All Posts in Category: General Anxiety

Alcohol and Holiday Anxiety

Everywhere you look holiday decorations are being strung: wreaths, Christmas trees, and twinkling lights grace windows, doorways and storefronts. You can watch your favorite holiday classics on television and listen to beloved songs and music on the radio. But along with the smooth swells of Christmas tunes, holiday anxiety brings more opportunities and reasons to down alcoholic beverages, such as a cold beer or glass of wine.

To add to the holiday anxiety, it’s not unusual for the number of parties and other social events to double or triple during this time of year. This usually means an increase in the consumption of alcoholic beverages as well, especially for those people who are trying to cope with stress. In social situations like office parties or neighborhood gatherings, people may feel as if they’re being judged by others or may be anxious to others give a good impression of themselves. With these concerns heightening their nerves, it’s not surprising that many people think a quick gulp of wine will ease their social anxiety and loosen their inhibitions. And, in addition to contending with social functions, the stress of dealing with hordes of shoppers and budgeting concerns can only exacerbate holiday anxiety, making it easier to reach for alcoholic beverages.

Also, let’s not forget those of us who may be having a harder-than-normal holiday season. Although Christmas is known for being one of the happiest times of the year, it is also one of the most stress-filled and saddest times of the year. For some people, it can be overwhelming to try to fulfill gift expectations after having been laid off from a job earlier in the year. Others may be facing the emotional pain of the first holiday season since the passing of a loved one or as a newly divorced or newly single person. As a result, many people turn to alcohol as a way to numb their pain and depression. For someone experiencing holiday anxiety in addition to this turmoil, alcoholic beverages, stress and fear can be a wicked combination.

The problem with turning to alcohol in these situations is that alcohol is not a long-term solution. In fact, when holiday anxiety is combined with alcohol use, the risks of developing a dependency on alcohol are even greater than normal. Research shows that alcohol reduces the brain’s ability to cope with anxiety, which, in turn, makes people want more alcohol to dull their anxiety symptoms. Then, when the person decides to stop drinking, alcohol withdrawal symptoms may increase their stress levels, making it harder to break that habit of reaching for alcoholic beverages.

This is why it’s so important to seek treatment if you’re experiencing holiday anxiety. Pursuing the correct form of treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, can make all the difference in getting you back to experiencing the joys of a normal holiday season. For more information on coping with holiday anxiety, 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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Is It Stress or Is It Anxiety?

Remember that major test in school you weren’t prepared for? Or the nerves that rattled you as you heard the news on that big promotion? Stress and anxiety are very common parts of people’s lives. We have all experienced them at one point or another, we all handle them differently, and most of us throw both terms about as if they are interchangeable. They’re not. Knowing the difference between stress and anxiety can be the first step towards relieving yourself of either one.
           
Is It Stress or Is It Anxiety?

Stress and anxiety symptoms can be somewhat similar: both can leave you tense and give you a pounding heart or a nervous stomach. However, identifying whether your problem is caused by stress or anxiety can be done by considering a few simple points:

  • Is there a recognizable cause? Stress is tied to a specific item, place, person, or situation whereas anxiety has no identifiable root. This is also what makes it a legitimate mental disorder.
  • How long has it affected you? Since stress is tied to something specific, the removal of that thing typically eliminates the stress. Stress could last for as short a time as a day or a week. Anxiety symptoms, on the other hand, must occur for at least six months before the condition can be diagnosed as such.
  • How has it affected your life? While stress can negatively impact someone’s life, it doesn’t have as much long-term effect as anxiety can. In fact, those who suffer from anxiety often find elements of their everyday life changing as they struggle to cope with their condition.

But when does "normal anxiety" morph into an anxiety disorder? Normal anxiety occurs in realistic situations. For example, being embarrassed in a social gathering may make you nervous about doing something embarassing at other events so when you are in another social setting, your anxiety spikes and you act more reserved.

