anxious younger woman

ANXIETY - CAUSES, KINDS & CURES

ANXIETY - CAUSES, KINDS & CURES

ANXIETY - CAUSES, KINDS & CURES

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anxious male

What is Anxiety? 

 

Some say that Anxiety is a response to some kind of perceived internal threat within our psyches. Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension and is usually referred to as worry, concern, stress, or nervousness. You may not and most likely do not know the source of this uneasiness upon initial reflection, which can add to the distress you feel. It is a natural part of everyday life and most of us experience it more often than not in our very stressful world.

 

Believe it or not, anxious feelings can sometimes be a good thing. Having this heightened sense can actually help to motivate a person to prepare for situations by keeping a person on his/her toes in potentially dangerous situations. Our anxiety is a result of our “fight or flight” response to any given situation that we perceive as stressful or a challenge. The "fight or flight" response is an inborn "pre-wired" response for dealing with dangerous situations which helps us to protect ourselves throughout our lives. The surge of adrenalin gives us the strength we need to either get the heck out of there, or stand our ground and fight off the danger. The fight/flight response is one of survival.

 

The human nervous system has a component that works automatically (the autonomic nervous system). The autonomic nervous system has two divisions: the 'sympathetic' and 'parasympathetic' divisions. When the sympathetic division is active we experience the fight/flight response. Interestingly, when the parasympathetic division is active we experience something quite opposite from "fight/flight" --- parasympathetic activity results in a response of rest and relaxation. Too much "fight/flight" activity withoutorrespondingrest and relaxation is what distress is all about.

 

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Symptoms of Anxiety 

 

Physical symptoms of anxiety include:

 

       - dry mouth
       - breathlessness or shortness of breath
       - sweating
       - feeling of inability to catch one's breath
       - shaking
       - blurred vision, tunnel vision, or seeing black spots
       - stomach upset
       - restlessness, difficulty sitting still
       - chest pain
       - insomnia, problems falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep
       - neck pain
       - changes in appetite
       - digestive problems
       - numbness of hands

       - dizziness
       - clenching jaw or fists
       - hyperventilation
       - nausea and vomiting 

Cognitive (mental) symptoms of anxiety include:

 

       - difficulty concentrating
       - problems thinking clear
       - distractibility
       - mental fatigue
       - memory problems
       - decreased problem-solving ability
       - negative thinking

Emotional symptoms of anxiety are:

 

       - irritability
       - anger
       - fear
       - suspicion
       - embarrassment

       - fear of having a heart attack
       - feeling that you are dying
       - feeling of impending doom

How can these symptoms be minimized? 

Although anxiety disorders cannot be prevented, there are ways to reduce your risk and methods to control or lessen symptoms.

 

Recommendations include:

 

       - Reducing caffeine, tea, cola, and chocolate consumption,

 

       - Exercising regularly,

 

       - Eating healthy foods,

 

       - Keeping a regular sleep pattern,

 

       - Seeking counseling and support after a traumatic or disturbing experience

 

       - Avoiding alcohol, cannabis and other substances

 

       - Checking with a doctor or pharmacist before using over-the-counter or herbal
         remedies to see if they contain chemicals that may contribute to anxiety. 

 

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Causes of Anxiety 

 

Psychoanalytic theory suggests that anxiety stems from unconscious conflicts that arose from discomfort during infancy or childhood. For example, a person may have developed problems from experiencing an illness, fright or other emotionally laden event as a child. Events in child-hood may lead to certain fears that, over time, develop into a full-blown anxiety disorder. According to this theory, anxiety can be resolved by identifying and resolving the unconscious conflict. The symptoms that symbolize the conflict would then disappear.

 

Learning theory says that anxiety is a learned behavior that can be unlearned. And, more recently, research has indicated that biochemical imbalances are culprits. Although medications first come to mind with this theory, remember that studies have found biochemical changes can occur as a result of emotional, psychological or behavioral changes. thus these biochemical changes then become the symptoms and not the root cause of the anxiety, or any other emotional, psychological or behavioral change. Thus, the medications can be said to be masking the real problem(s) by only addressing the symptoms.

