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Understanding Anxiety

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by

David McLaughlin

on 17 September 2014

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Transcript of Understanding Anxiety

Understanding Anxiety
Mind Over Mood

What is Anxiety?
Nervousness
Trepidation
Apprehension
Fear
Dread
Panic
Hysteria
Anxiety Profile
Physical Reactions

Jitteriness
Tension
Sweaty Palms
Light headedness
Altered breathing
Flushed cheeks
Muscle tension
Racing heart



Self conscious
Evaluating danger
Evaluating coping
Evaluating resources
Worrying (imagination)
Catatrophising

Thoughts






Trying to do things perfectly/ control events, other people, checking behaviours

Behaviour
Avoiding/Leaving situations

Nervous
Irritable
Anxious

Emotions
Environment
Trauma
(abuse, accidents, illness, bereavement)

Experiences of being emotionally overwhelmed
(job loss, child birth, promotion)

Learning
(classical and operant conditioning, social)



Biology (old brain)
Evolved Fear Responses (brain stem, limbic system)

Fight/Flight
Increased heart rate, breathing, muscle tension, sweating
or
Freeze
Reduced heart rate, slowed breathing, muscle tightness

Cognition
Anxious Thinking tends to be:

Problem solving (worry)
Future oriented (predicting)
Judgemental (good/bad, safe/unsafe)
Counter factual (what if?)


Overcoming Anxiety
Exercise
Self Soothing
Burns up stress hormones (cortisol, epinephrine)
Releases hormones promoting feelings (endorphins)
of security and satisfaction
Relieves muscular tension
Can improve sleep and diet
Needs to be regular
Reduce Physiological arousal through physical stimulation
Stimulate sensations opposite to anxiety sensations
Promote feelings of safety/security

Examples
Touch (massage, hugs)
Warmth (cup of tea, shower, bath, blanket)
Food
Pleasant smells/ sights


Acting Opposite
Act opposite to urge to avoid/leave to gain exposure to anxiety provoking stimulus

Must be in a safe context (e.g.used
in combination with other skills, before, during and after)

Must be achieved gradually while maintaining reduced levels of arousal

Gain confidence in ability to tolerate distressing anxiety

Learn new (safer) associations


Potential eventual reduction of distressing arousal


Mindfulness
Attend to the present
Focus on what is
Let go of evaluations

Reduces "fusion" with thoughts/beliefs
Reduces planning and worry related thinking
Increases meta-cognition or "thinking about thinking"

Paying attention to the present moment without judgement
Cognitive Restructuring
Challenge unhelpful or inaccurate thinking (catastrophic, automatic negative thoughts)
Enhance ability to create accurate evaluations of threats

Leading to ....
More proportionate emotional and physiological arousal

Compassionate Mind Training
Balance critical inner monologue (implying that you are unsafe) with compassionate understanding of difficulties and suffering
How?
Reorganise thinking around a motivation to be compassionate towards self and others rather than to protect self from others/the world


Relaxation Training
Training in techniques that are effective in reducing physiological arousal (activating parasympathetic nervous system

Need to train self to relax (not always a natural capacity)
Relaxation is not "doing nothing" must be engaged in actively

E.g. Progressive Muscle relaxation, yoga,
guided imagery, controlled breathing,
bio- feedback.
WHY?
Labelling Emotion
Identifying
Trigger
Thoughts
Emotion
Physical Sensation
Urge
Helps understand emotional experience in the moment

Creates mental space

"Defuses" from emotion

Aids Acceptance
(Get to know our
fears)
David McLaughlin: Assistant Psychologist
Contact: dmclaughlin@stpatsmail.com
New brain capacities
Full transcript