Anxiety disorders, on the other hand, trigger unrealistic avoidance responses that alter how you conduct your everyday life. In this case, being embarrassed in a social gathering may make you totally avoid any kind of social gathering, which would dramatically impact your life. And, even though avoiding the situations that make you anxious can provide short term relief, the anxiety keeps coming back and can expand from the initial event to other situations.

The most important thing to remember about stress, anxiety, or anxiety disorders, however, is that they do have one thing in common: there is help available to resolve them.

If you are wondering "is it stress or is it anxiety?", we can help! Contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida. You can reach us by calling 561-496-1094 or by emailing Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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Don’t Let Travel Anxiety Ruin Your Vacation!

Vacations offer the chance to relax and escape the normal pressures of work and responsibility. They can be opportunities to explore, try new things, or catch up with old friends. But for some people, travel can be a source of extreme anxiety that leads to shakiness, difficulty breathing, and heart palpitations.

What is Travel Anxiety?

Travel anxiety and the fear of traveling has been recognized as an official (simple) phobia by the American Psychiatric Association. There are lots of situations that can lead a person to experience travel-related anxiety. Some of these examples might include:

  • Worry about being injured during travel
  • The possibility of lost luggage
  • The unfamiliarity of a strange destination

Ultimately what all these examples lead to is a fear of losing control. Travel presents unfamiliar situations, which is unnerving for many people.

How Can You Ease Travel Anxiety?

Successful travel is achieved by identifying what these anxiety-inducing triggers are for you. If you suffer from travel anxiety, take time before your trip to make a list of all the concerns you have. Then, go through the list one-by-one and create a solution for each trigger. Some examples, based on the earlier list, might include:

  • Looking up hospitals and emergency information at your destination in case an injury occurs.
  • Saving extra money in case your luggage is lost and new clothes need to be purchased. Consider sending important items through the mail instead of carrying them in your luggage.
  • Researching your destination. Where are you going while you’re there? How will you get to each place? Where will you eat while you’re out? Planning ahead will make the destination easier to navigate.

Ongoing therapy sessions can also help change your response to an anxious situation. In some cases, depending on the severity of your anxiety, your doctor may suggest medication, sedatives, or antidepressants to use during travel.

Otherwise, give yourself permission to have an imperfect trip. For so many people the image of that perfect vacation is what fuels their anxiety. Recognizing that your vacation may not go perfectly sets you up for success.

For more information on travel anxiety or to get help with this and other phobias, 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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IBS and Anxiety – Treatment in South Florida

Gastrointestinal illnesses, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), have been known to affect as many as 55 million Americans a year. IBS is a common condition that impacts the large intestine. Like many other gastrointestinal illnesses, IBS may cause:

  • Cramping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation.

In some cases, IBS or other gastrointestinal illnesses can be caused by a parasite (think of the “Traveler’s Diarrhea” that some people pick up on vacation) or as a result of having an ailment such as food poisoning. Often, however, there are no physical abnormalities causing these symptoms. Instead, this condition can be triggered by a combination of lifestyle and behavioral factors such as being under intense stress, having an unhealthy diet, or having problems sleeping.

Anyone who has suffered from this condition or knows someone who has dealt with it knows that IBS can be an extreme source of stress. It is because of this that it is becoming more and more obvious that ther is a link between IBS and anxiety. In fact, anxiety or depression has been found in between 40% and 60% of patients who seek treatment for IBS. It seems the two conditions form a catch-22 of symptoms. Those who suffer from IBS and other gastrointestinal illnesses are also likely to suffer from anxiety due to the nature of their symptoms. On the other hand, people who suffer from anxiety often exhibit symptoms similar to those of IBS:

  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Excessive gas
  • Frequent trips to the restroom

Despite research, it is hard to determine which condition comes first: does IBS cause anxiety or does anxiety cause IBS? Experts lean toward anxiety being the trigger for IBS and more specifically that panic disorders and generalized anxiety disorders are the chief instigators. Severe IBS and anxiety can combine together into something very similar to a generalized anxiety disorder.

