- Low Self-Esteem
- Self-Help Strategies
- Bipolar disorder
Posted by: admin on: July 27, 2012
Have you purchased The Linden Method or other popular anxiety treatment packages such as PanicAway? If so, we’d love to hear from you.
Anxiety is one of the most common problems clients bring to counselling, and can have wide-ranging effects on your life and health. We’re looking to review and contrast the different anxiety treatments on the market – how effective they are, how accessible, and what made you choose one over another. We’d be especially interested if you’ve tried more than one – for example, if you’ve bought both The Linden Method and PanicAway, and how you feel they compare. Contact us and let us know your thoughts, and we will publish them here!
Posted by: admin on: February 11, 2012
This week’s guest post is from Matt Foden, a photographer who also runs the anxiety blog http://www.howtodealwithanxietyblog.com
It can be quite a painful and yet cathartic process opening up to others about your own struggle with anxiety. I have to admit when I first started suffering from anxiety I felt a little ashamed, and very alone. I think its very hard for non-sufferers to truly understand what its like for those who experience these symptoms day in and day out. My own story started about 3 or 4 years ago.
For ten years I worked for a very large telecommunications company in the UK, in some fairly demanding marketing and sales roles. For the first 5 years I loved it- whilst it was challenging the culture of the company was fairly relaxed, and this helped to balance out the demands of the job. However, after 5 years the culture of the company changed radically. I was moved (against my own wishes) into a job for which I had no prior experience and I soon found myself floundering. I felt that I wasn’t suitably qualified to handle the job, and I began to experience a significant amount of stress and anxiety.
The weird thing is that, for me, it’s all about control. As long as I feel I know what I’m doing, and can do a good job, I can actually handle a lot of work and even deadlines. As soon as I feel I’m not in control, however, I start to ‘freak out’. This ‘freaking out’ would consist of constant worrying about the smallest details of my job, constant feelings of inadequacy and some fairly major panic attacks. What made things worse is that I am very hard on myself- I can be a bit of a perfectionist, and I constantly criticise my own work.
I was signed off from work for 4 weeks with stress, and when I returned I was moved into a job that I felt more comfortable doing. However, a year down the line, my position was cut back, and I found myself being moved into a project management position, again for which I had no prior experience. I quickly found that I was floundering again, and the same symptoms of stress and anxiety came back, only this time things got far worse.
I started getting really bad dizzy spells (where I literally had to sit or lie down), heart palpitations, and then on certain occasions full blown panic attacks. These were absolutely terrifying- at first I felt like I was dying or having a heart attack when they struck, and they seemed to occur far more when I was out, or in busy places like shopping malls. One of the worst things I felt during these anxiety attacks was a feeling of being ‘spaced out’ and feeling as if I wasn’t really ‘in’ my own body. I remember one panic attack that was so severe I genuinely felt I was having a heart attack.
Despite my very best efforts I started to retreat more to my house, and found myself refusing to go out for social events, as I found the symptoms of anxiety would return. Like many other anxiety sufferers I would feel very self-conscious around others on social occasions, and they would often trigger panic attacks.
I remember going on holiday with my fiancée and suffering really badly from anxiety, panic attacks, constant worrying (about everything) and prolonged spells of dizziness. It got to the point where I could barely leave my hotel room. I felt as if my life was closing in on me, and that I was no longer leading a ‘normal’ life. I felt terrified and depressed at the same time. I also felt that no one really understood how I felt. It was the loneliest feeling in the world.
I went to see the doctor upon returning from holiday, and was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). I started to read up about it, and researched practical ways of dealing with the anxiety. I quit my high pressure job and found a less stressful position elsewhere, and started to exercise regularly. On top of this I also took Sertraline, an anti-depressant that has helped me (to a degree) with the anxiety symptoms. I’m certainly not cured, but I do feel that I’m slowly winning the war against anxiety. It does come back, and I do get panic attacks from time to time, but I’ve learnt how to deal with them more effectively. Perhaps most importantly, however, I’ve made the decision that I’m not going to let this thing beat me, or stop me from leading a full life. In some ways, it’s actually helped me to reflect on what really matters to me in life, and that I’m not cut out for the corporate world! I’ve started my own photography business, and it’s really starting to come together, which is really exciting. But I also realise that I must never be complacent. I’ve been through a few tough times in my life, and the one thing I’ve learned is that, no matter how hopeless things seem at times, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but that you have to walk towards it yourself.
