Social Anxiety or social phobia is used to describe an intense and longstanding fear of social situations. Often the person is worried that they will be embarrassed or humiliated in some way and that they will be evaluated negatively or criticized by other people.
When you are faced with social situations, you may experience the following difficult emotions such as:
• Worried and concerned
• Unworthy and small
• Incapable and incompetent
• Seek validation and safety
• Frustrated and unease
• Low self-esteem
• Lack of self-confidence
• Stifled and silent
• Unable to speak and be expressive
• Agitated and uncomfortable
• Lonely and fearful
• Wanting to run away and hide
spiral2grow uses integration of multiple treatment techniques, to name a few, ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy), DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) and CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). CBT is based on the idea that our emotions and actions are largely impacted by the way we think. Research has shown that people with unhelpful thoughts are feeling socially anxious. CBT can teach you techniques and strategies to modify unhelpful thoughts and behaviors so that you can better manage your social anxiety. The counseling treatment may include:
- Learning and educating emotions, focusing on social anxiety
- Understanding and implement behavioral cognitive therapy (identifying, questioning and replacing unhelpful thoughts)
- Utilizing exposure therapy (developing a plan for gradually approaching feared situations)
- Practicing rumination control and attention training (being more able to take in what is happening around us)
- Developing a realistic self-image of how we appear to others when we are anxious.
- Incorporating non-judgmental mindfulness and relaxation techniques.
More about CBT
A powerful treatment option for reducing social anxiety is Cognitive-Behavioral-Therapy (CBT). CBT strategies address three components that contribute to social anxiety. It includes body responses, thinking responses and action responses. In this way, CBT seeks to change the anxiety habits that occur in social situations. Our approach combines motivation and encouragement with fear reduction to help clients taking gradual steps to reduce their social anxiety and feel more confident. Even if you fear or stress is not intense, spiral2grow can provide you with skills for easing the anxiety that you experience in social situations to enable you to be more engage and satisfy with your social life.
Our unique integrative program is action-oriented and focused on results. In addition to discussion of social anxiety issues, psycho-education and skills building, the main emphasis is on gradual exposure with exercises targeting all aspects of anxiety. The goal is to become a more skilled and confident communicator in all area of life. spiral2grow of New York City, offers Social Anxiety and Phobia solutions in a variety of formats: Individuals Anxiety Therapy, Group Therapy for Social Anxiety and Social Anxiety Workshop.
Social Anxiety Overview
spiral2grow , a leading provider in social anxiety solutions in New York City, has professionals that include social anxiety psychotherapists and social anxiety counselors, who are expert in overcoming social anxiety and building self-confidence. spiral2grow, located in midtown Manhattan at 260 Madison #8023, New York, NY 10016, offers proven social anxiety treatment and social anxiety counseling in a variety of formats: individual social anxiety, social anxiety group, and social anxiety workshop.
Social Anxiety Overview
Social anxiety is the fear that in certain social situations, one will be criticized or judged negatively. The individual feels a great deal of anxiety, humiliation, embarrassment or even panic in social settings. One can have either specific or generalized social phobia. The most common specific social phobia is the fear of speaking in public. Individuals with generalized social phobia are anxious in almost all interpersonal situations. If the individual is going to be judged or graded on his performance in a public situation, the fear is greatly increased.
Many people get a minor case of the “jitters” before performing in public. For some, this mild anxiety actually enhances their performance. However, this anxious reaction is massively exaggerated in the individual with social phobia. While mild normal anxiety can actually enhance performance, excessive anxiety can severely impair performance.
An anxious episode may be associated with some or all of the symptoms of a panic attack. These might include sweaty palms, palpitations, rapid breathing, tremulousness and a sense of impending doom. Some individuals, particularly those with generalized social phobia may have chronic anxiety symptoms. Individuals with social phobia may turn down accelerated classes and after school activities because of their fears that these situations will lead to increased public scrutiny.
The individual with a specific social phobia feels anxious during the feared social situation and also when anticipating it. Some individuals may deal with their fear by arranging their lives so that they do not have to be in the feared situation. If the individual is successful at this, he or she does not appear to be impaired.
Types of discrete social phobia may include:
- Fear of public speaking—by far the most common.
- Fear of interacting socially at informal gatherings (making small talk at a party)
- Fear of eating or drinking in public
- Fear of writing in public
- Fear of using public washrooms.
Individuals with generalized social phobia are characterized as extremely shy. They often wish that they could be more socially active, but their anxiety prevents this. They often have insight into their difficulties. They often report that they have been shy most of their lives. They are sensitive to even minor perceived social rejection. Because they become so social isolated, they have greater academic, work and social impairment. They may crystallize into an avoidant personality disorder.
spiral2grow, a leading provider in anxiety solutions in New York City, has professionals that include anxiety psychotherapists and anxiety counselors, who are expert in overcoming anxiety symptoms and building anxiety-free life style. spiral2grow, located in midtown Manhattan at 260 Madison Avenue #8023, New York, NY 10016, offers proven anxiety treatment to overcome anxiety symptoms in a variety of formats: individual anxiety counseling, anxiety group therapy and workshop for anxiety management.
Anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions rather than a single disorder. Therefore, they can look very different from person to person. One person 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. Still another may live in a constant state of tension, worrying about anything and everything. But 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.
Physical Symptoms of Anxiety
As a product of the body’s fight-or-flight response, anxiety involves a wide range of feelings and physical symptoms. Common physical symptoms of anxiety include:
- Pounding heart
- Stomach upset or dizziness
- Frequent urination or diarrhea
- Shortness of breath
- Tremors and twitches
- Muscle tension
Emotional Symptoms of Anxiety
In addition to the primary symptoms of irrational and excessive fear and worry, other common emotional symptoms of anxiety include:
- Frequent urination or diarrhea
- Shortness of breath
- Tremors and twitches
- Muscle tension
- Feelings of apprehension or dread
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling tense and jumpy
- Anticipating the worst Irritability
- Watching for signs of danger
- Feeling like your mind’s gone blank
Effective therapy for treating anxiety symptoms includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance Commitment Therapy treatment and other psychotherapy modalities. They reduce anxiety while teaching individuals the skills to effectively dealing with their issues promoting productive and fulfilling lives.
Stress and Anxiety
spiral2grow , a leading provider in stress anxiety solutions in New York City, has professionals that include anxiety psychotherapists and anxiety counselors, who are expert in overcoming anxiety and stress while building self esteem and confidence. spiral2grow, located in midtown Manhattan at 260 Madison Avenue #8023, New York, NY 10016, offers proven anxiety stress and anxiety counseling in a variety of formats: individual anxiety therapy and stress counseling, stress and anxiety group and stress and anxiety classes and workshop.
Stress is a normal part of life. In small quantities, stress is helpful – it can motivate you and help you be more productive. However, too much stress, or a strong response to stress, is harmful. It can set you up for general poor health, as well as physical and psychological illnesses like infection, heart disease, and depression. Ongoing stress can lead to anxiety and unhealthy behaviors like overeating and abuse of alcohol or drugs.
Stress is created by having a perception of threat. Stress can come from any situation or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or anxious. What is stressful to one person is not necessarily stressful to another. While anxiety is a feeling of apprehension or fear, the source of this uneasiness is not always known or recognized, which can add to the distress you feel.
At spiral2grow we treat anxiety and Stress in an integrative way while focusing on health and well-being. We utilize well-researched, state of the art treatment approaches, and believe that treating the whole person is the most effective way to produce lasting change. Therefore, we strive to provide a comprehensive and customized treatment to achieve best results.
Anxiety Treatment NYC
spiral2grow, a top provider of anxiety treatment, has anxiety psychotherapists and anxiety counselors, who are expert in treating anxiety and building self esteem and self confidence. spiral2grow, located in midtown Manhattan and offers proven anxiety treatment and anxiety counseling in a variety of formats: individual anxiety treatment, anxiety group treatment and anxiety workshop.
Psychotherapy involves talking with a trained mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, marriage and family therapist or counselor, to discover what caused an anxiety disorder and how to deal with its symptoms. Therapy could be conducted in a variety of format such as: Individual Counseling and/or Group Counseling.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy are two effective anxiety disorder treatments. Both are types of behavioral therapy, meaning they focus on behavior rather than on underlying psychological conflicts or issues from the past.
Cognitive Behavior Counseling – Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on thoughts – or cognition – in addition to behaviors. When used in anxiety disorder treatment, cognitive-behavioral therapist helps you identify and challenge the negative thinking patterns and irrational beliefs that are fueling your anxiety. CBT is undertaken when people decide they are ready for it and with their permission and cooperation. To be effective, the therapy must be directed at the person’s specific anxieties and must be tailored to his or her needs.
Exposure therapy – In exposure therapy for anxiety disorder treatment, you confront your fears in a safe, controlled environment. Through repeated and gradual exposures, either in your imagination or in reality, to the feared object or situation, you gain a greater sense of control. As you face your fear without being harmed, your anxiety gradually diminishes.
Medication will not cure anxiety disorders, but it can keep them under control while the person receives psychotherapy. Combination of medication and psychotherapy for specific anxiety disorders may be the best treatment approach for many people. With proper treatment, many people with anxiety disorders can lead normal, fulfilling lives.
Anxiety Help New York
spiral2grow, a leading provider in anxiety help in New York City, has professionals that include anxiety therapists and anxiety counselors, who are expert in helping overcome anxiety and build self esteem and confidence. spiral2grow, located in midtown Manhattan at 260 Madison #8023, New York, NY 10016, offers proven anxiety help treatment and anxiety help counseling in a variety of formats: individual anxiety help, anxiety help group therapy a and anxiety help workshop and class.
