Tag Archives: Anxiety

Anxiety and Stress

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An article I wrote today for a local newspaper…

Stress and Anxiety – Why do I feel this way all the time?

             I feel so nervous at work and at home every day. I can’t seem to get it under control.  My boss might ask me to do something that I don’t know how to do, or my kids may get into trouble at school. These feelings are always there and I don’t know why…

            Many of us feel stress and anxiety during the day – yet we cope with it in different ways, and while we don’t always understand why we feel it, it is usually manageable.  However, an alarming number of Americans experience anxiety, frequently due to stress. Nearly 40 million people, or about 18% of Americans each year experience nervousness, uncertainty, fears, and restlessness. For these people, the feelings are not a normal reaction to stress, but instead may feel like panic, and it affects their daily life at work, at school, and at home.

            Feelings of anxiety may be felt most in the social situation, or plague us when we have to participate in a classroom experience or answer the teacher’s question. Often, it is not clear why we have the feelings – the anxiety may come up in a meeting, all of a sudden, with little warning. Anxiety, and the stress that we experience, is perhaps the most common of mental difficulties that people experience – and there are several different kinds or types of anxiety disorders.  In addition, anxiety can also be part of, or exist alongside, other disorders – such as depression, physical illness (headaches, stomach problems), sleeping difficulties – and may also trigger behaviors like substance or alcohol abuse. 

            Symptoms include:

  • Constant worrying
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nausea, sweating, rapid heartbeat
  • Concentration or focusing problems
  • Feeling easily startled or fearful
  • Avoiding social situations

Both adults and children may also exhibit other symptoms, such as striving for approval, needing constant reassurance about performance, lacking confidence, and needing to be perfectionistic.  

The stress that we feel in our work, at our home, or in the school situation can interfere with our daily activities to the point that we feel unable to function normally.  It is at this time that one needs to seek out some help,  and get some assistance in understanding why we are experiencing the difficulty, and how to find different or better ways of coping. 

Anxiety disorders are classified into 5 different types or areas, each of which has different symptoms, coping mechanisms, and treatment recommendations.  You may experience frequent panic attacks (Panic Disorder), or fear dirt and germs, and needing to wash their hands incessantly (Obsessive-compulsive Disorder). Alternatively, you may not want to go outside of your home or go to the school function because you’re frightened of the social situation (Social Anxiety or Phobia). Individuals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder have experienced trauma – often repeatedly, and need a safe environment to recall the events and reduce their fears.  (As I pointed out in a previous article, PTSD is common in soldiers, women and children that have experienced domestic violence, rape or sexual assault victims). 

The causes of anxiety disorders are complex, and there is no research that shows just one factor being involved. Rather, the causes may be environmental (domestic violence or reactions to disaster), genetic in nature, or due to psychological and developmental factors.  Most individuals that experience post-traumatic stress disorder have experienced some trauma in their life, and interestingly, genetics may play a role in whether someone then develops PTSD, or some other disorder as a way of coping with the trauma. 

Treatments are many, and are varied – depending on how the anxiety, or the reaction to stress is experienced. Different types of treatment are called for depending on the specifics of your difficulties.  Medications may be helpful, and may be recommended by your physician or mental health provider. However, an important point is that medication alone will not solve the difficulty – and psychotherapy, or a ‘talking therapy’ will be necessary.  Certain types of therapy are currently being researched (cognitive behavioral) for some of the anxiety disorders.  Many of the psychotherapies will include learning about relaxation approaches, such as breathing exercises or making changes in your lifestyle.  The therapeutic relationship with your mental health provider is of utmost importance, as this relationship will be the key to helping you cope differently with the stress and the anxiety.  

 Please email me with questions or comments.

  Rudy Oldeschulte, M.A., J.D. is a Del Rio psychotherapist, specializing in individual psychotherapy and parent guidance.  He has served on the faculty of the University of Arizona College of Medicine and taught at the British Association of Psychotherapists. Post- graduate training and education was done in London and at the University of Michigan.

Email address is: roldeschulte@gmail.com and his website is: http://www.rudyoldeschulte.com

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A mad world A diagnosis of mental illness is more common than ever – did psychiatrists create the problem, or just recognise it?

