Therapy That Works...

OCD - Common Types of Obsessive Thoughts - By Chris Gearing

Monday, June 10, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe some of the most common types of obsessive thoughts linked to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder - click here.

The definitive signs of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or “OCD” are obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.

Even though only one of them is required to diagnose OCD, over 90% of OCD patients experience both obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.

Obsessive thoughts usually begin the cycle of OCD.

Your mind is flooded with thoughts, urges, or images that may provoke feelings of humiliation, horror, or disgust. Most obsessive thoughts directly mirror the ideals and values that we hold most dear. For instance, a loving parent obsesses about the safety of their child or a body builder obsesses about the size of their physique. Most OCD patients recognize that their thoughts and fears are exaggerated, but they cannot stop their intrusive obsessive thoughts and feel compelled to perform their rituals.

Like most OCD cases, they may turn to compulsive behaviors or rituals to soothe and reassure themselves that they are doing all that they can to prevent some unexpected disaster. Their anxiety overwhelms their minds, and they search for a way to relieve the psychological pressure.

Here are some of the most common types of obsessive thoughts and fears:

  • Worries about cleanliness
  • Hoarding objects that they may need later
  • Needing objects in a specific location, order, or pattern
  • Fear of supernatural or spiritual harm
  • Worrying about contamination or death by disease or poisons
  • Anxiety about negligently causing harm to themselves or to a loved one
  • Fear of compromising or violating their own beliefs and values

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can be a very serious condition. If you think someone you know may experience OCD, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.


“Treatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders” by Robert L. Leahy, Stephen J.F. Holland, and Lata K. McGinn, 2012

Suicide - Is This Generation More Depressed or More Aware of Suicide? - By Chris Gearing

Friday, June 07, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing examine why the rate of teen suicide is continuing to climb even though we know more about teen suicide than ever - click here.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five US teenagers considers suicide every year.

Psychologists know more about suicide than ever, but the rate of teen suicide has climbed steadily over the generations and is now the third leading causing of death for Americans from 15 to 24 years of age. So, why does the rate of teen suicide continue to grow even though Americans are taking more action than ever to stop suicides?

Epidemic Depression:

Part of the answer is that teen depression and anxiety are reaching epidemic levels. Research has found that teen depression has increased tenfold over the last century and it strikes a full decade earlier than it did fifty years ago. That means that this generation is ten times more likely to reach clinical levels of depression, and they will likely become depressed when they are still children. In addition once depression and anxiety have set up shop in your child’s mind, they are more likely to return in the future. Severe depression reoccurs about 50% of the time.

Swept Under The Rug:

Even though suicide attempts indicate very serious mental health issues, very few suicidal teens actually receive professional treatment. According to research, 60-80% of American teens who attempt suicide do not seek out professional treatment until after the second suicide attempt. Their friends and family downplay the suicide attempt and try to make it a temporary anomaly. Hopefully, they don’t wait until it’s too late.

Deadly Differences:

Eighty-four percent of completed suicides, or attempts that end in death, are committed by boys. Girls are much more likely to attempt suicide, but boys tend to use much more violent and lethal means in their attempts. They may use a gun, intentionally wreck their car, or even jump off of buildings. Girls tend to use much less violent methods such as poison or overdosing.

If you are worried about your teen, here are some suicide warning signs to watch out for:

  • Stressful life event or loss like a relationship breakup
  • Easy access to lethal means
  • Lack of effective coping skills
  • Family history of suicide
  • History of depression or other mental illness
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Exposure to the suicidal behavior of peers or acquaintances
  • Increased withdrawal from others
  • Increased rate of angry outbursts
  • Increased need for sleep
  • Low appetite
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • History of previous suicide attempts

Clinical depression and suicide are very serious issues. If you are worried about someone you know, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.


"Learned Optimism" by Martin Seligman, Ph.D.

"Unraveling the Mystery of Suicide" by By Tori DeAngelis, American Psychological Association

"Suicide Among Pre-Adolescents" by Michael Price, American Psychological Association

"Teen Suicide is Preventable" published by the American Psychological Association

American Association of Suicidology,

National Institute of Mental Health,

Suicide - The Rising Rate of Teen Suicide - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss the rising rate of teen suicides, why American teens need more help than ever, and some of the warning signs of teen suicide - click here.

According to the CDC, one in five US teenagers considers suicide every year.

The American Psychological Association reports that teen suicide is the third leading cause of death for people who are 15 to 24 years old. So why would a teenager with every thing to look forward to in life choose a permanent solution such as suicide?

