All Posts Tagged: broward county

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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Obsessive and Intrusive Thoughts Often Increase After Shooting Tragedies Says South Florida Mental Health Expert

In recent weeks, we have all heard about the terrible shootings happening across America; first, the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado, and then the Sikh temple shooting near Milwaukee. These incidents affect everyone substantially but they can have a severe impact on people who suffer from obsessive and intrusive thoughts as a result of an anxiety disorder.
           
Obsessive intrusive thoughts are one of the most common symptoms of anxiety disorders, and they can be increased dramatically by these types of stories. They are recurring scary, invasive notions and/or images that can be paralyzing and unrelenting. The more they occur, the more the person thinks about them, which further cements them into their psyche.
           
There are three types of obsessive intrusive thoughts:

  • Blasphemous religious thoughts revolve around concepts that are considered particularly sinful to the person thinking them
  • Inappropriate sexual thoughts or images can involve intimate actions with strangers, family, friends, or any number of other people
  • Catastrophic thoughts or violent obsessions involve visions/thoughts about harming others or oneself

It is the last of these that can easily be stirred up when a violent act such as a mass shooting occurs and is widely broadcast over the news channels. With 24/7 news stations continuously relating stories about the killer’s state of mind both before and after the event, it’s easy for victims of catastrophic intrusive thoughts to wonder if they could follow that same path. Each time the thought occurs, they may believe themselves more and more likely to follow the compulsion. These thoughts can be so powerful that the person may eventually cut themselves off from friends and family out of a fear for their loved one’s safety.

The good news is that there is help available to stop these intrusive thoughts, and for all anxiety disorders, in general. Your mental health professional may suggest exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or in some cases, medication. If you or someone you know is suffering from catastrophic intrusive thoughts, please seek help and get on the path of returning to a normal life.

For more information about obsessive and intrusive thoughts, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or about anxiety disorders, 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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HOCD – Homosexual OCD or the Fear of Being Gay

Homosexual Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (HOCD) is categorized by intrusive thoughts revolving around one’s sexual orientation. People with HOCD suffer through uncontrollable and unwanted intrusive thoughts and images that leave them in a state of fear and anxiety about whether they are truly straight.

A person suffering from this sub-type of OCD constantly doubts their sexual orientation:

  • A straight person worries whether they might actually be gay even though they haven’t doubted their sexual orientation in the past
  • They might worry that homosexuality is “catching”
  • They may think that talking with a gay person will make them act out by triggering their own latent homosexual tendencies

People with HOCD can be affected enough by their intrusive thoughts that they quit jobs, make dramatic life changes, or end relationships in order to avoid triggering their symptoms. Sometimes, HOCD sufferers are so sure they are gay that they actually “out” themselves and begin homosexual relationships. Where a truly gay person obtains happiness and relief in the act of revealing their homosexual orientation, HOCD people who “come out” continue to doubt their sexuality.

As with traditional OCD, people who are affected by this internalized homophobia engage in rituals to help them alleviate their anxiety and prove to themselves that they are truly straight. When around lesbians or gay men, they might check their bodies for arousal or question if they are attracted to the person. People with HOCD may also keep up a running mental dialogue or obsess over past sexual encounters in an effort to convince themselves that they are straight. They might also perform washing rituals if they are around a gay person, may act overtly to assure themselves of their sexual orientation, or may even blatantly act out against gay people in order to prove they are straight. Additionally, HOCD sufferers might avoid physical contact or being alone with gay people and may even carry this behavior into shunning same-sex public restrooms or not eating in public in case the food was prepared by a gay person.

Treatment for HOCD Symptoms

As with other Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (which asks the patient to face the situations that trigger their obsessions) can help with HOCD.  During therapy sessions the patient faces the situations that trigger their obsessions in order to learn how to deal with their internalized homophobia and reduce their fixation. In addition, certain medications are helpful in reducing the symptoms of OCD and HOCD.

Additionally, since HOCD is rather new, there is little research literature that specifically applies to this sub-disorder of OCD. Therefore, it is imperative that the mental health professional an HOCD sufferer consults with recognizes HOCD as a true anxiety disorder. If they don’t, they may counsel the person to help them accept their homosexuality which will only aggravate the person’s HOCD symptoms.

For more information and help with HOCD and HOCD symptoms in the Delray Beach, FL area, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email him today.

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Getting Divorced? Coping With Divorce Anxiety

Sadly, divorce has become a common aspect of American culture. With more couples divorcing on a regular basis, there are plenty of test studies to support the U.S. Surgeon General’s claim that 30-40% of those undergoing divorce experience a significant increase in the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
           
It makes sense if you think about it. Any kind of life change has the potential to create anxiety, but getting divorced has its own special mix of problems. For many, the circumstances leading to divorce create low self-esteem and intense insecurity. Either party might question if they’ll ever find another relationship. If one party stayed home instead of working during the marriage, the divorce can lead to anxiety over how they’ll support themselves. If there are children involved, separation anxiety could become a factor, as well.
           