 

The Medical Model says that all psychological problems/disorders have a physical symptom profile, therefore the condition is a physical (medical) problem due to genetics, etc. For example, blood chemistry changes in depression, physical arousal in anxiety disorders, dependency in substance abuse. If there are physical symptoms, the medical model says that you should receive treatment from a medical physician. Often, medication  alone can be used to treat psychological problems such as depression and anxiety. (However, in reality, giving someone a pill does not get rid them of their psychological problem, it only masks the symptoms. Taking the pills may give temporary relief and make one feel better in the short run, but then the patient may have to take medication for the rest of their life because they are not treating the root cause of their ailment.

 

So, anxiety disorders may be caused by environmental factors, medical factors/genetics, brain chemistry, or a combination thereof. However they are caused, they are most commonly triggered by the various stress and stressors in our lives. Usually, anxiety is a response to outside forces, but we can also make ourselves anxious with our own "negative self-talk" - a habit of always telling ourselves the worst will happen.

 

So, some people may people may be genetically inclined to develop it, while others may have their anxiety triggered because of stressful life events, such as abuse of some kind, victimization, stress in a personal relationship, marriage, friendship, or divorce, moving to a different location, stress at work/school or a job change, the loss of a loved one, stress about finances and money, or stress from a natural disaster or other traumatic event, etc. Anxiety can also be caused by stress from a serious medical illness, medical/surgical procedure, symptoms of a medical illness, side effects of medication, etc.

 

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The Cognitive-Behavioral Equation: 

The Behavioral Process

(according to the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy equation)

Our thoughts/beliefs = our feelings = our behaviors 
 
Positive thoughts/beliefs = positive feelings = positive behaviors

Negative thoughts/beliefs=negative feelings=negative behaviors

Therefore, our thoughts/beliefs = our reality 

All negative thoughts/beliefs come from trauma,
either real or perceived 

 

So, we’re All Screwed Up in one way or another!!!


Because we’ve all had negative experiences that give us
negative beliefs about ourselves.

 

 


The Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Distortion Checklist  


Cognitive-Behavioral Theory says that our negative feelings and dysfunctional behaviors come from one or more categories on this distorted thoughts and belief systems list. To correct our dysfunctional behaviors and let go of our negative feelings, we just have to change our thoughts by working out the distortions.

 

1. All-or-Nothing Thinking: You restrict possibilities and options to onlytwo choices: yes or no (all or nothing).

 

2. Over generalization: You view a single, negative event as a continuing and never-ending pattern of defeat.

 

3. Negative Mental filter: You dwell mostly on the negatives and generally ignore the positives. This is like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.

 

4. Discounting the positives: You insist your achievements or positive efforts do not count.

 

5. Jumping to conclusions:

            5a. Mind-reading: You assume people are reacting negatively to you w/o any objective evidence.

            5b. Fortune-Telling: You predict things will turn out badly w/o objective any evidence.  

 

6. Magnification or minimization: You blow things way out of proportion or minimize their importance.

 

7. Emotional reasoning: You base your reasoning from your feelings: "I feel like a loser,  so I must be one."

 

8. "Mustabatory thinking" or "Shoulding All Over Yourself": You criticize yourself or  other people with "musts," "shoulds," "oughts," and "have tos." 

        8a. Self-Directed Shoulds lead to feelings of guilt and inferiority.

        8b. Other-Directed Shoulds lead to feelings of bitterness, anger and frustration

 

9. Labeling: Instead of saying "I made a mistake," you tell yourself "I'm an idiot" or "I'm a  loser."

 

10. Personalization: You blame yourself almost completely for something for which you  were not entirely responsible.

       10a. Self-Blame and Other-Blame. You find fault instead of solvingthe problem.

