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Archive for the ‘Anxiety’ Category

10 Ways Anxiety Presents Itself

Monday, February 20th, 2012 by Dr. Ilona L. Tobin

Common symptoms of anxiety include racing heartbeat and butterflies in your stomach. However, anxiety can present itself in numerous ways.

  1. Constant worries/dread. You feel anxious nearly all the time, although you may not know why. To help reduce anxiety and stress, aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most days.
  2. (more…)

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Ilona Tobin has been a psychologist and a marriage and family therapist for more than 25 years in Birmingham, Michigan. For more information, please visit her listing on the Therapist Directory.

Drop The Case

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011 by Rick Hanson, Ph.D.

Who are you prosecuting?
The Practice
Drop the case.
Why?

Lately I’ve been thinking about a kind of “case” that’s been running in my mind about someone in my extended family. The case is a combination of feeling hurt and mistreated, critique of the other person, irritation with others who haven’t supported me, views about what should happen that hasn’t, and implicit taking-things-personally.

In other words, the usual mess.

It’s not that I have not been mistreated – actually, I have been – nor that my analysis of things is inaccurate (others agree that what I see does in fact exist). The problem is that my case is saturated with negative emotions like anger, biased toward my own viewpoint, and full of me-me-me. Every time I think of it I start getting worked up, adding to the bad effects of chronic stress. It creates awkwardness with others, since even though they support me, they’re naturally leery of getting sucked into my strong feelings or into my conflict with the other person. It makes me look bad, too cranked up about things in the past. And it primes me for overreactions when I see the person in question. Yes, I practice with this stuff arising in my mind and generally don’t act it out, but it’s still a burden.

I think my own experience of case-making – and its costs – are true in general. In couples in trouble, one or both people usually have a detailed Bill of Particulars against the other person. At larger scales, different social or political groups have scathing indictments of the other side.

How about you? Think of someone you feel wronged by: can you find case against that person in your mind? What’s it feel like to go into that case? What does it cost you? And others?

The key – often not easy – is to be open to your feelings (e.g., hurt, anger), to see the truth of things, and to take appropriate action . . . while not getting caught up in your case about it all. (more…)

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Dr. Hanson is a neuropsychologist in San Rafael, California. His practice includes adults, couples, families, and children, as well as psychological assessments of children and adults related to temperament, school performance, and educational and vocational planning. For more information, please visit his listing on the Therapist Directory

Don’t Take it Personally

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011 by Rick Hanson, Ph.D.

Is it about you?
The Practice
Don’t take it personally.
Why?

Here’s an updated parable from the ancient Taoist teacher, Chuang-Tzu: Imagine that you are floating in a canoe on a slow-moving river, having a Sunday picnic with a friend. Suddenly there is a loud thump on the side of the canoe, and it rolls over. You come up sputtering, and what do you see? Somebody has snuck up on your canoe, flipped it over for a joke, and is laughing at you. How do you feel?

OK. Now imagine the exact same situation again: the picnic in a canoe, loud thump, dumped into the river, coming up sputtering, and what do you see? A large submerged log has drifted downstream and bumped into your canoe. This time, how do you feel?

The facts are the same in each case: cold and wet, picnic ruined. But when you feel personally picked on, everything feels worse. The thing is, most of what bumps into us in life – including emotional reactions from others, traffic jams, illness, or mistreatment at work – is like an impersonal log put in motion by 10,000 causes upstream. (more…)

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Dr. Hanson is a neuropsychologist in San Rafael, California. His practice includes adults, couples, families, and children, as well as psychological assessments of children and adults related to temperament, school performance, and educational and vocational planning. For more information, please visit his listing on the Therapist Directory

Keep Hope Not Fear Alive

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011 by Rick Hanson, Ph.D.

This recent series of posts has used the example of Stephen Colbert’s satirical “March to Keep Fear Alive” as a timely illustration of a larger point: humans evolved to be fearful — a major feature of the brain’s negativity bias that helped our ancestors pass on their genes. Consequently, as much research has shown, we’re usually much more affected by negative — by which I mean painful — experiences than by positive ones.

