Anxiety is everywhere right now, and, like our fears about COVID-19, it can feel inescapable. Everyone is talking about it. Constantly. And for a good reason: our lives have been upended, and uncertainty surrounds us. Children can sense the anxiety about coronavirus COVID-19 even if they don’t know the details. In “normal times,” having a predictable schedule can reduce anxiety. But now, for many children, schools and activities that provide structure are indefinitely on hold. So how can we talk to kids about COVID-19 and reduce their anxiety at the same time?
The truth is, we all live with uncertainty, but for people who have experienced cancer, the awareness is heightened. For some, the relief that comes from being declared “cancer-free” is short-lived and quickly replaced by a fear of recurrence. Among survivors, the fear of cancer recurrence can be so distressing it has a powerful, negative influence on the quality of life; affecting mood, relationships, and decisions for the future. This fear can become a daily catastrophizing worry that dominates thoughts.
Do you get a thought stuck in your head and then can’t stop thinking, analyzing, and worrying about it? Are these thoughts negative and focused on possible mistakes you have made? Do you let problems eat away at you? These are examples of ruminating thoughts. Ruminative thinking is not problem-solving that is productive, it is the tendency to repetitively think about situations that are upsetting. Figure out how to stop ruminating by first learning the rumination definition to recognize them when they are occurring.
Recently, I took an international trip with my family that required a 16-hour plane ride. Stuck in an uncomfortable middle seat for this unpleasantly long flight I had lots of time to think and reflect in order to make the most of this extended period of nothingness. One of the topics I thought about is how life would change if I had a fear of flying phobia and the trips and family adventures I would miss out on. Fear of flying is common and many of my patients talk to me about this very thing. You can learn how to overcome fear of flying phobia. There are many adventures that await you (or business trips). Don’t let the anxiety and fear that accompany this hold you back- get treatment and put the anxiety behind you.
Benzodiazepine medications have gotten a bad rap and there is much controversy in the psychiatric community about their use. Some people feel they should never be used and some feel they are highly useful. Like most areas of life, there is likely a middle ground- sometimes the use of benzodiazepines is essential and quite helpful…sometimes they are harmful and impede the progress of treatment. Let’s look at some situations where a benzodiazepine could be useful or could be potentially harmful. But before we do that, I will review some definitions and basics. What is a benzodiazepine? What are benzodiazepines used for? And then we can break down situations where they may be helpful for treatment or should be avoided.
Anxiety management and recovery require recognizing anxious catastrophic thinking when it is happening (read here for more details). Once recognized, you can reduce anticipatory anxiety by changing thoughts and interrupting projections. Break down these thoughts and create a framework to analyze them with cognitive restructuring techniques.
First, let’s review some definitions.
Anticipatory anxiety is all the time wasted dreading, worrying, and panicking over a future event (a projection of an imagined outcome) where every imaginable negative outcome is thought of (catastrophizing). Cognitive restructuring techniques are tools to help break down these thoughts and analyze them using a series of questions. These questions help to identify when a cognitive distortion (a thought that isn’t accurate or based in current reality) is driving your anxiety.
We all know what a catastrophe is but what about catastrophizing? Catastrophizing is a common occurrence in people that are feeling anxious. Catastrophizing is caused by anxiety but also serves to fuel anxious symptoms. Because of the cyclical worsening that happens with symptoms of anxiety it is important to interrupt this cycle. People stop living in the moment and spend much of their time worrying about the future.
An anxious person can turn almost anything into a possible catastrophe.
Do you get stuck in black and white thinking and it is hard for you to see options other than all or nothing? Does rigid thinking cause you to live in the extremes where it is “my way or the highway”? Black and white thinking in relationships is generally not a benefit that brings harmony. Are you aware of the downsides of dichotomous thinking in your life? Read this post to learn how to stop black and white thinking.
Black and white thinking is dichotomous. Dichotomous means something is divided into 2 distinct and opposing parts.