       10b. Self-Blame. You blame yourself for something you weren't entirely responsible for.
       10c  Other Blame. You blame others and overlook ways you contributed to the problem.  


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Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy Equation:
 

                                           The ABC’s of Behavior   
                         
(from Albert Ellis’ Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy)  

 

               A              >             B               >              C

 

             The                         Your                            The
        Activating                  Beliefs                   Consequences

          Event                         about                    (your feelings

                                         this event                  & behaviors)

              ^                               ^                                  ^
       The “Pushers”       Your “Buttons”       The Consequences 
     of your “Buttons”                                     of your “ Buttons”

                                                                        being “pushed”
               ^                               ^                               ^

      (What pushes           (What are             (How did you express
    your “Buttons”?)   your “Buttons”?)        yourself when your          

                                                                     buttons were pushed?)

 

 

 

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (R.E.B.T.) also has their own list of Irrational thinking/beliefs that cause our negative thinking, negative feelingand negative/dysfunctional behaviors.  
 

   12 Irrational Ideas That Cause and Sustain Neurosis 

 

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy holds that certain core irrational ideas, which have been clinically observed, are at the root of most neurotic disturbance. They are: 

 

 

1. The idea that it is a dire necessity for adults to be loved by significant others for almost everything they do - instead of their concentrating on their own self‑respect, on winning approval for practical purposes, and on loving rather than on being loved.

 

2. The idea that certain acts are awful or wicked, and that people who perform such acts should be severely damned - instead of the idea that certain acts areself‑defeating or antisocial, and that people who perform such acts are behaving stupidly, ignorantly, or neurotically, and would be better helped to change. People's poor behaviors do not make them rotten individuals.

 

3. The idea that it is horrible when things are not the way we like them to be instead of the idea that it is too bad, that we would better try to change or control bad conditions so that they become more satisfactory, and, if that is not possible, we had better temporarily accept and gracefully lump their existence.

 

4. The idea that human misery is invariably externally caused and is forced on us by outside people and events ‑ ­instead of the idea that neurosis is largely caused by the view that we take of unfortunate conditions. 

 

5. The idea that if something is or may be dangerous or fearsome we should be terribly upset and endlessly obsess about it - instead of the idea that one would better frankly face it and render it non‑dangerous and, when that is not possible,accept the inevitable.

 

6.  The idea that it is easier to avoid than to face life difficulties and self responsibilities, instead of the idea that the so‑called easy way is usually much harder in the long run.

 

7.  The idea that we absolutely need something other or stronger or greater than ourselves on which to rely - instead of the idea that it is better to take the risks of thinking and acting less dependently.

 

8.  The idea that we should be thoroughly competent, intelligent, and achieving in all possible respects - instead of the idea that we would better do rather thanalways need to do well and accept ourselves as a quite imperfect creature, who hasgeneral human limitations and specific fallibilities.

 

9.  The idea that because something once strongly affected our life, it should indefinitely affect it - insteadof the idea that we can learn from our past experiences but not be overly attached to or prejudiced by them.

 

10. The idea that we must have certain and perfect control over things - instead of the idea that the world is full of probability and chance and that we can still enjoy life despite this.

 

11. The idea that human happiness can be achieved by inertia and inaction instead of the idea that we tend to be happiest when we are vitally absorbed in creative pursuits, or when we are devoting ourselves to people or projects outside ourselves.

 

12. The idea that we have virtually no control over our emotions and that we cannot help feeling distrubed about things - instead of the idea that we have real control over our destructive emotions if we choose to work at changing the masturbatory hypotheses which we often employ to create them.

 

 

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The Effects of Prolonged Stress on the Body 

 

So, we say anxiety can be caused by stress. So, what is stress? We generally use the word "stress" when we feel that everything seems to have become too much - we are overloaded and wonder whether we really can cope with the pressures placed upon us. Anything that poses a challenge or a threat to our well-being is a stress. When the stresses undermine both our mental and physical health they are bad.