Besides the personal impacts of this bias in the brain, it also makes people, and nations, vulnerable to being manipulated by threats, both real ones and “paper tigers.” Colbert is mocking those who play on fear, since we surely don’t need more efforts to keep fear alive.

Your Brain on Negative
Painful experiences range from subtle discomfort to extreme anguish — and there is a place for them. Sorrow can open the heart, anger can highlight injustices, fear can alert you to real threats, and remorse can help you take the high road next time.

But is there really any shortage of suffering in this world? Look at the faces of others, or your own, in the mirror, and see the marks of weariness, irritation, stress, disappointment, longing and worry. There’s plenty of challenge in life already — including unavoidable illness, loss of loved ones, old age and death — without needing a bias in your brain to give you an extra dose of pain each day.

Yet as my last post explored, your brain evolved exactly such a “negativity bias” in order to help your ancestors pass on their genes — a bias that produces lots of collateral damage today. (more…)

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Dr. Hanson is a neuropsychologist in San Rafael, California. His practice includes adults, couples, families, and children, as well as psychological assessments of children and adults related to temperament, school performance, and educational and vocational planning. For more information, please visit his listing on the Therapist Directory

You Can Feel Safer

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 by Rick Hanson, Ph.D.

Feeling safer is a tricky subject, with complications that can be both personal and political.

(This topic and others are explored in depth in my interview with New Dimensions.)

Yes, there are real threats out there, but evolution and other factors have left a lot of us walking around in a kind of paranoid trance. I’ve been there myself, and the results include feeling less peaceful and hopeful, and more worried and cranky, than is right.

So I hope you find this post helpful.

Is There Really a Tiger in Those Bushes?

Consider these two mistakes:

1.  You think there’s a tiger in the bushes, but actually there isn’t one.

2.  You think no tiger is in the bushes, but actually one is about to pounce.

Most of us make the first error much more often than the second one, because:

·  Evolution has given us a paranoid brain. In order to survive and pass on genes, it’s better to make the first mistake a hundred times rather than make the second mistake even once; the cost of the first mistake is fear for no reason, but the cost of the second mistake is death. (more…)

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Dr. Hanson is a neuropsychologist in San Rafael, California. His practice includes adults, couples, families, and children, as well as psychological assessments of children and adults related to temperament, school performance, and educational and vocational planning. For more information, please visit his listing on the Therapist Directory

Don’t Be Alarmed

Friday, February 18th, 2011 by Rick Hanson, Ph.D.

Why?

The nervous system has been evolving for about 600 million years. During all this time, creatures – worms, crabs, lizards, rats, monkeys, hominids, humans – that were real mellow, watching the sunlight on the leaves, getting all Zen, absorbed in inner peace . . . CHOMP got eaten because they didn’t notice the shadow overhead or crackle of twigs nearby.

The ones that survived to pass on their genes were nervous, fidgety, vigilant, paranoid – and we are their great-, great-grandchildren, bred to be afraid, quick to feel unsettled in any situation that seems the least bit threatening: traffic speeding up, not enough time to get through your emails, a snippy comment from a relative, more news of a struggling economy, a strange new ache in your back, no call after two days from someone you’ve started dating, and so on.
(more…)

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Dr. Hanson is a neuropsychologist in San Rafael, California. His practice includes adults, couples, families, and children, as well as psychological assessments of children and adults related to temperament, school performance, and educational and vocational planning. For more information, please visit his listing on the Therapist Directory

It’s Not An Option

Friday, October 1st, 2010 by Ruth Gordon, LCSW

I saw an interview on TV a while back with the fashion designer, Diane Von Furstenberg. When asked about the people who had inspired her, she named her mother, a concentration camp survivor, who taught her that fear was not an option. Well, that got my attention.
(more…)

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Ruth Gordon is licensed clinical social worker in both Massachusetts and Florida. For more information, please visit her listing on the Therapist Directory. This article may not be reprinted, reproduced, or retransmitted in whole or in part without the express written consent of the author.

