Anxiety disorder treatment Murrieta

This is how your friends are increasing your anxiety

You love your friends. They have been with you through thick and thin. They are always there when you need them. You trust them with all of your secrets and you can't imagine a life without them. But is it actually possible that they are a trigger for your anxiety? As the old saying goes- "Show me your friends and I'll tell you who you are."

No matter how much you love your friends, it's important to pay good attention to their words and actions. Sometimes your friends are toxic, other times, they're just Debbie downers. But you would never actually notice their effect on you until you pay attention.

Here are some steps to determine if your friends are triggering your anxiety:

1) Are they negative? When you have a typical conversation with your friends, are their words more negative than positive? Let's say you talk about the news or the weather, are your comments met with optimism or is there an underlying negativity in their words? Pay attention to see if your friends spend more time talking about others and putting you down than actually discussing ideas that will build you and them up. If they are not spending more time asking you how you're doing, encouraging you and making sure they are helping you get to a better place in your life, then you're in big trouble.  The more time you spend around Debbie downers, the higher your chances of feeling bad about yourself and the world around you.

If you'd like to take it a step further, just casually go through your closest friends' social media posts. Are they spending most of their time complaining about the world around them or are they posting about finding solutions to problems around them? There's a clear difference between the two. If you're always reading and listening to complainers, pretty soon, you'll become one yourself. 

2) Are they a source of encouragement to you? Are you able to talk to your friends candidly about your hopes and dreams? A good friend should be able to provide empathy and support even when she does not quite understand your process or situation. So for example, if you say to your friend that you're going to follow your dreams and start a real estate business, will she help you feel more confident or will she actually make you feel like you will fail? If your friends are not on the encouragement train, maybe you should get off on the next stop.

3) How do you feel when you're with them? Sometimes you intuitively know that certain friends have too much drama or are no good for you, but you feel a sense of obligation towards them and you keep them around because you think you have to. Do your friends fill you with joy and confidence or are you left feeling jealous, small and inconsequential when you are with them? When you are hanging out, ask yourself if you feel truly comfortable or if you have to put up a show or a front around them. After the interaction is over, is your self esteem increased or do you feel less than? That's a tell tale sign that those friends are not your people. And trust me, everyone is NOT your person.

4) Can you truly be yourself when you are with them? Like I said previously, sometimes you have to put up a front when you are with certain friends. Maybe you're actually an intellectual nerdy type, but many of your friends prefer superficial conversations. Do they give you the space to express yourself or are you forced to conform to their values? Do you find that you dress, speak and act differently around certain friends? Are you concerned about being judged? A true friend accepts you for who your truly are and doesn't make you become a clone of herself.

And if you find that your friends are a trigger for your anxiety and insecurity, all you have to do is accept this as the truth, then try to talk to them about it. Watch your tone. Don't be mean or shouty. Take responsibility for going along with this type of friendship. Then also tell them what you need emotionally from them. If you don't know what you need, take a moment to reflect and write it out. People really will treat you how you allow them to treat you. So if you are not letting them know your boundaries, they will walk all over you.

What happens if a certain friend isn't willing to change the friendship dynamic? Well then it's time to reevaluate your friendship. 

Are you ready to start setting clear boundaries with the people in your life so that you can build your self esteem back up and stop feeling so anxious and worthless? Click here to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation so we can talk about how to get you from hiding in the shadows to standing boldly in who you really are. You deserve great quality friends that build you up.

Are you shy or do you have Social Anxiety Disorder?

When you go into a public place, do your stomach muscles tighten up? Do you just want to crawl into a ball or take off running as fast as you can? Do you make excuses when people ask you to go out? When you finally summon up the courage to step out, are you constantly worried that others will judge or embarrass you? Sometimes what you think is shyness is actually something called Social Anxiety Disorder. It’s an unbearable fear that happens when you interact with others in a public space. While some people might go out to unwind after a long day, you just want to go home and relax in front of the TV or cuddle up with a good book.