 

Long-term stress or chronic stress can lead to some severe physical and psychological damage to your body. It can even develop into some long-term disorders like depression or an anxiety disorder. Chronic stress can lead to heart disease or unstable angina even triggering a heart attack. A lot of stress for some can lead to high blood pressure problems which increase you risk for a stroke. Long-term stress can drag down your immune system and make you vulnerable to infection, including colds and the flu. Prolonged stress can also lead to digestive problems, constipation and diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome, etc.

A few of the physiological effects of stress are cancer, diabetes, sluggish immune system, alcohol, substance abuse and cardiovascular disease. As you can see, stress effects on the body are numerous and potentially dangerous. It is important to learn to manage your stress. If you have any type of chronic pain, then chronic stress may exacerbate the problem even further. Chronic stress can lead to a decrease in sexual desire and can even lead to erectile dysfunction or reproductive problems. 

 

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The Good News! 

You can break this spiral by learning how to manage your stress in ways that are healthy and productive. I will teach you some rather simple but highly effective therapeutic methods to let go of your stress, anxiety, and fear. And, once you let it go, that part of your dysfunctional feelings will be gone once and for all!!!


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How much Anxiety do you have? 

   Go to The Burns Anxiety Inventory and complete this questionnaire to see answer this question.

  


ANXIETY DISORDERS 

Anxiety disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions that are caused by excessive anxiety.

 

They are serious medical conditions that affect approximately 40 million American adults aged 16 years and older in a given year, causing them to be filled with overwhelming fearfulness and uncertainty which interfere with their quality of life. 

 

General anxiety verses more serious anxiety 

 

As previously stated, anxiety is a natural part of everyday life and most of us experience it more often than not in our very stressful world. Mildanxiety that is vague and unsettling is not something to be concerned about, while severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating, having a serious impact on daily life. If the worries, stress, or anxious feelings become overwhelming and you feel as though these feelings are getting in the way of your every day quality of life, these may be signs that you may havean anxiety problem or disorder. 

 

The good news is, however, that anxiety disorders are some of the most treatable of the emotional disorders. 

 

The 7 Most Common Types of Anxiety are:

 

         - Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

 

         - Social Phobia

 

         - Panic Disorder

 

         - Agoraphobia

 

         - Phobias

 

         - Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

 

         - Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 

 

While reading through these descriptions, please don't try to diagnose yourself. Consult with a mental health professional if you are concerned about your anxiety, fear or worrying. 

 

When Anxiety Disrupts Your Life It's a Problem 

 

One of the most common questions people with anxiety ask themselves is "what is the difference between normal anxiety and an anxiety disorder?" It's true that not all problem anxiety qualifies as an anxiety disorder.

 

However, the answer isn't always that simple. The reality is that if you feel as though your anxiety is causing a problem in your life, it may be beneficial to seek help. Some anxiety in life is normal, but anxiety that disrupts your quality of life is still a problem.

 

 

1: Generalized Anxiety Disorder 

 

Generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, is the most common and widespread type of anxiety. GAD affect tens of millions of people throughout the world.

 

GAD is best described as an ongoing state of mental and/or physical tension and nervousness, either without a specific cause or without the ability to take a break from the anxiety.

 

In other words, if you feel yourself constantly on edge, worried, anxious, or stressed (either physically or mentally) and it's disrupting your life, you may have generalized anxiety disorder. Remember, some anxiety is a natural part of life, and some degree of anxiety is normal to feel occasionally. But when that anxiety appears to occur for no reason or for reasons that shouldn't be causing that degree of anxiousness, you may have generalized anxiety disorder.

 

The following are the most common problems associated with GAD:

 

      · Constant restlessness, irritation, edginess, or a feeling of being without control.
       · Fatigue, lethargy, or generally low energy levels (feeling drained).
       · Tense muscles, especially on the back, neck, and shoulders.
       · Trouble concentrating or focusing on tasks or activities.
       · Obsessing over negative and anxiety causing thoughts – "Disaster Thinking."

