Social anxiety (also known as Social Phobia) is a misunderstood condition. People often confuse it with being introverted or shy. But introverts are not by definition socially anxious. A person can be perfectly comfortable around people but may not enjoy loud gatherings. While extroverts feel energized after crowded get-togethers, introverts feel depleted and need to recuperate. Introverts, therefore, prefer solitary activities, but do not suffer from social anxiety. They may stay home on a Friday night feeling perfectly content.
If you are a parent of a child who has OCD, you know only too well how easy it is to get entangled in an endless argument where you try to use logic to no avail. You tell your child how unlikely it is that something bad will happen, you teach her to think positively, you reassure her, and you try to help her out.
Do you wonder whether you may suffer from undiagnosed OCD?
You may have intrusive thoughts and maybe even some rituals, but your room is unbelievably messy, and you don’t feel you have to wash your hands all the time. And even though your thoughts are driving you nuts, they are actually about realistically dangerous things, things that most people would be scared of happening. And nobody even notices your rituals.
As I’m stepping out of my office into the reception area to get my next patient, Michael, I can see that he is distressed.
“What’s going on?” I ask as we take our seats.
Trichotillomania (TTM or Trich – pronounced as “trick”) is a disorder where a person repeatedly pulls hair, which results in hair loss. This condition is diagnosed when the person is unable to decrease or stop pulling despite the willingness to do so and feels embarrassed, ashamed, and distressed.
Last weekend I was at my friend Emily’s barbeque party. After we had our full share of sausages, kebabs, and salads, and settled down at the table with the drinks, Emily said she was facing a serious dilemma and needed advice.
"Adversity presents itself in many forms and if a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them."
During the last couple of weeks, I found myself being more fully engaged in the moment. I am noticing the tastes, the smells, the colors, and the emotions with increased sharpness and experiencing a deeper appreciation of everyday life’s little events. All of a sudden, being mindful has become almost effortless.
A few days ago, I was talking a friend over the phone and he noticed that I sounded tired. I did feel a little depleted after a few emotionally difficult therapy sessions.
Friend: You sound tired. What’s going on?
I: Nothing. Had a few sessions and just finished. It was tough.
As we are preparing for our yearly vacation, and I am excitedly telling friends and acquaintances about our plans to see the beautiful Portugal, many react with comments and questions such as...
Do you frequently ask yourself:
- Why did this happen to me?
- Why do those things always happen to me?
- What’s wrong with me?
- Why couldn’t I have handled things better?
- Why do I always react this way?
- What does this mean about me?
When the sun is shining, and everything is starting to bloom, we naturally feel more energy. This is a great time to do something wonderful for our children and ourselves. This is the best time to start gardening. This simple activity has vast physical and emotional benefits. Additionally, it is tremendously important for our electronics-dependent children to venture outside and to connect to nature while disconnecting from the constant stream of information.
When experiencing a negative emotion, we often try to ignore it, pretend it's not there, or distract ourselves. Unfortunately, it requires a lot of energy and does not always work. A surprisingly effective strategy to diminish a negative emotion is to actually stay with the emotion, identify it, and name it in your mind or say it out loud. Psychologists call it Affect Labeling (naming your feelings)
One of the most common presenting problems that patients come to my office with is anxiety.
Some people are anxious in social situations. Others may worry excessively about physical symptoms, thinking that they may have a heart attack or collapse.
Some people are fearful of specific objects or situations. And sometimes people seem to worry about everything!
Let's say you bought a fancy new car and installed a sophisticated alarm system to protect it from thieves.
The alarm was quite an expense and you take great pride in it. The only problem is that it goes off when the neighborhood kids play too close to it.
And when your cat climbs on the hood. And when there is a gust of wind.
And for no apparent reason several times at night. You get the idea.
When we feel threatened, our attention is focused on the perceived threat.
(Perceived is the key word - remember the overly sensitive car alarm? The threat can be real or nonexistent. As long as we perceive it as dangerous, we are on high alert).
Our perception of the situation mostly depends on what we are saying to ourselves about it. Anxiety-related perceptions and thoughts revolve around the themes of danger (physical, mental, or social), threat, or vulnerability.
In the previous article, (Anxiety Part 3), we talked about three components of anxiety: Thoughts, Physical Sensations, and Behaviors
We also learned that every component affects the other two.
In this section, we'll see how we can deal with each of those components.
Remember The Wonderful Wizard of Oz book by Frank Baum?
If you do, you must recall how everybody was scared of Wizard of Oz the terrible.
The whole country lived in fear. But the powerful never-seen wizard turned out to be a humbug - an imposter.
To reveal that, though, he had to be seen for who he was, - not for who he was trying to pretend to be.
In a similar way, anxiety (and its close relative Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)) trick us into seeing danger in neutral, non-dangerous situations.
Well, maybe not really the best friend. But definitely, something that we better learn to at least tolerate or, preferably, embrace.
In my sessions, I often ask patients to name things that they are totally certain of (other than the fact that we will all die one day).
I have yet to hear of another absolutely certain thing. If you are the first one to come up with an idea, please email me, and I will add it to this article.
In this part of the series of articles we discover together and walk through several helpful strategies on how to conquer worry.
We were climbing up the wooden stairs after having a swim in the cold Atlantic Ocean near the village of Salema in Portugal and I was trying to balance our backpack, the picnic blanket, beach toys, and towels while holding his hand.