One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is that I’m not alone. There are so many people out there suffering from a variety of anxiety conditions, and there is no shame at all in it. It’s a reflection of the pressures of modern life. I’ve also learned not to be an ‘island’, which us blokes are prone to be, and that it’s ok to seek help from others. There are practical things you can do to help yourself with stress and anxiety, from self help and meditation through to exercise and CBT. Just remember, you are not alone.
Matt is a wedding and portrait photographer based in London, in the UK. He has recently launched a site offering advice on stress and anxiety, which you can find at:
Posted by: admin on: January 12, 2012
This guest post is courtesy of Craig Mollins. Craig writes about mindfulness and anger management at http://mindfulnessangermanagement.com
One of the best ways to stay stressed and unhappy is to keep moving so fast that you have no chance to relax and appreciate your life. Sadly this style of living is all too familiar for most of us, as we live in a world that increasingly keeps us busy. Producing more and having more is the order of the day, and it’s driving us forward like lemmings into the sea.
Because we’re stressed out and continually on the go, many of us experience problems dealing with our anger. Despite our best efforts to improve our life, we’re not experiencing an increase in satisfaction, and as a result we become disappointed and frustrated. Our family, our work, relationships and obligations, rather than being a source of inspiration, all become burdensome, and at the end of the day we feel tired, resentful and angry.
An effective tool for slowing down, cutting through the stress, and letting go of our anger is the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness comes to us from the ancient traditions of the East, but it is increasingly becoming integrated into mainstream western society. Whole departments at major universities such as MIT are now dedicated to mindfulness and its application to a wide range of modern day issues.
Mindfulness is a simple practice to help you be more fully present in the here and now. By slowing down enough to connect with our body, with other people, and the physical world, we discover a source of ordinary strength, clarity, and ease. We’ve been so busy running on the treadmill that we’ve been missing the ordinary goodness of our life, but when we slow down the pace, ironically we discover the satisfaction we’ve been striving so hard to find by staying busy.
A Mindfulness Meditation
Here is a simple five-minute mindfulness meditation to help you get started.
Make yourself comfortable on your seat. Relax your body, sit up slightly, and feel the weight settle on your bottom. Now notice your breath. Simply breathe normally without trying to change anything, and just notice what you notice. Continue to feel your weight, and your body breathing. When you notice you are thinking about something instead of noticing your body breathing, simply return your awareness back to the sensations of weight and breath. That’s all there is to it. Continue this way for five minutes.
Posted by: admin on: December 27, 2011
The PHQ-9 depression questionnaire is a widely-respected test for depression, often used by doctors and psychologists to diagnose both depression and its severity and type. You can find the list of questions elsewhere on this site and try it out for yourself if you are concerned that you might be depressed.
One of the most helpful features of this depression questionnaire is that it is derived from the Diagnostic and Statistical manual’s own criteria for major depression. This means that its results are less subjective than some other depression questionnaires’, since DSM is so widely used by the same set of professionals. The correlation means that there should be little room for doubt about the results.
What the PHQ-9 depression questionnaire doesn’t do is tell you what the best method of treatment will be. Depression responds well to both drugs (antidepressants of various kinds) and counselling. This could take the form of CBT, psychodynamic work, or other forms of therapy. You can find out a bit more about different kinds of counselling here; further information is freely available on the web.
Regardless of the type or severity of depression diagnosed as a result of the depression questionnaire, it is important that you engage well with any counselling you receive. There is a vast amount of material about which modalities (counselling schools of theory) are more successful; these are largely unhelpful, since they favour those methods for which there is most data, rather than those that are actually most successful. Ultimately, the working alliance is arguably a more important factor. However your therapist approaches counselling, you need to be comfortable working together. This is a more powerful factor for success than the type of counselling.