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Unfortunate Events

When a psychiatrist meets people at a party and reveals what he or she does for a living, two responses are typical. People either say, ‘I’d better be careful what I say around you,’ and then clam up, or they say, ‘I could talk to you for hours,’ and then launch into a litany of complaints and diagnostic questions, usually about one or another family member, in-law, co-worker, or other acquaintance. It seems that people are quick to acknowledge the ubiquity of those who might benefit from a psychiatrist’s attention, while expressing a deep reluctance ever to seek it out themselves…

…While a continuous view of mental illness probably reflects underlying reality, it inevitably results in grey areas where ‘caseness’ (whether someone does or does not have a mental disorder) must be decided based on judgment calls made by experienced clinicians. In psychiatry, those calls usually depend on whether a patient’s complaints are associated with significant distress or impaired functioning. Unlike medical disorders where morbidity is often determined by physical limitations or the threat of impending death, the distress and disruption of social functioning associated with mental illness can be fairly subjective. Even those on the softer, less severe end of the mental illness spectrum can experience considerable suffering and impairment. For example, someone with mild depression might not be on the verge of suicide, but could really be struggling with work due to anxiety and poor concentration. Many people might experience sub-clinical conditions that fall short of the threshold for a mental disorder, but still might benefit from intervention.

See link for interesting article on psychiatry…and bits about the importance of psychotherapeutic intervention…

http://aeon.co/magazine/being-human/have-psychiatrists-lost-perspective-on-mental-illness/

And The Winner Is…..

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Children's Mental Health

Children’s Mental Health

I used to work in a mental health hospital that was a 19-bed unit for children and adolescents that required temporary hospitalization. Many times, we saw the effects of acting out due to anger issues. And on many occasions, there were absolute mental health issues that included behaviors with depression, bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.

During the time I worked there, I had the honor of meeting a real gem of a child psychiatrist who not only involved himself with the medication component of these children’s care, but also who helped us to become better therapists and counselors as well, having a positive impact on this aspect of their therapy while they were with us, as well.

One of the children admitted to our care during my time there, came face to face with this amazing man, regarding a major blow-up he had with another patient. He showed his true colors and caused a huge disruption on the floor after something happened, that angered him severely. The issue required more than just a brief sit-down and involved this man, who was in charge of the ward.

I recall the incident as if it were yesterday, although it is many years later. But the part I recall the most, involved this Doctor talking with the young, angry boy afterward in which he explained to him that there were really only two different scenarios that could play out for the remainder of the young man’s life. He began by telling him that he could promise him there would be many more times that this young man was going to come face to face with situations that angered him. Sometimes he would become exactly as angry as he had just become. Other times, he wouldn’t be nearly as angry and more than likely, there would be other times when he would become even angrier than he was here. Doctor Z. stated clearly, three or four times, that he could guarantee this young man of this.

No Choice

No Choice

He emphasized that this young man had absolutely no choice in this. There was nothing that any of us could do, no matter who we were and how much we may want to help him, that could prevent the situations from happening in the future and then he surprised this young boy by telling him that he wasn’t going to do anything to try and prevent the young boy from getting angry in the future over these things. He told him that if anybody expected to be able to prevent their anger was a fool.

I had never heard of this type of a technique when it came to dealing with anger or any emotion for that matter. I was young and fairly wet behind the ears and I though my job was to help these children from becoming too angry or too anxious or too sad. But I learned from Doctor Z. that if I intended to prevent such things, I not only was foolish, but I would fail miserably.

The Winner Is

The Winner Is

That day, Doctor Z. taught me and that young man that there is indeed a choice, but that the choice is about whether that feeling rules us or whether we rule that feeling. It isn’t about having the feeling or about how strong the feeling is. It is about who ends up in control – us, or our feelings?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Mindfulness and Trauma

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Stability

Stability

Mindfulness is about stabilizing. Studies have shown that people who have experienced trauma can benefit highly from this type of work. (Cullen, 2011). When people have experienced trauma, they can be challenged with high levels of stress, anxiety and depression at any time.

When we increase focus, stress and anxiety decreases, and as insight increases, depression may also be reduced. The implications of effective mindfulness on these specific features are truly significant and the more studies that are being done, the stronger the evidence of effective results of mindfulness.

When a person experiences trauma, racing thoughts and chain reactions of distressed thinking and intense emotions are more frequent, more intense and can last for longer periods of time. The thought pattern easily becomes negative and thereby creates greater levels of anxiety and depression, especially if ignored.