Fortunately there is treatment for both IBS and anxiety. For many people the first goal should be to determine which of these conditions is their primary concern. Speaking with your doctor and zeroing in on when the symptoms began can go a long way in determining the appropriate treatment program. If anxiety is the problem, your doctor may work with you to determine the source of your anxiety. Treating the anxiety through cognitive behavior therapy or with the help of medications will reduce the symptoms that mirror those of IBS. If a gastrointestinal illness is the concern, your physician may help you identify the foods or lifestyle factors that are causing your symptoms. Reducing the symptoms will, in turn, reduce your anxiety.

For more information on gastrointestinal illnesses and stress or IBS and anxiety, 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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Help For Insomnia/Anxiety Sleep Disorder – Relief in South Florida

Insomnia is the result of those agonizing nights when we restlessly toss and turn because something weighs heavily on our minds. Because we have all “been there”, it should come as no surprise that there is a well-known connection between anxiety and insomnia. The two conditions are often linked together in a catch-22 style that can make life more than difficult for the person who is affected.

To fully appreciate how insomnia and anxiety can result in a sleep anxiety disorder, one needs to understand the different levels of insomnia. Insomnia is the inability to sleep adequately for extended periods of time when one desires to do so. It is characterized by three different levels: early, middle, and late insomnia.

Early insomnia exists when someone consistently has trouble falling asleep. This often occurs because of anxious thoughts that cause the person’s mind to continuously work over their concerns. Early insomnia is what you experience when you stress over upcoming tests or family disputes.

Middle insomnia causes a person to frequently wake throughout the night. Middle insomnia is the culprit when you awaken to a nagging thought, and then stare at the ceiling, seemingly forever, while trying to fall back to sleep. The resulting rise in your stress level keeps you wide awake.

Late insomnia, on the other hand, occurs when a person often wakes up earlier than they intended. No matter how tired they are, they awaken long before the alarm goes off. As in middle insomnia, stress keeps you from falling back to sleep.

Both of these last two levels happen when a person is flooded with anxious thoughts the moment they open their eyes. This anxiety produces other physiological responses, such as a quickened heart beat and a sense of restlessness, thereby increasing the insomnia at the same time and setting a vicious cycle in motion.

By now it should be a little more obvious how insomnia and anxiety often go hand-in-hand. In fact, insomnia is one of the most common symptoms mental health professionals look for when diagnosing a generalized anxiety disorder. The more anxious a person is the more likely it is they will experience some form of insomnia. It follows then, that the more insomnia the person deals with, the more likely it is that their anxiety will rise.

The good news is that insomnia and sleep anxiety disorder can very often be treated successfully. For more information, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen today.

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Overcome Holiday Anxiety – Tips For a Happy South Florida Holiday Season

The holidays are coming up and this time of year can be one of the most joyous, but also the most stressful. The demands that arise around the holidays can be overwhelming to say the least. There’s pressure to make unexpected guests feel welcome, to throw perfect parties, and to buy the ideal gifts for friends and loved ones. Then there is the baking, cleaning, and entertaining that happens during the holiday season more than at any other time of the year. But the holidays don’t have to be all work and stress and don’t have to be depressing.

There are a few simple tricks you can use to overcome holiday anxiety:

  • Allow yourself some “me” time. It’s easy to feel like this time of year is all about everyone else. But, taking a night to relax and do the things that you want to do or taking even just a few minutes for yourself can rejuvenate your entire outlook.
  • Keep your healthy habits. Many people sacrifice their workouts and healthy recipes during the holidays because there are so many parties and other demands on their time. Overindulgence adds to your stress and guilt. In addition, the familiarity of old habits can help lower your stress level and help you better deal with holiday anxiety.
  • Stick to a budget. When the bill comes after you’ve bought all your gifts and it’s higher than you realized, holiday stress can shoot through the roof. Maintaining a realistic budget gives you one less thing to worry about.
  • Plan ahead. With all the gifts to buy and parties to attend or throw, your to-do list at this time of year will be higher than usual. There’s nothing more stressful than having guests over and realizing at the last minute that you forgot something you need. Planning ahead will help you stay on track and will help combat holiday anxiety.
  • Be realistic. A party you give doesn’t have to be perfect. People will still have a good time even if a few things go wrong. Remind yourself of this when your anxiety level rises.