Anxiety Help – Strategies
Below you can find some strategies to help you with anxiety:
- Try to adapt a positive outlook on your anxiety, taking one day at a time. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Learning to deal with your anxiety can be extremely difficult and may take some time. Take the small step approach and if possible, try to face the things or situations that make you anxious, and feel confident about being able to cope with your anxiety.
- Find ways to motivate yourself, such as setting small and achievable goals. It is sometimes helpful to make a list of particular problems or difficult situations that you would like to overcome and attempt them step-by-step.
- Learn to relax by thinking about things that make you feel calm such as listening to music or reading. You could also use specific relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or pre-recorded relaxation tapes. This may also help you if you are having difficulty sleeping.
- Do some form of exercise on a regular basis. Physical exercise can trigger brain chemicals that will improve your mood. Feeling better about physically can make you feel more positive about yourself and affect your emotional well being.
- Eat well – lots of fresh vegetables and fruit will increase body energy. Also, try to avoid drinking too much tea and coffee as caffeine can increase anxiety levels.
- Talk to your friends and family about your worries.
- Self-help groups are a good way of getting in touch with people with similar problems. They will be able to understand what you are going through, and may be able to suggest helpful ways of coping.
While self-help coping strategies for anxiety can be very effective, if your worries and fears have become so great that they’re causing extreme distress or disrupting your daily routine, it is important to seek professional help.
spiral2grow, a leading provider in anxiety counseling in New York City, has professionals that include anxiety psychotherapists counselors, who are expert in overcoming anxiety and building self esteem and confidence. spiral2grow, located in midtown Manhattan at 260 Madison Avenue #8023, New York, NY 10016, offers proven anxiety treatment and anxiety counseling to overcome anxiety in a variety of formats: individual anxiety counseling, anxiety group therapy, anxiety classes and anxiety workshops.
Overcoming anxiety and fear is a challenge but clearly can be achieved. Peace of mind cannot be achieved by individuals while they are driven by fear of change and by the unknown future. An anxiety disorder is an abnormal condition of fear and nervousness that in turn inhibits the proper flow of everyday functions. Some anxiety disorders are acute and some severe, but at whatever level of severity these afflictions have, one’s quality of life will be challenged. This makes overcoming anxiety disorders an important endeavor to embark on.
The path towards overcoming anxiety disorders start with recognizing the irrational fear and thoughts and replacing them with valid healthy ones. Getting to the root of the matter and healing from that point on is the way of overcoming anxiety disorders.
Normally, everyone has a bias in perception that has been born out of societal teachings, personal experience and upbringing. In the case of an anxiety disorder, the individual’s perception is biased towards succumbing to the experience of fear and anxiety so much so that he or she can suffer from a reduced quality of life.
Overcoming anxiety disorders will help individuals get their life back. They no longer need be controlled by fear that will inhibit their engagement in life activities. Understanding that most fears are irrational will help in overcoming anxiety disorders. Remember this old Buddhist saying: “While we cannot change our past, we can ruin our present by being anxious about the future.” spiral2grow provides proven and effective treatments to overcome anxiety, by teaching the skills to promote productive and fulfilling life.
Panic Attacks NYC
A panic attack is a sudden surge of overwhelming fear that comes without warning and without any obvious reason. It is far more intense than the feeling of being ‘stressed out’ that most people experience.
Panic Attacks trick you into trying to help yourself with methods that make the problem worse. When you experience an anxiety attack, you experience real fear. The fear of a panic attack is in your breathing, in your muscles, in your heartbeat, in your stomach, and so on. It’s real physical fear. However, the trick of an anxiety attack is the same as the trick of a scary movie. You experience discomfort, and respond as if it were danger. This is the key to what gives an anxiety attack its power to terrify you. But if you can train yourself, over time, to respond to the panic as discomfort rather than danger, then you can look forward to gradually bringing to an end the powerful negative influence panic has over your life.
Panic disorder can be very distressing, but the good news is that it is treatable. The suffering does not have to last for an extended period of time. A qualified psychotherapist can help you explore your treatment options and recommend a treatment plan that is appropriate for you.
spiral2grow of New York City utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapists (CBT) to teach patients to deal with the negative symptoms of the panic attack and stress and improve their social, occupational and relationship conditions.
More about Panic Attck
Panic Disorder Overview
A panic attack is a sudden surge of overwhelming fear that comes without warning and without any obvious reason. It is far more intense than the feeling of being ‘stressed out’ that most people experience.
A panic attack is not dangerous, but it can be terrifying, largely because it feels ‘crazy’ and ‘out of control.’ Panic disorder is frightening because of the panic attacks associated with it, and also because it often leads to other complications such as phobias, depression, substance abuse, medical complications, even suicide. Its effects can range from mild word or social impairment to a total inability to face the outside world.