These divorce anxiety issues often lead to strong symptoms of panic:

  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Chest pain
  • Shaking
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy

One of the best ways you can help yourself get through divorce anxiety is to seek professional help. A mental health professional will help guide you through recognizing your fears and anxieties and rebuilding your self-esteem. Other ways you can help yourself through this transition include:

  • Allowing yourself to mourn. It’s perfectly normal to feel sad and upset through a change like this. Hiding from it never helps. Instead, embrace your feelings and allow yourself to express them.
  • Developing a strong support team. Talking about your emotions is a crucial part of working through your divorce. You need people around you who are willing to listen.
  • Expanding your social network. The sooner you embrace a social life, the sooner you’ll be able to imagine your life without that other person.
  • Being patient. Moving on will not happen overnight, but it will happen.
  • Practicing stress management. What works for you? Is it keeping a diary? Running? Meditation or yoga? Find your niche and use it.

If you or someone you know is getting divorced and going through divorce anxiety, seeking help can only make the transition easier. For more information, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email him 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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Pet Therapy Benefits for Depression and Anxiety

Pet owners around the world can attest to the many emotional benefits they receive from their furry companions. Get dog owners talking about their pets and they’ll tell you how the hardest days can be eased by petting their pooch. It’s no surprise, then, that the therapeutic quality of animals have been noted by the medical community. In fact, more and more studies are showing the benefits of pet therapy and how animal companionship can have a great impact on people suffering from depression or anxiety.
           
Depression is a severe mood disorder characterized by prolonged periods of:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Appetite changes
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Thoughts of death and suicide

Having animal companionship gives victims of depression something external to focus on. A pet creates a sense of purpose, provides structure to their owner’s day, and invokes responsibility that can help draw owners out of their depression symptoms.

Pet therapy benefits are known to be especially great for older people who suffer from depression and anxiety. As people age, they have the tendency to become more lonely and bored. Over time they may begin to feel insignificant and become unwilling to engage in new experiences. Pet ownership offers the potential to change all that. Walking a dog, for example, offers a greater chance for socialization and less isolation and research has shown that seniors who own dogs go to the doctor less frequently than those who don’t. Additionally, tests show that humans and dogs alike experience massive releases of beneficial hormones within minutes of interaction with each other.

Dogs have a natural ability to love and comfort their owners with a complete lack of prejudice or rejection and this is something that is of vital importance to depression or anxiety sufferers of any age. The truth is, however, that all sorts of animals can help treat the symptoms of depression. You may be surprised to learn that all of the following animals have been noted for their therapeutic qualities:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Birds
  • Horses
  • Dolphins
  • Small animals, such as guinea pigs or ferrets
  • Fish
  • Reptiles

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression and feel as if pet ownership and animal-assisted therapy could be a step in the right direction, speak with your doctor or mental health professional for help with pairing with the right type of pet based on your therapeutic needs.

For more information on the benefits of pet therapy for depression or anxiety, 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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Video Gaming Addiction – Could It Be Affecting You?

For years, the effect of video games on children has been a source of concern for parents. Some parents worry that violent games will incite violence in their children. Some worry about their children missing out on the joy of sports in lieu of their game playing. Some even worry their children will become addicted to playing video games.

While there may be grounds for concern in any of these areas, one aspect that has proven to be valid is that it is possible for both children and adults to become addicted to video games and that social anxiety disorder and depression can become a direct result of gaming addiction.

To be considered a pathological gamer, a person has to experience impairment to several areas of their lives as a result of the time spent playing. The affected areas could include experiencing problems with:

  • school
  • social relationships
  • family relationships
  • occupational functioning (work issues)
  • psychological functioning

Mental health professionals know that approximately 7-11% of gamers can be considered pathological gamers. People who average 31 hours or more a week of video game play are categorized as obsessed or addicted.

In studying this phenomenon, researchers have discovered key facts regarding the relationship between addictive game playing and social anxiety. To begin with, people with lower social competence and impulsivity are more likely to become addicted to video games. Video games, especially online games, offer them a way to interact with others socially without having to make themselves vulnerable through face-to-face relations. In addition, video games are designed with attainable rewards. For someone who feels uncomfortable in a social setting, video games may provide a sense of success and belonging that they don’t find in the real world.

