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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

Source:

"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.

Sources:

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.

Sources:

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

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, www.adaa.org

Anxiety - Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe some of the symptoms of anxiety disorders and when it may be time to seek out professional help - click here.

Most people experience some amount of anxiety every single day.

They feel tense and overwhelmed by racing to pick up a child from school, meeting a business deadline, or resolving an argument with their spouse. However, anxiety can redefine our thinking and can change how we view the world and one another.

When we cross the line from normal anxiety to an anxiety disorder, we anticipate the worst in every situation and live in a world of catastrophic thinking and dread.

Anxiety disorders can be highly persistent and difficult to overcome. They often take root in childhood and grow in size and intensity as the mind develops. Research indicates that most sufferers wait an average of 25 years before they seek out clinical treatment.

If you are concerned that you or someone you know may have an anxiety disorder, here are some symptoms to watch out for:

  • Pronounced and Overwhelming Fears
  • Rapid or Out of Control Heart Beat
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Trembling and Dizziness
  • Chest Pain
  • Sweating
  • Fear of Choking or Drowning
  • Feelings of Unreality or Being In A Dream

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.

Sources:

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

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, www.adaa.org

Anxiety - What Is Anxiety? - By Chris Gearing

Monday, May 06, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe what clinical anxiety is and how it can happen to you - click here.

Anxiety disorders are the number one diagnosed mental health disorder in America.

Forty million Americans regularly experience high levels of anxiety but only one third of sufferers ever receive treatment. Anxiety is extremely expensive for our country’s healthcare system and it accounts for close to one third of all mental health costs in the United States.

Anxiety causes us to feel high amounts of tension, uncertainty, and fear often without any specific threat or problem.

Anxious individuals feel like their mind cycles in a continuous loop of speculation, worry, and confusion about what is going to happen next. Despite their best efforts, they just cannot seem to give their mind a break. The endless nervous thoughts are disruptive to sleep, work, and their sense of wellbeing.

Anxiety disorders can develop for many reasons, but here are some of the most common:

In Your Genes:

Anxious thinking and anxiety disorders may run in the family. If you have an anxiety disorder, then one out of ten people in your family may also have anxiety issues.

Trauma Sequence:

Trauma is often deregulating and interrupts our ability to effectively manage our emotions, especially anxiety. Before trauma, we may have handled adversities with ease. However once our minds have been deregulated by the traumatic event, we may be waging constant battle against our anxious thoughts.

Begins In Childhood:

When there is child abuse, excessive uncertainty, change and struggle with difficult parents, or unpreventable trauma in childhood, anxiety may gain a foothold. Although most of us develop higher rates of anxiety in our twenties, many anxious adults began dealing with their anxious thoughts in childhood.

Loss of Relationships:

Traumatic breakups that leave us feeling confused, lost, and helpless can start the cycle of anxiety. Our positive beliefs about other people can be shattered and we may develop serious trust and anxiety issues.

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.

Sources:

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

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, www.adaa.org

The Rising Adult Suicide Rate - By Chris Gearing

Friday, May 03, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss the rising adult suicide rate and what you can do to help - click here.

Teens and the elderly are no longer the most likely to commit suicide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a report that found an almost 30% increase in the suicide rate among middle-age adults (ages 35-64). The top three methods of committing suicide among adults were poisoning, suffocation or hanging, and firearm.

Over the last decade, the adult suicide rate has grown at an alarming rate.

Suicide rates spiked a few decades ago when the baby boomer generation hit their teenage years, and the suicide trend has followed the boomer generation as they have aged. As many boomers are being confronted by unique mid-life challenges like dual caregiving for children and their parents, their own health problems, and one of the toughest economic climates in decades, they may be more likely to commit suicide.

If you are concerned about someone you know, here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Frequent thoughts about death and dying
  • Talking about committing suicide
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Trouble with or uninterested in eating or sleeping
  • Suddenly making end of life arrangements
  • Drastic changes in behavior or daily activities
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, or social activities
  • Loss of interest in work or hobbies
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Unnecessary risk taking
  • Loss of interest in their appearance
  • Previous suicide attempts

Suicide and suicidal thoughts are very serious issues. If you are worried about someone you know, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

American Psychological Association, “Suicide Warning Signs”, (http://www.apa.org/topics/suicide/signs.aspx)

United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Suicide Among Adults Aged 35-64 Years – United States, 1999-2010”, (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6217a1.htm?s_cid=mm6217a1_w)

Violence Prediction and Narcissistic Decline - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how certain perceptions of the world can push vulnerable minds to violence - click here.

The Internet is filled with theories about the recent Boston Marathon bombings.

Doctors, journalists, and bloggers are focusing on the psychology of terrorism or the role of siblings in violence. However, perpetrators of such violent crimes often come with unique warning signs. If we know what to look for, it may be possible to prevent future tragedies. Here are some of the reasons that someone you know may be prone to violence:

Inflated Self-Image

Many perpetrators have grandiose opinions of themselves. They expect the world to recognize how special they are and reward their talents and abilities at all times. They are shocked when they do not receive the acclaim that they expect and they struggle to understand the reasons for it.