 Social Anxiety creates fear when you have to be in certain social situations where you could possibly be observed, noticed or scrutinized by others. Some of these situations could include eating out at a restaurant, going to a party, going on a date, speaking in front of a crowd or even just going to the grocery store.

 While these situations appear like normal everyday social situations to others, to you, they create a deep sense of fear, anxiety and worry. Before you are about to go to a restaurant, you practice walking through the door, you visualize all the people who will be staring at you and you even wonder if you'll have to escape from the emergency exit.

Usually when you are in social situations, you feel an increased sense of anxiety, you might have difficulty interacting with others because you believe they are judging you or scrutinizing your every move. You find it difficult to stay calm when you're with others, because you can't shut your mind off. The entire time, you might be thinking "Will they think I'm weird? Are they judging me? I know I'm going to embarrass myself. What id I fall? Will they laugh?" Although the situation might seem harmless to others, it fills you with such distress that you have to leave. Sometimes you get so nervous that you might embarrass yourself, that you’re not able to truly enjoy the company of others.

If this sounds like you, the good news is that Social Anxiety Disorder is treatable. All you need to do is contact a mental health professional who is experienced in treating Social Anxiety so that you can work on changing your thoughts, you can be slowly introduced to social situations and you can get your happy back. It doesn’t have to ruin your life.

You can work on it and be released from the constant anxiety you experience. If you are in the Murrieta area and you are in need of a counselor or therapist, contact me for a free 15 minute phone consultation (951-905-3181) so that we can decide if you’re ready to begin the healing process.

Have you ever experienced social anxiety?

Types of anxiety disorders

You've heard the word anxiety over and over again. Maybe you've even felt that feeling in the pit of your stomach, or thoughts that move so fast that you can barely focus. Or maybe you've felt the room spinning and you couldn't catch your breath. Sometimes it shows up as an overwhelming feeling that stops you in your tracks. Or you wake up and instantly burst into tears. Well, did you know that there are many different types of anxiety disorders?

 Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting about each main category, but today let's just talk about the main categories. Before we dive in, I'll give you a brief overview of how I got the information. You see every therapist has a great huge manual from which we diagnose (yes, we can diagnose). Every few years, this manual is updated by tons of professionals in the mental health field. The most current version is called the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM 5 or DSM V). This manual contains every single mental health disorder known to man. You can check it out here.

 Okay so on to the good stuff. Here are the main categories of anxiety disorders:

1) Separation Anxiety Disorder: This occurs when a person experiences a heightened sense of anxiety when they have to be away from someone whom they are very attached to. In many cases, children often feel this when they have to be away from a parent, guardian or loved one. Adults can also experience this. The person has a huge fear of being away from the person, they might scream and shout when the person has to leave, they avoid leaving the person and they might even have nightmares about leaving. This isn't just an ordinary feeling of "I'll miss you." It's a tense, anxiety provoking angst when you think about being separated from your loved one.

 2) Selective Mutism: This is also more common in children. This occurs when the person can speak, but he or she chooses not to speak in certain social situations such as at school or in a public place. This could be because the person feels very anxious or unsure. If the child does not speak due to a hearing or speech problem, or because they don't understand the language, then they probably don't meet the criteria for this disorder. My advice would be to first take the child to his or her pediatrician to get checked first, before going to a therapist.

 3) Specific Phobia: Did you know phobias are a real thing? A phobia is a serious fear about an object or situation which causes the person very serious distress. You could have a phobia about anything-water, trees, certain foods, mascots, feathers-anything. Phobias are not something to laugh about because they can intense emotional pain and fear. Luckily they are treatable.

 4) Social Anxiety Disorder: Serious fear or anxiety about being in a social situation where the person can be scrutinized by others. This isn't just a case of butterflies or a little shyness, in this situation the person has a serious fear. Because of this people often avoid such social situations.

 5) Panic Disorder: This is a case of getting various unexpected panic attacks. Some symptoms of a panic attack are shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, difficulty breathing, hot flashes, numbness and even fear of dying. After the panic attack subsides, people who get them often have anxiety about getting more attacks-which could then cause them to have panic attacks. It's a vicious cycle.