What mindfulness does is brings us into the present moment. Being in the present is provides direct opposition to the racing thoughts which are based in the past, thoughts about things that have happened, or based in the future, worrying about things that might happen. When we practice mindfulness, we pull away from these past and future thinking patterns and redirect ourselves into the moment, grounding ourselves in the present where we regain the ability to address the negative emotions of anxiety, stress and depression that are associated with our thoughts.
We can, for example, tell ourselves that in the present moment, there is nothing bad or harmful occurring to us. We are most likely sitting or lying quite comfortably in a safe place where we can focus on slowing down our breathing and letting the negative feelings go as we exhale. We can ground ourselves and regain our stability, acknowledging the feelings but proving to ourselves that in this present moment, we are okay…we are fine…and we are safe.
We have managed to regain control over the intense emotions that were beginning to overwhelm us. We have become more aware, more able to calm ourselves and less of a victim to our run-away thoughts.

Kabbat-Zin (1994) provides this definition of mindfulness: “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” We are actually doing an awful lot although it seems we are doing nothing. We are freeing ourselves and giving ourselves permission to just be in the moment. And it is extremely soothing. It is like allowing our mind to float and just immerse itself in now.

It is very important for people to work out their own form of practicing mindfulness, something that works for them. I strongly advise people to do some research on it and see what feels like it might be a way to begin your personal journey.

Attention

Attention

Remember that the point is NOT to empty our thoughts but rather to pay attention to them in a purposeful way without judging them and then refocus attention onto whatever it is you were focusing on prior to the thought popping up. Mindfulness is a journey of exploration, discovering sounds, textures, shapes, temperatures, things that always exist but that we don’t focus on because we are not being mindful to them.

If you are just starting out, I suggest just a 10 minute exercise in which you find something to focus on, an object to look at or hold perhaps. It is wonderful if you become adept enough at it to practice it when you begin to notice any negative thoughts or symptoms that you are trying to decrease such as depression, racing or distressing thoughts, etc.

Snoopy Writing

Snoopy Writing

There is a wealth of information available on mindfulness as more and more people are finding it beneficial to many different situations they encounter. I would love to hear from you about your mindfulness journey and results. Feel free to comment or contact me directly.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

How Mindfulness Works

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Looking Under a  Hood

Looking Under a Hood

Many years ago, I read a book that spoke about how we need to provide ourselves with self-check ups. It was a strange idea, I thought, because I’m with myself all the time, what on earth do I need to check in about?

But I am sure that we can all relate to ‘catching’ ourselves doing certain things – when a moment of sanity hits us smack in the head – and we realize something is going on with us that we had absolutely no conscious awareness of at all.

A great example of that for me, is when I find myself with a piece of candy in my mouth that I just bit down hard into, knowing perfectly well that:
* I certainly wasn’t hungry and didn’t need the extra calories
* The candy was not offered to me
* It will wipe out many positive choices I have made in making healthy food choices and keeping myself more active

And now I know it is time for me to check in under my own hood and see what is really going on.

Most likely, this is what I find when I take a few minutes to still myself and give myself a health dose of self-honesty.

• Something is troubling me.
I may not know what it is immediately, and it may take an extra bit of courage, but something is upsetting me usually on a pretty strong and deep level. I need to be still with myself and let it surface and it usually does.

Fear

Fear

For me, almost all the time, fear is involved, and the fear can be more of an anxiety type fear than a specific fear, in fact, that is usually what I find until I sit still for a while and center things. The fear has not been given the chance to latch onto anything specific because I’ve been ignoring it, so it sort of latches itself all over and forms a sense of very general anxiety, with no real target. EVERYTHING feels pressured and there is a tension right in the pit of my stomach.

For any of you who do mindfulness type work, that is why the focus is on internal body sensations, because when we narrow it down to one area, it becomes more contained and then we can manage it.

Then I begin to miraculously become more aware of how quick and shallow my breathing had become and I now have all the physiological signs I need to realize how totally out of balance I have become.

It is time for me to finish up whatever I’m in the midst of if I can’t just automatically drop it, and give myself 15 minutes of time to refocus myself. It doesn’t cost me by the hour, although if I find it persisting, talking to a friend who really knows me well or even finding a therapist is not a horrible idea.

Mindfulness-Mind-Map

What I need is time to refocus my focus. I concentrate on what is happening inside me rather than outside me, and my breathing becomes more regulated, my heart stops beating as quickly and once again, I regain a feeling of composure and a sense of ‘alrightness’ with me and my world.

THAT is how mindfulness works!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Where is the Evidence for Evidence Based Therapies?