In fact, the phobias that people with panic disorder develop do not come from fears of actual objects or events, but rather from fear of having another attack. In these cases, people will avoid certain objects or situations because they fear that these things will trigger another attack.
Panic Attack Symptoms
- racing heartbeat
- difficulty breathing, feeling as though you ‘can’t get enough air’
- terror that is almost paralyzing
- dizziness, lightheadedness or nausea
- trembling, sweating, shaking
- choking, chest pains
- hot flashes, or sudden chills
- tingling in fingers or toes (‘pins and needles’)
- fear that you’re going to go crazy or are about to die
You probably recognize this as the classic ‘flight or fight’ response that human beings experience when we are in a situation of danger. But during a panic attack, these symptoms seem to rise from out of nowhere. They occur in seemingly harmless situations–they can even happen while you are asleep.
In addition to the above symptoms, a panic attack is marked by the following conditions:
- it occurs suddenly, without any warning and without any way to stop it.
- the level of fear is way out of proportion to the actual situation; often, in fact, it’s completely unrelated.
- it passes in a few minutes; the body cannot sustain the ‘fight or flight’ response for longer than that. However, repeated attacks can continue to recur for hours.
Causes of Panic Disorder
Physical and psychological are the causes of panic disorder.
Body: There may be a genetic predisposition to anxiety disorders; some sufferers report that a family member has or had a panic disorder or some other emotional disorder such as depression. Studies with twins have confirmed the possibility of ‘genetic inheritance’ of the disorder. Panic Disorder could also be due to a biological malfunction, although a specific biological marker has yet to be identified.
Mind: Stressful life events can trigger panic disorders. One association that has been noted is that of a recent loss or separation. Some researchers liken the ‘life stressor’ to a thermostat; that is, when stresses lower your resistance, the underlying physical predisposition kicks in and triggers an attack.
Both: Physical and psychological causes of panic disorder work together. Although initially attacks may come out of the blue, eventually the sufferer may actually help bring them on by responding to physical symptoms of an attack.
For example, if a person with panic disorder experiences a racing heartbeat caused by drinking coffee, exercising, or taking a certain medication, they might interpret this as a symptom of an attack and, because of their anxiety, actually bring on the attack. On the other hand, coffee, exercise, and certain medications sometimes do, in fact, cause panic attacks. One of the most frustrating things for the panic sufferer is never knowing how to isolate the different triggers of an attack. That’s why the right therapy for panic disorder focuses on all aspects — physical, psychological, and physiological — of the disorder.
Impact on Individual and Families
The experience of panic can range from mild (where the person will have limited interference in their daily routine) to extremely severe (possibly resulting in being partially or completely housebound). The experience of panic for most panic sufferers is frightening and the avoidance can greatly alter one’s lifestyle (e.g., inability to drive to work).
As a change in their lifestyle becomes apparent, there is also a change in their personal relationships. Others around the person must take on more of the day-to-day routine and responsibilities (e.g., going to grocery stores or taking the kids to school). This may cause those around the panic sufferer to feel more stress from their increased duties.
The additional stress experienced by the family can cause resentment and anger towards the person and then worsen the panic symptoms. At the same time, she or he may begin to show signs of depression as a result of their changed family role. The negativity that comes with depression may then lead the person to believe that they don’t have the capability to improve their condition, and consequently increase their dependency, depression, and panic symptoms. If left untreated, this disorder can be consuming.
When to Seek Professional Help
In general, a person should consider seeking help when the anxiety occurs too frequently, intensely, or is becoming disruptive in daily functioning (e.g., going to fewer parties or social gatherings, going out to stores or movies less than usual). A good rule to follow is to be conservative and consider seeking help from a mental health professional when you notice the following:
- Frequently occurring panic attacks. If you have noticed that the attacks are increasing in either frequency or intensity, it may be a sign that they are becoming more difficult to control. At these times, it is advisable to seek help before the attacks begin to greatly interfere in your life.
- The appearance of avoidance behavior. If you notice a decrease in the amount of time you spend in activities you have typically done in the past, you may want to consider seeking help, especially if the reason for the decrease is related to experiencing panic attacks. The same can be said for activities that may bring on some of the sensations of panic (e.g., coffee). If you are changing your behavior to reduce the number of activities that are associated with panic symptoms, you may be letting the fear of the sensations control your behavior at a subtle level, and should consider seeking help from a qualified mental health professional.
- Dependency. If you notice that you are becoming more dependent on others to accomplish tasks that you would normally do because of the possibility of experiencing a panic attack, you may want to seek help. While this behavior is functional in the short-run, in the long-run dependency may intensify your anxious symptoms.
- Use of safety-signals. Safety-signals are objects or people that you feel comfortable with and signal that you are less likely to experience a panic attack. As such, it is common for individuals with panic to seek safe objects or people. If you notice that you want others (e.g., spouse or partner) to accompany you more during usual activities, then you may want to seek help.
