Archives for Phobias
Mirror mirror on the wall, why is everyone always looking at me? Some people believe that others are always looking at them and judging them quite harshly. It's like there are mirrors everywhere and they all reflect imperfections. People have social anxiety when this feeling becomes overwhelming and interferes with daily life. Symptoms of social anxiety include fears of: public speaking going to parties meeting new people speaking up to authority figures eating in public
About ten days ago, Laura and I came down with the plague. Well, OK, not the plague. More like the flu actually. We experienced energy draining fatigue, headaches, fever, chills, a constant cough and even back pain. We spent close to two days in bed and have just now overcome our symptoms with the sole exception of a lingering, but dissipating cough. Of course we wondered if we could have done something to prevent this malady from occurring. When we saw our doctor, he suggested that we might have gotten our flu shots too early this year (apparently, they reformulate the shots as the year goes on). Of course, he said we had no way of knowing that and, no, he wasn’t recommending that we start getting two flu shots a year. Maybe we didn’t wash our hands often enough. Or maybe we weren’t sufficiently attentive to getting enough sleep every night. Or maybe we spent too much time around crowds at the mall. Maybe…YIKES! Stop it!
Most people, who have more anxiety than they want, work hard to rid themselves of their anxiety. They try relaxation training, meditation, medication, and more, all in a desperate attempt to conquer uncomfortable, distressing feelings. And who can blame them? After all, isn’t that the goal of therapy—to rid yourself of anxiety, uncertainty, doubts, and discomfort once and for all? Well, yes and no. Of course most therapists would love for you to be able to feel calm, relaxed, and peaceful all of the time. However, that goal isn’t possible for anybody. Life is full of unpredictable, often random, dangers, hassles, and perils. Therefore, if you have the goal of eliminating these things, you will almost certainly fail.
So, Laura responded to my blog on Six Reasons for Not Treating Your Anxiety or OCD with one of her own blogs that may have helped you rethink your “treatment interfering beliefs” in a more productive way. If so, you’re ready to move ahead, right? Well, not quite. I think it’s also wise to take one more important step. Specifically, I’d like you first to consider accepting where you’re at, problems and all. That’s right; evaluate yourself as acceptable and OK as you are. Realize that you didn’t ask to have problems with anxiety and OCD. Rather, you have these problems for lots of good reasons. You may have had genes that tilted you in this direction. Or perhaps you experienced one or more traumas. Maybe your parents were overly critical and overbearing. On the other hand, maybe they couldn’t provide the structure you needed as a child. Perhaps you grew up in an unsafe neighborhood. People acquire anxiety and OCD for these reasons and many more. They pretty much never become anxious because they “wanted” to have these problems. Yet, many clients judge and evaluate themselves very harshly just because they have some problems that they didn’t ask for in the first place. They see themselves as weak, incompetent, and horribly flawed. Thus, they tell themselves that they absolutely MUST overcome their problems. In addition, they should do so quickly and completely.
Kids don’t generally develop anxiety disorders all on their own. Oh sure, genes and biology have some influence, but these factors largely just predispose kids in the direction of acquiring problems with anxiety. The wrong messages can push both anxiously disposed kids as well as otherwise normal kids in the direction of struggling with anxiety for the rest of their lives. If you’re a parent or someone who cares about kids, you just might want to know what type of messages instill insecurity. I’ll start by laying out three common mistakes that parents make; in other words, the kinds of messages you “don’t” want to give them:
“Study Confirms Your Worst Fears About Public Potties!” This headline bounced all around the Internet recently. Similarly, we often see television reporters swoop in like a swat team on hotels to check the cleanliness of their rooms. Invariably, they find hotel rooms teaming with bacteria. Other reporters have analyzed escalator railings and obtained similar, alarming findings. We saw a report a few years ago that detailed the dangers of buying used, refurbished mattresses due to bed bugs, fecal matter, and various body fluids that still inhabited such mattresses even after the refurbishing process.
Social phobia is more than shyness. It involves intense worry about being with people you don’t know, or fear of unfamiliar situations. People with social phobia worry about being judged or evaluated for their actions. And they predict that those judgments will be harsh, negative, and humiliating. They understand that their concerns are greater than warranted, but find themselves overwhelmed with strong feelings of fear. These fears lead to avoidance of people or situations that make them uncomfortable—not to mention terrified. Children and teens with social phobia don’t answer questions in school even when they know the right answer. They don’t want to seek attention and can seem distant, unfriendly, and sometimes even arrogant to others. As adults, they may avoid speaking up at work, making presentations, being socially interactive, and being assertive. It’s understandable that those with social phobia are often underachievers—at school, at work, and in relationships. People with social phobia usually don’t seek treatment for their condition. That makes sense, because they tend to avoid attention of any kind and rarely ask for help. They don’t want to make a call to a mental health professional or seek a referral from their medical provider. Those with social phobia may lead restricted, lonely lives because of their condition.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a serious emotional problem that involves: Obsessions: Intense worries, thoughts, and images that pop into the mind and create a great deal of distress. Worries about becoming contaminated with germs are an example of a particularly common obsession. Compulsions: Various behaviors or actions that temporarily reduce the distress obsessions cause. For example, people with contamination obsessions would be likely to wash their hands excessively to deal with their worries about becoming contaminated.
Earlier this week, we wrote about seven signs that someone might need professional help. Parents often ask the same questions about their kids. They don’t want to send their kids to be evaluated if there’s nothing to worry about; after all, consulting a mental health professional costs time and money, and could cause a little anxiety in the process. By the way, we usually suggest a quick check in with the pediatrician first because signs of what appear to be behavioral, emotional, or learning issues can be caused by physical problems and medical providers often know who to go to for mental health help. Since the signs differ a little for kids versus adults, here’s a list of seven signs that tell you if your child needs further assessment:
Everyone has bad days. And many have bad weeks. But when feeling depressed, stressed, or anxious stretches out over a period of several weeks and begins to interfere with daily life, then mental health professionals may need to be involved. Here are some signs that you or someone you care about need evaluation and possibly treatment: 1. Suicidal thoughts or plans. If you start thinking that life is not worth living, help is available. You can call the national suicide hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE or a local mental health center. If you are aware of someone else who has thoughts of suicide, the hotline can advise you of what action you should take.