Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Foods That Help Anxiety

If you have generalized anxiety disorder, did you know that watching your diet and changing the foods and drinks you consume can help with managing your anxiety symptoms? It’s true: eliminating some foods and adding others to your daily meals can help lower anxiety levels and provide positive effects that help you feel better.

While changing your diet is not going to cure you, reducing your symptoms can help you better cope with what life throws at you. For example, Mayo Clinic research has shown that, because caffeine makes most people jittery and alcohol can affect the quality of your sleep, minimizing or eliminating them from your diet can help you feel less nervous and irritable. Conversely, drinking enough water (ideally 64 ounces a day) can help keep you from becoming dehydrated; dehydration can bring on mood changes.

Foods That Help Anxiety

There are many foods that can aid in controlling anxiety levels. By adding or increasing these “foods that calm” to your diet, you can help manage your generalized anxiety disorder symptoms:

  • Complex carbs (brown rice, *whole grain breads and pastas)
    • *Seaweed and kelp is a good alternative for those who are gluten sensitive
    • Provide balanced serotonin levels: keeps you happy and calm
    • Supply magnesium: a magnesium deficiency can contribute to anxiety
  • Peaches, blueberries, acai berries
    • Rich in vitamins, phytonutrients, and antioxidants: provide calming nutrients
  • Vegetables and legumes
    • Strengthen your immune system
  • Healthy fats such as those found in nuts and seeds
    • Contain zinc and iron to ward off brain fatigue and increase energy
  • Water
    • Circulates anxiety-reducing hormones through your body
    • Dehydration can result in mood changes
  • Chocolate: pure, dark chocolate without milks and sugars
    • Reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, and improves your mood
  • B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, antioxidants
  • Certain herbs such as passionflower and kava

Foods to Avoid or Minimize

Certain foods might provide you with a boost of energy or give you a temporary sense of calm, but the effects wear off quickly and often leave you feeling worse:

  • Simple carbs, high-glycemic carbs (white bread, white flour, cookies, cakes, anything with a high sugar content)
    • Give you an energy boost, followed by a “crash” that can produce anxiety
  • Fast food, fried food, processed food, foods with a high salt content
    • Makes your body more acidic, leading to more anxiety
  • Alcohol
    • Initial sense of relaxation, but disrupts sleep patterns, leading to anxiety
  • Caffeine, especially if you are prone to panic attacks
    • Small amounts can be soothing, but caffeine increases your heart rate, leading to nervousness and raising your anxiety levels

Even though there is no “diet” that will cure your generalized anxiety disorder, healthy eating is one of the best ways to control the symptoms of apprehension and stress. By incorporating more of the foods that help anxiety into your diet, you should see a decrease in your anxiety levels and an increase in energy which will make you feel better and more able to cope with various situations. Also, keep in mind that changing your diet does not replace therapy and professional treatment for your generalized anxiety disorder.

For more information and help for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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Hypersexuality

Hypersexuality or sex addiction is a dysfunctional obsession with sex. The disorder is characterized by:

  • Compulsive sexual behavior consisting of extreme sudden or frequent sexual urges or activity
  • Patterns of negative outcome (examples include emotional and physical health concerns, broken relationships, and legal and career troubles)
  • Attempts at self-correcting and failing to stop unwanted behavior despite repeated promises to themselves and others

The obsessive thoughts and behaviors of hypersexuality are considered to be a process addiction (for example, gambling is a process addiction) instead of a substance addiction (such as a drug addiction). Additionally, hypersexuality is usually classified as an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and can be a symptom of OCD, as well as being a symptom of drug abuse, bipolar disorder and attention deficit disorder. The DSM IV for Psychiatric Disorders describes sex addiction as a “compulsive searching for multiple partners, compulsive fixation on an unattainable partner, compulsive masturbation, compulsive love relationships and compulsive sexuality in a relationship”.

This psychosexual behavior often begins with the sufferer subconsciously trying to manage emotional triggers in their life and alleviate distress. As the disorder progresses, the behavior develops into compulsive and uncontrollable impulses as the person becomes addicted to the pleasurable neurochemical changes in their brain that produce a “high”. This is similar to how drug or alcohol addicts constantly crave their next high. And, as with other addictions, because the underlying issues aren’t being addressed, the sex addict finds themselves locked in an endless cycle of inappropriate behavior, frustration, and unhappiness.

Often, those who exhibit hypersexuality will not look for therapy and treatment until they have hit rock bottom and have experienced significant negative consequences to their relationships, health, finances, and careers. In order to heal, a sex addict must take ownership of their behavior and will need to undergo intensive psychotherapy. Additionally, any spouse or partner of the sex addict will feel victimized and will need to work as hard as the addict in order to learn to trust them again. Still, with time and hard work, those with hypersexual disorder can overcome their unhealthy sexual compulsion and can look forward to a healthy future.