Panic Disorder Treatment
Treatment for panic disorder with agoraphobia usually involves psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two. A qualified family therapist can work with you to determine which treatment will work best for your circumstances. Psychotherapy usually involves some form of behavior therapy. This basic approach consists of in-vivo exposure, which involves repeatedly entering the feared situations, gradually over time. The exposures can be conducted with or without the direct assistance of the therapist. A variation of this approach (cognitive behavioral therapy) involves conducting behavior therapy exposures in combination with helping you manage the troublesome thoughts that often accompany periods of intense anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a comprehensive treatment designed to influence the negative thinking (e.g., “I might die”) that is common with panic disorder. It provides accurate information regarding the nature of panic and teaches specific techniques that allow the patient to correct the catastrophic thoughts that contribute to panic attacks. In this treatment, the patient is also taught to utilize breathing techniques to alleviate some of the physical sensations. This type of therapy has been shown to greatly reduce the return of panic symptoms in the future. Either of these treatments can be conducted individually, or in a couples or group format.
Anti-panic medications may be recommended and may work well. They are generally considered safe, yet it is important to consult with your doctor or psychiatrist. Many times both medications and psychotherapy are effective used together to attain best results.
Panic can be very distressing, but the good news is that it is treatable, and the treatments outlined here are very successful. The suffering does not have to last for an extended period of time. A qualified family therapist can help you explore your treatment options and recommend a treatment plan that is appropriate for you.
- Overcoming Panic, Anxiety & Phobias, by Babior and Goldman,
- Self-help book about anxiety and panic recovery
- The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne
- Self-Coaching: How to Heal Anxiety and Depression by Joseph J. Luciani
- Overcoming Panic Disorder : A Woman’s Guide by Lorna Weinstock, Eleanor Gilman
- The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, by Edmund J Bourne
- Mind over Mood, by Dennis Greenberger and Christine Padesky – concentrates on identifying and challenging the way we think and encouraging more realistic, balanced thoughts and beliefs, to manage how we feel and behave.
Phobia and Fear
Phobia interferes with one’s life and may cause personal distress. Phobia means feeling nervous and fearful despite the awareness that the situation or person triggering the fear is not dangerous. Since the fear is irrational, the person tends to usually avoid it without offering any reasonable explanation.
Overcoming phobia helps individuals get control over their life. They no longer need be controlled by phobia or fear that inhibits their engagement in life activities. Understanding that most phobia are irrational will help in overcoming phobia disorder. Remember this old Buddhist saying: “While we cannot change our past, we can ruin our present by being anxious about the future.”
Cognitive behavioral therapist utilized CBT treatment method that has proved to be an effective way of treating phobia. It is based on the assumption that we, behave, act and respond to persons, objects and situations on the basis of our thoughts and ideas. If we can change the way we think and give our attitude a positive direction, we can control our anxiety to a large extent.
spiral2grow of New York City has qualified psychotherapists and qualified counselors that can help you overcome phobia and to become better skilled at coping with phobia and develop confidence to face it with your honed skills.
Phobias are constant, excessive fears of an object or situation that interfere with one’s life and/or cause personal distress. A phobia is an anxiety disorder. It is an extreme or irrational fear of an animal, object, place, or situation. Phobias aren’t just extreme fear; they are irrational fear. You may be able to ski the world’s tallest mountains with ease but panic going above the 10th floor of an office building.
Adults with phobias realize their fears are irrational, but often facing, or even thinking about facing, the feared object or situation brings on a panic attack or severe anxiety. Phobias develop when a person begins to organize their life around avoiding the things they are afraid of. Yet, no one knows why they hang on in some people and disappear in others.
If you have a phobia, you will have an overwhelming need to avoid all contact with the source of your anxiety. Coming into contact, or even the thought of coming into contact, with the cause of your phobia will make you anxious and may cause you to panic.
Coping with a phobia is an ongoing battle, and it is necessary to have support from a variety of sources. Although finding that support may seem daunting at first, the rewards are well worth the difficulties. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and other psychotherapy treatments can be effective in successfully managing and treating your different phobias.
Phobia Symptoms and Phobia Types
Most people admit they are afraid of certain things, such as snakes, blood, and/or public speaking. It could be said that some fears are useful, as they alert us so that we can prepare for potential danger. Fears of certain objects or situations are considered a phobia when:
- The fear is excessive or unreasonable.
- The person almost always has an anxiety reaction when he or she encounters the feared object or situation.
- The feared object or situation is either avoided or endured with extreme distress.
- The avoidance, anxious apprehension, or distress in the presence of the feared object or situation disrupts one or more aspects of a person’s normal routine.
