Treatment for Anxiety – Steady Care Medical Clinic

Treatment for Anxiety

Anxiety Consultation & Treatment

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If you constantly worry, or feel anxious or nervous in many situations or during different activities, you might be suffering from an Anxiety Disorder.

Anxiety disorders are far more common than people realize.

In fact, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older, or roughly 18% of the U.S. population.

The good news is, anxiety disorders respond very well to treatment — and often in a relatively short amount of time. However, when untreated, anxiety disorders can be unremitting and chronic, worsening over time and resulting in added stress and impaired social and occupational functioning.

The specific treatment approach depends on the type of anxiety disorder and its severity. Clinical trials consistently show that cognitive and behavioral interventions for anxiety disorders result in significant treatment gains. However, not all mental health practitioners are trained in effective treatments, so it is critical to find an anxiety disorder specialist to treat you.

When to Seek Help for Anxiety Disorders

Self-help coping strategies for anxiety can be very effective. But if your worries, fears, or anxiety attacks have become so great that they’re causing you extreme distress or disrupting your daily routine, you should consider seeking professional help.

Also, if you’re experiencing noticeable physical anxiety…More

What Is Body Composition?

Like other prescriptions, anxiety medications can be habit forming and cause unwanted side effects. It is important to research your options and consider the benefits and risks of incorporating prescription medication in your healing approach.

A variety of medications… More

Understanding Anxiety Medication

Remember… this information is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice. If you are taking a medication for anxiety,
do not change your dosage without consulting your physician!

Medications aren’t a replacement for personal therapy, exercise, or self-help remedies.

Orange County Anxiety Specialists at Open Care Medical
Our California board certified doctors can help diagnose your anxiety.

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2001 East 1st Street (Corner of 1st Street & Golden Circle)

Suite 102

Santa Ana, CA 92705

714-558-8033

1-877-54MYDOC (546-9362)

We accept cash and debit/credit. We currently do not accept insurance for office visits. However, your insurance may cover the cost of fill prescriptions at the pharmacy.

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Saturday
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Sunday
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+714 558 8033

Anxiety Treatment FAQ

Why is positive thinking important to help you cope with anxiety?

Changing your thinking can help you prevent or cope with anxiety.1 It can help you stop the worry by replacing negative thoughts with helpful ones. It’s also helpful in controlling panic attacks.

Positive thoughts can help stop the “fight or flight” feelings that you have with anxiety. In a fight-or-flight response, your body senses danger and the need to fight or run away. Your body releases hormones like adrenaline, which makes your heart beat fast and your blood pressure rise. Positive thoughts can calm you and stop this response.

For example, maybe you are about to have a job review. It’s normal to be a little nervous. But you have trouble sleeping and have a fast heartbeat and sweaty hands. You think constantly about the review. You’ve been telling yourself that your boss is going to say bad things about your performance-even though you haven’t been getting bad comments from her.

Or perhaps you have a doctor’s appointment coming up. And you’re worried that he may find something wrong.

If you have anxiety, you may worry a lot about many things. You are sure that something bad is going to happen, even though you have no proof that something bad will happen.

The more you talk in a negative way to yourself, the harder it is to keep a positive outlook. The negative thinking makes you feel bad. And that can make you feel more anxious, which leads to more bad thoughts about yourself. It’s a cycle that’s hard to break.

But with practice, you can retrain your brain. After all, you weren’t born telling yourself negative things. You learned how to do it. So there’s no reason you can’t teach your brain to unlearn it and replace negative thinking with more helpful thoughts.

Positive thinking also is good for your health in other ways. If you feel bad about yourself, you could get depressed. Positive thinking also can help you handle stress better. Too much stress can raise your blood pressure and make your heart work harder, which can increase your risk for a heart attack. Stress also can weaken your immune system, which can make you more open to infection and disease.

Why Do Anxiety Disorders Develop?

There is very rarely just one reason why an anxiety disorder develops. Disorders are usually the result of a combination of factors such as stress, past experiences such as bereavement, a genetic predisposition or lifestyle. It can take some time for an anxiety disorder to develop and may present no, or very few, symptoms until the disorder has developed fully.

