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What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder? Emotional and Physical Manifestations

It’s the thinking, thinking, thinking, dwelling, dwelling, ruminating, ruminating, and inability to shut the mind off.

“Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.” ~Jodi Picoult

“Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.” ~Jodi Picoult

Generalized anxiety disorder is a relatively common anxiety problem, affecting 3-4% of the population that turns daily life into a state of worry, anxiety, and fear. Excessive thinking and dwelling on the "what ifs" characterizes this anxiety disorder. As a result, the person feels there’s no way out of the vicious cycle of anxiety and worry, and becomes depressed about life and the chronic state of anxiety they find themselves in.  Generalized anxiety usually does not cause people to avoid situations, and there isn’t an element of a "panic attack" involved in the prognosis, either.

Emotional Manifestations

Feelings of worry, dread, lack of energy, and a loss of interest in life are common in general anxiety. Many times there is no "trigger" or "cause" for these feelings and the person realizes these feelings are irrational. Nevertheless, the feelings are very real. At this point, there is no "energy" or "zest" in life and no desire to want to do much.

“Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.” ~Anais Nin

“Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.” ~Anais Nin

This emotional fear and worry can be quite strong. If a loved one is ten minutes late, the person with generalized anxiety fears the very worst -- something’s dreadfully wrong (after all, they’re ten minutes late!), there’s been an accident, the paramedics are taking the person to the hospital and his injuries are just too critical to resuscitate him....."Oh, my God!.....WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?" Feelings of fear and anxiety rush in from these thoughts, and the vicious cycle of anxiety and depression runs wild.

Some people with generalized anxiety have fluctuations in mood from hour to hour, whereas others have "good days" and "bad days". Others do better in the morning, and others find it easier at the end of the day. These anxiety feelings and moods feed on themselves, leading the person to continue in the pattern of worry and anxiety -- unless something powerful breaks it up.

“If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression,addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.” ~Brene Brown

“If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression,addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.” ~Brene Brown

Physical manifestations 

The physical manifestations of generalized anxiety may include headaches, trembling, twitching, irritability, frustration, and inability to concentrate. Sleep disturbances may also occur. Elements of social anxiety and/or panic may sometimes be present, such as high levels of self-consciousness in some situations, and fear of not being able to escape from enclosed spaces.

It is also common, but not universal, for people with generalized anxiety to experience other problems, such as a quick startle response, a lack of ability to fully relax, and the propensity to be in a state of constant motion. It is difficult for some people with generalized anxiety to settle down enough to have a quiet, reflective time where they can calm down, relax, and feel some peace and tranquility. Strategies to peacefully calm down and relax are one part in overcoming this problem.

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fearof the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fearof the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

What Causes General Anxiety?

Normal life stresses aggravate generalized anxiety. The person who typically performs well at work and receives a sense of accomplishment from it, all of a sudden finds that work has become drudgery. If work is perceived as a negative environment, and the person no longer feels fulfilled, then considerable worry takes place over these situations. As a result, the anticipatory anxiety about going to work can become quite strong.

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

How It is Treated ?

Generalized anxiety has been shown to respond best to cognitive-behavioral therapy, an active therapy that involves more than just talking to a therapist. In CBT, the person gradually learns to see situations and problems in a different perspective and learns the methods and techniques to use to alleviate and reduce anxiety. Sometimes medication is a helpful adjunct to therapy, but for many people it is not necessary. Research indicates that generalized anxiety is fully treatable and can be successfully overcome over the course of about three to four months if the person is motivated and works toward recovery.

Generalized anxiety must be chipped away from all sides and that is what CBT is designed to do. No one has to live with generalized anxiety disorder.  Treatment for GAD has been shown to be both effective and successful.

Please seek a therapist who understands anxiety and the anxiety disorders. Remember, that just because a person has a degree behind their name, does not mean they understand and can treat an anxiety disorder. Feel free to ask questions of any professional and make sure your therapist understands and knows how to treat generalized anxiety. It is usually a good idea to see a specialist in this area because they have a practice that is geared toward the anxiety disorders.

How to recognize signs of depression?

Depression is cruel and it can affect anyone. The symptoms might begin with some general worries, some guilt and very quickly can slide down a black hole where these thoughts spiral down and take over feeding depression and its severity.

