Anxiety – The dangers of Googling

Often it is tempting to rush to Google with any symptoms you have, or any doubts you have. It seems to be an integral part of the psyche of the anxiety sufferer that “the worst will happen”. And Google puts the worst possible at out fingertips in words and images. Have you ever caught yourself googling plane crashes before taking a flight about which you are suffering terrible nervousness or anxiety? Have you ever googled the name of a drug to see all the possible dire side effects they are going to have on you? Have you ever Googled a SSRI like Prozac or Celexa? My word, the list of side effects are endless….From nausea to suicide!

But when googling you should remember this. Very few people go to forums and report that the medication the doctor gave them is really working, they have much better things to do like getting on with their lives! No one goes on Google to say how smoothly there flight was, they Go to complain! Most of the information you find on the internet regarding anxiety, panic attacks and phobias is Bad News. I am not saying you should avoid it, just remember that you are unique and the extreme bad things which happened to them are not going to happen to you!

Look for good news, see how hard it is! But remember, anxiety, phobias, and depression and panic attacks are eminently treatable!

Anxiety Supplements

Although plenty of people have success with anti-anxiety medications (i.e a marked reduction or removal of symptoms including panic attacks and obsessive worry) many do not. Those who do not have success with anti-anxiety medications fall into two categories: those for whom the tablets have no effects, and those for whom the idea of taking tablets is abhorrent or the side effects are too great.
Whatever your reason for avoiding anti-anxiety medication (and it’s a perfectly reasonable personal decision to make) the idea of supplements becomes alluring. There are two major drawbacks to using supplements. Firstly, proper scientific research is generally lacking and books and practitioners tend to rely on anecdotal data or historical records. Historical proof that a herb has been used for millennia doesn’t mean that it works! The second drawback is that there tends to be as many different recommended doses as there are books and manufacturers.

Should this stop you trying supplements to help beat anxiety? Of course not, it’s just a reminder to do your homework before you spend your money. Of course consult your doctor before you try them, and that is especially true if you are on medication of any sort or pregnant as some supplements can not be taken with other medication.

Then you’re into the minefield. What supplement should I take?

          The list goes on and on and any self respecting salesperson in a healthfood shop can send you away with empty pockets if you are not careful.

          I will be putting a page on Anxiety 2 Calm shortly with more info on herbs and supplements. Until then remember that B vitamins are important for the nervous system, tryptophan is good for building serotonin, flax seed and fish oils contain omega 3 fatty acids which are essential for a healthy brain. As for the rest…watch this space and do your homework!

          Feelings of Unreality

          A quick Google search on feelings of unreality returns numerous posts on forums by people who are witnessing this frightening phenomena. Also described as depersonalization, derealization, and dissociation these feelings are amazingly common and hard to describe. Some people say they are in a glass bubble looking out, or watching the world go by on a giant TV. Others say they suddenly feel the people and things around them are not real.

          The obvious catastrophic thoughts are along the lines of “I am going mad”!

          So what is this and what can be done about it. Firstly let me say that sometimes these feelings of unreality and depersonalisation come about as a result of recreational drug use. That topic is beyond the scope of this blog and my area of expertise. Speak to your doctor and don’t take drugs kids! While I’m at it, anyone with feelings of unreality or depersonalization should speak to their doctor.

          apart from drug misuse the most common cause of feelings of unreality is stress, anxiety, worry, and depression. Just like hyperventilation or a feeling that you are about to pass out they absolutely harmless and do pass eventually. Just like all other symptoms they are horrible and awful and no one who hasn’t experienced them can truly understand. My advice is still to go with them and let them be, the sooner you accept them the sooner they will pass.

          The good news is that for me they heralded the end of the heavy physical symptoms of anxiety like difficulty breathing, nervousness, and panic. The feelings of unreality for me at least were related to my underlying issues: depression, low confidence and low self esteem.

          So after speaking to a doctor take these feelings as a sign, accept them, remember they are not dangerous or real and will pass. I really recommend you read books by Dr Claire Weekes.


