Learning To Be Assertive
Being assertive means communicating your needs, wants, feelings, beliefs and opinions to others in a direct and honest manner without intentionally hurting anyones feelings. A person with an anxiety disorder may have trouble being assertive because they are afraid of conflict or believe they have no right to speak up. However, relating passively to others lowers self-confidence and reinforces anxiety. Learning to behave assertively is central to developing a stronger self-esteem.
Avoid Smoking And Drinking
Smoking and alcohol have been shown to make feelings of anxiety worse. Only drinking alcohol in moderation or stopping smoking if you smoke may help reduce your anxiety.
The Department of Health recommends that men should not drink more than three to four units of alcohol a day and women no more than two to three units.
Why Do I Feel Like This When Im Not In Any Real Danger
Early humans needed the fast, powerful responses that fear causes, as they were often in situations of physical danger however, we no longer face the same threats in modern-day living.
Despite this, our minds and bodies still work in the same way as our early ancestors, and we have the same reactions to our modern worries about bills, travel and social situations. But we cant run away from or physically attack these problems!
The physical feelings of fear can be scary in themselves especially if you are experiencing them and you dont know why, or if they seem out of proportion to the situation. Instead of alerting you to a danger and preparing you to respond to it, your fear or anxiety can kick in for any perceived threat, which could be imaginary or minor.
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Feeling Like An Imposter Or Fraud At Work
Many people with social anxiety hide it extremely well. In fact, Ive found that social anxiety seems to be especially prevalent among people who might describe themselves as high-achievers or Type-A.
In other words, social anxiety is more prevalent than you would think in people who look like theyve got it all together on the outside. But on the inside, theyre plagued with self-doubt and imposter syndrome
- They constantly feel like theyre a fraud, not good enough, and that at any moment people are going to figure it out.
- Theyre in the habit of chronically comparing themselves to others and never feeling like they match up.
- They struggle to appreciate their wins and successes because as soon as something goes well, they immediately worry that its not good enough or that someone will find fault with them.
Of course, this struggle of feeling like a fraud tends to show up most frequently at work. And interestingly, is especially common among people who are higher up in a company or organizationas a client explained to me once, the higher you climb the further you have to fall.
Okay, now that weve covered what social anxiety is and what it looks like, lets take a look at where social anxiety comes from and what causes it.
How Adolescent Wellness Academy Can Help
Here at Adolescent Wellness Academy, we understand that it can be hard to comprehend exactly what your teenager is going through and how to help them. We hope that some of the information resources that we give you will help you to learn more about these disorders and how they affect others. We want to put our clients and their parents at ease when it comes to their treatment. Reach out to us today to find a treatment program that fits you/your teenagers individualized needs!
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How Do I Get Tested For Anxiety
While online quizzes like this can help someone understand their feelings, they should be followed up with a professional assessment. Your medical doctor or a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or licensed clinical social worker, can help.
According to NYU Langone Health, an anxiety test for adults from a health care professional will include a physical exam, a lot of questions about your symptoms and any medications you are taking , and potentially a blood test, to rule out any physical conditions that could be causing anxiety like hypothyroidism.
If physical or pharmaceutical causes are ruled out, a health care professional will then conduct a psychological evaluation, asking more questions about your symptoms including how long youve experienced them and whether they persist or come and go and whether anyone in your family has had a history of anxiety disorder or depression. This eval can also detect or rule out the presence of conditions like PTSD or an eating disorder, which can accompany anxiety disorders.
Children With Anxiety: Signs & Statistics
Rates of anxiety have reached alarming heights in recent years, especially in children. Among children ages 3 to 17, 73.8% with depression also have anxiety. 37.9% of children ages 3 to 17 with anxiety also have behavior problems. Unfortunately, only 59.3% of children in that age range with anxiety have received treatment.
A greater percentage of adolescents ages 12 to 17 have anxiety compared to kids in the 3 to 5 and 6 to 11 age groups. While Caucasian children have higher anxiety symptoms in high school, African American children have a higher rate in elementary and middle school.
There are several notable signs associated with anxiety that parents should track. These include excessive worrying, restlessness, difficulty focusing, excessive irritability, recurring panic attacks, avoiding social situations, and irrational fears.
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Initial Vs Maintaining Causes Of Social Anxiety
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make as they try to overcome social anxiety is getting fixated on the initial causes of their anxiety, and as a result, ignoring the maintaining causes.
But before we go on, let me clarify what I mean by initial vs maintaining causes
- Initial cause. The initial cause of social anxiety is one or more events in the past that initially set you on the path toward social anxiety. Its your social anxietys origin story. For example: some kind of childhood trauma or bullying as a kid may have been the thing that initially set your social anxiety in motion.
- Maintaining cause. The maintaining cause of social anxiety are your habits in the present that are feeding your social anxiety and causing it to stick around or even grow. Avoiding social situations with new people gives you temporary relief from your anxiety, but ultimately makes the social anxiety worse because it reinforces your brains mistaken belief that being judged by new people is dangerous.
I bring this distinction up because while it can be interesting and validating to understand the initial cause or origin of your social anxiety, it typically has relatively little value when it comes to overcoming your anxiety now.
In other words
Whatever caused your social anxiety in the past, its your habits and behaviors in the present that are keeping it alive.
Here are some of the most common maintaining causes of social anxiety:
How Do I Ask My Doctor For Anxiety Medication
Initiating a conversation with your doctor about anxiety medication can be intimidating. The best approach is to be direct, explain your anxiety symptoms, what triggers your anxiety and why you think medication may help. Remember the doctor is there to help you. Read more about how to talk to your doctor about starting anxiety medication here.