When in doubt, it never hurts to seek professional help. If you find yourself persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, becoming restless, irritable, or hopeless, these could be signs that there is something heavier weighing on you than the typical anxiety one feels during the holidays.

For more information and tips to help you overcome holiday anxiety, 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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Death Anxiety Disorder – Help in South Florida for Fear of Dying

The fear of dying, also known as death anxiety or thanatophobia, is much more prevalent than many of us may think. The concept of death – when it will occur and what happens afterward – is an unknown and we often fear what we don’t know.

It is important to understand the difference between everyday worrying and a full-blown death anxiety disorder. Throughout our lives, most of us will think of death at one time or another. For example, it may dwell in our minds as we age or when the death of a loved one occurs. However, this concern becomes classified as thanatophobia only when a person worries so often that it begins to affect their everyday lives. With this syndrome, every pain or unusual feeling becomes a warning sign for impending death.

For example:

  • A simple headache may lead to thoughts of brain tumors.
  • Chest pains may be considered signs of heart attack or heart failure.
  • The mildest sickness can suggest that death is right around the corner.

People who experience a fear of dying feel that each passing minute is reducing their life span bit by bit. To make things worse, this condition has the tendency to be communicable. Many people are too discouraged to spend time with someone who suffers from death anxiety but those who do may find themselves falling into the same line of thinking. It is easy for groups of thanatophobics to form and exacerbate the anxiety.

How do you know if you may be suffering from a fear of death? When a victim of death anxiety disorder considers their own mortality they may experience a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Feeling faint
  • Intense sweating
  • Queasiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Shaking limbs
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • An inability to speak or think clearly
  • Constant panic attacks
  • Uncontrollable nerves

The fear of death is a debilitating condition that can seriously deplete the joy in one’s life. People with this condition spend so much time worrying about their impending death that they rarely enjoy themselves in anything they do. If you or someone you know suffers from death anxiety disorder, seeking help is very important and will be extremely beneficial.

For more information to help you cope with a death anxiety disorder in the Boca Raton area, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email him today.

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Help For Chronic Worry Disorder

By the time most of us reach adulthood we understand that worrying is simply a part of life. We all go through stressful times at one point or another and it is natural to be concerned about the outcome of those events. However, for many people, worrying becomes a chronic condition that affects their life on multiple levels. For these people, it is important to understand the characteristics of Chronic Worry Disorder and how they can seek relief from their concerns.

Chronic Worry Disorder is a symptom of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. This high level of concern develops in individuals who feel the need to be hyper-vigilant with regard to their lives and those of their friends and family. They often feel that if they worry enough about important issues or fears they can prevent those concerns from coming to fruition. The problem is that most of their worries revolve around issues that they have no control over; in other words, unproductive concerns.

The amount of worrying involved and that lack of control can lead to other psychiatric disorders, such as:

  • Panic Disorder
  • Depression

Chronic Worry Disorder can also lead to physical concerns, such as:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Aches
  • Pains

But how can you tell if your worry has become disproportionate and unreasonable? You should be concerned if you:

  • Consistently worry about future failures, dangers, or other types of negative outcomes
  • Repeatedly run through the same concerns over and over again in your mind
  • Attempt to stop worrying by anxiously avoiding certain situations
  • Become paralyzed with worry and are unable to focus on constructive solutions to your problems.

The good news is there are many effective treatments to help rid you of your chronic worrying. Some suggested treatments include psychotherapy and relaxation techniques. Oftentimes, your doctor may suggest specialized coping techniques and cognitive behavior therapy to help you learn ways to train your brain away from unproductive concern. In some cases, medication is used in conjunction with psychotherapy. With so many ways to treat this condition, there’s no reason to not seek help and take a step toward gaining your life back.

For more information about Chronic Worry Disorder and therapy for the condition in the Delray Beach, Florida area, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email him today.

