal.
They may go out of their way to avoid social situations, often to their detriment, and will experience physical symptoms of fear – such as shaking – in a social environment.
They may also blush more frequently, and can sometimes be so nervous of being around people they are physically sick. SAD is a relatively newly recognized anxiety disorder.
Before its clinical recognition, sufferers may have simply been referred to as suffering from “nerves” or just being shy. The disorder is still in its early phases of clinical testing, but responses have been seen with usual anti-anxiety medication and behavioral therapy.
While the illness can be overcome with correct psychiatric and psychological treatment, it can never be definitively cured. This, however, is not unique to SAD – no anxiety disorder can be cured, as such.
There is no known cause for SAD, though some sufferers do show lower than normal levels of serotonin (the so-called ‘feel good’ hormone) when tested. Due to its somewhat ambiguous nature, SAD can go undiagnosed for years – sometimes decades – before medical recognition.
A primary reason for this is that those with SAD naturally avoid visiting a doctor, due to their condition – a catch 22 situation which will hopefully dissipate as awareness rises.