All Posts in Category: Social Anxiety

Coping Mechanisms for Overcoming Holiday Stress

Once again it’s that time of year for holiday music, joyful giving, and memorable parties. Unfortunately, however, holiday cheer is not always as easy to find as one would think. In fact, the holiday season is often the time of year that anxiety, stress, and depression is highest for many people.

It makes sense when you think about some of the factors that come along with most people’s holidays. Consider these triggers, which can cause a spike in anxiety and holiday stress during this festive season:

  • Going home – Returning to your childhood home can bring up associated unhappy memories and old anxieties.
  • Relatives – Most people have at least one family member they avoid throughout the year because of the toxicity that person brings to social interactions. Family gatherings during the holidays often mean these less-than-cheerful reunions will occur.
  • Life changes – This is the time of year where people tend to reflect on the previous year and the major changes that have happened, such as divorces or deaths in the family. The seasonal cheer and happiness often opens the door to anxiety and depression when these thoughts come up.
  • Holiday parties – This is the time when we are expected to attend office parties or get-togethers with friends and neighbors. Crowded rooms and large groups of people can be difficult to face for anyone, but these types of gatherings can be especially difficult for those suffering from social anxiety disorder, even if they are not the center of attention.
  • Routine – While focusing on changes are difficult for some, focusing on routine and the sameness of family tradition can be a struggle for others. Visiting the same homes, going through the same conversations, and having the same dinners can demonstrate a monotony that makes people feel like their lives are stuck in a rut.
  • Lowered Defenses – The holidays come at a time when the weather is changing, flu is rampant, and holiday engagements leave us sleep-deprived. It’s no wonder that our body’s defenses are not up to the rigors of fighting the anxiety that can come around at this time.
  • Travel – People have to face the crowds and travel issues that make them avoid traveling the rest of the year. And, for someone who suffers from social anxiety disorder or a fear of flying, holiday travel can bring up extreme distress and worry.

Holiday Coping Mechanisms

While it’s easy to see how this time of year can provoke anxiety and stress in a number of people, there is good news. There are a number of holiday coping mechanisms you can use to ease your way through the holiday stress:

  • Accept imperfection. Oftentimes, we idealize the holiday season and envision a movie-like perfection to how it will go. Perfection is not reality and realizing this early will go a long way in preventing holiday stress.
  • Don’t look to alcohol or drugs for relief. While this may seem like an easy solution in the moment, it often makes things worse in the long run.
  • Reach out to others. When holiday depression starts to sneak in, look for relief in the company of others. The holidays are filled with religious and community events that often make it easier to seek social support.
  • Maintain healthy habits. People correlate the holidays with weight gain and unhealthy eating but it doesn’t have to be that way. Loading up on baked goods and fattening meals can lead to negative self-thoughts. Look for healthier alternatives instead.
  • Stick to a budget. Financial concerns are one of the leading stressors for this time of year. Whatever your financial situation is, set a budget and stick with it to maintain control of your situation.

Coping with Holiday Travel Fears

One of the most anxiety-inducing aspects of the holidays is the dreaded travel to family events. Traffic delays, crowded airports, and overflowing train stations can bring about an entirely different type of stress, especially if you already suffer from a fear of flying or of crowds. Just like with any other anxieties, however, there are ways to confront and overcome these fears:

  • Plan and confirm all details – Organization is the best way to ensure your travel plans will go as smoothly as possible.
  • Think ahead – Oftentimes, giving voice to your anxiety is the best way to address it. What are you stressing about? Make a list of all your concerns and pre-plan ways to overcome them so you’ll be prepared if the worst happens.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help – If you’re flying and claustrophobic, don’t be afraid to ask for an aisle seat. If you have a fear of flying, let the flight attendant know when you board so they can help make your flight more comfortable. Asking for help can provide more relief than suffering alone in silence.

Ultimately, if you find holiday stress is becoming overwhelming despite the recommendations listed above, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Your holiday season does not need to be ruined because of stress, anxiety, or depression. If you or someone you know is unable to cope with the holiday burdens, it may be time to reach out to a professional.

To get more information and help for holiday stress, anxiety, or depression, 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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Anxiety and Sexual Disorders

Recently, several small studies have suggested that there may be a link between anxiety disorders and sexual disorders. While the study of this relationship is just beginning, researchers have seen connections wherein those who suffer from panic disorder, anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder also have noted an increase in impairment of sexual function, arousal and desire, and a decrease in satisfaction and enjoyment of sex.