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Mindfulness Therapy Can Help With Anxiety Disorders

In today’s stress-ridden world, more than 19 million Americans are affected by anxiety disorders. The tension they feel at work, during tests, or in social situations has become irrational and excessive to the point that anxiety disables them in their everyday lives. For most, anxiety disorder introduces an overwhelming loss of control over their thoughts and emotions.

There are several possible treatments for anxiety disorder, but one that is gaining popularity is the concept of mindfulness therapy. Mindfulness, with its roots in Buddhist philosophy, encourages a complete commitment to the present moment.

In the majority of cases, anxiety disorder develops as a result of a past incident. For example, if a person was bitten by a dog as a child, they may become anxious around dogs or animals of all kinds. Through mindfulness therapy, however, that person learns to stop using that past experience to inform their present.

There are seven important elements of the mindfulness attitude:

  • Non-judging – Becoming an impartial observer without making a positive or negative evaluation of what is happening.
  • Patience – Cultivating the understanding that everything must develop in its own time.
  • Beginner’s Mind –The willingness to observe the world with an open mind – as if it were your first time doing so.
  • Trust – Having trust in yourself, your intuition, and your abilities.
  • Non-Striving – The state of not doing anything toward a particular purpose. This can be especially difficult for people in Western cultures, as it requires accepting that things happen in the moment just as they are supposed to.
  • Acceptance – Acknowledging the thoughts, feelings, sensations, and beliefs you have and understanding that they are those things only; they can’t affect your immediate experience without your permission.
  • Non-Attachment – Refusing to attach meaning to thoughts and emotions. Instead, let feelings or thoughts come and go without connecting them to anything.

It can take time to develop a true mindfulness attitude but the reward is that you will have more control over your own life. For the people who suffer from anxiety disorder, this can mean a dramatic change in their everyday lives.

For more information about mindfulness therapy in Boca Raton, Florida, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and the anxiety disorder specialists at the Center For Treatment of Anxiety Disorders at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen today.

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South Florida Anxiety Therapist Offers Anxiety and Substance Abuse Information

In today’s stress-filled world, anxiety disorders are on the rise, with over 19 million Americans affected. There are many types of anxiety disorders but when alcohol and substance abuse gets thrown into the mix, these conditions become even more complicated. Alcohol and substance abuse fuels anxiety disorders that are already present. In addition, people with anxiety disorders are two to three times more likely to have an alcohol and substance abuse disorder. In fact, the more one looks at the issue, the more obvious it is that a vicious cycle exists between anxiety and substance abuse.
           
When considering the anxiety and substance abuse cycle it can often be difficult to determine which comes first, the anxiety disorder or the alcohol and substance abuse. Some examples that are frequently seen include:

  • Social anxiety disorder leading to alcohol abuse: a person with social anxiety disorder typically feels nervous and uncomfortable in even the most common social situations. They often turn to alcohol to lessen their anxiety.
  • Post traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse occuring together: terrible dreams and hallucinations are often associated with post traumatic stress and a variety of substances. As a result, using certain substances – especially illegal ones – can increase the feelings associated with traumatic experiences, leading to the official disorder. Likewise, post traumatic stress can lead a person to drugs as a way to escape their condition.
  • Alcohol or drugs causing panic disorder: alcohol and drug-induced states can lead some people to hallucinations or experiences that cause panic attacks. As panic attacks occur more often the person develops panic disorder, or the constant anxiety or fear that they will experience a panic attack.

When alcohol and substance abuse occur with an anxiety disorder, treatment can be tricky. Treating the substance abuse will not cure the anxiety disorder or vice-versa, so it is best to treat the anxiety and substance abuse simultaneously. This is especially effective in helping to prevent a relapse. Therapy generally consists of cognitive behavior therapy, which helps the person identify, understand, and change their thinking and behavior patterns. Since medication can be a common part of anxiety disorder treatment, it must be approached carefully in order to avoid aggravating the substance abuse disorder and any chemical interactions that could occur as a result of that condition. If medicine is indicated, most doctors will prescribe medications with low abuse potential.

For more information about anxiety and substance abuse disorder and treatment in the Delray Beach, Florida area, contact South Florida anxiety therapist Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email him today.

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