1.     Feeling Hopeless

Major depression is a mood disorder that affects the way you feel about life in general. Having a hopeless or helpless outlook on your life is the most common symptom of depression. Other feelings may be worthlessness, self-hate, or inappropriate guilt.  Common, recurring thoughts of depression may be vocalized as, “It’s all my fault,” “I’m worthless “or “What’s the point?

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2.     Loss of Interest

Depression can take the pleasure or enjoyment out of the things you love. A loss of interest or withdrawal from activities that you once looked forward to — sports, hobbies, or going out with friends — is yet another telltale sign of major depression. Another area where you may lose interest is sex. Symptoms of major depression include decreased sex drive and impotence.

3.     Fatigue and Sleep Problems

Part of the reason you might stop doing things you enjoy is because you feel very tired. Depression often comes with a lack of energy and an overwhelming feeling of featigue which can be among the most debilitating symptoms of depression. This could lead to excessive sleeping. Depression is also linked with insomnia as one might lead to the other and vice versa. They can also make each other worse. The lack of quality, restful sleep can also lead to anxiety.

4.     Anxiety

If you’ve been feeling down and you just can’t seem to shake it off then it is not just sadness. While depression doesn’t cause anxiety, the two conditions often occur together. Symptoms of anxiety can include:

·        restlessness, nervousness, or feeling tense

·        dread, panic, fatigue

·        rapid breathing

·        feeling on edge

·        increased sweating

·        trembling or muscle twitching

·        trouble focusing

·        foggy thinking clearly

·        obsessing about things you’re worried about

5.     Irritability

Depression can affect irritability.  People suffering from depression may have symptoms of irritability, anger, risky behavior, and/or substance abuse. People are less likely to recognize it is depression causing these symptoms in order to seek treatment for it.

6.     Appetite changes

Weight and appetite can fluctuate for people with depression. This experience may be different for each person. Some people will have an increased appetite and gain weight, while others won’t be hungry and will lose weight. One indication of whether dietary changes are related to depression is if they’re intentional or not. If they’re not, it may mean that they’re caused by depression.

7.     Thinking of death

In 2013, more than 42,000 people died from suicide in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People who die by suicide usually show symptoms first. Often people will talk about it or make a first attempt before succeeding in ending their life. If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person:

·         Call 911 or your local emergency number.

·         Stay with the person until help arrives.

·         Remove any guns, knives, medications, or other things that may cause harm.

·         Listen, but don’t judge, argue, threaten, or yell.

If you think someone is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline. Try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

If you have had some of the previously mentioned symptoms for more than two weeks, you might be suffering from major depression disorder. Recognizing that you’re depressed is essential to getting the right help.

Depression affects millions of people, but there are treatments available, from lifestyle changes to medications. No matter the path of treatment you choose, asking for professional help is the first step to getting back to feeling like yourself again.

 

Donate

I Am Anxious and Can’t Get Out of It! What’s Wrong with Me?

Anxiety is a solvable problem, yet you might find it harder to overcome. The reason is that, while you have the ability to overcome it, anxiety “tricks” you into maintaining it rather than removing your fears and symptoms. Most people try to resist anxiety, however most of the anxiety problems come from efforts to resist or remove anxiety.

Most people mean well when they suggest to someone feeling anxious to “calm down!” or advice to “stop worrying about it!” Yet, nothing good comes out of it. If it were that simple people would “calm down” or “stop thinking” about it.

The more you fight your anxiety, the more it grows. It’s like throwing gasoline to the fire. People who struggle with persistent anxiety have tried some type of relief and when it has not worked they might think it is their fault or that there is something wrong with them for not being able to get out of it.  But if it’s really true that the harder you try the worse it gets, you probably need to look at the other strategies. Here are some successful methods I use in session with clients struggling from anxiety noticing results:

1. Psycho-Education: To reduce and overcome anxiety, you must understand the symptoms. If you know that adrenaline is a result of the flight or fight system, you won't be as worried and unsure as to what's happening to your body. If you recognize your symptoms you might find it comforting to know it is anxiety that’s causing you to feel or behave a certain way. Learning how your anxiety works is the first step to healing.

2. Diaphragmatic Breathing – All of us breathe (I’d hope) yet most anxious individuals do not use their lungs in a way that is beneficial for them. Diaphragmatic breathing technique is a technique I use in session to help clients come back to a normal state, slightly reducing anxiety and its physical symptoms. 