 

The key is persistent mental or physical anxiety. If it doesn't appear to go away, it may be GAD.

 

Did you know you can suffer from more than one anxiety disorder? Generalized anxiety disorder appears to be very common in those with other anxiety disorders, especially panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.



2: Social Phobia (Social Anxiety) 

 

 

Many people suffer from what's known as "social phobia," or an irrational fear of social situations. Some degree of social phobia is normal. Small degrees of shyness in public places, or discomfort while public speaking, are natural in most people, and do not imply an anxiety problem.

 

But when that fear disrupts your life, you may be suffering from social phobia. Social phobia is when the shyness is intense and the idea of socializing or speaking with the public, strangers, authority figures, or possibly even your friends causes you noticeable anxiety and fear.

 

People with social phobia view public situations as being potentially painful and distressing, living with a constant fear of being judged, observed, remarked upon, or avoided. Those with social phobia also often have an irrational fear of doing something stupid or embarrassing.

 

What makes this more than just shyness is when those fears cause you to avoid healthy socializing situations altogether. Those with social phobia often live with two or more of the following issues:

 

      · Feeling hopeless or fearful within unfamiliar people or in unfamiliar situations.
       · Obsession over being watched, observed, or judged by strangers.
       · Experiencing overwhelming anxiety in any social situation with difficulty coping.
       · Severe fear of public speaking – beyond what one would consider "normal"
       · Anxiousness about the idea of social situations, even when not in one.
       · Intense issues meeting new people or voicing up when you need to speak.

 

Many people with social phobia display avoidance behaviors. They avoid any and all social situations as best they can so as to avoid further fear.

 

 

 

 

3: Panic Disorder 

 

Panic disorder is a debilitating anxiety disorder that is very different from GAD. Panic disorder is not about "panicking." It's not about getting very worried because you might lose your job or a lion is about to attack you in the jungle. That type of panic is normal.

 

Panic disorder is when you experience severe feelings of doom that cause both mental and physical symptoms that can be so intense that some people become hospitalized, worried that something is dangerously wrong with their health.

 

Panic disorder is characterized by two things:

 

      · Panic attacks
       · Fear of getting panic attacks.

 

Panic attacks are intense physical and mental sensations that can triggered by stress, anxiety, or by nothing at all. They often involve mental distress, but are most well-known by their physical symptoms, including:

 

      · Rapid heartbeat (heart palpitations or irregular/fast paced heart rhythms).
       · Excessive sweating or hot/cold flashes.
       · Tingling sensations, numbness, or weakness in the body.
       · Depersonalization (feeling like you're outside yourself).
       · Trouble breathing or feeling as though you've had a deep breath.
       · Lightheadedness or dizziness.
       · Chest pain or stomach pain.
       · Digestive problems and/or discomfort.

 

Panic attacks may have some or all of the above physical symptoms, and may also involve unusual symptoms as well, like headaches, ear pressure, and more. All of these symptoms feel very real, which is why those that experience panic attacks often seek medical attention for their health.

 

Panic attacks are also known for their mental "symptoms" which peak about 10 minutes into a panic attack. These include:

 

      · Feeling of doom, or the feeling as though you're about to die.
       · Severe anxiety, especially health anxiety.
       · Feeling of helplessness, or feeling like you're no longer yourself.

 

Contrary to popular belief, it's possible for the physical symptoms of panic attacks to come both before or after anxiety, meaning that you can experience physical symptoms first before experiencing the fear of death. That is why many people feel as though something is very wrong with their health.

 

Panic attacks can be triggered by an over-sensitivity to body sensations, by stress, or by nothing at all. Panic disorder can be very hard to control without help. Seeking assistance right away for your panic attacks is an important tool for stopping them, so that you can learn the techniques necessary to cure this panic.

 

You can also have panic disorder without experiencing many panic attacks. If you live in constant fear of a panic attack, you may also qualify for a panic disorder diagnosis. In those cases, your anxiety may resemble generalized anxiety disorder, but the fear in this case is known.