In other words, when a person notices a specific fear getting in the way of routine activities or life satisfaction, then it is possible that he or she is suffering from a phobia. Phobias are typically grouped into one of five categories:
- Animal Type (fears of spiders, snakes, cats, dogs, mice, birds, or other animals)
- Natural Environment Type (fears of being near water, storms, and high places)
- Blood-Injection-Injury Type (fears of seeing blood, medical procedures, and injuries, receiving injections, and having blood drawn)
- Situational Type (fears of driving, flying, and being in enclosed spaces)
- Other Type (fears of vomiting, choking, loud sounds and other fears not belonging to any of the other categories)
There are many ways a person can develop a phobia. Some individuals remember a particularly traumatic experience with the feared object or situation. More often than not, however, people report that they have had the phobia as long as they can remember, or that they were always fearful of an object or situation and that it gradually developed into a phobia. Most psychologists believe that a combination of factors explains why phobias develop, including biological vulnerability, such as the tendency to be startled or alarmed, traumatic experiences with feared objects or situations, observations of others reacting fearfully to certain objects or situations, and learning information about the danger of certain objects and situations.
These circumstances, in turn, make it likely that phobic individuals will develop problematic ideas about the feared object or situation, such as the amount of danger it poses, the frequency with which they will encounter it, and their ability to cope with it. Interestingly, people are more likely to develop phobias of insects and storms rather than guns or knives. Many researchers believe things like insects and storms posed a threat to our ancestors, and it helped them to survive if they had a moderate level of fear toward them.
The effect of Phobia
Phobia may seriousely interfere with one’s life and/or cause personal distress. If left untreated, a phobia may worsen to the point in which the person’s life is seriously affected, both by the phobia itself and/or by attempts to avoid or conceal it. In fact, some people have had problems with friends and family, failed in school, and/or lost jobs while struggling to cope with a severe phobia. There may be periods of spontaneous improvement, but a phobia does not usually go away unless the person receives treatments designed specifically to help phobia sufferers.
At times, phobias can cause disagreements in close relationships, as they can limit the activities that partners and families can do together. Families of children with phobias often create time-consuming rituals to structure the phobic child’s environment so that the child either successfully learns to deal with the phobia, or so that the family can avoid a “scene” caused by the phobia. Partners and family members often find themselves trying to strike an unstable balance between showing love and concern toward the phobic individuals, and encouraging them to overcome their fears.
Simple or specific phobias have been quite effectively treated with behavior therapy. The main idea in behavior therapy is to promote the client to respond to the phobic fear in a reflex and non-dangerous stimuli. If the person were to be exposed to the non-dangerous stimulus time after time without any harm being experienced, the phobic response would gradually extinguish itself.
So, behavior therapy sets up phobic treatment involving exposure to the phobic stimulus in a safe and controlled setting. This technique is called exposure treatment as the patient is exposed to the phobic stimulus as part of the therapeutic process. One simple form of exposure treatment is that of flooding, where the person is immersed in the fear reflex until the fear itself fades away. Some phobic reactions are so strong that flooding must be done through one’s imagining the phobic stimulus, rather than engaging the phobic stimulus itself.
Some patients cannot handle flooding in any form, so an alternative classical conditioning technique is used called counter-conditioning. In this form, one is trained to substitute a relaxation response for the fear response in the presence of the phobic stimulus. Relaxation is incompatible with feeling fearful or having anxiety, so it is said that the relaxation response counters the fear response. This counter-conditioning is most often used in a systematic way to very gradually introduce the feared stimulus in a step-by-step fashion known as systematic desensitization. This desensitization involves three steps: (1) training the patient to physically relax, (2) establishing an anxiety hierarchy of the stimuli involved, and (3) counter-conditioning relaxation as a response to each feared stimulus beginning first with the least anxiety-provoking stimulus and moving then to the next least anxiety-provoking stimulus until all of the items listed in the anxiety hierarchy have been dealt with successfully.
Also, systematic desensitization can be paired with modeling. In modeling, the patient observes others (the “models”) in the presence of the phobic stimulus who are responding with relaxation rather than fear. In this way, the patient is encouraged to imitate the model(s) and thereby relieve their phobia.
Virtual Reality technique requires the client to wear a virtual-reality helmet being which then displays a phobic situation which is controlled and monitored by the therapist. The scene might be one of driving a car over a high bridge, while pulse rate is being monitored by the therapist. When the pulse rate gets too high, the scene is either shut down or frozen in frame to allow the therapist to counter-condition relaxation to replace the fear and anxiety response.
- National Institute of Mental Health Describes symptoms and treatments of all major anxiety disorders including phobias and information on new developments, statistics, and organizations related to phobias) and other anxiety disorders), as well as links to local resources, including clinical trials involving free treatment.
- Nemours Foundation Information on phobias tailored to children.
