How to Cope With Intrusive Thoughts: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Talking (To Yourself) and the Benefit of Defensiveness

Friday, October 24, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Treatment Techniques

In When Panic Attacks1Dr. David Burns notes that role playing can be a great exercise to organize ideas and hear the absurdity of irrational scary thoughts. Debating anxiety-producing thoughts out loud may be of even more assistance for people who prefer to learn by listening to lectures or other types of auditory cues. 

This post will be short as there are only a few techniques that are related closely enough to justify putting them together. Because no matter which type of cognitive behavioral therapy practices you're into at the moment, they just don't compare to yelling at yourself or someone you love like a tweaked-out Gilbert Gottfried....  continue reading

Am I A Control Freak? Panic, Responsibility One Man's Journey Towards Healing

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Anxiety

It’s all about panic this week, and I am a huge believer in both providing you with the research as well as the human experience. We all acquire anxiety issues a little differently. We all get through things a little differently as well. 

Today my guest poster takes you on his journey of self discovery, from where his panic originated through his use of cognitive behavioral skills to cope, including humor techniques, deep breathing, thought replacement, self compassion, mindfulness and vocalized defensiveness (which will be discussed further on Friday). 

Panic attacks, scary thoughts and anxiety affect more than you would guess. Don’t be afraid to talk about it....  continue reading

Deep Breathing: You're Doing it Wrong.

Monday, October 20, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Treatment Techniques

It usually goes down something like this: someone comes in and says, “I heard deep breathing is supposed to help with anxiety, but it  makes me feel worse.”

Red flag number one.

They go on. “Sometimes, even if I feel okay to begin with, I feel dizzy or like I am about to pass out when I start taking deep breaths.”

Even though panic and anxiety can cause dizziness, tunnel vision and lightheadedness, I count this as red flag number two if it seems to be made worse by the breathing. 

From me, it takes two words to see if I am right: “Show me.”

After years of clinical practice, one thing is clear: you people have no idea how to breathe. This is especially true in those who have a history of trauma (due to bodily disconnection or dissociation) and those with overactive sympathetic nervous systems (such as those with anxiety disorders or depression). And deep breathing done the wrong way can actually make anxiety symptoms worse instead of alleviating them....  continue reading

Am I Having A Nervous Breakdown? One Woman's Experience With Panic Attacks

Friday, October 17, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Anxiety

Panic attacks (discussed here and here) can show up with postpartum depression, anxiety disorders, depressive disorders or as their own issue. 

Panic Disorder is characterized by:     

  • Frequent, unexpected panic attacks that aren’t tied to a specific situation
  • Worry or preoccupation with having another panic attack
  • Differences in behavior because of the attacks, like avoiding places where you’ve had an attack in the past

Many experience anxiety, but panic attacks and panic disorder are discussed less frequently because people often fear that something is really wrong with them beyond the scope of nervousness. In fact, some of the most common scary thoughts are, “I am having  a nervous breakdown,” and, “I am having a heart attack.” (For more on this, check out Lies Your Brain Tells You: Why We Have Scary Thoughts.) During these panic episodes some imagine that they will wind up curled into a ball, thumb in their mouth, babbling incoherently, which, incidentally, is how I look if someone makes me watch Fox & Friends. But if you are lucid enough to have the thought, “I’m losing my mind,” trust me, you probably aren’t. 

In an effort to normalize this process, I invited a guest to write about her experience with panic attacks. Because knowing what these attacks feel like might well help someone else to identify this issue in themselves and get assistance, whether they have panic disorder on its own or panic attacks related to another condition. 

You’re not alone. You’re not losing your mind. It’s the panic....  continue reading

Stop Being Mean (to yourself): 8 Ways to Reduce Scary or Intrusive Thoughts

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Treatment Techniques

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a cornerstone in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders and even other therapies such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy which is often used to treat personality disorders. The premise is simple: by altering the way people think, we can change their responses and the way they end up behaving. 

Sounds good, right? 

While there are numerous tactics for addressing negative or racing thoughts, some are more popular than others. So today, I wanted to offer you a quick and dirty list of some of my favorite types of CBT practices. 

But first we need a thought to challenge. Let’s say your recurrent negative thought is, “I’m a terrible mother. Everyone else does it better.”

We’ve all been there, right? So how to combat this?...  continue reading

What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy? The Features of DBT, Radical Acceptance and Coping with Pee

Monday, October 13, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Treatment Techniques

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) has been a growing phenomenon in the psychotherapy world. And as this movement becomes more popular in the general population, I have been getting more and more questions about it.

“So….DBT is like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy…but it isn’t?”

Pretty much. There are a number of great books on it, including Calming the Emotional Storm: Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills to Manage Your Emotions and Balance Your LifeDBT Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide to Dialectical Behavior Therapy, the DBT Skills Training Manual, Doing Dialectical Behavior Therapy: A Practical Guide (Guides to Individualized Evidence-Based Treatment)Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Binge Eating and Bulimia, and, as a clear winner for the longest title on the planet, The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation, and Distress Tolerance

But before you run out and buy those, I invited a friend of mine to tell you all about DBT and illustrate some key concepts for you. Welcome to the world of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy....  continue reading