3. Biofeedback – Practicing biofeedback can be not only helpful for anxiety but also measurable for the “skeptical”client. Heart Rate Variability is very important for the entire regulation of the complete system. The autonomic Nervous System is the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic and enables humans to adapt very rapidly to the vast potential for changes that occur in their environment. As you can imagine this does wonder for he anxious body and mind.

4. Guided meditation – I work mostly with high functioning anxious individuals that suffer in silence. Most of them are accomplished in life, attended college, have great jobs, yet they deal with lingering anxiety day in and day out. My work includes guided meditations to increase self-compassion. Meditation itself is used in the sessions to create space and bring to surface negative self-talk, feelings of guilt, shame, not worthy etc…and then counteract these feelings with kindness. This approach is challenging for most yet has helped many clients to be easy on themselves, recognize thought patterns of self-destruction and see themselves in a different light.

Overall, it’s important to learn to identify your triggers and responses and find strategies that work for you. If you have difficulty managing anxiety and it impedes your ability to carry out your day to day activities therapy can help.

What is Depression and How can I Treat It?

Millions of Americans suffer from some form of depression every year, making it one of the most common mental disorders in the country. Being depressed often feels like carrying a very heavy burden, but you are not alone in this struggle.

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Depression is more than just feeling sad. Everyone feels upset or unmotivated from time to time. Prolonged feelings of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities, trouble sleeping, decreased or increased of appetited are all symptoms of a more mood disorder. If these symptoms persist for a period of at least two weeks, it is considered a depressive

According to a 2010 World Health Organization (WHO) report, depression accounted for 3.7% of all U.S. disability-adjusted life years and 8.3% of all U.S. years lived with disability.

Causes of Depression

There is no one cause for depression, as it depends on a unique combination of an individual’s genetic makeup and environmental conditions. There are many factors to take into account:

·         The brain’s physical structure or chemistry

·         History of depression in family

·         History of other disorder (SAD, Anxiety, Complex Trauma etc.)

·         Stressful, traumatic events (abuse, financial issues, death of a loved one)

·         Hormone changes (menstrual cycles, pregnancy, taking hormones)

·         Certain medications (sleeping aids, blood pressure medication)

Types of Depression

Depression types can take many forms. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders lists nine distinct types:

1.      Major Depression, is the most common type of depression. Often, people with major depression experience recurrent episodes throughout their lives.

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2.      Dysthymia is a persistent low mood over a long period of time, even a year or more. It could be described as feeling like you’re living on autopilot.

3.      Some people are more sensitive to the lower amount of light in the wintertime. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression brought on from a lack of natural sunlight.

4.      Those with Atypical Depression often report feeling a heaviness in their limbs. They may suffer from irritability and relationship problems, as well as be prone to overeating and oversleeping.

5.      Bipolar Disorder is also called Manic Depressive Disorder because it involves alternating between mania and depressive episodes.

6.      Sometimes depressive episodes can get so severe that hallucinations or delusions are present, the person becomes catatonic, or they feel stuck in bed. This is known as Psychotic Depression.

7.      Postpartum Depression occurs after giving birth. Mothers may feel disconnected from their new baby or fear that they will hurt their child.

8.      Severe depression that shows up during the second half of the menstrual cycle is called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. It affects the individual’s ability to function normally.

9.      Situational Depression is triggered by a life-changing event. It could be anything, from losing your job to the death of an immediate family member.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Though there are multiple types of depression, many of them have similar recognizable symptoms. This list provides a general idea of what comprises depression:

·         Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, or emptiness

·         Irritability, frustration, or restlessness

·         Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that used to be enjoyable

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·         Difficulty sleeping, sleep disturbances, or sleeping too much

·         Fatigue and lack of energy

·         Difficulty thinking clearly, remembering, concentrating, or making decisions

·         Appetite or weight changes

·         Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

·         Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or back pain

Experiencing some combination of these symptoms for a period of at least two weeks likely signifies that you are in the midst of a depressive episode.

Treatment

Any treatment for depression should coincide with a healthy diet and regular sleep schedule. It may sound simplistic, but the importance of taking care of your body cannot be overstated.

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There are various methods you could use to sooth the symptoms of depression. Physical activity is especially helpful for the depressed mind. It enables you to better handle stress, helps you sleep better at night, and the endorphins released give you a mental boost.