Stress is a factor that is implicated in the development of anxiety disorders and can prolong an existing anxiety condition, however it is usually not the only factor that causes is it. Stress weakens the defenses which would normally assist us to combat a developing anxiety condition. Treatment for stress alone is not advisable for an anxiety condition.

There is no doubt at all that you can and will be well again. Treatment is most effective when the person learns to redress the imbalance in thought processes between the conscious and subconscious mind. By doing this in a structured way and combining this with exercises to reduce the physical aspects of the condition the sufferer can gain very effective and permanent relief.

If You’ve Been Struggling With
Anxiety or Anxiety Symptoms We Will Help.
You only pay a consultation fee if you are prescribed medication.

What Exactly Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, is a blanket term used to label a variety of symptoms which include: being in a near constant state of restlessness, being easily fatigued, having difficulty concentrating, being irritable, having muscle tension, and having disturbed sleep. Importantly, those who have GAD do not have panic attacks, phobias, or OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)

To be considered as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, these symptoms should have been present for sometime. This type of anxiety can vary in degrees of intensity and length.

Remember “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” is a label which helps medical professionals classify symptoms and patients. It is not necessarily helpful to you other than to understand what they mean by it. Those with GAD often find that the constant worrying interrupts their personal, professional or social lives.

According to the Anxiety and Phobia Workbook (by Edmund J Bourne) people who suffer from GAD tend to have five underlying basic fears:

* Fear of losing control
* Fear of not being able to cope
* Fear of death, disease and sickness
* Fear of failure
* Fear of rejection and abandonment

Some situations can draw out these fears and magnify them, such as pressure at work, a broken marriage, bereavement or a failure.

Remember: It is important to become completely aware of all of your own symptoms and to tackle them using your chosen method, with the help of your doctor or therapist.

The chances of successful treatment are good. Drugs and therapies can be used where appropriate and other alternative therapies and cures can be successful.

If You’ve Been Struggling With
Anxiety or Anxiety Symptoms We Will Help.

You only pay a consultation fee if you are prescribed medication.

What Are The Major Symptoms Of Anxiety And Panic Attacks?

With hindsight I’d say the mental symptoms were the worst, because at times I really did feel as if I was about to “lose it.” These are often the kinds of powerful symptoms that send patients rushing to their doctors.

The good news is that like all other symptoms of anxiety, these symptoms are utterly harmless and always pass!

Anxiety has been broken down into various labels: Social anxiety, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) etc. This web-site deals with getting over anxiety in all its forms, and doesn’t find labels such as these particularly relevant. The important thing is to go with what you feel and be aware of it.

Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are usually characterised by sudden bursts of (usually) unexpected fear. The symptoms can include palpitations (racing heart), light-headedness, dizziness, vertigo or lack of balance, and an overwhelming need to escape. Commonly hyperventilation (normally very rapid shallow breathing) is present during a panic attack.

The good news is that like all symptoms of panic attacks, these symptoms are completely harmless and always pass!

So what’s the difference between anxiety and a panic attack? Well, for some sufferers the difference might not be that great. A severe attack of anxiety may be very similar to panic. Some people who have a lot of generalized anxiety also have panic attacks, or used to. Many more have anxiety but don’t panic as such. There are as many different permutations as there are sufferers. The important thing is that you have been correctly diagnosed and are ready to take on your problems, whatever label you give them.

Phobias

There is a big difference between a phobia and a strong fear. Many people that talk about phobias actually have fears, they are scared of something but don’t have an anxiety / panic response. Strong fears can often be relieved through education about the object of their phobia. If, for example, someone was squeamish about the idea of a house spider crawling over their hand but spent a few moments in the presence of zoologist who explained to them how harmless a spider is and why it moves so fast they could probably start to let go of their fears. And after challenging their fears once or twice they would probably become neutral to spiders. Would the same thing work for a phobia? Maybe. People with phobias usually have a complete aversion and believe that if they were to come into contact with the object of their phobia they would “go mad” or “lose it”, faint, be sick, or even die. Of course none of these outcomes are true. A person with a fear of spiders may think it will bite or attack them. A person with a phobia may feel that they will lose control, go mad, pass-out, or even die if the spider comes near them. People with phobias are often actually scared of feeling the symptoms of anxiety or panic. In these cases it is more important to deal with the feelings of anxiety and panic than anything to do with the object itself. Gradual exposure to the object can begin later.

