All Posts in Category: General Anxiety

Opioid Abuse Linked to Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Pain, both chronic and acute, is often treated with prescription opiods, such as oxycontin, morphine, codeine, fentanyl, hyrocodone, and other similar drugs. These drugs are extremely addictive and can create a psychological dependence after long-term use.  The medical community has long thought non-medical opioid abuse and anxiety and mood disorders might go hand-in-hand and recent studies have, indeed, shown a positive correlation between the two. Researchers discovered that people who suffer from mood disorders or anxiety disorders such as bipolar disorder, panic disorder and, major depressive disorder are more likely to abuse prescription opioids than those who do not have these disorders.

Study author, Silvia Martins, said, “Lifetime non-medical prescription opioid use was associated with the incidence of any mood disorder, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and all anxiety disorders.” She also notes that, “Early identification and treatment of mood and anxiety disorders might reduce the risk for self-medication with prescription opioids and the risk of future development of an opioid-use disorder.”

In recent years, non-medical use of opioids has spiked (it is considered non-medical use if a person uses these drugs without a prescription or in greater amounts, or for a longer duration than normally prescribed). Opioids are now the one of the most abused illicit drugs in the United States: in fact, they are second only to marijuana. This is concerning because the study also linked opioid abuse with the future development of mood and anxiety disorders.

It found that using or withdrawing from opioids can bring on anxiety and mood disorders in those who are vulnerable to developing them. This means that those who use prescription opioids need to be closely monitored, not only for potential abuse of the drugs, but also for the development of anxiety or mood disorders. Future studies will explore whether genetic or environmental risk factors increase the chance of mood disorders or anxiety disorders occurring with non-medical opioid abuse.

For more information and help for anxiety disorders, mood disorders, or anxiety treatment, 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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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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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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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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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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