Having said this, a good therapist will discuss in detail what has led to your depression – both in the short term and in the light of your background. The more information you can provide, the better.
The PHQ-9 depression questionnaire is a useful test, then, but it is simply a first step to establishing the presence of depressive conditions. It does not provide you with all the information you need to address the condition. This is a far more complex task, and may involve a mixture of antidepressants of one kind or another, and talking therapies.
Posted by: admin on: December 9, 2011
StressingOut has recently added a review of The Linden Method, a popular and effective anxiety treatment programme.
The Linden Method is a widely-respected course to treat anxiety, panic attacks, OCD and related conditions. It was created by Charles Linden, who suffered from anxiety for many years. Charles put together the course based on research into people who had recovered from anxiety. The Linden Method (TLM) is a collection of pragmatic techniques that come together to address the root of the problem, the brain’s learned and disproportionate response to anxiety triggers. These can be ‘unlearned’ with the right techniques, reducing anxiety or eliminating it altogether.
Posted by: admin on: December 1, 2011
The PHQ-9 is a nine-item depression test commonly used by healthcare professionals to diagnose both depression and its severity. This can then be used by doctors and counsellors to decide on the best treatment option.
PHQ-9 stands for Patient Health Questionnaire 9. The questions seek to establish the patient’s symptoms and functional impairment – that is, both how they feel and how much it is affecting them. One of the strengths of the PHQ-9 is that it is directly based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual’s (DSM-IV) criteria for major depressive disorder. There is therefore a direct correlation between the two, meaning that depression can be established almost by definition with its use.
The PHQ-9 is a very simple test to use. Unlike other scales or inventories of depression, it requires no specialist knowledge or training to come to a diagnosis, thanks to its foundation in DSM-IV. (Treatment, of course, is another matter, and should only be sought with trained professionals. They will likely want to administer the PHQ-9 or another test to establish depression, in any case.)
The PHQ-9 is effectively a tick-box test that is scored at the end to give a figure that corresponds to the level of depression. It is therefore a useful first step for a layperson to take to gain some insight into their condition. If you are uncertain about whether you are depressed, or reluctant to go to a doctor for treatment, this is one way to establish fairly objectively the existence of depression and how serious it might be.
If you conclude after using the PHQ-9 that you are depressed, you should consider seeking specialist advice. Self-help resources are often useful, but the PHQ-9 will not give you a final, specific diagnosis on its own. For example, some disorders involve changes of mood over time, from depression to elation, often with a ‘normal’ period in the middle. Because the PHQ-9 is a snapshot at a given time, it will not establish these. Neither will it establish the best course of treatment, whether medication, counselling, or a combination of these, or whether depression coexists with other conditions such as anxiety.
To conclude, the PHQ-9 depression test is a helpful tool, but it can only really be considered a starting point to diagnosing depression, rather than giving the patient all the information they need for treatment. You can find information about the PHQ-9 on the internet, or use the version on this site to learn more.
Posted by: admin on: November 23, 2011
You may have noticed a new widget on the right-hand side of the page: an RSS feed for Dr Rick Hanson‘s Just One Thing.
JOT is a free weekly e-newsletter that suggests a single, simple practice to improve your life. The practices draw on a broad range of traditions, from neuroscience and psychology to the contemplative traditions. Each one is easy to carry out but brings a little happiness to each day and improves the mood. As you carry out each one, you reinforce the mental habits of positive thinking, optimism and calm. Here at StressingOut we consider JOT the perfect complement to the techniques you’ll find here to reduce stress, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem: good mental habits are absolutely key to wellbeing.
Dr Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist and the author of Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom. Amongst numerous other achievements, he founded the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, which hosts the www.WiseBrain.org website.
Rick’s Just One Thing newsletter is subscribed by almost 30,000 people, and is syndicated by major websites including the Huffington Post and Psychology Today.
