treatment for anxiety
Most people who struggle with anxiety have no idea that they do. Anxiety is a phenomenon that affects people with low self worth. People who struggle with anxiety struggle to find value in their humanity, and chronically feel out of place in the world around.
In this post, I am going to address three primary symptoms that people who struggle with anxiety exhibit. They are chronic worrying, poor sleep and chronic irritable mood.
Anxiety is caused by low confidence of self, or an under developed sense of self identity. People with low self confidence find themselves chronically faced with situations they find daunting and overwhelming. They don’t believe in themselves, so they doubt their ability to excel and as a result they are excessively risk aversive. People with anxiety often wish for experiences that are problem free due to their lack of confidence in themselves to tackle any challenges life throws at them. Hence they find themselves chronically worried about what could go wrong next.
Most people who struggle with anxiety experience poor sleep, because like most people, they believed that they are constantly supposed to sleep throughout the night. However it appears that anxious people experience a combination of their constant worries of things going wrong in their lives in addition to their concerns about not getting enough sleep. This keeps them up, sometimes into the early morning hours as they steadily transition into one state of worry to another.
As a result of not getting enough sleep, people who struggle with anxiety present with chronic irritability. They lack patience, which affects their ability to get tasks done properly, which also negatively affects their relationships with others.
Not getting tasks complete creates a perception of unreliability in the eyes of others, which also creates unwanted friction in relationships with others. Subsequently, adding to the list of reasons of why the anxious persons should constantly be worried.
These are the three main symptoms of anxiety that characterize an anxious person, other symptoms not mentioned such as irrational fears and panic attacks are really sub categories for chronic worrying. This is because chronic worrying encompasses any and all things that could possible go wrong in the person’s life, real or perceived.
A proper course of treatment for someone who struggles with these symptoms of anxiety would be identifying core beliefs which irrationally dictate that things should not go wrong in his or her lives, and changing such beliefs to beliefs that emphasize values of courage and emotional resiliency.
So rather than chronically focusing on what could go wrong in your life, through proper treatment, a person who struggles with anxiety transitions to a person who comes to see his or herself has having the resiliency to survive and thrive through any challenge that comes his or her way.
We have two types of brains, the first being the primitive brain designed to help us during periods of emergency. The second type of brain we have is the more advanced brain, designed for problem solving, making predictions, planning ahead and creating positive intentions in our lives.
The thing about the second brain is that to properly access it, you have to be enmeshed in a state of genuine calm. Various States of worry or anxieties only brings you closer under the control of the reptilian/primitive brain. The closer you are to operating under the will of the reptilian brain the more impulsive you are likely to be. This is because the reptilian brain is designed to keep us responsive and subsequently alive when unexpected life threatening /altering emergencies interrupt our daily routines. An example of this would be driving, most drivers can testify just how suddenly responsive they become at the wheel when steering out of a possible collision or out of the path of a wayward pedestrian.
This is testimony to the power and importance of the reptilian brain. However the key to thriving through life is being able to create calm in your life and subsequently your thoughts. The calmer you are, the more you are able to think ahead and create positive intentions in your life.
As a psychotherapist, I see excessive reactivity and impulsivity as a symptom of unresolved trauma. Usually from early life experiences, and when working with people who are consistently reactive, I inform or remind them about their personal power. About how they now have the power as adults to remove chaos from their lives regardless of how uncomfortable they feel initially about living in peace.
We are creatures of habit, and while our individual and collective tendencies to establish rituals and routines is a strength, we also have the ability to evoke change in our lives. So even if you have experienced significant trauma at any point in your life, which has led you to adopt certain maladaptive behaviors to cope with the pain, you have the power to change.
Think about it this way, if you experienced significant trauma at any point in your life, it changed you and the initial process where your brain became rewired as you changed your habits was most likely painfully uncomfortable. Then it stands to reason that despite the discomfort you will experience as you intentionally evoke positive change in your life, it is a period of discomfort you should look forward to as the new you will bring about a happy and more thriving you.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.
Anxiety is an energetic way we typically we feel when we are preparing for an important event in our lives. Unfortunately it is an energy which is frequently misunderstood.
Imagine if you are giving a presentation to a mid sized to a large sized audience, chances are that you are going to be experiencing a significant degree of anxiety as the event date approaches. How you initially manage your feelings of anxiety, is determined by your beliefs and expectations regarding feeling anxious.
So if you are feeling particularly fearful in response to your anxious feelings, then it stands to reason that you will regard the energy you are experiencing with significant dread as the date approaches. What if you could see your anxiety as a good sign? What if you could see your anxiety as a sign that your body is going through the physiological changes it needs to go through in order for you to be at your very best on the day of the actual event?