Most teen suicides begin with a perfect storm of upsetting events, like getting dumped by a significant other or losing a family member, that leads to overwhelming depression. If they lose hope and think that their life will never change for the better, they may begin to think about committing suicide. At a basic level, these adolescents lack the necessary coping skills to think accurately about temporary setbacks and how to overcome adversity.

There are several factors that can lead to teen suicide:

No Hope For The Future:

Suicide becomes an option for a young person when all hope is lost. In fact, hopelessness is the best predictor for a suicide attempt. Hopelessness is the most common emotion in those who attempt to end their lives.

Escaping Unsolvable Problems:

The motivations for either attempting or completing suicide are complex. In most cases, they are trying to escape depression and loss, debilitating anxiety, or a situation they regard as being unsolvable such as being bullied or abused. The older the child is, the greater the likelihood that their suicide is connected to interpersonal conflicts.

Hidden Mental Illness:

Mental illness, such as clinical depression or general anxiety disorder, is the top risk factor in suicide and accounts for 90% of all suicides. Clinical depression is the most common disorder linked to suicide. Children and adolescents are particularly skilled at hiding their mental health challenges since they do not know how to fully describe their thoughts and feelings. Since they are confused about what is going on inside of their minds, they don’t know when they need to ask for professional help.

Masking Their Pain:

Adolescents will not always articulate their pain because they often don’t understand the serious nature of their feelings. In fact, they may even present a happy façade. Psychologists describe this condition as a “smiling depressive” since they are hiding their clinically depressed thoughts behind a mask.

A lack of emotional coping skills combined with overwhelming situational stress can drive children and teens toward suicide. If you are worried about someone you know, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.


"Learned Optimism" by Martin Seligman, Ph.D.

"Unraveling the Mystery of Suicide" by Tori DeAngelis, American Psychological Association

"Suicide Among Pre-Adolescents" by Michael Price, American Psychological Association

"Teen Suicide is Preventable" published by the American Psychological Association

American Association of Suicidology,

National Institute of Mental Health,

The Higher Risk of Suicide In The Baby Boomer Generation - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing on KTXD 47 discuss the recent teen suicides in Rockwall, TX and why suicide is more common in the Baby Boomer generation - click here.

OCD - What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder? - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe what Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is, how it begins, and when it may be time to seek professional help - click here.

Does your mind obsessively focus on the same thought?

Do you find yourself worrying about a task or chore that shouldn’t be bothering you? Does calming down involve performing senseless rituals such as checking locks, washing hands, or counting items?

You may be one of the millions of people who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder or “OCD”. Approximately 90% of individuals with OCD experience obsessive thoughts and perform compulsive acts. Around two thirds of individuals with OCD experience multiple obsessions and perform many types of compulsive acts.

Men and women develop OCD at approximately the same rates. However if OCD begins in childhood, boys tends to develop it at a higher rate than girls. Most cases develop in late adolescence between 18 to 24 years of age.

Here are some important points to keep in mind:

Imagined Horrors:

OCD symptoms begin with obsessive thoughts. Your mind creates an intrusive, horrific thought that appears without warning. The thought is often totally at odds with your current situation and often is some form of catastrophic thinking. The thoughts are almost always disturbing since they usually involve some type of natural disaster, unimaginable crime, or world shaking event occurring.

Simple Penance:

The OCD mind offers a solution to the obsessive worry. The compulsive behavior is the mind’s solution to preventing disaster. If you only check the door locks again or clean the bathroom several more times, the imagined disaster can be avoided. Compulsions are usually either mental rituals like obsessively counting or behavioral sequences like cleaning your hands multiple times in a row.

Undertreated Disorder:

Millions of people struggle with OCD every single day, and the relentless pattern can torture sufferers for years. Many people are embarrassed about the disorder and are reluctant to seek professional help. According to the Harvard Medical School Health Guide, around 10% of OCD patients are ultimately cured and about 50% of OCD cases improve but still struggle with their symptoms every day.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder can be a very serious condition. If you think someone you know may have OCD, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.


"Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive Compulsive Behavior" by Jeffrey Schwartz and Beverly Beyette, 1997

E.B. Foa, and M.J. Kozak, 1995, DSM IV, Field Trial, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 152. 90 to 96.

"Overcoming Obsessive Thoughts: How to Gain Control of Your OCD" by David Clark and Christine Purdon

Panic Attacks - How We Treat Panic Attacks - By Chris Gearing

Friday, May 24, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how Gearing Up treats panic attacks and some of the most effective treatments for panic attacks - click here.

Panic attacks can begin without warning and without any apparent cause.

These intense episodes of discomfort and anxiety can be highly disruptive and severely upsetting, especially when they interfere with everyday tasks that should be easy.

