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Anxiety Treatment

Jun 17, 2008
If you are an anxiety sufferer, I am sure that you will have read plenty of literature, on and off the internet about what anxiety is, what causes anxiety, what anxiety symptoms are and also information about the current anxiety treatments available. Therefore, this article will not spend time talking about these issues.

Understanding about anxiety is the first step in you overcoming it. However, the next and perhaps not as easy step, is to begin to become good at techniques that will allow you to master your anxiety or panic. I say 'not as easy step', because this is the feedback that I often get from clients during my first consultation with them for CBT in Edinburgh. They often report to me that they have read so much about their problem that they know all there is to know. The difficulty, they find, is putting into practice the techniques. This is where the support of a therapist can be invaluable.

One of the more challenging, yet most effective techniques that a person with anxiety should know, is how to be mindful. What this means is being aware of the types of thoughts you have and the internal dialogue you hold with yourself. Being mindful means thinking about your thinking!! This article will discuss one way in which you can manage your anxiety by managing your thinking. These techniques are taught during CBT therapy in Edinburgh.

We know that the way we think can affect the way we feel physically and emotionally. People suffering from anxiety for several years or more can develop unhelpful thinking habits. Negative thinking habits have been found to activate the flight or fight response.

The trouble with negative thoughts is that they are very persuasive. Some of the characteristics of negative thoughts, is that they just 'appear' in your mind, they are unhelpful and stop you mastering anxiety, they are seductive, so that its easy to fall into the trap of believing them and they can seem overwhelming and difficult to dismiss from your mind. Sometimes we are aware of these thoughts and sometimes we are not. They can take the form of fleeting images or pictures in our minds, occurring automatically and disappearing quickly.

One of the ways to deal with negative thoughts is to challenge them. First you have to identify them. This can be challenging itself! Particularly if they are automatic thoughts. Spend time noting your thoughts, the situation they occurred in and how you felt. Once you have begun to recognise when you are having negative or upsetting thoughts try the following one technique. It involves challenging your thoughts by asking yourself a series of questions. You will need to practice the process until it becomes a habit to not just accept your thoughts as truth.

Ask yourself the following questions:

1. What is the evidence

What evidence is there to support my thoughts?
What evidence is there against them?
Don't just assume your thought is true, record the evidence for both sides of the argument.

2. Objective perspective

How would someone else view this situation?
How would I have viewed this situation at times when I have been strong and calm?

3. Where does this thinking get me?

What is the effect of thinking the way I do? Does it help me or hold me back? How does it do this?

4. What types of thinking error am I making?

People with anxiety tend to display several common thinking bias, some of which are listed below. Try to identify the thinking distortions you may be making.
All or nothing thinking: ignoring the middle ground
Focusing on the negative: ignoring strengths or any positives
Jumping to conclusions/mind reading: predicting the future
Catastrophising: overestimating the chances of crises
Personalising: blaming self for something, which is not your fault
Living by rigid beliefs: fretting about how things ought/should/must be.

5. What can be done change my situation?

What solutions are being overlooked? Make a list of what you can do to change your situation.

6. What is the worst possible outcome?

What is the worst thing that would happen and how bad would that really be? Fantasy is usually much worse then reality!
About the Author
Karen is a mental health Occupational Therapist and practiced privately in Hertfordshire before moving to Edinburgh. Karen is also a master NLP practitioner and uses a range of cognitive approaches to support people in overcoming anxiety, panic and agoraphobia. Visit http://www.karenhastings.co.uk
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