Yoga is a more accessible form of exercise, because it doesn’t require equipment and because many of the moves and poses do not require much effort.

Meditation is a highly effective way of clearing your head and calming your body. It’s also easy to do, with guided meditations available through phone apps, online in text and videos, and in books.

If you enjoy keeping a journal, you may find that it helps to express your thoughts on paper instead of bottling them inside. It’s helpful to have close friends and family who you can confide in, but they’re not always available or may be dealing with stress of their own.

For a more hands-on approach, try a mental health experts to dive into learning healthy coping skills to help with the current mood and prevent relapse.

Sonila Sejdaras Psy.D, LCSW, CADC

What do I have Anxiety or Depression & How to Tell the Difference?

Depression and Anxiety are two different medical conditions, yet their symptoms, causes, and treatments can often overlap. People struggle sometimes to determine the difference between these two conditions. This is because many people with anxiety also develop depression and vice versa. Approximately 50% of people diagnosed with depression with also be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. However, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis in order to treat the correct conditions.

Many people with depression may experience what is known as “anxious distress” in addition to their low mood causing them to feel tense, restless, and have trouble concentrating because they worry so much. They are afraid that something bad is going to happen or that they might lose control of themselves. Below is a list of symptoms of depression:

 

Symptoms of Major Depression

·         depressed mood

·         lack of interest in enjoyable activities

·         increase or decrease in appetite

·         insomnia or hypersomnia

·         slowing of movement

·         lack of energy

·         feelings of guilt or worthlessness

·         trouble concentrating

·         suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

For a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, a person needs to have experienced five or more of these symptoms for at least two weeks. People experiencing some of these symptoms might also be diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia), premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or a depressive disorder due to another condition. They may also meet the criteria for bipolar disorder if they also experience symptoms of mania.

Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

·         excessive worry

·         restlessness

·         being easily fatigued

·         trouble concentrating

·         irritability

·         sleep disturbance

·         muscle tension.

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If you’ve experienced these symptoms most days for more than six months, and they cause distress in your daily life, then you may receive a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder. Other types of anxiety disorders include separation anxiety, panic disorder, or phobias, among others.

If you compare the two lists of symptoms, you can see that there is some overlap. Sleep problems, trouble concentrating, and fatigue are all symptoms of both anxiety and depression. Irritability may also manifest in forms of anxiety or depression (in place of low mood).

There are however, some distinguishing features. People with depression move slowly, and their reactions can seem flattened or dulled. People with anxiety tend to be more keyed up, as they struggle to manage their racing thoughts. Another distinguishing feature is the presence of fear about the future in people with anxiety. Depressed people who do not have anxiety are less likely to be fraught with worry about future events, as they are often resigned to believing that things will continue to be bad. In other words, they may predict the future based on how they feel in the moment.

It is important to remember to let a doctor or mental health professional evaluate you to see if your symptoms meet the criteria for a depressive disorder or an anxiety disorder.

 

How to Heal Yourself and Survive Depression?

How to Heal Yourself and Survive Depression?

Depression drains your energy, creates changes in sleep and eating pattern, and brings feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, making it difficult to see the goodness in self and others, and most importantly has people feeling they don’t belong. You can’t just “snap out of it,” but you can use resources and a wealth of information to gladden the mind even if your depression is stubbornly persistent. The key is to start small and be kind to yourself. We hear people say “Be kind to yourself” quite often, yet most people see it as something external such as yoga, massage, grab lunch with a friend etc… While these options are good, self-care has to include self-compassion also known as “working from within.”  Increasing awareness and insight can also help to make healthier choices.

How do you deal with depression?

Dealing with depression requires action, but taking action when you’re depressed can be hard. Sometimes, just thinking about the things you should do to feel better, like exercising or spending time with friends, can seem exhausting or impossible to put into action. I recommend, finding some space to investigate your thoughts. Increase awareness on how you’re talking to yourself? Are you putting yourself down? Are you magnifying situations where you feel stuck and overlooking when life is going well? The work within is much harder than the exercise, chatting with a friend, or going to a yoga class. The thoughts are with you 24/7. If you can alter them for the better, the actions of doing will come easier than forcing them.

Reach out and stay connected

Getting support plays an essential role in overcoming depression. On your own, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy perspective and sustain the effort required to beat depression. At the same time, the very nature of depression makes it difficult to reach out for help. When you’re depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate so that connecting to even close family members and friends can be tough.