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I invite discussion of this short article – and look forward to many responses. The author’s perspective is one that is supported through his research, and the suggested readings within the work speak to his knowledge of these areas of controversy.  The article also speaks to the ‘manualization’ of therapy…something we should all be concerned with in our clinical interests – and the best interests of our clients.  See the link below…

Excerpt:  “A study from a prestigious psychology journal recently crossed my desk. It found that clinicians who provide Cognitive Behavior Therapy or CBT—including the most experienced clinicians—routinely depart from the CBT techniques described in treatment manuals. “Only half of the clinicians claiming to use CBT use an approach that even approximates to CBT,” the authors wrote.”   http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/psychologically-minded/201310/where-is-the-evidence-evidence-based-therapies

 

How Buddhist Rituals Helped My OCD

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Our society likes to portray obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as a cute quirk, a goofy, if irritating, eccentricity. It is not. For the person undergoing OCD experience, it is a form of mental terrorism.

This terrorism takes the form of what psychologists call ‘intrusive thoughts’ — unwanted, painful thoughts or images that invade one’s consciousness, triggering profound fear and anxiety. This is the ‘obsessive’ part of OCD, and it can arise in even the most mundane circumstances. Sitting here typing, for example, I sometimes feel modest pain in my fingers, and my mind kicks into gear: You’re typing too much and causing permanent damage to your hands. Feel those little irritations at the second knuckle of your left ring finger? Those are the harbingers of arthritis. This is how it starts.

read the rest of the article by Matt Bieber here at Aeon.

“The Red Book”: A Primer For Healing Madness In A Mad World

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“Naturally I compensated my inner insecurity by an outward show of security, or — to put it better — the defect compensated itself without the intervention of my will. That is, I found myself being guilty and at the same time wishing to be innocent. Somewhere deep in the background I always knew that I was two persons. One was the son of my parents who went to school and was less intelligent, attentive, hard-working, decent, and clean than many other boys. The other was grown up — old, in fact — skeptical, mistrustful, remote from the world of men, but close to nature, the earth, the sun, the moon, the weather, all living creatures, and above all close to the night, to dreams, and to whatever “God” worked directly in him.” (p. 44, The Red Book by Carl Jung)

“On the contrary, it is played out in every individual. In my life No. 2 has been of prime importance, and I have always tried to make room for anything that wanted to come from within. He is a typical figure, but he is perceived only by the very few. Most people’s conscious understanding is not sufficient to realize that he is also what they are.” (p. 45, The Red Book by Carl Jung)

Laura K. Kerr, Ph.D. wrote an incredible blog post about The Red Book by Carl Jung, read the rest of the article. . . on her blog, Trauma’s Labyrinth.

A Schizophrenic Way Of Saying Things

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A Schizophrenic Way Of Saying Things

 

 

 

 

 

I’d like to go home

but I have to go to the bathroom

and they won’t let me see the stars

cognitive-symptoms-of-schizophrenia-03

I’ll give you a doughnut

because I haven’t got anymore

toilet paper

I want to go to Disneyhome

but Mickey’s dead

God looks at me from the sky

I can see the eyes of

Atlantis

diaptych(right) :: mess-up N/N mess-age

Shut up! she said

I told her somebody stole

my bananas

the walls are missing

where did my feet go

I can smell your armpits, Mister

The hallway’s flooded with blood

because somebody farted

now the toilet smells like

home

Thousand Plateaus Drawing

When I comb my hair pieces

of wood fall out

My brother eats maggots with

his bare feet

My feet went home

Can I go too

I hear dogs calling my name

They don’t know the TV’s on

Oprah’s interviewing Justin Bieber’s

image

diaptych(left) :: mess-up 1/1 mess-age

My mom’s in the audience

with her pet home on a leash

Jim Morrison is singing in my

ear

But I can’t hear the water

running     What?

Was that the doorbell

Someone let the table out

I want to go home

but the silverware left without me

Is it my fault the bed’s on fire

oh, it is

catatonia-schizophrenia-symptoms-01

I don’t sleep in a cloud full

of roses

Want to go outside and play

in the weeds

the roaches won’t care

They’re too busy picking curtains

at the supermarket

Go away but I lost 10 pounds

of home

Help me.

*Image Credits (all work used with permission through CC lisence)–
“cognitive-symptoms-of-schizophrenia-03″ by Life Mental Health
“catatonic-schizophrenia-symptoms-01″ by Life Mental Health
“Thousand Plateaus Drawing” by Magda Wojtyra
“diaptych(left) :: mess-up 1/1 mess-age” by Joel, Evelyn, Francois
“diaptych(right) :: mess-up N/N mess-age” by Joel, Evelyn, Francois