          Simple Phobias

          The language of the psychological and psychiatric communities is fantastic. A “Simple Phobia” is in fact no such thing, it can complicate a life beyond belief. Of course what they mean is a phobia related to one object or situation, as opposed to a more general phobia such as agoraphobia where both the causes and treatment may be more complicated.
          I saw a video of a woman who had a phobia of feathers (it was on a BBC programme about phobias some time ago). Although it might seem like an easy phobia to deal with in fact it was life crushing. She feared birds of all shapes and sizes and they are pretty hard to escape. Once she left her two year old on a beach in Tenerife because a Seagull looked at her. It sounds almost comic but in fact it severely disabled her, like so many phobias do.
          The cure came from a very mainstream source. Firstly she tried hypnotic regression and did indeed recall a time when a bird had become trapped in her grandmothers kitchen and had scared her as a child. The recollection of this event did not appear to change her phobia, for when she went outside the site of a pigeon affected her just as before.
          Eventually she went to a clinical psychologist who pointed out to her that she had become scared of her fear, of the physical symptoms and it was that association with the feathers that was causing the response of a panic attack. He asked her what she thought would happen if she were to go near a feather and she replied that she would faint or die.
          They went through graded exposure during which re -assured her that whatever she felt would pass and was not a sign if imminent death. A few hours later she was happily holding the feather, and her phobia was permanently removed.
          Did the regression help this at all? Make the exposure easier? We will never know. But obviously you are not over a phobia or a fear until you face the situation and do it. Panic Attacks don’t kill.

          Separation Anxiety

          Separation anxiety is normally seen in children who are, or feel they are likely to be, separated from their care-giver. What would happen if that followed on into later life? I don’t mean as a direct extension of adults who can’t bare to leave their parents (Although that is not as uncommon as you might think!) I mean more that people with anxiety, and in particular anxiety that limits travel such as agoraphobia, have an attachment to something or someone that subconsciously they feel they can’t let go of. My theory goes that in fact having felt abandoned as a child or having been separated from close people or possessions forcibly might make you cling more to what you know and love in adulthood. What if a belief formed that said the things you didn’t know, and the people you didn’t know were cruel and unkind. Then you would have some kind of travel phobia mixed with some kind of social phobia.

          What could one do about such an issue? Well, it seems likely that CBT alone might not be the only answer. If one were to beat the physical symptoms one would be left with the cognitive fear, and although CBT might help with some negative thoughts and beliefs it vcan’t help with the ones you don’t know you have.
          It seems to me that in this situation some kind of psychotherapeutic technique might be better, with EMDR and TFT being the fastest, if not the most thorough.
          Food for thought.

          Tapes and CD’s – The fight against anxiety.

          Oftentimes I have been in a book shop or flicked through a magazine and come across tapes and CD’s which offer amazingly quick relief from panic attacks, anxiety and phobias. These tapes are usually self hypnosis or guided meditation (which amount to more or less the same thing. Some people, particularly the anxious ones, don’t much like the idea of being hypnotised).

          Do these tapes work I wonder? Well, back in the days I tried a few. No, I tried lots. I tried Glen Harrold, Paul McKenna, and others. I also tried tapes to lift self esteem, build confidence, relax, sleep better, be assertive and probably much more besides. For some reason not having success with one didn’t sem to deter me from trying others.

          Most of the tapes used the same old trick which comes from Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). The trick’s called by various names including “The Resource Anchor” and I have never managed to make it work. The idea is that you recall a time when you felt amazingly confident/happy/outgoing/calm or whatever, focus in on the memory and really try and re-experience it, then squeeze your first finger and thumb together and hold them tight for a count of thirty. The idea is that if you feel anxiety, panic or low confidence (or any other negative emotion) you squeeze your first finger and thumb together and your old sense of inner strength will come up from within you.

          NLP is one of those things that some people swear by for all sorts of uses but which I have never had much luck with.

          By and large I didn’t feel much effect from the tapes (although you may!), sometimes I felt sleepy, sometimes calm, sometimes tense, often I was just bored and after several listenings I knew them off by heart and was counting the seconds until they ended.

          This brings me back to one of my favourite rants about hypnosis as a treatment for anxiety. Many anxious people find that they are just too fidgety, stressed, or resistant to the process of hypnosis. This is less so for self hypnosis but even still…when your problem is stress and tension, therapies that rely on calm and relaxation may not be of much use!!!

          Anxiety and Panic Attacks – is EFT effective?

          I’ve talked about this a bit on my website Anxiety2calm. In a nutshell I have seen people have good results, and the great thing is that all the info is available free online or in books so you don’t need to waste too much money trying. I recommend giving it a bash. Despite what they say about quick results I’d persevere…tap around all the issues you can think of related to mood, self esteem,anxiety etc etc and anything that seems relevant, even if you don’t know why it seems relevant. Be open to success…you never know…..

          Of course what works for some doesn’t work for others, and many people are very negative about meridian therapies because they don’t get the quick results promised. If you decide to go for it give it a serious attempt, be organised and systematic and regularly practice for at least a few weeks. With complicated disorders it can be the case of coming across the right thing to tap on before you make real progress. Time to turn detective!