You may feel too exhausted to talk, ashamed at your situation, or guilty for neglecting certain relationships. But this is just the depression talking. Staying connected to other people, including yourself, and taking part in social activities will make a world of difference in your mood and outlook. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness and it won’t mean you’re a burden to others. Your loved ones care about you and want to help wouldn’t you want to help them too?

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How to reach out for depression support

Look for support from people who make you feel safe and cared for. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to fix you; they just need to be a good listener—someone who’ll listen attentively and compassionately without being distracted or judging you.

Make face-time a priority. Phone calls, social media, and texting are great ways to stay in touch, but they don’t replace good old-fashioned in-person quality time. The simple act of talking to someone face to face about how you feel can play a big role in relieving depression and keeping it away.

Try to keep up with social activities even if you don’t feel like it. Often when you’re depressed, it feels more comfortable to retreat into your shell, but being around other people will make you feel less depressed.

Research shows you get an even bigger mood boost from providing support to yourself. Be mindful of not holding on trying to control your experience because when we try to, we are not being present of living our lives. Letting go of ruminating thoughts might be a healthy sign of healing from depression.

Is Seasonal Affective Disorder Different From Depression?

Fall season brings some wonderful treats–apples, cider donuts, colorful foliage, football as well as shorter days, longer nights, and the advent of winter. During this time some might crave more carbs, feel fatigue, and sleep more than usual. These symptoms can also mean seasonal affective disorder or SAD.

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SAD is both similar to and different from other forms of depression. Many patients experience marked seasonal changes in the winter months. Although SAD symptoms are similar to depression, people experiencing these symptoms respond better and quicker to treatment then the ones suffering from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).

What are the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder?

People who suffer from SAD have many of the common signs of depression, including:

  • Sadness

  • Anxiety

  • Irritability

  • Loss of interest in usual activities

  • Withdrawal from social activities

  • Inability to concentrate

  • Extreme fatigue and lack of energy

  • A “leaden” sensation in the limbs

  • Increased need for sleep

  • Craving for carbohydrates, and weight gain.

Symptoms of summer SAD include:

  • Weight loss

  • Agitation and restlessness

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Decreased appetite

What causes seasonal affective disorder?

The exact cause of this condition is not known, but evidence strongly suggests that, for those who are vulnerable to it, SAD is set off by changes in the availability of sunlight. One theory is that with less exposure to sunlight, the internal biological clock that regulates mood, sleep, and hormones is shifted. Exposure to light may reset the biological clock.

Another theory is that brain chemicals (neurotransmitters, such as serotonin) that transmit information between nerves may be changed in people with SAD. It is believed that exposure to light can correct these imbalances.

Melatonin, a chemical known to affect sleep patterns, may also play a role in seasonal affective disorder. Some have suggested that the lack of sunlight stimulates the production of melatonin in some individuals. This may be a factor in the symptoms of sluggishness and sleepiness. The lack of daylight can suppress Melatonin, a hormone made in the pineal gland that regulates sleep-wake cycles, therefore people may experience more of the symptoms above.

How to treat SAD?

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Exposing oneself to extremely bright light of 10,000 lux for 20 to 30 minutes a day has proven effective in relieving the symptoms of SAD. You want to get a safe, reliable device that has been clinically tested and validated. Though the light is intense, you don’t look directly at it. It is great to read by it while it is on. Research indicates people with SAD respond in days to light therapy, where non-SAD patients need psychotherapy treatment for months and at times in conjunction with antidepressants before they see results.

Additional ways to help decrease SAD are: checking for vitamin D deficiency, eating fewer carbs, managing stress, getting enough exercise, and even considering an SSRI by a psychiatrist and then tapered off as spring approaches. SAD patients can respond well to talk therapy, it helps with understanding of the condition and learning healthy coping skills to manage the symptoms.

How Does Social Anxiety Affect Your Life ?

Social anxiety disorder affects approximately 15 million American adults and is the second most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder following specific phobia. The average age of onset for social anxiety disorder is during the teenage years. Although individuals diagnosed with social anxiety disorder commonly report extreme shyness in childhood, it is important to note that this disorder is not simply shyness that has been inappropriately medicated.