For people with online gaming addiction, depression, anxiety, and social phobias seem to be predictable outcomes. Research has shown that as people become more addicted to games, their anxiety and depression worsens. Conversely, when they stop playing video games, as their video gaming addiction improves, their depression also significantly improves. Like any addiction, withdrawal symptoms from gaming addiction can include anger, verbal abuse of others, sleep disturbances, fear and anxiety, crying, mood swings, and a desire to go back to gaming and try to control the time played.

If you or someone you know is has developed an addiction to video games, it’s important to seek help. Treatment is available and with help it’s possible to alleviate both the addiction and its accompanying anxiety. For more information, and gaming addiction treatment, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email him 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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Menopause and Anxiety Attacks Often Go Hand in Hand

All women will eventually go through menopause. It’s unavoidable but that doesn’t mean one can’t educate themselves enough to be prepared for its effects. Knowing how to handle the symptoms of menopause can make it easier to transition into this part of life. Since anxiety is one of the primary symptoms of menopause it’s important to understand how the two coincide.
           
Most women who have experienced menopause can tell you that hot flashes are perhaps the most troublesome symptom they encounter. Unfortunately, anxiety has the tendency of increasing hot flashes. In fact, according to research, women with a heightened state of anxiety have reported nearly five times as many hot flashes as women with less anxiety. This occurs because menopause creates hormone imbalances that can produce an environment where you are more susceptible to anxiety disorders.
           
Some anxiety symptoms to watch out for are:

  • Shaking
  • Fullness in the throat and chest
  • Breathlessness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Excessive worrying
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feelings of sadness

Fortunately there are often simple solutions to menopause anxiety attacks . If you find yourself experiencing a good number of these symptoms try one of the following:

  • Talk to your doctor. He or she can make sure your anxiety is not due to some other factor such as illness or poor overall health.
  • Find ways to relax. Oftentimes something that helps you find your center can chase away symptoms of anxiety. Some suggestions include practicing yoga, reading an interesting book, having a lazy day on the couch, or going on a run.
  • Get plenty of exercise. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain. Since endorphins are often referred to as the “happy chemical” you can see why getting your heart rate up could help ease menopause stress.
  • Consider hormone replacement therapy to help restore some of the hormones lost during menopause.
  • Medical options can be considered if the prior solutions for menopause panic attacks are not effective. Speaking with a trained psychological professional is often a good idea. They offer many options, ranging from psychotherapy for anxiety management to anxiety medications. Anxiety medications are often a last resort but they can be highly effective if nothing else has worked.

Transitioning into menopause and dealing with it on a regular basis is hard enough. Don’t let anxiety add to the struggle. For more information on how menopause and anxiety attacks go hand in hand, 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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The Effects of School Bullying

It seems like we hear of another bullying-related suicide almost weekly and with the unfortunate increase in suicides, people are becoming more aware of how big of a problem bullying has become. Fortunately, this means programs are being put into place to decrease occurrences, however, this type of harassment still happens quite often so it’s important to understand the effects of school bullying on your child.

Bullying is:

  • The use of power to control or harm someone who either can’t defend themselves or who may have a hard time doing so
  • The goal of causing harm
  • The same person or same group of people harassing the same person repeatedly

Those children who are most at risk of being bullied are those who are less popular than others, who have low self-esteem, have few friends, and are depressed or anxious. The children who tend to be bullies are those with social power who like to dominate others and are concerned about their popularity. In addition, bullies often also have low self-esteem, are aggressive, and tend to be impulsive and easily pressured by their peers.

There are several types of bullying, but the most prominent in-school bullying is social bullying, which includes:

  • Targeting a person’s social status to tear it down
  • Shunning a person
  • Damaging a person’s reputation by spreading rumors
  • Excluding a person from social activities

With the rise of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and texting, the problems of school bullying have also risen to high-tech levels. When a bully is no longer forced to face their victim and has the protection of anonymity it’s much easier to shed any sense of empathy they have and to post embarrassing or humiliating videos, pictures, or comments about the person they’re targeting.

The effects of school bullying can lead to childhood anxiety disorders and depression that often continues into adulthood. A person who was bullied in school is more likely to allow themselves to be harassed in the workplace when they get older. Over time they begin to believe what bullies say about them and they start to avoid interactions and situations that could actually be positive. Oftentimes the anxiety they feel will manifest itself physically, by means of:

  • Headaches
  • Stomach aches
  • Aches or pains throughout the body
  • Weight loss
  • Sleeplessness

Fortunately, there is help for the victims of bullying. A psychologist can help examine the situation and develop coping methods that suit the victim’s personality. These coping behaviors will compartmentalize how the child should react in particular situations. Psychologists can help victims rebuild their self-esteem and confidence so that future bullying can be avoided.

If you or someone you know has experienced the effects of school bullying, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. Ignoring the problem often makes things worse and can lead to greater issues down the line. 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 today.

 

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