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Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is characterized by repeated, unexpected panic attacks, as well as fear of experiencing another episode. Agoraphobia, the fear of being somewhere where escape or help would be difficult in the event of a panic attack, may also accompany a panic disorder. If you have agoraphobia, you are likely to avoid public places such as shopping malls, or confined spaces such as an airplane.
What If I Don’t Feel Better
Your doctor should offer you regular appointments to check how you’re doing, and see how well any treatment is working for you.
Different things work for different people, so if a particular medication, type of talking therapy or particular therapist doesn’t work for you, your doctor should offer an alternative.
If you’ve tried a range of treatments and none of them have helped, your doctor might refer you to a community mental health team . This is made up of a number of different healthcare professionals, such as psychiatrists and clinical psychologists. Your CMHT can assess you separately and offer you a personalised treatment plan.
This is particularly recommended if:
- your symptoms are making it very difficult to carry out everyday activities
- you have a serious physical health problem or another mental health problem
- you’re having thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
It’s important to remember that recovery is a journey, and it won’t always be straightforward. For example, you might find it more helpful to focus on learning more about yourself and developing ways to cope, rather than trying to get rid of all your symptoms.
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Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
This type of medication works by increasing the level of a chemical called serotonin in your brain.
Examples of SSRIs you may be prescribed include:
- difficulty achieving orgasm during sex or masturbation
- in men, difficulty obtaining or maintaining an erection
These side effects should improve over time, although some such as sexual problems can persist.
If your medication isn’t helping after about 2 months of treatment or it’s causing unpleasant side effects, your GP may prescribe an alternative SSRI.
When you and your GP decide it’s appropriate for you to stop taking your medication, you’ll normally have your dose slowly reduced over the course of a few weeks to reduce the risk of withdrawal effects.
Never stop taking your medication unless your GP specifically advises you to.
Why Do I Have Anxiety
What causes anxiety and anxiety disorders is complex. It is likely that a combination of both genetics and environmental factors play a role in why some individuals are more prone to anxiety than others. Some events, emotions, or experiences may make it more likely for the symptoms of anxiety to begin or worsenthese are known as triggers. Anxiety triggers can cause panic attacks in some people and differ from person to person and so working with a mental health professional to identify what your triggers are and how you can react when faced with them can be incredibly helpful.
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How Thought Challenging Works
To understand how thought challenging works in cognitive behavioral therapy, consider the following example: Maria wont take the subway because shes afraid shell pass out, and then everyone will think shes crazy. Her therapist has asked her to write down her negative thoughts, identify the errorsor cognitive distortionsin her thinking, and come up with a more rational interpretation. The results are below.
|Challenging Negative Thoughts
|Negative thought #1: What if I pass out on the subway?
|Cognitive distortion: Predicting the worst.
More realistic thought: Ive never passed out before, so its unlikely that I will pass out on the subway.
|Negative thought #2: If I pass out, it will be terrible!
|Cognitive distortion: Blowing things out of proportion.
More realistic thought: If I faint, Ill come to in a few moments. Thats not so terrible.
|Negative thought #3: People will think Im crazy.
|Cognitive distortion: Jumping to conclusions.
More realistic thought: People are more likely to be concerned if Im okay.
Replacing negative thoughts with more realistic ones is easier said than done. Often, negative thoughts are part of a lifelong pattern of thinking. It takes practice to break the habit. Thats why cognitive behavioral therapy includes practicing on your own at home as well.
CBT may also include:
Map Your Social Anxiety Triggers
As much as you may struggle with social anxiety, its important to remind yourself that youre not always socially anxious.
There are likely certain people in your life you do feel comfortable around. And there are probably plenty of non-social times throughout your day when youre not in the grips of social anxiety.
I say this for two reasons:
One of the reasons social anxiety can be so overwhelming is that it becomes an automatic process.
Heres an example:
Now, simply managing the triggers of your social anxiety isnt going to completely eliminate them.
But Ive found that its a very useful first step because it can seriously take the edge off your anxietyenough to be able to start implementing some of the strategies which target the core maintaining causes of your social anxiety directly.
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Psychotherapy For Anxiety Disorders: What To Expect
Psychotherapy is a collaborative process, where psychologists and patients work together to identify specific concerns and develop concrete skills and techniques for coping with anxiety. Patients can expect to practice their new skills outside of sessions to manage anxiety in situations that might make them uncomfortable. However, psychologists wont push patients into such scenarios until theyre sure they have the skills they need to effectively confront their fears.
Psychologists sometimes use other approaches to treat anxiety disorders in addition to CBT. Group psychotherapy, which typically involves several people who all have anxiety disorders, can be effective for both treating anxiety and providing patients with support.
Family psychotherapy can help family members understand their loved ones anxiety and help them learn ways to interact that do not reinforce anxious habits. Family therapy can be particularly helpful for children and adolescents suffering from anxiety disorders.
Anxiety disorders are very treatable. Most patients who suffer from anxiety are able to reduce or eliminate symptoms after several months of psychotherapy, and many patients notice improvement after just a few sessions.
Psychologists are highly trained and will tailor a treatment plan to address the unique needs of each patient. To find a licensed psychologist in your area, visit Psychologist Locator.
Medications Used To Treat Anxiety Disorders
Although a variety of categories of medications are used in the treatment of anxiety, here are four major classes of medications that mental health professionals use to treat anxiety disorders.
Each class of medication attempts to reduce anxiety in a different way and has its own benefits and risks. While some may be considered preferred options, the drug selection can vary based on the type of anxiety you have and your symptoms.
Using medications for anxiety disorder is considered safe and effective. It can take several weeks for most anxiety medications to start working, and can be particularly helpful when used along with psychotherapy.
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