For more information and help for the treatment of hypersexuality, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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Hypersexual Disorder (Sex Addict)

There are two current movies making the rounds in theaters that are centered around the topic of hypersexual disorder (sex addiction): Thanks for Sharing and Don Jon. Even though both movies present the subject with a comedic undertone, sex addiction is no laughing matter. Those who suffer from it end up confused, obsessed, and endlessly looking for a “fix” that becomes increasingly difficult to achieve.

A sex addict is not simply a person who loves sex or one who acts in a sexually inappropriate way. Hypersexual disorder is characterized by:

  • Patterns of negative consequence, such as anxiety, depression, and legal problems
  • Risky behavior and a loss of control
  • Attempting to stop unwanted behavior and failing

Hypersexual disorder is often thought to be a form of obsessive-complusive disorder. According to the DSM IV for Psychiatric Disorders, sex addiction is a "compulsive searching for multiple partners, compulsive fixation on an unattainable partner, compulsive masturbation, compulsive love relationships and compulsive sexuality in a relationship". Those with hypersexual disorder seek the endorphins and enkepline chemicals that are released through orgasm, producing feelings of satisfaction and relaxation. In this way, a sex addict is similar to an alcoholic or drug addict. And, just as with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, hypersexual disorder usually begins with a more harmless activity that is used as a coping method to fill a void (for example, an emotional loss, social issues, or other stressors) and develops into uncontrollable impulses as the disorder progresses. This physiological aspect reinforces the psychological void, turning it into a vicious cycle that never addresses the underlying issue.

In order to heal, a sex addict needs intensive therapy and must assume responsibility for his/her behavior. If the addict is in a relationship, the partner/spouse will understandably feel victimized and will need to work as hard as the addict in order to learn to trust again. With time, hard work, and patience, however, the sex addict can learn to overcome their unhealthy sexual behavior and create a healthy future.

For more information and help for hypersexual disorder, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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Child and Teenage Internet Addiction: Anxiety, ADHD, Social Phobias, and Depression on the Rise

In today’s world, around 85 percent of children and adolescents have some type of game console, cell phone, computer, or tablet.  Often, these kids use these devices in their bedrooms away from the family living area, and studies have found that nearly twenty percent of children use the internet without being monitored by their parents. Because kids aren’t being watched and are spending so much time in cyberspace, today’s children and adolescents are at a much higher risk of developing anxiety, depression, impulsiveness, abuse drugs, and develop antisocial tendencies.

Often, these children and adolescents are exposed to pornography or engage in activities that are psychologically harmful. Many teens participate in “sexting” or sharing intimate photos of themselves among close friends. This can lead to humiliation, anxiety, and depression when these private photos are shared online. Additionally, unmonitored children and teens can be exposed to cyber-bullying or become the unwitting target of pedophiles.

In addition to the distress children are experiencing due to the ease with which they can find pornography, violent videos, and information about drugs and alcohol, we are finding that kids who spend a lot of time in virtual worlds are also becoming antisocial. They often lose track of time, want to eat in front of the computer, and have difficulty turning off their mobile phone, computer, or tablet because they have become addicted to it. Adolescents who experience teenage internet addiction have more psychological problems, and addiction is more likely in those who are depressed, have anger issues, ADHD, or a social phobia because computer addiction has been shown to disrupt nerve pathway “wiring” in the brain. In fact, studies have shown that teens who are addicted to the internet are about 2.5 times more likely to have more anger issues and higher incidences of ADHD. They develop more social phobias because they can retreat into a different “personality” through their avatars, thereby avoiding conventional social interaction at a time when they are usually defining themselves socially.

As a parent, what can you do to help your child avoid teenage internet addiction?

  • Be supportive and involved with your children’s lives. Even though kids will tell you they don’t want to talk about their day or about their disappointments and problems, children inherently want and depend on their parent’s attention and encouragement.
  • Limit your child’s use of the device by locking it up or removing it, if necessary.
  • Cut back on your own internet use. If parents are ignoring their children in favor of online time, children can do as they please and don’t have a good example to follow.
  • To fight child or teenage computer addiction, put the computer in a public place in your home, not in your child’s bedroom. Also, be sure your kids use their cell phones and tablets in a family area.  Remember the good old days, when families had one phone line and kids had to talk to their friends in earshot of everyone in the house?  The computer should be used in the same way today.
  • Seek therapy for teenage computer addiction or anxiety with a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional (parents should also take this action if they notice any other compulsive or dangerous behaviors.)