If the anxiety or panic has been dealt with then the gradual exposure is normally relatively easy and the phobia can be beaten.

All symptoms of panic are harmless. However horrid they feel, they do always pass.You should always have your anxiety and panic symptoms diagnosed by an understanding healthcare professional. Some symptoms of anxiety, panic and stress can be confused with other disorders and these should be ruled out first. Do not be afraid to ask for a second opinion if you don’t feel your initial diagnosis was accurate.

Anxiety

There can be many symptoms of anxiety and panic and some people find it hard to differentiate between the two.

When I suffered from anxiety I had both mental and physical symptoms.

Physical

* Dizziness
* Sweating
* Laboured breathing
* Difficulty swallowing

* Tingling arms and legs
* Vertigo
* Nausea
* Visual disturbance (e.g. as if just walked into a dark room on a sunny day)

Mental

* Feelings of unreality, as if detached from everything else

* A depressed feeling that it will never pass

If You’ve Been Struggling With
Anxiety or Anxiety Symptoms We Will Help.
You only pay a consultation fee if you are prescribed medication.

What Causes Anxiety?

What causes anxiety is one of the most common questions that anxiety sufferers ask themselves. It is also not an easy question to answer. One pertinent answer is who cares? After all, what caused it is not as important as what stops it, and the cause and the cure may or may not be linked.

The basic answer to the question though is that anxiety is not caused. It just is. It is an integral part of what it means to be human, or indeed any other animal. Anxiety is part of the system which protects us from danger by making us aware and allowing us to react quickly. It is present in everybody.

Therefore, anxiety disorders are not like diseases that enter the body and cause disruption. They are merely an over reaction of one of the basic parts of the human being. People who “have anxiety” are in fact the same as everyone else but with part of their brain working overtime unnecessarily.

So the question “what causes anxiety?” should be replaced by “what causes unnecessary anxiety?”.

Unnecessary anxiety may be caused by several things. Most people believe that anxiety is learnt, caused by unresolved trauma, or genetic.

As I said earlier, the cause is not necessarily important and looking for it can be an expensive waste of time. But let me say a few words on each of the above three possible causes. In truth, most people’s unnecessary anxiety is not likely to be caused by one individual thing, more likely it will be caused by a combination of the above.

Anxiety responses can be learnt. If as a child you often felt car sick but were travelling with unsympathetic people then cars may well come to have a very negative association that appears as anxiety. There may well be a genetic factor here, as some people may be genetically programmed to learn faster. This can be seen as a good thing in many areas of life. Some people will argue that in this case the best approach is to “unlearn” the anxiety reaction through exposure with cognitive therapy. Others will argue that the traumatic memories may need to be reprocessed. Personally I think both of the opinions are valid and the people who get the best results will do both.

Never let it be said that there is a genetic cause of unnecessary anxiety that can not be cured. This is not true. While genetics may predispose us to something they don’t make it inevitable. If you are genetically prone to feeling a lot of anxiety, you can learn to react to these anxious feelings in a different way. Ultimately the anxiety itself is harmless, and the less you react to it the less you will feel it.

So, don’t worry about what causes anxiety, think about what you can do about it!

If You’ve Been Struggling With
Anxiety or Anxiety Symptoms We Will Help.
You only pay a consultation fee if you are prescribed medication.

Using Positive Thinking To Overcome Anxiety

Anxiety is having too much fear and worry. Some people have what’s called generalized anxiety disorder. They feel worried and stressed about many things. Often they worry about even small things. Some people also may have panic attacks. A panic attack is a sudden feeling of extreme anxiety.

People who have social anxiety disorder worry that they will do or say the wrong thing and embarrass themselves around others.

Anxiety can cause physical symptoms like a fast heartbeat and sweaty hands. It can make you limit your activities and can make it hard to enjoy your life.