Posted by: admin on: September 16, 2011
This post about coping with dental phobia is by Richard Keane. Richard is someone who has overcome his own minor form of dental phobia in order to get the dental treatment he needs. He spends his time working for the dentistry guide to give people much needed information to help them get the treatment they deserve. You can visit him on Twitter on @thefreshhealth.
How to cope with dental phobia
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), a phobia is a ‘marked and persistent fear that is excessive or unreasonable’. Phobias in general are defined as irrational fears leading to the avoidance of the feared object, situation, or activity. The fear is seen as irrational, excessive, or unreasonable.
But is that true in the case of dental phobia?
Certainly there are instances where the fear and anxiety stem from the unknown, and in some cases this fear may become excessive. It is reasonable to conclude that debilitating fear of death or disfigurement resulting from a dental procedure is irrational. But the fear of physical discomfort or loss of control is not only reasonable; it is quite often based on past experience. As many as 85% of those who acknowledged dental phobias attributed them to past painful or traumatising experiences.
Make the right choice
In the United States between 9-20% of the population do not seek dental care as a direct result of fear related to the dental experience. This means that 30-40 million people in the US alone go without adequate dental care because of fear. While for some, going to the dentist may never seem enjoyable, there are many ways to lessen the anxiety and take back a sense of control. It is important to remember that going to the dentist is not mandatory. It is a choice and the most important step is making the choice to work with a competent and compassionate dental health provider. While great strides have been made in the technical aspects of dental care and the options for pain relief, the dentist-patient relationship is still at the core of reducing anxiety.
The dentist-patient relationship
With the right dentist the patient feels part of a team, so that doctor and patient are working together to achieve a common goal. This greatly reduces the feeling of lack of control. Other stress reducers include relaxation techniques, breathing exercises and desensitisation. Muscle relaxation techniques are beneficial, in that isolating and relaxing individual muscle groups not only help the body to relax, but concentrating on muscle groups provides a way to concentrate on a non-threatening activity while in the dentist’s chair.
During panic attacks, breathing becomes shallow and fast. This results in becoming dizzy and lightheaded which further exacerbates the anxiety. Practising slow deep breaths allows the patient to recognise when to slow down and calm themselves. Desensitisation is most helpful when the source of the anxiety is fear of the unknown, but has been found to reduce stress in nearly all areas of dental phobia. Ideally the desensitisation takes place before any actual dental procedure.
Familiarise yourself with the surroundings
The client is allowed time in the exam room and in the chair to familiarise themselves with the atmosphere and the various equipment without the underlying fear that they will soon be used on them. The patient is shown the equipment, allowed to handle it and asked questions. This is also a great opportunity to establish doctor-patient rapport in a less stressful situation. Often, just knowing that someone has taken the time to acknowledge and address the anxiety can make the patient feel more relaxed and in control.
Posted by: admin on: September 14, 2011
Stress and depression
Stress and depression are very difficult cycles to break. There is usually no single factor that causes depression. Some of those factors that we can often overlook, especially when depressed, are sleep and appetite. This article will discuss these two factors, whereas the previous article will help you learn to cope with depression.
Sleep is vital
A research study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information shows a link between lack of sleep and subsequent depression and anxiety. Here is a summary of their results (look here for the full study).
‘People with insomnia had greater depression and anxiety levels than people not having insomnia and were 9.82 and 17.35 times as likely to have clinically significant depression and anxiety, respectively. Increased insomnia frequency was related to increased depression and anxiety, and increased number of awakenings was also related to increased depression…’
Important processes occur during sleep and a lack of it can leave you feeling exhausted, irritable, and with a desire to be left alone. These are also some of the symptoms of depression. The sleep cycle is different for someone that is depressed than it is for someone who isn’t.
Normally there are 5 stages of sleep that rotate throughout the night. Stages 1, 2, 3, and 4 are considered non-rem stages, and stage 5 is REM sleep. In each stage you become more and more difficult to wake.