For more information and help for children’s and teenage internet addiction, and other childhood anxiety disorders, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email him today.

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Fear of the Doctor and of Medical Tests – Get Help in South Florida

We all know someone who may be sicker than a dog and yet still refuses to go to the doctor. Maybe this person hasn’t crossed the threshold of a physician’s office for years, even decades. Other people may have troubling symptoms but they put off doctor visits or medical tests that could help them. While it could be that the person is just being stubborn, often those who refuse to seek medical help are experiencing iatrophobia or fear of the doctor or of medical tests.

Iatrophobic people often ignore symptoms until it is too late: maybe their cold progresses into pneumonia or their troubling symptoms are signs of a serious disease such as diabetes or cancer.

When people who suffer from a fear of medical tests or a fear of the doctor consider seeking medical help, they often experience symptoms such as:

  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of loss of control
  • Nausea and dry mouth
  • Heart palpitations and breathlessness
  • Excessive sweating and shaking
  • Obsessive worry about visiting the doctor or hospital

What are the reasons someone may have a fear of the doctor? Iatrophobia can be the result of many things, among them:

  • Fear of hearing bad news or getting negative results from a medical test or exam
  • Anxiety about catching an illness or disease from someone else in the office or hospital
  • A traumatic event that occurred at the doctor’s office as a child
  • Sights and smells in a hospital or doctor’s office
  • Fear of blood or of claustrophobia (during an MRI, for example)
  • Fear of pain from undergoing a test or examination or from shots and needles
  • Impersonal doctors or staff, making people feel like they are just a “number”

If you suffer from fear of the doctor, have been avoiding medical tests, or haven’t been to a doctor in years, there are several things you can do to help:

  • For a mild case of iatrophobia, try to schedule your appointments early in the morning or late in the day to avoid waiting too long in the reception area. Take a book or something distracting with you to help you relax while waiting. If you have claustrophobia, ask if your MRI can be done using an “open MRI” machine or if the facility uses distractions, such as music, when you are undergoing the procedure. Additionally, it can be helpful to bring a close friend or family member along with you for support.
  • For a more moderate or severe form of iatrophobia, cognitive behavior therapy can help you gain a better understanding of your condition and assist you in finding ways to cope with your fears. This therapy helps you replace negative, inaccurate thoughts with ones that are positive and more realistic.
  • In some cases, in vivo exposure therapy can be used to reduce the triggers that drive a fear of the doctor. This type of therapy helps to redirect the negative signals into positive ones through gradual exposure coupled with relaxation exercises when anxiety levels become too great.
  • If your doctor–based anxiety also includes a fear of the mental health professional who may treat you, know that some therapists offer their services via email, Skype or Facetime, or over the phone. This can be a great way to begin treatment while still remaining in a safe and comfortable environment and recent studies have shown you can achieve the same therapy benefits from online treatment as you can from being physically present in an office setting.
  • In severe cases, medication may be combined with cognitive behavior therapy or other supportive therapies.

Don’t put off examinations and medical tests due to a fear of the doctor any longer! Supportive therapies can make all the difference in your health and wellbeing. For more information, call Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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Fear of Flying – Help in South Florida

Anxiety disorders affect millions of people in the United States. Typically, anxiety disorders are characterized by extreme fear, nervousness, or worry about something specific (for example: fear of public speaking or a fear of social situations). These worries lead the person to avoid specific places or activities. One of the most common fears is a fear of flying, and it is often brought to the forefront in people who suffer from it by media coverage of airplane crashes such as the recent Asiana Airlines disaster in San Francisco.

As with any anxiety, fear of flying (also known as aerophobia or aviophobia) leads people to experience irrational thoughts of the possibility that something will happen when they fly, even though the odds against being hurt or killed in a plane crash are enormous. This fear of flying can be from anxiety over the actual process of flying or can be from a combination of several anxiety components that are not all specific to airplanes. These components can include:

  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia)
  • Worry that you will be sick in front of other passengers if your plane hits turbulence
  • Not being in control
  • Fear of heights
  • Fear of terrorism

Physically and emotionally, the symptoms that come with a fear of flying are similar to those seen in most generalized anxiety disorders. The physical symptoms can include:

  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Being easily startled
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Sweating and nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Shortness of breath or rapid breathing

Emotional symptoms can include:

  • Negative expectancies
  • Impaired memory
  • Poor or clouded judgment
  • Narrowed perceptions

Because flying anxiety can ruin family vacations and make it impossible for business people to travel, it is beneficial to try one of the many effective ways to cope with a fear of flying:

  • Know what to expect: educating yourself to understand the sounds and sensations of flying can help you realize the aircraft will not fall apart during flight
  • Realize that being paralyzed with fear will not make you any safer
  • Avoid watching disaster movies or media coverage about airplane crashes prior to your flight. Keep in mind that, for every plane crash, thousands of other planes make it safely to their destination
  • If you are claustrophobic, choose an aisle seat so you don’t feel closed in
  • Focus on something that can help you relax instead of focusing on your fear. Bring a book, a puzzle book, music, an iPad or tablet with you while you travel. These distractions give you something else to focus on.