Positive thinking can help you prevent or control anxiety.

Key points

-Negative thoughts can increase your worry or fear.
-Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a type of therapy that can help you replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
-Changing your thinking will take some time. You need to practice healthy thinking every day. After a while, positive thinking will come naturally to you.
-Positive thinking may not be enough to help some people who have worry and anxiety. Call your doctor or therapist if you think you need more help.

Positive thinking, or healthy thinking, is a way to help you stay well by changing how you think. It’s based on research that shows that you can change how you think. And how you think affects how you feel.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, also called CBT, is a type of therapy that is often used to help people think in a healthy way. CBT can help you learn to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. These negative thoughts are sometimes called irrational or automatic thoughts.

Working on your own or with a counselor, you can practice these three steps:

-Stop. When you notice a negative thought, stop it in its tracks and write it down.
-Ask. Look at that thought and ask yourself whether it is helpful or unhelpful right now.
-Choose. Choose a new, helpful thought to replace a negative one.

The goal is to have positive thoughts come naturally. It may take some time to change the way you think. So you will need to practice positive thinking every day.

If You’ve Been Struggling With
Anxiety or Anxiety Symptoms We Will Help.
You only pay a consultation fee if you are prescribed medication.
Why is positive thinking important to help you cope with anxiety?

Changing your thinking can help you prevent or cope with anxiety.1 It can help you stop the worry by replacing negative thoughts with helpful ones. It’s also helpful in controlling panic attacks.

Positive thoughts can help stop the “fight or flight” feelings that you have with anxiety. In a fight-or-flight response, your body senses danger and the need to fight or run away. Your body releases hormones like adrenaline, which makes your heart beat fast and your blood pressure rise. Positive thoughts can calm you and stop this response.

For example, maybe you are about to have a job review. It’s normal to be a little nervous. But you have trouble sleeping and have a fast heartbeat and sweaty hands. You think constantly about the review. You’ve been telling yourself that your boss is going to say bad things about your performance-even though you haven’t been getting bad comments from her.

Or perhaps you have a doctor’s appointment coming up. And you’re worried that he may find something wrong.

If you have anxiety, you may worry a lot about many things. You are sure that something bad is going to happen, even though you have no proof that something bad will happen.

The more you talk in a negative way to yourself, the harder it is to keep a positive outlook. The negative thinking makes you feel bad. And that can make you feel more anxious, which leads to more bad thoughts about yourself. It’s a cycle that’s hard to break.

But with practice, you can retrain your brain. After all, you weren’t born telling yourself negative things. You learned how to do it. So there’s no reason you can’t teach your brain to unlearn it and replace negative thinking with more helpful thoughts.

Positive thinking also is good for your health in other ways. If you feel bad about yourself, you could get depressed. Positive thinking also can help you handle stress better. Too much stress can raise your blood pressure and make your heart work harder, which can increase your risk for a heart attack. Stress also can weaken your immune system, which can make you more open to infection and disease.

If You’ve Been Struggling With
Anxiety or Anxiety Symptoms We Will Help.
 

You only pay a consultation fee if you are prescribed medication.

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to danger, an automatic alarm that goes off when you feel threatened, under pressure, or are facing a stressful situation.

In moderation, anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, anxiety can help you stay alert and focused, spur you to action, and motivate you to solve problems. But when anxiety is constant or overwhelming, when it interferes with your relationships and activities, it stops being functional—that’s when you’ve crossed the line from normal, productive anxiety into the territory of anxiety disorders.

Do your symptoms indicate an anxiety disorder?

If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.

  • Are you constantly tense, worried, or on edge?
  • Does your anxiety interfere with your work, school, or family responsibilities?
  • Are you plagued by fears that you know are irrational, but can’t shake?
  • Do you believe that something bad will happen if certain things aren’t done a certain way?
  • Do you avoid everyday situations or activities because they cause you anxiety?
  • Do you experience sudden, unexpected attacks of heart-pounding panic?
  • Do you feel like danger and catastrophe are around every corner?

Signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders

Anxiety Attacks and Disorders: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Because anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions rather than a single disorder, they can look very different from person to person. One individual may suffer from intense anxiety attacks that strike without warning, while another gets panicky at the thought of mingling at a party. Someone else may struggle with a disabling fear of driving, or uncontrollable, intrusive thoughts. Yet another may live in a constant state of tension, worrying about anything and everything.

Despite their different forms, all anxiety disorders share one major symptom: persistent or severe fear or worry in situations where most people wouldn’t feel threatened.

Emotional symptoms of anxiety

In addition to the primary symptoms of irrational and excessive fear and worry, other common emotional symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Feelings of apprehension or dread
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling tense and jumpy
  • Anticipating the worst
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Watching for signs of danger
  • Feeling like your mind’s gone blank

Physical symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety is more than just a feeling. As a product of the body’s fight-or-flight response, anxiety involves a wide range of physical symptoms. Because of the numerous physical symptoms, anxiety sufferers often mistake their disorder for a medical illness. They may visit many doctors and make numerous trips to the hospital before their anxiety disorder is discovered.

Common physical symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Pounding heart
  • Sweating
  • Stomach upset or dizziness
  • Frequent urination or diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tremors and twitches
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia

Worry and anxiety self-help tip #3: Accept uncertainty

The inability to tolerate uncertainty plays a huge role in anxiety and worry. Chronic worriers can’t stand doubt or unpredictability. They need to know with 100 percent certainty what’s going to happen. Worrying is seen as a way to predict what the future has in store—a way to prevent unpleasant surprises and control the outcome. The problem is, it doesn’t work.

Thinking about all the things that could go wrong doesn’t make life any more predictable. You may feel safer when you’re worrying, but it’s just an illusion. Focusing on worst-case scenarios won’t keep bad things from happening. It will only keep you from enjoying the good things you have in the present. So if you want to stop worrying, start by tackling your need for certainty and immediate answers.

Challenging intolerance of uncertainty: The key to anxiety relief

Ask yourself the following questions and write down your responses. See if you can come to an understanding of the disadvantages and problems of being intolerant of uncertainty.

  • Is it possible to be certain about everything in life?
  • What are the advantages of requiring certainty, versus the disadvantages? Or, how is needing certainty in life helpful and unhelpful?
  • Do you tend to predict bad things will happen just because they are uncertain? Is this a reasonable thing to do? What is the likelihood of positive or neutral outcomes?
  • Is it possible to live with the small chance that something negative may happen, given its likelihood is very low?

Adapted from: Accepting Uncertainty, Centre for Clinical Interventions

Worry and anxiety self-help tip #4: Challenge anxious thoughts

If you suffer from chronic anxiety and worries, chances are you look at the world in ways that make it seem more dangerous than it really is. For example, you may overestimate the possibility that things will turn out badly, jump immediately to worst-case scenarios, or treat every negative thought as if it were fact. You may also discredit your own ability to handle life’s problems, assuming you’ll fall apart at the first sign of trouble. These irrational, pessimistic attitudes are known as cognitive distortions.

Although cognitive distortions aren’t based on reality, they’re not easy to give up. Often, they’re part of a lifelong pattern of thinking that’s become so automatic you’re not even completely aware of it. In order to break these bad thinking habits and stop the worry and anxiety they bring, you must retrain your brain.

Start by identifying the frightening thought, being as detailed as possible about what scares or worries you. Then, instead of viewing your thoughts as facts, treat them as hypotheses you’re testing out. As you examine and challenge your worries and fears, you’ll develop a more balanced perspective.