The pathologizing of a culture

Monday, September 21st, 2009 by Mel Schwartz, LCSW

A young woman in her mid-twenties recently came in for her first visit with me. Three months earlier she had experienced her first bout of anxiety and it had become more acute thereafter. She went on to explain that she had been seeing a psychiatrist who had prescribed four different psychotropic medications, simultaneously. Complaining of a blurred and disconnected feeling, she offered that she was uncertain as to whether the cause was physical, emotional and psychological—or a symptom of the gross invasion of this massive drugging.
(more…)

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Mel Schwartz is a psychotherapist with offices in Westport Ct and NYC. For more information, please visit his listing on the Therapist Directory or his website. This article may not be reprinted, reproduced, or retransmitted in whole or in part without the express written consent of the author.

Anxiety: Friend or Foe?

Monday, May 18th, 2009 by Dr. Terry Tempinski

We have all known the experience of being anxious, worried, and even panicked. While these symptoms can become overwhelming and debilitating, the good news is, generally speaking, anxiety is not difficult to treat. Let me explain.

No one likes to be anxious. I am here to help you appreciate your anxiety as a very good friend who is trying to call your attention to a source of inner turmoil. Typically, anxiety is not difficult to treat because it is only a symptom. Its exploration in the course of psychotherapy offers clues as to the source of the problem, and once that cause is understood, and the work of resolving the underlying cause begins, the anxiety tends to remit.

If you are feeling anxious, panicky or consumed with worry to the point of not being able to focus, concentrate, sleep, or comfortably interact with others, please don’t get caught up in what I call identifying with a diagnosis such as “anxiety disorder” or “panic disorder”. Diagnoses are merely tools mental health professionals use to describe a cluster of symptoms. Symptoms of anxiety are much like a fever, which we know indicates that we have an infection of some type.

(more…)

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Dr. Tempinski is a clinical psychologist with more than 25 years experience treating adult individuals. She is fully licensed in the state of Michigan. Her solo private practice has been designed with the goal of maximizing client confidentiality. Dr. Tempinski works with the philosophy that most emotional difficulties stem from inner turmoil that can be understood and resolved. For more information, please visit her listing on the Therapist Directory

Terribilities: Exploring the Origins of Anxiety

Monday, May 18th, 2009 by Mauri-Lynne Heller

The very unstable economic surround in which we now find ourselves has unleashed an epidemic of anxiety-related complaints. Stomach upsets, irritability, sleep disturbances, hives and rashes and unpleasantly intrusive thoughts or mental imagery have become increasingly common even among the usually serene and composed.

It is undeniably true that we face very complex concerns that demand acknowledgement and realistic adjustments. Yet emotional responses, particularly anxiety, speak of feelings rumbling deep beneath the surface of an outer constellation of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Simply treating a symptom may bring temporary relief but will do nothing to achieve more permanent emotional stability. Anxiety can be used as a vehicle for visceral growth only when its dynamics are understood.

A patient who’d just been pitched into the disequilibrium of a panic attack recently observed that most of the things about which he worries do not actually transpire, yet awareness doesn’t diminish his anxiety. His worries unfold like choppy waves battering the beach: he’ll be laid off; he’ll crash his car and be unable to buy a new one; he’ll end up on a breadline, barefoot, singing a charmless version of “Buddy can you spare a dime.” He won’t even be able to do that, because he doesn’t actually know the lyrics to “Buddy can you spare a dime.” His humor cannot dispel the very real emotional disquiet he faces daily.

My patient is flooded with distressing images of himself and helpless feelings about these images. His body reacts with its own flood of stress hormones, muscle contractions, irregular breathing and heart rhythms. He identifies this convergence of mind-body dysregulation as anxiety and attributes it to the economy. While the economy does represent a palpably immediate context, the vulnerabilities of infancy constitute the real source of his anxiety.

(more…)

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Mauri-Lynne Heller is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Psychoanalyst in private practice in Southern California. A graduate of Newport Psychoanalytic Institute and member of Newport Center for Psychoanalytic Studies, she is also an active member of the Writing and Research Task Force. A regular contributor to the online Health and Fitness Pages of the Orange Counter Register, her column "Inside Out" appears twice monthly. She is also a supervisor to clinical interns and a writing/editorial consultant. For more information, please visit her listing on the Therapist Directory