If your fear of flying can’t be overcome with one of these techniques, contact a mental health professional. They can help you find relief through:

  • Behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or desensitization, which can help you replace your negative thoughts with positive, realistic ones
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Exposure therapy where people experience simulated flying to help manage their anxiety and overcome their fears
  • Medications

The fear of flying can be debilitating, but it can be treated and overcome. For more information on how you can overcome fear of flying, Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen today.

 

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EMDR Treats Past Traumas and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

We’d all like to think that the world is a nice place; we hope that everything will always be easy for us and for those we love. Unfortunately, the reality of life is that sometimes bad things do occur to people. When traumatic events happen, they can sometimes bring out an emotional response in people that can make the situation or similar situations difficult to cope with. Generally, this response goes away on its own, but when the emotional response becomes a long-term reaction that affects the person’s daily life, we see the beginnings of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
           
Fortunately, there are many therapeutic options available for people who have suffered from an emotional trauma. One such treatment is EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR is a comprehensive approach to psychotherapy that contains elements of several types of therapy, including:

EMDR deals with the past traumatic experience(s) that set the groundwork for the pathology, current situations, and the triggers that bring on negative reactions from the sufferer. EMDR therapy also addresses the positive experiences and beliefs that are needed to enhance the patient’s future mental health and behaviors. EMDR is an 8-phase program primarily based around information processing therapy. The 8 phases include:

  • Phase 1 – This phase is a history-taking session. The client identifies situations that may have led to the trauma and learns skills and behaviors necessary for the rest of the treatment.
  • Phase 2 – This phase focuses on coping methods and on ensuring the client is stable and ready for the rest of the treatment.
  • Phase 3-6 – These phases address external stimulus combined with a focus on the strongest visual memories related to the trauma, on negative beliefs about self, on related emotions, and on body sensations. The client also identifies a preferred positive belief to replace the negative ones.
  • Phase 7 – This is the Closure phase. The client is asked to keep a journal of further negative responses that may occur and works on maintaining the positive skills and behaviors they have learned.
  • Phase 8 – This phase is a re-evaluation of previous work to ensure that all related events, as well as the current and future triggers for trauma-related stress have been addressed.

     
If you or someone you know suffers from a past trauma, EMDR can provide a much shorter recovery time than many therapies of the past. But it requires you to take quick action, before the problem gets worse!

For more information on EMDR treatments for traumas and post-traumatic stress disorder, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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Carcinophobia or Fear of Getting Cancer

You see it everywhere – articles and news reports that feature experts who talk about how they’ve just discovered that a particular environmental factor causes cancer or that exposure to particular sweeteners or preservatives will give you cancer. Additionally, celebrities keep cancer in the public eye by candidly discussing their cancer diagnoses or treatments in magazines and newspapers across the country. Did you ever get the idea that it is almost impossible to walk out the door without coming in contact with something that’s sure to cause a tumor? Even though it is said jokingly, people often remark that everything causes cancer nowadays. It’s no wonder, then, that people are beginning to fear getting cancer before they even develop it.

Carcinophobia, or the fear of getting cancer, typically affects those who have had the disease or have known people afflicted with it. Of course, it’s normal to experience fear of any kind but people with carcinophobia often take their fear to the extreme and when that fear impacts their everyday life it becomes a source for concern.

Of all the phobias that exist, the fear of getting cancer can be one of the most debilitating. Take a fear of heights in comparison: the person afflicted with this fear can avoid heights and continue about their day. But a person who suffers from carcinophobia carries their fear with them. For them, the slightest pain or the appearance of new mole or lump on the body is a guarantee of cancer. What follows is anxiety about everything associated with cancer: the possibility of painful treatments, loss of hair, spreading of the cancer, and death. They’re also bound to worry about how it will impact their personal lives. Who will take care of them while they’re sick? Who will take care of their family and children if they succumb to the disease? These concerns and many others often arise before they’ve even visited a doctor. Eventually, the fear can become so overwhelming that the person may refuse to leave their safe environment and may shun people because they might be “carrying” carcinogens.