- National Phobics Society
- Anxiety Panic Attack Resource Site Help to those who suffer from anxiety attacks and panic attacks by offering information on symptoms, medications, treatments, and support
Part of this text was written by Amy Wenzel, PhD, Sabine P. Schmid, and Aaron T. Beck.)
Worry is natural response to uncertainty and even helpful in the proper context. Yet, it is only an effective short-term response, as worry can become self-perpetuating with adverse long-term consequences. Excessive worrying prompts repetitive, unsuccessful efforts to control it. These efforts to suppress intrusive thoughts are usually ineffective and paradoxically may magnify worry and anxiety. As a result, excessive worry can be life-long problem if not treated effectively and can also lead to depression. On the positive side, excessive worry can be treated and a significant improvement within a relatively short period of time is often experiencing.
Worry is a misuse of the imagination and serves as a chief cause of misery. Your imagination is a double-edged sword. You can use it to visualize big dreams and keep your motivation high, or you can use it to discourage yourself. The Dali Lama once said: Man is anxious about the future and as a result does not enjoy the present. Most of the worries create possible happenings at the hands of a wild imagination that never take place. In other words, worry is a misuse of an imagination that could be put to far better use – like creativity and purpose. Yet, it must be acknowledged that worrying is a hard thing to stop, but certainly possible.
Overcoming excessive worry helps individuals get control over their life. They no longer need be controlled by anxiety, worry or fear that will inhibit their engagement in life activities. Understanding that most worries are irrational will help in overcoming worry and anxiety disorders. Remember this old Buddhist saying: “While we cannot change our past, we can ruin our present by being anxious about the future.”
spiral2grow of New York can help discover the underline issues and teach clients ways to manage their worry through practical and effective strategies. Clients will be empowered to take control over their worry and create healthy, engaging and fulfilling life.
More about Excessive Worry
Overview of Excessive Worry
Worry is an effective short-term response to uncertainty that can become self-perpetuating with adverse long-term consequences. Worry reduces subjective uncertainty, contributes to a sense of vigilance and preparedness, dampens autonomic arousal, and fuels the belief that uncertain events and overall risk can be controlled. When such relief is coupled with the likely nonoccurrence of low-probability feared events, it can powerfully reinforce the worry response, shaping beliefs that worry is adaptive and somehow prevents bad things from happening. Worry also is a form of emotional suppression and cognitive avoidance that becomes self-perpetuating, in part because it blocks other emotions such as fear or anger.
Worry involves two things, both of which are natural and helpful in the proper context, which come together in the worrier to wreak havoc. The first is our ability to imagine the future and plan ahead. This is a marvelous gift to mankind and has allowed us to accomplish amazing things. The second, is our ability to take control of and respond to our environment. We do this with the help of the fight-or-flight response. This too is an amazing benefit that has helped us to survive as a species. When these two things come together, however, and we are trying to control and respond to imaginary events in the future, we get into trouble. For the chronic worrier, there is often limited awareness that this is what is happening. Because they believe that the worry is helpful or productive (despite evidence to the contrary), it becomes a habitual response.
Excessive “checking in” or reassurance-seeking can become a problem in personal life and relationships. Constant worry can leave you feeling emotionally depleted and depressed. Also, worry can also affect how productive and effective you are in pursuing your goals. Worry about the future interferes with problem-solving and decision-making in the present, and often leads to a pattern of avoidance and procrastination.
Symptoms of Constant Worry
The common experience across all kinds of anxiety including excessive worry involves physiological symptoms such as heart pounding, chest tightness, sweating, trembling, muscle aches and tension, stomach or headache, dizziness, and insomnia.
When we worry, we feel like our senses are on full alert. Emotional signs such as nervousness, anxiety, fear, edginess and irritability are also common. Finally, nonproductive obsessing or ruminating about oneself or the feared situation is common, as is avoiding the feared situation. People with anxiety and worry falsely believe that if they face what they fear, they will fail, be embarrassed or humiliated, or be met with criticism or rejection. While they are not necessarily depressed, they usually do not feel strong and competent to deal effectively with things in their lives.
Excessive Worry – Cognitive Distortion
- Intolerance for uncertainty: “If I think about this enough, I should feel a sense of certainty.”
- Intolerance for discomfort: “If I can just think this through, I won’t have to feel this way.”
- Inflated sense of culpability: “If bad things happen, it is my fault.”
- Distorted risk assessments/emotional reasoning: “If it feels likely, it is likely. If it feels dangerous, it is dangerous.”
- Perfectionism about mistakes: “Mistakes mean I screwed up because I was not in control.”
- Pessimism/presumed incapability: “Bad things will happen to me and I will not be able to deal with it.”
- Misconstrued virtue: “Worry shows how deeply I care about my children.”
- Overvaluation of the thought process: “Because I have a thought, it is important and I must give it my full attention.”
- Implicit magical beliefs about worry: “Worry prevents bad things from happening. It keeps me from being blindsided. It keeps loved ones safer.”