Stop worry by questioning the worried thought:

  • What’s the evidence that the thought is true? That it’s not true?
  • Is there a more positive, realistic way of looking at the situation?
  • What’s the probability that what I’m scared of will actually happen?
  • If the probability is low, what are some more likely outcomes?
  • Is the thought helpful? How will worrying about it help me and how will it hurt me?
  • What would I say to a friend who had this worry?
Cognitive Distortions that Add to Anxiety, Worry, and Stress
All-or-nothing thinking – Looking at things in black-or-white categories, with no middle ground. “If I fall short of perfection, I’m a total failure.”
Overgeneralization – Generalizing from a single negative experience, expecting it to hold true forever. “I didn’t get hired for the job. I’ll never get any job.”
The mental filter – Focusing on the negatives while filtering out all the positives. Noticing the one thing that went wrong, rather than all the things that went right.
Diminishing the positive – Coming up with reasons why positive events don’t count. “I did well on the presentation, but that was just dumb luck.”
Jumping to conclusions – Making negative interpretations without actual evidence. You act like a mind reader, “I can tell she secretly hates me.” Or a fortune teller, “I just know something terrible is going to happen.”
Catastrophizing – Expecting the worst-case scenario to happen. “The pilot said we’re in for some turbulence. The plane’s going to crash!”
Emotional reasoning – Believing that the way you feel reflects reality. “I feel frightened right now. That must mean I’m in real physical danger.”
‘Shoulds’ and ‘should-nots’ – Holding yourself to a strict list of what you should and shouldn’t do and beating yourself up if you break any of the rules
Labeling – Labeling yourself based on mistakes and perceived shortcomings. “I’m a failure; an idiot; a loser.”
Personalization – Assuming responsibility for things that are outside your control. “It’s my fault my son got in an accident. I should have warned him to drive carefully in the rain.”

Worry and anxiety self-help tip # 5: Be aware of how others affect you

How you feel is affected by the company you keep, whether you’re aware of it or not. Studies show that emotions are contagious. We quickly “catch” moods from other people—even from strangers who never speak a word (e.g. the terrified woman sitting by you on the plane; the fuming man in the checkout line). The people you spend a lot of time with have an even greater impact on your mental state.

  • Keep a worry diary. You may not be aware of how people or situations are affecting you. Maybe this is the way it’s always been in your family, or you’ve been dealing with the stress so long that it feels normal. You may want to keep a worry diary for a week or so. Every time you start to worry, jot down the thought and what triggered it. Over time, you’ll start to see patterns.
  • Spend less time with people who make you anxious. Is there someone in your life who drags you down or always seems to leave you feeling stressed? Think about cutting back on the time you spend with that person or establish healthier relationship boundaries. For example, you might set certain topics off-limits, if you know that talking about them with that person makes you anxious.
  • Choose your confidantes carefully. Know who to talk to about situations that make you anxious. Some people will help you gain perspective, while others will feed into your worries, doubts, and fears.

Worry and anxiety self-help tip #6: Practice mindfulness

Worrying is usually focused on the future—on what might happen and what you’ll do about it. The centuries-old practice of mindfulness can help you break free of your worries by bringing your attention back to the present. In contrast to the previous techniques of challenging your anxious thoughts or postponing them to a worry period, this strategy is based on observing and then letting them go. Together, they can help you identify where your thinking is causing problems, while helping you get in touch with your emotions.

  • Acknowledge and observe your anxious thoughts and feelings. Don’t try to ignore, fight, or control them like you usually would. Instead, simply observe them as if from an outsider’s perspective, without reacting or judging.
  • Let your worries go. Notice that when you don’t try to control the anxious thoughts that pop up, they soon pass, like clouds moving across the sky. It’s only when you engage your worries that you get stuck.
  • Stay focused on the present. Pay attention to the way your body feels, the rhythm of your breathing, your ever-changing emotions, and the thoughts that drift across your mind. If you find yourself getting stuck on a particular thought, bring your attention back to the present moment.

Using mindfulness meditation to stay focused on the present is a simple concept, but it takes practice to reap the benefits. At first, you’ll probably find that your mind keeps wandering back to your worries. Try not to get frustrated. Each time you draw your focus back to the present, you’re reinforcing a new mental habit that will help you break free of the negative worry cycle.

Worrying can be helpful when it spurs you to take action and solve a problem. But if you’re preoccupied with “what ifs” and worst-case scenarios, worry becomes a problem. Unrelenting doubts and fears can be paralyzing. They can sap your emotional energy, send your anxiety levels soaring, and interfere with your daily life. But chronic worrying is a mental habit that can be broken. You can train your brain to stay calm and look at life from a more positive perspective.