 6) Generalized Anxiety Disorder: This is the diagnosis I see the most in my practice. It's basically excessive worry that is difficult to control, which occurs more days than not. Worry happens all the time even though you can't figure out why. Sometimes you experience tension in your neck and shoulders, difficulty sleeping, bad dreams, crankiness and tiredness.

 7) Agoraphobia: A serious fear about being in open spaces, being in enclosed places, going into  public transportation, being outside of your home alone and/or being in a crowd. Sometimes these situations could also trigger a panic attack. People with agoraphobia often feel most comfortable when they are in the comfort of their own homes.

 So you see, anxiety is real and it is often very complex. But the truth is we have all felt anxious to one degree or the other. Anxiety is treatable and mental health therapists and counselors are trained to help you reduce your anxiety.

 If you've been struggling with any of these situations, contact me for a free 15-minute phone consultation so we can talk about how to get you from sinking to thriving. Click here to email me.

What is anxiety?

You've felt funny for a while but you have no idea who to talk to or what to call it. Sometimes you feel odd butterflies in your stomach and other times you sweat. Maybe you get the odd feeling before stepping in front of a crowd, or just before you go outside in the morning. Your thoughts are constantly racing and you don't know how to slow them down.

You try to shake it off, but the feeling seems to be spreading from your mind to your body too. Your neck and back are always tight, you find it hard to sleep at night and you feel like you can't talk to anyone about it, because they'll think you're being dramatic. Sometimes it feels like the world is closing in on you.

Your feeling might just be anxiety. Anxiety is the thoughts and feelings of unease that sweep through a person's mind or body. Sometimes you might get anxious because there's an important event coming up, and other times you don't have any clue why you feel this way. There are many different types of anxiety disorders, which I'll talk about in another blog post coming up soon.

But the most common anxiety disorder I see in my practice is Generalized Anxiety Disorder. This means the person isn't necessarily worrying about something specific, but there are many worries about many different things swimming through your mind all day long. For example, you could be worried about your weight, your kids' grades, your marriage, your long to do list as well as your career. Even when things seem to be going well on the home front, you might have this impending feeling of doom like something bad is about to happen.

So how do we treat anxiety?

Well there are many different ways. Some people choose to see a psychiatrist and get on anti anxiety medication. Others find more holistic treatments such as yoga, exercise, meditation and prayer. And still others choose to speak to a counselor or therapist and learn different ways to train their minds on how to not be so focused on situations, but think more realistically. Different therapists work from different approaches. Some focus on thought patterns, others focus on the emotional component, still some use approaches such as mindfulness among others.

Some people choose to use a hybrid method such as by taking meds and going to yoga. Or through prayer and therapy.

It really doesn't matter which route you take, or if you use a combination of treatments, all that matters is that you seek help if you feel that your anxiety is not under control. As I am not a doctor, I cannot prescribe medications. I also am not a yoga instructor or a certified physical trainer, so I cannot advise you on exercise or diet.

My approach to treating anxiety

My approach as a therapist, is to use a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). Simply put, CBT looks at how to reduce anxiety by focusing on irrational thoughts. We work on shifting those thoughts, which will in turn shift your feelings and then your behavior. We know that your thoughts, feelings and behaviors are all linked. If you change one, you''ll change the other two.

DBT works mainly on helping you focus on the present. So instead of thinking about what you're going to do when you get back home, all the tasks on your to do list, how you're going to fix your marriage, how your life is falling apart, you'll learn how to focus on one thing at a time-living moment by moment.

So there you have it. If you've ever experienced anxiety, what helps you reduce it?

And if you're in the Murrieta area or you live anywhere in California, and you're tired of battling anxiety and worry all on your own, give me a call at 951-905-3181. I'll give you a free 15 minute consultation in which we'll talk about your worries and ways in which I might be able to help you find your calm. I believe that before you schedule an appointment with a therapist or counselor, you should have the opportunity to talk to him or her first.