Why Do These Disorders Coincide?

While there are many more reasons that anxiety and sexual disorders occur together, the following offer a glimpse into why they might be found in patients with anxiety:

  • Just experiencing anxiety by itself can be enough to impair sexual function in some people. If a man is concerned that he may not be able to please his partner, for instance, that fear may cause him to avoid sex, it may increase the potential for erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation, or it may weaken arousal or satisfaction.
  • Certain medications can cause sexual side effects. SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are commonly prescribed for panic disorders and social phobias (an example is Prozac) and these drugs are known to delay orgasm in many men.
  • Stress, worry, and fear can impede sexual function and the subsequent worry about one’s sexual function can create a vicious cycle of fear, worry, and stress.

What Can You Do About It?

  • Tell your doctor or therapist if you are being treated for an anxiety disorder and also have problems functioning sexually as these conditions can be treated simultaneously. Additionally, sexual problems often have a root physical origin and a medical exam will help identify and treat any physical condition that may be causing the dysfunction.
  • If you are on anxiety disorder medications, your doctor can adjust your medicine so it has less impact on or helps with your situation.
  • Other medications can be utilized to help your sexual function. For example, because SSRIs can have a side effect of delayed orgasm, prescribing them often can help men who suffer from premature ejaculation.
  • There are many therapies, such as psychodynamic psychotherapy to help reduce anxiety, fear, and negative emotions. Discussing your concerns with your therapist can help you find the way that works best for you.

Even though researchers have seen that anxiety disorders and sexual disorders often co-occur, these disorders do not coincide in all anxiety patients. For that reason, more studies will need to be conducted so we can better understand how to treat people who suffer from both conditions.

To get more information and help for a possible connection between your anxiety and sexual disorders, 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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woman typing on a laptop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Online Agoraphobia Therapy

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

Why Choose Online Agoraphobia Therapy?

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

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

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

 

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Dating and Social Anxiety Disorder

Dating and Social Anxiety Disorder

Approximately 19.2 million Americans have Social Anxiety Disorder, a condition in which a person experiences intense fear of social situations. Typically, these people are afraid to interact with others, get nervous easily, are often self-conscious, and worry about what others might think of them. Social Anxiety Disorder is not the same thing as “just” being shy. People who are afflicted want to have friends and live the same type of life as other people, but they worry about being rejected or embarrassed in certain social situations.

Social Anxiety Disorder can have a debilitating effect on a person’s life. As a result, people who suffer from the disorder are far less likely to date or get married than the average person. The combination of dating and social anxiety disorder presents many complications for people who have this condition:

  • Men often have a harder time in a dating situation. Society normally dictates that men are responsible for initiating dating scenarios. As a result, a man with Social Anxiety Disorder will generally feel more pressure than a woman.
  • In a social situation, a man with this condition typically worries about what they’re going to say to their date. They are afraid of looking silly or unintelligent. This fear can be so intense that they may not even be able to introduce themselves or may seem "stuck up" or snobby beacuse they don’t say much in social situations.
  • Women tend to worry more about what people will think of them. Their appearance, especially, is cause for concern. They often feel that everything, from their nails to their shoes, is an opportunity for someone to judge them.
  • Eating out – one of the most common dating activities – is especially stressful for someone with Social Anxiety Disorder. Both men and women become concerned that they will display improper eating manners that will make their date or others develop a negative opinion. If a person who has this disorder does choose to eat at a restaurant, they are often under extreme stress while doing so.
  • Many people are able to interact comfortably, even with a stranger, in a one-on-one situation. It is the possibility of facing a group or of being surrounded by people that really enhances the stress they feel.

For those who are anxious about dating with Social Anxiety Disorder, don’t overlook places where you already may feel more comfortable:

  • a church you may already belong to
  • a group you may volunteer with
  • a neighborhood association you may belong to
  • friends or family who can arange a blind date and then can double-date with you to help you feel more comfortable
  • a sports team you may belong to

The point is that having a common ground can help you feel more at ease with someone new and can take some of the fear out of dating with Social Anxiety Disorder.

 If you or someone you know suffers from Social Anxiety Disorder, it is important to seek help. Your doctor will generally suggest a combination of therapies, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure Therapy. Additionally, your doctor can suggest coping methods that can help to make dating easier over time. In some cases, medication may also be prescribed. Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders specialize in helping those who are fearful of dating with Social Anxiety Disorder. Take the first step toward getting help by calling them at 561-496-1094 or by emailing them today.

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