Why is it so hard to stop worrying?
Constant worrying takes a heavy toll. It keeps you up at night and makes you tense and edgy during the day. You hate feeling like a nervous wreck. So why is it so difficult to stop worrying?

For most chronic worriers, the anxious thoughts are fueled by the beliefs—both negative and positive—they hold about worrying.

On the negative side, you may believe that your constant worrying is harmful, that it’s going to drive you crazy or affect your physical health. Or you may worry that you’re going to lose all control over your worrying—that it will take over and never stop.

On the positive side, you may believe that your worrying helps you avoid bad things, prevents problems, prepares you for the worst, or leads to solutions.

Negative beliefs, or worrying about worrying, add to your anxiety and keep worry going. But positive beliefs about worrying can be just as damaging. It’s tough to break the worry habit if you believe that your worrying protects you. In order to stop worry and anxiety for good, you must give up your belief that worrying serves a positive purpose. Once you realize that worrying is the problem, not the solution, you can regain control of your worried mind.

Why you keep worrying
You have mixed feelings about your worries. On one hand, your worries are bothering you—you can’t sleep, and you can’t get these pessimistic thoughts out of your head. But there is a way that these worries make sense to you. For example, you think:
Maybe I’ll find a solution.
I don’t want to overlook anything.
If I keep thinking a little longer, maybe I’ll figure it out.
I don’t want to be surprised.
I want to be responsible.
You have a hard time giving up on your worries because, in a sense, your worries have been working for you.
Source: The Worry Cure: Seven Steps to Stop Worry from Stopping You by Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D.
Worry and anxiety self-help tip #1: Create a worry period
It’s tough to be productive in your daily life when anxiety and worry are dominating your thoughts. But what can you do? If you’re like many chronic worriers, your anxious thoughts feel uncontrollable. You’ve tried lots of things, from distracting yourself, reasoning with your worries, and trying to think positive, but nothing seems to work.

Why trying to stop anxious thoughts doesn’t work
Telling yourself to stop worrying doesn’t work—at least not for long. You can distract yourself or suppress anxious thoughts for a moment, but you can’t banish them for good. In fact, trying to do so often makes them stronger and more persistent.

You can test this out for yourself. Close your eyes and picture a pink elephant. Once you can see the pink elephant in your mind, stop thinking about it. Whatever you do, for the next five minutes, don’t think about pink elephants!

How did you do? Did thoughts of pink elephants keep popping in your brain?

“Thought stopping” backfires because it forces you to pay extra attention to the very thought you want to avoid. You always have to be watching for it, and this very emphasis makes it seem even more important.

But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to control your worry. You just need to try a different approach. This is where the strategy of postponing worrying comes in. Rather than trying to stop or get rid of an anxious thought, give yourself permission to have it, but put off thinking any more about it until later.

Learning to postpone worrying:
Create a “worry period.” Choose a set time and place for worrying. It should be the same every day (e.g. in the living room from 5:00 to 5:20 p.m.) and early enough that it won’t make you anxious right before bedtime. During your worry period, you’re allowed to worry about whatever’s on your mind. The rest of the day, however, is a worry-free zone.
Postpone your worry. If an anxious thought or worry comes into your head during the day, make a brief note of it on paper and postpone it to your worry period. Remind yourself that you’ll have time to think about it later, so there’s no need to worry about it right now. Save it for later and continue to go about your day.
Go over your “worry list” during the worry period. Reflect on the worries you wrote down during the day. If the thoughts are still bothering you, allow yourself to worry about them, but only for the amount of time you’ve specified for your worry period. If the worries don’t seem important any more, cut your worry period short and enjoy the rest of your day.
Postponing worrying is effective because it breaks the habit of dwelling on worries in the present moment. Yet there’s no struggle to suppress the thought or judge it. You simply save it for later. As you develop the ability to postpone your anxious thoughts, you’ll start to realize that you have more control over your worrying than you think.

Worry and anxiety self-help tip #2: Ask yourself if the problem is solvable
Research shows that while you’re worrying, you temporarily feel less anxious. Running over the problem in your head distracts you from your emotions and makes you feel like you’re getting something accomplished. But worrying and problem solving are two very different things.

