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What, Me Worry? Ways to Ease Your Anxious Mind

You may be familiar with Alfred E. Neuman, the fictional mascot of Mad magazine. If not, you should know that his well-known catch phrase is, “What, me worry?” Perhaps he knows the secret to not worrying. But in our world today many people are very worried. We are going through what might be called a national anxiety attack with the economy collapsing around us. So, how not to worry?

I believe there exist two types of worriers: those who become worried, take any possible action, and then let it go; and those who worry chronically, causing themselves and others a great deal of mental and emotional distress. The latter often are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Below examples of people who have coped effectively with fear and worry. Read more


Social Anxiety

Social anxiety has its roots in our very nature as social beings. Humans have the unique capability of self-consciousness, an awareness of ourselves in contrast to others. Many people are greatly concerned about how they appear to others. A national poll taken in the late 1980s concluded that more people feared public speaking than they feared death. The common concern, or fear, regarding how we stand in relation to others may in part explain why social anxiety is so prevalent. People with social anxiety/phobia disorders suffer greatly with disabling fear and demoralization. Fears of being judged as anxious, imperfect, or somehow not up to par with others, leads to fears of embarrassment, humiliation, or shame. Avoidance of those possibilities creates a life that is limited by fear, anxiety, and often depression. Having treated socially anxious and phobic people for over 20 years, I have learned that there are certain beliefs that socially anxious people hold that are not helpful, and add to the problem. An important part of overcoming social anxiety disorder is identifying the underlying, sometimes hidden, beliefs, ideas, or attitudes that make life difficult. I will present a few of these in the following examples. Read more


The Panic Personality

Although it is not in the DSM IV, I believe there is a personality style (or “disorder” if you will) called the “Panic Personality.”  Having worked with anxious, panicked, and phobic people for the last twenty years, I have witnessed certain personality traits and life experiences that are common to many of these people  A review of the literature confirms this impression.  Understanding the etiology is crucial to effectively working with people with these types of symptoms and problems (unless, of course, one adheres primarily to the “biochemical imbalance” theory). Read more


Panic Disorder Relapse

Patients in treatment for panic disorder (with or without phobic avoidance behaviors) always ask, “Will the panic come back in the future?”  This is an important question, and although my office does not contain a crystal ball, 18 years experience working with anxious, panicked and phobic people has taught me to identify some variables that contribute to relapse prevention.

Panic disorder is defined as the cycle of “fear of fear.”  The patient is afraid of severe anxiety symptoms and what they might mean – that one might die, go crazy, lose control, feel embarrassed.  He or she may have had one or more of these attacks and lives in fear of the next one, which increases the likelihood that it will occur again.  Overcoming this vicious cycle and no longer fearing the panic symptoms is the crux of treatment.

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