Panic attacks can be terrifying and life-altering if they are not controlled! Often they are so scary that every detail of someone’s first attack becomes etched permanently in their mind. Are you wondering how to stop a panic attack? Let me tell you what to do during a panic attack so that you can learn how to control panic attacks instead of them controlling you.
Panic attacks cause a sudden intense fear when no danger is present or there is no identifiable trigger. This fear triggers your bodies emergency system to be activated causing the physical fight or flight reactions. Your body reacts as if you were under attack and fighting for your life.
Want to learn additional ways to deal with anxiety? Don’t spend any more time letting anxiety interfere with your quality of life. Get help if you need it. Here is a list of excellent self-help resources including some of the best anxiety books, websites, and apps available to target anxiety.
There are so many different options available!
- Read more about different anxiety disorders and options for treatment.
- Learn techniques to manage the symptoms of anxiety.
- Track and graph your moods.
- Identify your triggers.
- Set goals.
- Learn meditation and mindfulness.
- Reduce negative thinking.
- Join peer networks with others that struggle with anxiety.
Helpful websites related to anxiety:
- My favorite site is The Anxiety Boss. Dr. Carlo Carandang is a psychiatrist and anxiety expert and maintains this comprehensive resource. He has many articles about anxiety disorders and options for treatment.
- Anxiety.org has a thorough and well-written overview of different types of anxiety, causes, risk factors, and treatments. I like this article: What is anxiety?
- The Anxiety Coach is a self-help guide for people with anxiety disorders. They offer information and techniques for the management of anxiety.
- Fear of Flying SOAR program is meant for people that want to conquer their fear of flying. It includes articles and these videos with tips on how to overcome it. The creator of this program is a pilot who combines his expertise in airplanes with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and created this very effective program.
- Driving Fear is a site for people looking to overcome their fear of driving. They have self-help programs and a blog.
- Social Anxiety Association is a nonprofit organization that promotes understanding and treatment of social anxiety disorder.
- The Anxiety Social Net is a social network for people struggling with anxiety disorders.
- Emetophobia Online is a site for information and support for those suffering from the fear of vomiting.
- Simplified Skills maintains a list of natural remedies they recommend to help treat anxiety.
- Previous blogs I have written related to anxiety: Do what you are afraid of! Stop letting anxiety control you and Benzodiazepines: Do they treat anxiety?
Websites addressing anxiety in children:
- The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry maintains an anxiety disorder resource center for children.
- The Child Anxiety Network has information for parents, teachers and professionals to help manage and learn about anxiety in children.
- The website and blog of Hey Sigmund have a great list of articles to help children with anxiety. She is the author of the book Hey Warrior which explains anxiety in a way children can understand.[amazon_link asins=’1925545091′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’drmelissawelb-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’37e5b141-22cd-11e8-a56b-55736298ebd1′]
Recommended apps to help with anxiety:
- Mood Track Diary: Free app. Track and graph your mood patterns and triggers.
- Pacifica: Free app to reduce stress and anxiety. Mood tracking, goal setting, relaxation techniques, and peer support.
- Happify: Free app. Overcoming stress and negative thoughts. Skills to train yourself for happiness.
- Fear of Flying: $125-$595 depending on which package you buy. Includes online resources and support, DVD’s, and individual counseling. It even includes a package for “flying tomorrow or the next day” where you can get urgent help so you don’t need to cancel your flight because of anxiety.
- Anxiety coach: $4.99 This app is designed to be used over several weeks to months as a tool to gradually face a feared situation and reduce anxiety.
- Headspace: Free or paid versions. Meditation and mindfulness made simple.
- Calm: Free app. Reduce anxiety, sleep better, and feel happier. Includes meditation, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques.
- Breathe2relax: Free app. Stress management tools with practice exercises to help learn stress management skills. i-phone app, android app
- Insight timer: Free meditation app. i-phone app, android app
- Simply Being Too: $1.99 Guided meditation for relaxation. i-phone app, android app
Are you looking for the best books on anxiety?
Best anxiety books for adults:
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