The good news is that this fear of getting cancer, like any other phobia, is treatable. Like most things, we often fear what we don’t understand and it can be helpful for the person who is afraid of getting cancer to research the latest advancements in cancer treatment technologies. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help the person become aware of their unreasonable thoughts and fears so they can view the situation more realistically and react in a healthier way. If all else fails, psychological counseling combined with the use of anxiety disorders medications has shown great results in many people.

If you or someone you know suffers from a fear of getting cancer, please seek professional help before it impacts your life. Left untreated, carcinophobia can become a debilitating condition that can affect every aspect of the sufferer’s work, social, and home life.

For more information on carcinophobia and treatment for the fear of getting cancer, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida. They can be reached by calling 561-496-1094 or by emailing Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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Online Agoraphobia Therapy

People with agoraphobia (an irrational fear of being out in public) can have such anxiety about leaving the safety of their home that it may be extremely difficult for them to take part in therapy sessions. And yet, it is very beneficial for them participate in psychotherapy, both alone or with others who suffer from the same condition, so they can become more confident and less fearful. An excellent way to meet the needs of an agoraphobic patient is for them begin online agoraphobia therapy through online chatting, by video on Skype or Facetime, or by receiving counseling through email.

Why Choose Online Agoraphobia Therapy?

  • Online agoraphobia therapy allows the person to get help in the comfort of their own home
  • This type of therapy lets the patient write down their thoughts and feelings without having to formulate them under the pressure of interacting with a therapist who is physically present in the room with them
  • Online agoraphobia treatment eliminates the need to commute for those who are physically disabled or for those who may not have the means to travel to a therapist’s office
  • With agoraphobia online therapy, patients don’t need to mingle with staff or other patients in the therapist’s waiting room
  • If the person is depressed, they may not be motivated to leave the house for treatment. Online agoraphobia therapy makes it much more convenient for these patients to get help
  • Online agoraphobia treatment allows the patient to feel more in control of the therapy session and the healing process
  • Online or email counseling can be very useful for those who do not have privacy and lets them get help if they have limited time
  • Recent studies have shown that patients can achieve the same therapy benefits from online treatment as they can from being physically present in an office setting

Online agoraphobia therapy can be a great way to begin treatment while still remaining in a safe and comfortable environment. It’s also an excellent supplemental therapy service for those who are coming in for office visits. The computer-provided “barrier” helps patients feel secure and protected until they gain self-confidence and are ready to experience therapy in a more traditional setting.

For more information about online agoraphobia therapy, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

 

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Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Overcoming Chronic Anxiety

Have you ever had to make a difficult decision, taken a test, or been faced with a challenging situation? If so, chances are you’ve experienced stress or anxiety symptoms, even if it was just for a brief period of time. The truth is that most of us have experienced something stressful at one point or another but only a handful of us are so impacted by that stress that it turns into a pattern of chronic anxiety and becomes a detriment to our normal lives. When the amount of stress you’re experiencing moves beyond your ability to cope with it, you may suffer from physical or emotional anxiety symptoms, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Frequent illness or accidents
  • High blood pressure
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Chronic pain
  • Heart disease

If you’ve found yourself experiencing chronic anxiety at this level it might be beneficial to speak with your doctor about Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Similar to cognitive behavior therapy, this program is typically taught in a structured 8-week curriculum, and has been adapted from Buddhist principles which encourage you to use mindfulness exercises to focus on anxiety symptoms and sensations so you can learn how to stop reacting to them.

At the end of the day, anxiety is simply your response to a particular stimulus and anxiety symptoms are the physical response to the stimulus. When stress occurs on a regular basis and produces chronic anxiety it’s because you’ve fallen into a habit of responding in a particular way to that specific stimulus. However, in all cases, there is a moment of choice between a stressful event and our individual reaction to it. Mindfulness and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is a way of consciously and systematically eliminating your negative reaction to make your anxiety disappear.

People who have participated in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction courses often find themselves experiencing greater overall happiness. Other benefits can include:

  • Lasting decreases in physical and psychological anxiety symptoms
  • Increased clarity and balance
  • Ability to cope with stressful situations without falling back into chronic anxiety patterns
  • A deeper understanding of how your thoughts and emotions interact
  • A more refined sensory awareness
  • Decreased suffering from physical and mental difficulties
  • A heightened appreciation of life

We all have to deal with stress and anxiety at some point. But imagine if you could understand how to control that stress and wipe it away when it rears its ugly head. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction can help you do just that.

If you or someone you know could benefit from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction or other anxiety therapy, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

 

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