Stages 1 and 2 are light sleep stages, while 3 and 4 are deep sleep stages. It is the deep sleep stages that the restorative processes occur in. These are the stages you really need to go through at night in order to feel recuperated, otherwise you wake feeling exhausted.
The sleep pattern in someone depressed looks very different:
It takes longer to get to sleep
The total amount of sleep during the night is reduced
There can be little to no deep sleep
REM sleep occurs earlier
You may wake much earlier in the morning, even if you went to sleep late.
You may wake up throughout the night, even if only long enough to be aware of waking.
You may wake up very early, only to be unable to fall asleep again even if very tired.
Depression and appetite
Sometimes with depression, stress or anxiety we confuse the symptoms for one disorder with that of another. In my own life I have gotten depressed and felt very tired, so I would stay in bed or go back to bed. The reality was that I was actually extremely hungry, not tired.
Depression can affect your appetite either by making you eat less, or eat more, depending on the individual. Dr. Kennedy from the Montefiore Medical Center says ‘many people with depression lose both interest and energy. This can include a loss of interest in eating.’
Debra Johnston, nutrition director at Remuda Ranch (an eating disorder center), says that depression can also result in emotional eating, a common event in which the need to eat is not associated with physical hunger. The reason for this is that eating food soothes them by changing their brain chemistry. This is done by producing a feeling of fullness.
I can attest to the fact that eating makes me feel good. When I don’t eat, I feel more stressed, and have a strong feeling of scarcity or lack. These feelings continue the cycle of depression, anxiety, and low self esteem. Look for my previous article to see the simple steps I take to help cope with and reduce stress and depression.
For the last 10 years I, Joneric Bohman, have dedicated a lot of time to personal development and now wish to share that with others. I provide thought provoking articles to help others change their lives at my site jonericbohman.com.
Posted by: admin on: September 10, 2011
This week’s guest post comes from Joneric Bohman.
How to cope with stress and depression
You’ve heard it said many times that stress is normal. Excessive worrying however can lead to depression, leaving you feeling helpless and hopeless. Other times it leaves you feeling incompetent or incapable. Here are some things I strive to do each day to reduce stress and depression.
Forget your feelings
Not long ago I realized I felt tired and didn’t feel like getting out of bed. I chose to disregard my feelings, got up and made some breakfast. Immediately after eating I felt opposite of how I did when laying in bed.
When you are depressed your emotions are not something you should always give heed to. In other words, if you don’t feel like going out with friends, do just that and go out with them. Sometimes our feelings are there to simply try and protect us, to help us feel comfortable.
Those situations in which we feel comfortable may only be making us feel more depressed. For instance, I use to play video games because I didn’t know what else to do. It was a crutch that I created for myself because I didn’t believe I could do some of the things I really wanted to, namely make a difference in others lives.
What I knew all along is that I want to help improve others’ lives. I had some experiences that caused me to believe I didn’t make a difference and that no one cared. So I made a website to help change lives, and share what I have learned as often as opportunity permits in person. I still feel uncertainty at times. However, the more I persist the more I believe in myself.
How I start my day
It really helps to have a morning wake-up routine, in order to take care of myself properly. These are things I do that help me feel good about myself, and start the day out well. Here’s what I do in the morning:
This isn’t really anything special, however it does wonders for my mood. If you have trouble coping with depression in the mornings I recommend you do something like this as well. Choose activities that help boost your mood, that make you feel good.
A word of caution, don’t choose activities that will perpetuate the feelings you wish to avoid. Overeating, for instance, may lead to feeling bad about how heavy you are, sitting at the computer may lead you to think you are unproductive, etc.
Lack of sleep and appetite are two of the causes of stress and depression. The good news is that with help from your doctor, your close friends and family, and your own never give up attitude, you CAN overcome them. You only fail when you quit working at it, so don’t quit.
For the last 10 years I, Joneric Bohman, have dedicated a lot of time to personal development and now wish to share that with others. I provide thought provoking articles to help others change their lives at my site, jonericbohman.com