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Social anxiety disorder can cause tremendous suffering on the lives of individuals who deal with it. Symptoms may be so extreme that they disrupt daily life and
 can interfere significantly with daily routines, occupational performance, or social life, making it difficult to complete school, interview and get a job, and have friendships and romantic relationships. People with social anxiety disorder are also at an increased risk for developing major depressive disorder and alcohol use disorders. 

Despite the availability of effective treatments, fewer than 5% of people of with social anxiety disorder seek treatment in the year following initial onset and more than a third of people report symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help. The defining feature of social anxiety is intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation. People with social anxiety disorder may worry about acting or appearing visibly anxious (e.g., blushing, stumbling over words), or being viewed as stupid, awkward, or boring. As a result, they often avoid social or performance situations, and when a situation cannot be avoided, they experience significant anxiety and distress. Many people with social anxiety disorder also experience strong physical symptoms, such as a rapid heart rate, nausea, and sweating, and may experience full-blown attacks when confronting a feared situation. Although they recognize that their fear is excessive and unreasonable, people with social anxiety disorder often feel powerless against their anxiety.

Social anxiety disorder can be overcome, although it takes both consistency and persistence.  A successful therapy program for social anxiety disorder must address the dozens of cognitive methods, strategies, and concepts that will allow people's brains (i.e., their brain associations or neural pathways) to literally change.  The brain is continually learning, and irrational thoughts and beliefs can change as a result of this cognitive process.  

A good therapy program will supply the necessary and specific strategies as well as indicate to people how and why they need to practice, work on, and begin to accept rational thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and perceptions.

How to Manage and Treat Anxiety?

Anxiety is defined by the dual characteristics of physiologic hyperarousal and excessive emotional fear. Biofeedback has demonstrated value for hyperarousal reduction and offers a non-pharmacological approach to direct symptom reduction tailored to the individual’s psycho-physiological profile.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is one type of biofeedback. It uses finger or earlobe with sensors to measure the functioning of the heart by diaphragmatic breathing. Breathing activates Vagal nerve, which descends from the brain in the carotid sheath all the way to you diaphragm. The vagal nerve slows your heart rate. A stress response to anything such as a difficult conversation, traffic, or studying changes your heart rate independently of the breathing-related variation to irregular changes. In contrast, when we breathe even, natural, and smooth, you get smooth heart rate waves which are associated with health and peak performance.

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breath

Self-regulation is the primary goal of Biofeedback

When a person inhales, heart rate increases. When a person exhales, heart rate decreases. This is referred to as “heart rate variability.” Higher rate variability is associated with favorable holistic health. Clients are taught smooth diaphragmatic breathing, psychological mindfulness, and adaptive responsiveness.

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One of the main advantages of using biofeedback for anxiety is managing it without medication or its side effects. It eliminate health problems that are stress- related or that have psychosomatic components. Biofeedback teaches awareness, relaxation skills and ways to manage anxiety & recognize, reduce, and control stress responses by returning the body to a healthier physiological state.

Social Anxiety & Eating Disorders

Social Anxiety & Eating Disorders

Many individuals with eating disorders experience significant anxiety. There is a strong correlation between individuals who have pre-existing anxiety and/or depression to develop eating disorders. 

Individuals with eating disorders often report that their anxiety generally centers on fear of humiliation when in public or social situations.  They fear being judged in both body shape and size and for how and what they eat. Often, shame and self-criticism that eating disorder sufferers typically feel with respect to their own body, is projected on to other people who they infuse with the power to hurt them or make them not feel safe or valued.

Patients also feel the need to accommodate other people’s feelings at the expense of their own, not feeling that they fit in, not being able to assert their point of view, essentially not feeling comfortable in their own skin when in the company of other people.  Some patients report that these feelings and interpersonal issues are significantly reduced or disappear in the safe world and solitude with food. 

Exploring how anxiety can be focused around interpersonal and relational issues in addition to a general state of free floating (likely, biologically driven) anxiety can be extremely useful in understanding a person and assessing outcomes.

It is important for health care practitioners to help patients distinguish from where their anxiety originates and then how to treat it – what is driving the anxiety bus – free floating, indiscriminate anxiety or specifically targeted to interpersonal or psychological forces. 

If you’re someone who has some concerns regarding anxiety and eating disorders, discuss them with your provider to evaluate your symptoms and/or to get the help you need.