If this idea sounds appealing to you, then the process of going through such a change comes from learning to accept life on life’s terms. So rather than envision your worst fears, (things that shouldn’t happen to you) adopt an attitude of hoping and praying for the best, while being prepared to learn the lesson you need to learn from the outcome of the event, regardless of how things go. With the intent of using the lesson you learned from the event to further your growth as a person.
Understandably, not everyone who struggles with anxiety, struggles due to specific issues that he or she is aware of, often times people experience chronic forms of anxiety for reasons they struggle to explain. This is especially true for sufferers of panic attacks. I have found that when treating such people in these predicaments, they are often enmeshed with several thoughts during the day about possible scenarios of things that could go wrong. What I would usually tell such people is that their experiences with anxiety is provoked not by a specific issue, but by several issues most of which are irrational and blown out of proportion by their thoughts.
The process of getting to a healthier place where you able to genuinely perceive your feelings of anxiety as a good sign comes from changing your beliefs about your expectations. To put more bluntly learn to preference your expectations. It makes it easier for you to accept and cope with disappointments and learn the lesson you need to learn from it.
Working with a good Therapist, is the first step towards understanding the history of your beliefs and picking up cognitive strategies to begin practicing change.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.
During one of these episodes, I happened to be the platoon leader for the week and we were executing some drills for an upcoming marching ceremony. We had been practicing this particular drill for about forty minutes when we finally executed it with no mistakes.
So there we stood, at the position of attention waiting for the “At Ease” order, when I suddenly felt a tickle in my right ear. My initial urge was to bat away what I perceived to be a fly. However I thought it through and decided it would not be worth the risk to get caught flinching, when I was supposed to be at attention. The consequences, would have been that the entire platoon execute fifteen push-ups and repeat the drill.
So I stood still, hoping that this stupid fly would simply leave, but it continued. I then heard a grunt followed by a quiet giggle. It was then I realized that I wasn’t dealing with a fly, I was dealing with my head drill sergeant who had taken it upon himself to once again make things difficult for me. He was tickling my ear with what I later found out to be a blade of grass.
Once I realized what was going on, I became angered. I suddenly found myself fixated with the urge to make a right turn, snatch the grass away from him and push him away. It is pretty obvious that things would not have gone well for me if I had followed through with that urge. So after weighing my options, I decided to do nothing.
I told myself that whatever he was doing to my ear was not going to harm me, and that he would give up soon enough, once his arm got tired. Then he stopped, and gave the “At Ease” order.
Years later in my graduate program, I came to learn that by coincidence I had practiced a fundamental aspect of mindfulness. The best way I can describe mindfulness, is to say it’s the practice of being mindful of your physiological and emotional self, to include the world around you with the commitment of not being reactive.
Mindfulness is an effective practice that works best for people who struggle with trauma. Considering that our feelings are gate keepers to our past memories, traumatic memories recalled (voluntarily or involuntarily), are usually recalled with the same intense and painful feelings that were used to encode these memories into long term storage.
This means that people who go untreated with trauma risk falling into the vicious cycle of unknowingly being triggered by subtle reminders of their traumas, which sends them into a tail spin of being reactive to intrusive memories due to experiencing the same level of emotional hurt and pain experienced when these events first took place. The more frequent people with trauma are triggered, the more difficult it becomes for them to even realize when they are being triggered.
To date using a combination of eye movement desensitization reprocessing and mindfulness is the best approach I have found for treating those who struggle with trauma.
A common assignment I initially introduce to clients, is a brief mindfulness technique for overcoming urges. Just like I coincidentally practiced the technique in resisting the urge to engage my drill sergeant, anyone who struggles with trauma on any level can find this technique useful for overcoming his or her urge to overreact to difficult and painful feelings.
The exercise goes like this.
- Find a quiet place, where you are certain you will not be distracted externally.
- Sit down (preferably without a back rest)
- Listen to your body. Listening to your body means paying attention to yourself from head to toe. Initially the only thing you should start noticing is your breathing. After which you would probably begin noticing some discomfort within yourself. Like an itch on your head, an ache on the back of your next, perhaps your watch is strapped on too tightly.
- Make a commitment to not adjust yourself, no matter what. This is the most important part of the exercise, you are practicing the discipline of not giving into your urges. What you will notice is that the initial discomfort fades away after about two minutes.
- Do this for five minutes (the first time you do this). You want to build yourself to about twenty minutes daily.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.