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4: Agoraphobia 

 

Agoraphobia is the fear of going out in public, either the fear of open spaces or the fear of being in unfamiliar places. Many people with agoraphobia either never leave their home, or do anything they can to avoid travelling anywhere other than their home and office. Some people can go to the grocery store or other familiar places, but otherwise experience intense, nearly debilitating fear anywhere else.

 

Many people (although not all) that have agoraphobia also have panic disorder. That's because for many, agoraphobia is often caused by panic attacks. People experience panic attacks in public places, so they start to avoid more and more places in order to avoid panic attacks until they are afraid to go outside.

 

Some people experience agoraphobia after traumatic events as well.

 

Agoraphobia is more common for adults. Many also fear losing control (both psychologically and physically), causing them to avoid social situations. Not everyone living with agoraphobia spends all their time in their home. In fact, some of the more common symptoms include:

 

       · Obsessive fear of socializing with groups of people, regardless of whether or not you know them.
       · Severe stress or anxiety whenever you're in an environment other than your home, or an environment  

         where you're not in control.
       · Feelings of tension and stress even during regular activities, such as going to the store, talking with      

         strangers, or even just stepping outdoors.
       · Preoccupation with how to protect yourself or find safety in the event that some type of trouble occurs,

         even with little reason to believe trouble will occur.
       · Finding that your own fears are keeping you prisoner, preventing you from going out and living life

         because of that fear.

 

Many people experience moments where they feel vulnerable outdoors and prefer to stay safe in their homes. But when the fear seems to persist for a long period of time,or is holding you back from living an enjoyable life, you may have agoraphobia.

 

 

5: Specific Phobias 

 

Phobias are intense feelings of fear because of objects, scenarios, animals, etc. Phobias generally bring about disaster thinking (believing that the worst will happen) or avoidance behaviors (doing whatever it takes to avoid the phobia).

 

An example of a common phobia is arachnophobia, or fear of spiders. Very few spiders are likely to bite and even fewer are dangerous, and yet many people experience a feeling of severe dread at even the idea of a spider. Other examples of common phobias include snakes, airplanes, thunderstorms, and blood.

 

Phobias do count as an anxiety disorder, although some people can go their entire life with a phobia and not require treatment. For example, if you have a fear of chickens, but live nowhere near a farm, then while you do have a very real phobia it may not be disruptive.

 

But if at any point your life starts to change as a result of your phobia, then you have a real issue. Phobias commonly cause:

 

       · Excessive, constant fear of a specific situation or event.
       · Instant feeling of terror when confronted with the subject of your phobia.
       · Inability to control your fears, even though you know they're irrational.
       · Going to great lengths to avoid the situation or object that causes you fear.
       · Experiencing restrictions to your normal routine as a result of the fear.

 

For some people that have severe phobias, the mere idea of the object they fear (even if it is not present) causes stress or anxiety, or otherwise affects their life.

 

Many people have small phobias they can manage, but if the phobia ever starts to genuinely effect your ability to live a quality life, you may need to find a treatment solution. 

 

 

6: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 

 

As a human being, there are always risks that put your life in danger. Most people are lucky enough to avoid these dangers and live a nice and safe life. But in some cases, you may experience a life trauma – either physically or emotionally – and this can cause an anxiety problem known as post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

As the name implies, PTSD is an anxiety disorder that comes after the traumatic event has occurred. Those living with PTSD often must get outside help, because PTSD can affect people for years after the event occurs – possibly even the rest of their life.

 

PTSD affects people both psychologically and physically. In most cases, the person with PTSD is the one that experienced the traumatic event, but it's possible to get PTSD by simply witnessing an event or injury, or even simply discovering that someone close to you dealt with a traumatic event.

 

Symptoms include:

 

       · Reliving the Trauma – The most well-known symptom of PTSD is reliving the trauma. Those with PTSD

         often relive the trauma not only emotionally – in some cases, they may relive the trauma mentally and

         physically, as though transported back to the event.