Panic attacks can redefine how we see ourselves and how we measure our effectiveness in life. If they become frequent and severe enough, they can alter how we act and create significant obstacles in our lives. People with this condition tend to narrow their activities to reduce their exposure to vulnerable situations. They avoid the elevator and the highway in an effort to limit their anxiety. They plan their lives around the central goal of remaining calm.

Panic attacks can be highly disruptive since they tend to interfere with work and professional responsibilities. The public embarrassment of having a panic attack in front of your colleagues can derail an otherwise distinguished career.

At Gearing Up, we are familiar with the challenges of panic disorders. We use the latest research and scientifically proven therapy techniques, and we are confident that panic attacks can be treated with the correct approach. Here are some of the steps we take to treat panic attacks:

Panic Fingerprint:

Panic attacks can start for many reasons. The first thing we do is to help you understand your individual cycle of panic. At some point, your stress and anxiety led to a physical state of panic. Frightening thoughts of being helpless flooded your mind, and now you are probably experiencing anticipatory anxiety or the worry that another panic attack is around the corner.

Defeating Self-Fulfilling Prophecies:

Anxious people tend to expect their next panic attack to occur at the drop of a hat. They worry that they won’t be able to resolve the issue and that things will only get worse. They are convinced that they will fail and that the worst outcome is inevitable. We work with you to change how you think about situations and to shift the thoughts and beliefs going through your mind. Your thoughts can lead to panic or to peace, and they are key to defeating panic and anxiety.

Accurate Perceptions:

Our therapists will teach you how to correct your perception of other people and events so that they are more accurate and effective. We work with you to look at your perceptions and evaluate them for accuracy. We teach you the best strategies for combating negative thoughts and how to reduce your fear and anxiety.

Positive Emotions Flourish:

Accurate perceptions enhance your ability to manage your emotions. Positive emotions can finally take root and flourish once we have banished our automatic negative thoughts. When we have our thoughts under control, we can begin the real work of creating a happy and sustainable life.

Panic attacks can be very serious. If you think someone you know may experience panic attacks, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Anxiety - What Are Panic Attacks? - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describes what panic disorders are, how they can begin, and how to know if you get them - click here.

Have you ever been unable to calm down while your heart races and your thoughts spin out of control?

You may have experienced a panic attack—a sudden wave of fear and foreboding that overwhelms your ability to reason and to think calmly. Panic attacks can occur any time and in any place without any obvious pattern.

Here are some important points to keep in mind:

Always On Guard:

Once a panic attack occurs, we tend to become more aware of our how our bodies and minds feel. We vividly remember the heart palpitations, the feeling of choking, and our inability to breath or calm down. Our mind is on red alert and keeps reliving our biggest fears.

Constricted Lives:

Constantly thinking about your fears and past panic attacks can often lead to an increase in anticipatory anxiety. We are always waiting and preparing for the next problem. We carefully search for the first signs of trouble while we begin to constrict our environment. By avoiding troublesome situations that might stir up our anxiety, we feel safer and in control.

Agoraphobia And Panic:

According to research, up to fifty percent of those who have panic disorders also suffer from agoraphobia. They worry about being in places and situations that they cannot escape and they have no help or resources to fix the problem. They often experience this sense of panic in extremely crowded or enclosed places. It is the ultimate sense of vulnerability and we feel helpless to fix the problem or to change our circumstances.

If you think you may experience panic attacks, here are some symptoms to watch out for:

  • Racing Heart and Spinning Thoughts
  • Sweating & Sweaty Palms
  • Tightness In Your Chest
  • Inability To Catch Your Breath
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shaking
  • Fear of Dying or Going Insane


"Treatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders," Robert L. Leahy, Stephen J. F. Holland, and Lata K. McGinn

How To Talk To Kids About Deadly Oklahoma Tornadoes - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss how to explain the deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma to your children and how to make sure they feel safe - click here.

Anxiety - What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder? - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe what Generalized Anxiety Disorder looks like and what you can do to help - click here.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder affects over 6 million Americans every day.

They live with constant worry, unending concerns, and ongoing apprehension about the future. To escape their crushing anxiety, they withdraw from other people and avoid the things that make them anxious.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or G.A.D., grows over time and is built on every negative experience in a person’s life. Since it often begins in childhood, most sufferers wait 25 years before reaching out for professional help.

Here are a few important points about Generalized Anxiety Disorder:

Paired Disorders:

Ninety percent (90%) of G.A.D. sufferers have some kind of co-existing mental health disorder. Around 42% of people suffering with G.A.D. also have issues with depression, and one disorder usually is more prominent than the other.

Double Trouble:

Women tend to develop generalized anxiety at twice the rates of men. The rates of depression and anxiety double for girls around puberty, so their anxious thinking habits are more likely to take root in their teens and grow over time.