- Worry about worrying too much: “I am out of control. I am making myself sick. I have got to stop worrying.”
Treatment for Excessive Worry
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for excessive worry. Cognitive behavioral strategies that may be adapted to primary care contacts include education about the worry process, repeated challenge of cognitive distortions and beliefs that underpin worry, behavioral exposure assignments (e.g., scheduled worry periods, worry journals), and learning mindfulness meditation. Antidepressants medications could also be helpful is some situations.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is effective for many people, helping them to identify, understand, and modify faulty thinking and behavior patterns. This enables people learn to control their worry. Some may take medication as well. Relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, exercise, and other alternative treatments may also become part of a treatment plan.
Clients can learn ways of managing their worry through practical and common sense strategies, and will be encouraged to take an active role in their improvement by engaging in practice exercises inside the therapy room as well as in between sessions.
The Difference between Worry and Anxiety
Worry and anxiety represent two different approached to troubling thoughts or situations. However, while worry can have positive effects, anxiety can have negative effects. Worrying can assist in reflecting upon and developing positive solutions to problems. On the other hand, chronic worry creates a cycle of anxiety and unproductive obsessive thoughts. Worrying puts you in a frame of mind that enables you to rehearse and evaluate possible solutions, while anxiety builds on itself and leads to unproductive, obsessive behavior.
Anxiety involves fight-or-flight arousal. This is a natural, “hard-wired” response that all animals have. Its purpose is to help us to respond to a crisis or problem that is right in front of us, an immediate threat. Worry is a verbal process, unique to humans, where we use our minds as a time machine, traveling into the future to encounter problems and threats that are not here yet. What makes worry different from simply planning for the future is that we are triggering this fight-or-flight response. Since the crisis has not yet arrived, and may never actually show up, this arousal can hang around for long periods of time. This can lead to health problems, difficulty getting things done, relationship stress, and other troubles.
What is ACT and How It is Used to Treat Chronic Worry?
ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) is one of several new approaches based on acceptance and mindfulness of the present moment. These approaches have been shown to be useful in treating anxiety, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, trauma, couples’ distress, and personality disorders.
The essential components of ACT include letting go of the struggle to control unwanted thoughts and feelings, being mindfully aware of the present moment, and committing to a course of action that is consistent with what you value most in life. In this way, ACT is about both acceptance and change. It is the acceptance of the thoughts and emotions that accompany a difficult but valuable act that allow you to take that action. As applied to the problem of chronic worry, acceptance of the uncertainty of the future and anxious thoughts and feelings about that uncertainty, allow you to focus more clearly on the present and to take the steps that move you closer to the life you truly want to live.
What is LLAMP and How It Helps a Chronic Worrier?
LLAMP presents a five-step model to guide you through learning the component skills of acceptance and commitment therapy and applying them to the problem of worry. It starts by interrupting the fight-or-flight response and the accompanying impulse toward controlling your thoughts and feelings, and goes on to help you accept your thoughts and feelings and focus more on the present-moment. Finally, it guides you in taking actions directed by your values rather than by worry. The five steps are contained in the acronym LLAMP:
- Label “anxious thoughts”
- Let go of control
- Accept and observe thoughts and feelings
- Mindfulness of the present moment
- Proceed in the right direction
The step-by-step instruction and exercises allow you to practice and develop each component as an individual skill. With practice, the steps begin to flow one into another, so that applying LLAMP becomes a fluid process. Labeling certain thoughts as “anxious thoughts” is a cue to Let go of the control response, which makes room for Acceptance and Mindfulness of your thoughts, feelings, and experience in the present moment, which allows you to Proceed with valued, purposeful action.
- The Worry Club A humorous look at worry, stress and anxiety. A place where someone else does your worrying.
- Beat Anxiety Anxiety articles and resources.
- Anxiety Panic Attack Resource Site Help to those who suffer from anxiety attacks and panic attacks by offering information on symptoms, medications, treatments, and support.
- Anxious Living Anxious Living is an exploration into the nature and treatment of social anxiety.
Anxiety and Stress Management Workshop
Stress is emotional and physiological reaction to a threat, whether real or imagined, that results in a series of challenges. Anxiety does not only affect your body, it also affects your thoughts and behaviors. Stress management can bring a variety of benefits: sustained peak performance, cognitive flexibility, memory, decision making, and even longevity. If you are feeling stressed, demoralized, depressed and/or anxious, this workshop can help you.
spiral2grow utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Counseling (CBT) approach that has shown by research to be most effective form of therapy for anxiety. The seminar teaches participants management and coping skills for dealing with anxiety and stress. Participants will learn techniques to relieve uncomfortable feelings and move towards a more harmonious, integrated and skillful state of being.
spiral2grow of New York City also offers Anxiety and Stress Management solutions in a variety of formats: Individual Therapy and Group Counseling.