 

       · Responding to Triggers – Those with PTSD may (in some cases) have triggers that cause intense stress or

         fear. These triggers are often related to the event, such as loud noises when the event involved loud noises

         or intense fear when someone is behind you if you were attacked from behind. It also may betriggered by

         thoughts of the event.

 

       · Anxiety Over Recurrence – Like with panic attacks, you may also have PTSD if you have developed

         severe anxiety over the event occurring again. If you experience regular, daily anxiety over the idea of a

         repeat of the event, it may also be PTSD.

 

       · Emotional Trouble – Many of those with PTSD also experience issues with their emotional thinking and

         future. Some feel a disinterest or detachment from love.Others become emotionally numb. Others become

         convinced they're destined todie. Any and all of these emotional struggles may be common in those

         with PTSD.

 

You may also experience severe "what if" scenarios everywhere you go, including disaster thinking or feeling helpless/hopeless in public situations. Many of those with PTSD also experience avoidance behaviors of events, things, and even people that may remind them of the event – even if there is no link between these issues and the trauma.

 

Those with post-traumatic stress disorder may be at a greater baseline of stress on most days. They may be short tempered or easy to anger. They may be startled/frightened easily or be unable to sleep. PTSD can be a difficult problem to live with. 
 


7: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 

 

Obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, can be a very destructive anxiety disorder. Those with OCD often exhibit behaviors and fears that are not only confusing to those around you – they may be confusing to the person with OCD as well.

 

Compulsions and obsessions are similar, but exhibit themselves in different ways:

 

       · Obsessions: Obsessions are thought based. They're a preoccupation with a 
         specific thought, usually a negative or fearful thought, that a person simply 
         cannot shake no matter how hard they try.

 

       · Compulsions: Compulsions are behavior based. They're a "need" to perform an
         action or activity, often in a very specific way, and as hard as the person tries,
         they can't stop themselves from performing the behavior.

 

An obsession would be worrying that your mother might get very sick, while a compulsion would be feeling anxious if you do not touch a doorknob before you leave the house. In many cases, the feelings are linked – those with OCD may feel as though they need to touch a doorknob, otherwise their mother may get sick.

 

You may qualify for a diagnosis with obsessions, compulsions, or both. You can have compulsions without obsessions, though in most cases the individual will experience severe stress if they do not respond to the compulsion. You can also have obsessions without compulsions (such as the fear of germs), but in many cases these fears will lead to a compulsion (like having to wash your hands).

 

Many people with OCD go through a variety of thought processes that lead to their obsessions and compulsions. The following are examples of obsessive thought patterns and compulsive thought patterns:

 

Obsessive Thought Patterns

 

       · You find yourself "obsessed" with things that you appear to be the only one worrying about.
       · You try to shake away those thoughts when they occur, usually by performing an action.
       · You find that the action doesn't work, and ultimately the obsession continues.
       · You find yourself upset over being unable to shake the thoughts.
       · You find that the worse you feel, the more you seem to obsess over those thoughts.

 

Compulsive Behavior Patterns 

 

       · You experience anxiety, often over an obsession (although not necessarily).
       · You perform an action that appears to reduce that anxiety slightly.
       · You turn to this action to relieve your anxiety, until it becomes a ritual.
       · You find that you absolutely have to perform this behavior, or your anxiety becomes overwhelming.
       · You repeat the action and reinforce the behavior.

 

Compulsions and obsessions may appear very unusual, and it's possible to know that they're irrational, but those with OCD feel they still can't control it.

 

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Dave Dodge, L.C.S.W.
Mt. Kisco, N.Y.
(914) 242-3484
Skype and telephone sessions are also available
Skype name - dave.dodge11

Please also visit my other website for more information on how I can help you.

I am a therapist with over 40 years of experience working with people to help them resolve the issues that are creating problems in their life. I am Certified and trained in a number of alternative therapies that are quicker, easier and much more effective than talk therapy in releasing one's issues.