All Posts Tagged: anxiety symptoms

Separation Anxiety and School Refusal

The summer is waning – it’s almost time for autumn to roll around again, which means school will be starting soon. While most children look forward to this time so they can see their friends and enjoy various school activities, this can be a period of major anxiety for some school-aged children. These kids are extremely unwilling to leave home or be away from major attachment figures such as parents, grandparents, or older siblings. The beginning of the new school year is often seen as a threat to them, resulting in elevated anxiety levels and possible school-related disorders, such as separation anxiety disorder and school refusal.

In some cases the separation anxiety and school refusal follow an infection or illness or can come after an emotional trauma such as a move to another neighborhood or the death of a loved one. The anxiety generally occurs after the child has spent an extended time with their parent or loved one, perhaps over summer break or a long vacation.

Anxiety Definition

A teen or child is said to be suffering from a separation anxiety disorder if they show excessive anxiety related to the separation from a parent or caregiver or from their home, or if they exhibit an inappropriate anxiety about this separation as related to their age or stage of development. School refusal and separation anxiety are not the same: school refusal is not an “actual” diagnosis, instead it is a result of the child or teen having a separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, or social phobia, among other diagnoses.

Separation Anxiety Physical Symptoms

Children with separation anxiety have symptoms which can include:

  • Excessive worry about potential harm befalling oneself or one’s caregiver
  • Demonstrating clingy behavior
  • Avoiding activities that may result in separation from parents
  • Fearing to be alone in a room or needing to see a parent at all times
  • Difficulty going to sleep, fear of the dark, and/or nightmares
  • Trembling
  • Headaches
  • Stomachaches and/or nausea
  • Vomiting

A child who exhibits three or more of these symptoms for more than four weeks is likely to be suffering from a separation anxiety disorder.

Treatment for School Refusal and Separation Anxiety

When treating a child with separation anxiety and school refusal, therapists try to help the child learn to identify and change their anxious thoughts. They teach coping mechanisms that will help the child respond less fearfully to the situations that produce their anxiety. This can be done through role-playing or by modeling the appropriate behavior for the child to see. Medication is sometimes appropriate in severe cases of separation anxiety. Additionally, the therapist encourages child to use positive self-talk and parents help with this therapy by actively reinforcing positive behaviors and rewarding their child’s successes.

Have Questions? Need Help?

To get more information and help for child anxiety, separation anxiety and school refusal, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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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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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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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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