I put this question once to my doctor who gave the reply that when it comes to anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias the best thing is “…whatever works”. To this day that was the most profoundly intelligent thing a doctor has ever said to me on the subject of anxiety.
I was surprised to hear it because normally doctors, along with the rest of the mainstream medical and psychological professions, rely on Cognitive behavioral Therapy (CBT). What’s wrong with that you may ask, after all CBT has a success rate that, when combined with medication reaches the 80% level. Few other therapies are even statistically proven, let alone that successful.
So what then is my problem with CBT? Well, it relies upon “feeling the fear and doing it anyway”. Again, that’s fine; at least you will be doing stuff and living your life, and with time the fear will lessen and may well disappear. It can be a cure. The problem is that if there is an underlying cause (and CBT seems to state that underlying causes are Freudian Bulls**t) then it may rear it’s ugly head in another area of life be that anxiety elsewhere, depression, or a new phobia.
So CBT should be avoided? No, no way. Everyone, and I mean everyone should have CBT. Even if they have no anxiety or phobias or depression they could still benefit from thinking more positively and rationally. I just think people should take a more eclectic approach in order to tackle their issues once and for all. CBT will help get your life in order quickly.
More about the eclectic approach tomorrow, but for now why not check out the Exposure Can Be Fun section of Anxiety 2 Calm.
Have you ever considered how we label ourselves in this society. We are desperate to fit ourselves into categories of social class or musical taste. Things are no different in the field of mental health and psychological wellbeing. When we take a label like “agoraphobia” we tend to live up to it, taking on all the stress the label implies and accepting its limitations on our life almost unquestioningly. The end result is that we feel worse, that we have this talisman permanently hanging round our necks as if we had HIV or terminal cancer (now there’s a label that is only leading the patient in one direction!)
What we need to do is change our internal language, the constant dialogue we have with our self, from “having” to “feeling”. Instead of “I have anxiety” we should say “I am feeling anxious” (if it’s happening now) or “I felt anxious” (if it happened in the past). This change is important because we move away from labels and permanent states towards emotions which pass, as emotions always do. For more on this refer to the Labels section of the free anti-anxiety programme at http://www.anxiety2calm.com.
Often people who have anxiety or panic disorders say that the strange feeling of unreality, depersonalization, spaciness, or dreaminess are the most frightening. Of course these feelings are not as violent as the throat clenching horror of a full blown panic or anxiety attack. Feelings of unreality are considered frightening for a different reason.
After you have had a panic attack or two you probably know what to expect. That doesn’t mean it becomes any less nasty necessarily, but at least you know where you are. Feelings of unreality on the other hand don’t seem to have a definite start or finish, you don’t know when they will go away. What’s more they don’t feel like anxiety, they feel like you are going completely mad!
And that is the scary thought. Is this Schizophrenia? Bipolar? What’s going on?
What is going on? Well, you are feeling spacey and it doesn’t matter half as much as you think it does. Like the rest of anxiety and panic, if you worry about it you just get more. Work on going about your normal business allowing the anxiety and feelings of unreality to be there. The sooner you accept them the sooner they will pass. Dr Clare Weekes (eminent Australian Anxiety expert now deceased) says feelings of unreality are a good sign, as they show you are dealing with the anxiety. Read here for more about her. And for a wealth of anxiety information visit Anxiety 2 Calm.
Recently it was all the rage to talk about the genetic cause of anxiety, some gene that when present heightened the risk and severity of anxiety. I never much bought into the theory as everyone has the capacity for anxiety and many people manage to shake it off. I am not a big fan of explaining anxiety away with physical causes, it smacks of a cop out to me. Anxiety is something that can be dealt with.
The latest that I have read is that anxiety can be caused by abnormal brain structure. People apparantly who have a thinner ventromedial prefrontal cortex are less able to deal or cope with stressful situations and therefore develope anxiety and post truamatic stress disorder (PTSD). Apparently those who develop PTSD tend to have less active ventromedial prefrontal cortex.
IF this is true then it would certainly seem that anxiety sufferers need to deal with past traumatic memories (through regression, EMDR, or whatever) in order to get over their symptoms.
Research like this should never be considered as a reason to sit back and do nothing about anxiety. It is still treatable and there is still lots you can do about it.
For more info on brain structure causes of anxiety check out the BBC story here.
People who have been suffering from anxiety sometimes don’t want to get better. To most sufferers that sounds quite ridiculous, afterall that swell of fear inside you, tingling feelings, restricted breathing, panic attacks and depression at not being able to do what other people do is the worst thing ever. Yet it’s true, some people seem to get caught up in wanting either consciously or subconsciously to keep hold of their problems to kind of scherk responsibility or avoid work.
No, I’m not some conservative politician trying to cut down on benefit payments. This is a serious barrier to some people’s recovery.
Checkout http://www.anxiety2calm.com/secondary_gain_anxiety.shtml for a brief overview of secondary gain issues that can keep you stuck in dysfunctional behaviour.
It’s one to watch out for, and the people who are the quickest to say in their most indignant voice “Of course I want to get over my anxiety”….”Of course I don’t want to have panic atacks”…”Of course I want to clear this depression” are often the ones who are most attached to their problems.
I’m considering adding a section to Anxiety 2 Calm about sexual performance, impotence, and male fertility. I figured that most people who have anxiety think negatively about themselves and negatively about the future – the “Murphy’s Law” effect, what can go wrong will go wrong. It seems that those with anxiety will not only have a poor self body image which is likely to hamper sexual performance and libido, but will also imagine failing in bed. This of course is true of both men and women. Everyone knows about male sexual health and fertility, but for women a lack of libido can be easier to hide and easier to explain away. Few are surprised, even in this day and age, when a woman doesn’t want to rush into sex, but a man’s failings are much more obvious.
Like so much, male sexual problems are so easy to get over when they are caused by anxiety and negative thought. But unsurprisingly few get help as it’s so embarrassing.
Watch this space for a link to my new section on anxiety and sexual performance.
This is the first blog from the newly revitalised Anxiety 2 Calm website. It’s been a busy time what with uploading loads of new content, trying to sort out the design and optimization and getting a forum sorted out.Damn, I’m feeling kind of as if no ones very grateful, visitor numbers are as poor as ever and no ones even using my fourms yet.
Oh well…First thing I wanted to know was: What do you all think of the “Linden Method”? You don’t have to google very much around keywords like anxiety and panic before the name charles linden pops up? I would love to know what people reckon, preferably those with first or second hand experience of it!