Problem solving involves evaluating a situation, coming up with concrete steps for dealing with it, and then putting the plan into action. Worrying, on the other hand, rarely leads to solutions. No matter how much time you spend dwelling on worst-case scenarios, you’re no more prepared to deal with them should they actually happen.

Distinguish between solvable and unsolvable worries
If a worry pops into your head, start by asking yourself whether the problem is something you can actually solve. The following questions can help:

Is the problem something you’re currently facing, rather than an imaginary what-if?
If the problem is an imaginary what-if, how likely is it to happen? Is your concern realistic?
Can you do something about the problem or prepare for it, or is it out of your control?
Productive, solvable worries are those you can take action on right away. For example, if you’re worried about your bills, you could call your creditors to see about flexible payment options. Unproductive, unsolvable worries are those for which there is no corresponding action. “What if I get cancer someday?” or “What if my kid gets into an accident?”

If the worry is solvable, start brainstorming. Make a list of all the possible solutions you can think of. Try not to get too hung up on finding the perfect solution. Focus on the things you have the power to change, rather than the circumstances or realities beyond your control. After you’ve evaluated your options, make a plan of action. Once you have a plan and start doing something about the problem, you’ll feel much less worried.

Dealing with unsolvable worries
But what if the worry isn’t something you can solve? If you’re a chronic worrier, the vast majority of your anxious thoughts probably fall in this camp. In such cases, it’s important to tune into your emotions.

As previously mentioned, worrying helps you avoid unpleasant emotions. Worrying keeps you in your head, thinking about how to solve problems rather than allowing yourself to feel the underlying emotions. But you can’t worry your emotions away. While you’re worrying, your feelings are temporarily suppressed, but as soon as you stop, the tension and anxiety bounces back. And then, you start worrying about your feelings, “What’s wrong with me? I shouldn’t feel this way!”

Learn how emotional savvy reduces worry

The only way out of this vicious cycle is by learning to embrace your feelings. This may seem scary at first because of negative beliefs you have about emotions. For example, you may believe that you should always be rational and in control, that your feelings should always make sense, or that you shouldn’t feel certain emotions, such as fear or anger.

The truth is that emotions—like life—are messy. They don’t always make sense and they’re not always pleasant. But as long as you can accept your feelings as part of being human, you’ll be able to experience them without becoming overwhelmed and learn how to use them to your advantage. The following tips will help you find a better balance between your intellect and your emotions.

Guidelines for taking anxiety medication

If you decide to take medication for your anxiety disorder, it is important to learn all you can about your prescription and to take it as directed. The more you know about your anxiety medication, the better equipped you’ll be to identify and deal with side effects, avoid dangerous drug interactions, and minimize other medication risks.

Some suggestions if you decide to take anxiety medication:

  • Be patient. It takes time for most anxiety medications to reach their full therapeutic effect. While you may want immediate relief, it’s important to have realistic expectations. You will need to work closely with your doctor to find the right dosage and evaluate the anxiety drug’s effectiveness.
  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol and anxiety medications don’t mix. The combination can even be lethal. But even in less toxic doses, alcohol and anxiety medication can cause poor coordination and impaired thinking, increasing the risk of motor vehicle accidents and other injuries.
  • Monitor your medication response. Keep a close eye on your reaction to the anxiety medication, including any physical and emotional changes you’re experiencing. Everyone reacts differently to medications, so it’s impossible to predict what side effects you will have or how well your anxiety drug will work. If you’re taking benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, etc.), don’t drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how the drug affects you.
  • Talk to your doctor. Be open and honest about side effects your anxiety drug is causing. Don’t be afraid to discuss problems or concerns. And while you should never stop your anxiety medication without talking to your doctor first, ultimately the decision is up to you. If you’re unhappy with how the pills make you feel, ask your doctor to help you taper off.
  • Continue therapy. Medication can control the symptoms of anxiety, but it doesn’t treat the underlying problem. Therefore, it’s crucial to pursue therapy or some other form of anxiety treatment. Therapy can help you get to the root of your anxiety problem and develop better coping skills.

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