          My personal experience with EFT and TFT is that they cleared up various aspects of my anxiety…for example I used to wake sweating in the night, I tapped on it one night and it has never happened again, it used to happen regularly. I think you should also be prepared for the idea that your issue may have layers, so as you tap you may discover underlying issues. Be ready to tap on these and speak to a professional about them if they are serious. A good idea to have friend on standby to talk about stuff. I for one discovered a deep feeling of inadequacy and
          self hatred that I had to deal with.

          Instant cure? Probably for some simple phobias only. Potential cure if practiced properly? Yes.
          Hope this has been of some help.
          Good Luck!!!

          Appear on a Channel 4 special about Phobias.

          Hi, I have been asked by Objective Productions to help them find some people with phobias to appear on a fourthcoming TV show. The first programme is all about fear of flying and will involve having treatment by a specialist who knows his stuff! Their advert goes like this:

          Do you have a
          fear of flying?
          Have you never been on a plane?
          Or got on but had to abandon the flight before take-off?
          Or only just managed the journey one way, and had to return overland?
          Has your fear prevented or disrupted holidays with friends and family?
          Or cost you promotion at work?
          Have you tried everything, but nothing’s succeeded?
          We may be able to help.
          Objective Productions are making a new factual programme for Channel 4.
          Using new, highly successful techniques, our expert can help you train your mind to overcome your phobia.
          We are aware that this is a sensitive subject but also know that this could be a life changing opportunity for those who have an established phobia of flying. We’re looking for people to take part in filming over a long weekend in the South East of England.
          To find out more, please call Alex (0207 202 2412), Helen (0207 202 2422) or Michelle (0207 202 2470) as soon as possible
          or e-mail

          Test Anxiety Exam Anxiety

          During the examination period at school or college and assessments at work is one of the worst times to feel anxiety. Obviously because so much of your life is riding on just a few hours of hopefully peak performance.

          Remember that a little bit of anxiety is actually quite useful at motivating you and sharpening up your brain, however if the anxiety is distracting you, causing you panic and nausea, sending your mind racing in the wrong direction the you have to act against it.

          Firstly let’s consider the pro’s and cons of taking drugs. “Recreational” drugs such as Cannabis should be avoided completely; although they may relax they can also hamper the ability to function properly. Many people who have test anxiety have specifically math test anxiety and trying to do sums when stoned is hard!

          Likewise, unless your problem is extreme your doctor is unlikely to proscribe benzodiazepines like Valium. The suppression of your Central nervous System would have a negative effect on your performance. Beta Blockers are a more likely option as they don’t cross the blood brain barrier. They act on the release of adrenalin and calm your nerves physically (although not mentally).

          Drugs are good when time is limited, but ultimately you should assess if you have an anxiety disorder such as GAD which is causing your test anxiety. Are you anxious inb other situations, low in confidence and generally nervous? Also people with social anxiety tend to find exams a trial as they are stuck in a room with many other people, and can feel out of control. In all these cases check out the advice here and speak to your doctor.

          Whether you are getting anxiety in tests at school, college, work or anywhere else the most important advice is to tel someone!!!! They can help, and you are not the first. You will be glad you did!!

          Good Luck

          Sedona Method, Byron Katie, is it all CBT?

          I was wondering when thumbing through Hale Dwoskin’s Sedona Method and Byron Katie’s Loving What Is if there is any more to these treatments than just re-packaged Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. Such recycling is not uncommon by American marketing gurus turned Life coaches (for me Journey Therapy was not much more than a re-invention of hypnosis). For sure some people, and not just Americans (!), have seen the massive financial benefits at targeting miracle cures for anxiety disorders, depression, agoraphobia, insomnia, OCD etc etc.

          Firstly we should remember that there is nothing wrong with miracle cures accept for when they don’t work at all. That is why I am increasingly suspicious of some programmes, for sale online for vast sums, which can not be externally verified at all. The grandiose claims they make are not repeated across the net. The thing is that many people who get over mental health issues get on with their lives and don’t stop to visit their old chat rooms and tell others how they recovered. But some do. And as I said the lack of independent verification is to say the least worrying.

          I chose Byron Katie and the Sedona Method today because they are two that I do believe in. On the face of it their techniques have much to do with CBT, questioning the negative thought processes that lead to anxiety and depression. But in fact they go much deeper. Firstly their questionative processes are more long winded and more thorough than those that tend to be used in CBT, and secondly they go more into the core of ourselves, instead of being purely symptomatic treatments. Being something of a cross between psychotherapy and cognitive therapy and dealing with the underlying issues that I believe are important for many. They are worth a look.