Suspicious Minds:

One of the principle features of generalized anxiety disorder is the tendency to worry and ruminate. Worry is a prominent characteristic of G.A.D. and occurs in 40 to 60% of cases. The worry creates a vicious cycle - we worry to soothe our own anxiety, which only makes the fear grow. If your mind is tied up with worrying all the time, you have little energy to rest, learn, or implement more effective ways of coping.

Intolerable Uncertainty:

Anxious minds cannot tolerate uncertainty or ambiguity. They have difficulty with leaving loose ends or having a lack of closure. They lack confidence in their ability to handle adversity or the unexpected, so they worry constantly to prepare for anything.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder can be a very serious condition. If you are worried that someone you know may be living with an anxiety disorder, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.


Treatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders: Robert Leahy, Stephen J.F. Holland and Lata McGinn, Guilford Press, 2012.

Wittchen, H. U., Zhao, S., Kessler, R. C., and Eaton, W.W. 1994, DSM III-R Generalized Anxiety Disorder in the National Comorbidity Survey, Archieves of General Psychiatiry, 51/(5), 355-364

Rubio, G. and Lopez-Ibor, J.J. 2007, Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A 40 year follow up study. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinaviaca, 115 (5), 372-379

Blazer, D., George, L., and Winfield, I. 1991, Epidemiologic data and planning mental health services: A tale of two surveys. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 26, 21-27.

Breslau, N and Davis, G.C., 1985, DSM-III generalized anxiety disorder: An empirical investiagation of more stringent criteria. Psychiatry Research, 15, 231-238.

Kessler, R.C., Walters, E.E. and Witchen, H.U. 2004, Epidemiology. In R.G. Heimberg, C.L. Turk, and D.S. Mennin (Eds) Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Advances in research and practice (pp29 to 50). New York: Guildord Press.

Butler, G, Fennerll, M., Robson, P and Gelder, M. 1991, Comparison of behavior therapy and cognitive behavior therapy in the treatment of generalized anxity disorder. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 59, 167-175.

Rapee, R.M. 1991, Psychological Factors involved in generalized anxiety. In R.M. Rapee and D. H. Barlow (Eds.) Chronic Anxiety: Generalized Anxiety disorder and mixed anxiety depression (pp. 76-94). New York: Guilford Press.

Intolerance of Uncertainty and Problem Orientation n Worry, Michael Dugas, Mark Freeston, Robert Ladouceur, Cognitive Threrapy and Research, Vol 21, no 6, 1997, pgs. 593-606

Anxiety - The Differences Between Normal Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders - By Chris Gearing

Friday, May 10, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how to tell whether your anxiety is normal or when it might be time to seek professional help - click here.

Anxiety is an appropriate reaction to situations that are negative and unexpected.

Normal anxiety is present during and shortly after an adversity. However, once the situation resolves, the tension should dissolve and the mind should return to a calm state of being. There should be no lingering anxious thoughts or after effects. You simply move on.

If anxiety persists for days or even weeks after an event, it may be indicative of an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders differ from normal anxiety in specific and important ways including the following:

A Way Of Life:

Anxiety disorders don’t give up easily. They are tenacious and can become a way of life. Anxious thoughts can define the way we look at life, how we act, how we view other people, the way we think about ourselves, and much more.

Missing Evidence:

An anxious mind is always searching for evidence to support its anxious thoughts. Entrenched anxiety disorders cause us to discount evidence that disputes our negative thoughts and to only encode what confirms our pessimistic view.

People Problems:

Chronically anxious people seem to have a lot of trouble getting along with those around them. Anxious and distorted thoughts interfere with our ability to relate realistically and effectively to those around us. They cause us to misinterpret others and inappropriately react to their actions.

Quick Triggers:

Anxious minds can go from calm to a full-blown anxiety attack within minutes. The symptoms can be brief or progressive waves of tension that are overwhelming.

Brain Freeze:

High levels of anxiety can disrupt your ability to think clearly and accurately. While small amounts of normal anxiety may mildly compromise the person’s effectiveness, severe and chronic anxiety may render the person unable to function. They literally freeze and fail to react at all when an immediate response is important. The mind is locked up in wave after wave of debilitating anxiety.

Impulsive Distractions:

Anxiety disorders can provoke a wide variety of impulsive self-destructive behaviors. These behaviors often represent their desperate efforts to escape their overwhelming anxiety and to be calm even if it is for a little while.

Anxiety can be a very serious condition. If you are worried that someone you know may be living with an anxiety disorder, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.


"The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook" by Edmund Bourne Ph.D.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America,

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