“Me Against The World”

The trouble begins when the world regularly frustrates and deprives them of the recognition they feel entitled to receive. Due to their exceptionally high opinions of themselves, the perpetrator develops elaborate explanations and conspiracies for these setbacks. They find somewhere to place the blame for their negative feelings and they may begin to plan their revenge.

Losing Their Grip On Reality

Once their negative feelings reach a tipping point, their thinking may become actively delusional as they slip deeper into disappointment. They become convinced that they have been robbed of the rewards they justly deserve. They find evidence all around them of a person or force determined to suppress their greatness.

Breaking Point

This type of thinking can often provoke a more anti-social perspective that starts to incorporate desires for revenge and payback. Each mind has its own threshold for violence, but their thinking may begin to fragment and allow irrational thoughts and justifications for violence.

If you are worried about someone you know, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist to help you understand the signs of violence and what you can do to help.

Sources:

The work of Gavin de Becker

The work of Dr. John Exner

The Thousand Steps To Violence - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe some pre-incident indicators of violence and how violence is caused by thousands of small decisions and actions - click here.

Most of us think that violence is unpredictable and that people “just snap.”

However, violence is a progressive action made up of hundreds of decisions and actions that climax in a violent act. There are often a series perceived slights, thoughts that they are not being properly recognized or praised, or the belief that someone or something is out to get them. Perpetrators tend to alternate between feelings of humiliation and righteous indignation. Slowly and steadily, they begin to find justifications for violence against others.

Here are some of the pre-incident indicators to watch out for:

Gathering Evidence

In the beginning, the troubled mind relentlessly seeks out and gathers the evidence to support their negative worldview. They will ignore or negate any evidence to the contrary and only focus on how they are the victim. At some point, frustration is replaced by total indignation and rage that pushes the person to begin to consider violence.

Planning The Act

At some point, retribution becomes the only solution. To them, thoughts of violence and retaliation are soothing and offer temporary relief from the tremendous rage that brews and festers. When they are around other people, they may act extremely cool and calm - even to the point of seeming robotic or cold. They are channeling all of their rage into planning their revenge.

Rehearsing Violence

Mental and even physical rehearsal of the violence begins to take center stage. Their revenge consumes all of their time and attention. They focus on the satisfaction they will feel from their revenge, the mental images and planning of the act, and the erosion of accurate judgment and self-control.

Friends and family often miss these pre-incident indicators, but in retrospect they are crystal clear.

If you are worried about someone you know, be on the lookout for the signs of the downward spiral of a vulnerable mind. Please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist to help you understand the signs of violence and what you can do to help.

Sources:

The work of Gavin de Becker

The work of Dr. John Exner

The Violent Influence of Siblings - By Chris Gearing

Monday, April 29, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how siblings can make each other more extreme in their views and more violent toward the world - click here.

Two brothers planned, built, and detonated multiple bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon.

Many people are wondering how one brother with a promising future could allow himself to be lead astray by his troubled and angry older brother. What would lead him to abandon and attack the city that had celebrated and rewarded him?

Absent Parents

Parental absence in late adolescence can be highly damaging with certain children. Without their parents around, they may have no one to keep them in line and remain a positive influence. A teenager can become involved in social movements and militant causes without fully understanding the motivations and implications of such activities. It is easy to overestimate the maturity of a late teen or early twenties child who is still mentally developing and defining who they are.

A Convincing Sibling

An older sibling who champions extreme or militant causes may be impossible to resist. They can be a strong influence on an insecure younger sibling who lacks immediate parental guidance and insight into the older sibling’s troubles. The younger teenager may be mesmerized and convinced by a sibling out of control.

Tests of Love and Loyalty

Particularly when there is a specific cause or injustice to be avenged, a trusting and naïve teenager can be convinced by the irresistible arguments of their older, more experienced sibling. Older siblings often frame the cause as a test of the younger sibling’s love and loyalty.

The Bond of Violence

Violence can be an alluring bond for young men who are lost. Anger and violence are unfortunately a legitimate way to connect for boys and men. If there is a common goal to avenge a perceived injustice, any prohibitions against violence or murder may diminish and fade away.

A Developing Mind

In late adolescence, many adolescents still lack consistent, critical thinking skills necessary to reason their way through an ambiguous situation. They simply may not understand how irrational and extreme ideas can sound plausible and logical at first. Faulty, paranoid assumptions can sound reasonable to an inexperienced mind that is impressionable and naïve. Our fully developed frontal lobes and our critical thinking skills restore reality by reminding us of alternative explanations that are more realistic and often more accurate.

In the end, sibling bonds often last a lifetime and most of the time only lead to benefits for both parties. The crimes in Boston teach us once more that misplaced loyalty can be one of life’s greatest mistakes.

Sources:

The work of Gavin de Becker

The work of Dr. James Masterson

The work of Dr. John Exner


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