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Anxiety Recovery Stories • Anxiety Research & Topics
Meet Shirley Babior, LCSW, LMFT, MSW
ADAA Member Since 1984
San Diego, CA
I joined ADAA when it was known as The Phobia Society of America. From that first meeting where I became a Regional Governor, I knew that I had found a home where therapists and those seeking help with anxiety disorders would be able to learn from each other. From the beginning, I hoped that researchers would also become involved, but I never imagined the current amount of participation!! Although I had been traditionally trained, I began to read and utilize CBT in my practice as an effective, evidence-based treatment for anxiety disorders. At the same time, ADAA, as the organization became known, through their Journal, conference, and website, has offered me a chance to keep up with the latest research and clinical innovations in the field.
ADAA's mission of offering an inter-disciplinary home to researchers, clinicians and those seeking help for anxiety and related disorders and depression continues to expand. Their webinars and peer support groups always enrich my practice interventions. People who seek treatment are so much better informed about their mental health issues than in the past, which is very encouraging.
You can overcome your fear of flying, too!
A strange thing happened to me on a short, one-hour plane trip. As the plane rumbled down the taxiway, my neck stiffened up, my heart started to race, and my mouth felt like cotton. Then my head felt heavy, but I also felt dizzy. The pilot announced we were all clear for take-off, and powered down on the throttle. I couldn't swallow, I couldn't breathe, I couldn't think. As the 727 lifted off the runway, I couldn't even make out the words my husband was saying to me. My brain froze and my body belonged to somebody else.
Then, in less than sixty seconds, the plane was climbing steadily and I took a deep breath and shuddered, and I was fine again. Later, I realized it was a textbook panic attack, but for the next sixteen years, my panic experience developed into a full-blown phobia of flying. I did fly from time to time, but I continued to have major Panic attacks, so bad that for days ahead, I was nearly incoherent and nonfunctional.
Over the years, I fine-tuned my panic to a sixty-second period from the time the airplane tires lift off the ground to when the plane begins to level off to a more gradual climb. I could joke about it, but I was terrified of those sixty seconds. I tried everything to relax... I took Valium, I drank Scotch, I read trashy sex stories... I tried every diversion I could think of, but when those tires lifted off, I went into the ozone layer! My husband was wonderful, but he couldn't give me the magic words to stop the way I was feeling. What was I afraid of? After the first panic attack, I guess I was afraid that same feeling would happen and I began to anticipate it.
When it continued to happen, I developed a behavior pattern that I didn't know how to change, and it locked in.
The final straw came when I won a ten-day, all expenses paid trip to Europe and passed it up because I couldn't fly. I decided to get therapy and lick this thing once and for all. "Do you worry about other things besides flying?" was the first question the therapist asked. Ha! I could write a book on worry and anxiety. During the next few weeks, I discovered that my habit of worry was another learned behavior, and the anxiety I constantly experienced was the result of a steady flow of adrenaline, triggered by all that unnecessary worry.
The first time I flew successfully, I was ecstatic. I closed my eyes, took gentle breaths, and gave in to the easy motion...I have the tools at my command now, but I don't want ever to slip backwards, and that takes practice with my newly learned relaxation techniques, imagining myself on a plane, and breathing steadily. These and other exercises have helped with everyday stresses and insomnia.
I have learned to fly again, literally as well as figuratively!
Portions of this story are taken from Overcoming Panic, Anxiety and Phobias, Babior and Goldman, Whole Person Press
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In a self-portrait series titled "My Anxious Heart," Crawford captures how it feels to suffer from generalized anxiety disorder and depression -- two conditions she has personally dealt with since she was a child.
"I created the project as a way for me to personally express what I feel like in my experience. I know it may not be specific to each person, but I hope that it creates the opportunity to open a dialogue between those who suffer from it and those who have never understood it," Crawford told The Huffington Post in an email. "I want the photographs and their paired writings to begin to express the constant, overwhelming presence of anxiety. It's not always terrifying, it's not always strong and it's not always intense, but it's always close by."
"A captive of my own mind. The instigator of my own thoughts. The more I think, the worse it gets. The less I think, the worse it gets.. ..... "
National Institutute of Mental Health and Research Studies show that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the treament of choice for Anxiety Disorders
Read others anxiety recovery stories
Three-Year Outcomes of Adults with Anxiety and Related Disorders Following Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in a Non-Research Clinical Setting
Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT) has been proven in many well designed studies to be effective for the treatment of anxiety and related disorders. However, little research has been done on how effective CBT is long-term. This study followed 98 individuals with anxiety and related disorders that were treated with CBT by therapists practicing in private offices. The participants in the study were followed each year for three years and... "Results indicated that patients maintained their treatment gains, with large effect sizes obtained from pre-treatment to each follow-up point. The results provide evidence to suggest that individuals treated with CBT ...maintain their treatment gains in the long-term."
Journal of Anxiety Disorders
Volume 31, April 2015, Pages 26-31
THE EFFECTIVENESS OF COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL THERAPY IN TREATING OCD (OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER)
A number of studies have demonstrated CBT as more effective than placebo and other psychotherapies for the treatment of OCD, is comparable to serotonergic medications, and may even be more effective than medication in some cases... A recent meta-analysis showed that CBT outperformed controls in all 16 studies used in the meta-analysis.... studies supporting the efficacy of cognitive therapy have grown over the years and suggest that cognitive treatments are not only effective in improving symptoms and reducing emotional distress, but may also be effective in improving treatment adherence and reducing treatment drop-out.
Using MRI Brain Research to Help Understand Social Anxiety
Socially anxious individuals tend to shift their attention away from external socially threatening cues and instead become highly self-focused. Such heightened self-focused attention has been suggested to be involved in the development and maintenance of social anxiety disorder. This study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the feedback cells activiating self-focused attention in 16 high socially anxious (HSA) and 16 low socially anxious (LSA) individuals. Participants were instructed to focus their attention either inwardly or outwardly during a simulated social situation. Results indicate hyperactivation of medial prefrontal cortex, temporo-parietal junction and temporal pole during inward vs outward attention in HSA compared with LSA participants... The research also suggested increased processing of bodily states that is related to the amount of frequent self-focused attention in social anxiety.
Social Anxiety Disorder Makes you Wonder
How Much Your Friends Like You
Social phobia is a recognized psychiatric condition affecting over 19 million Americans.
Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis found that social anxiety often causes people who suffer from the disorder to have distorted perceptions of their relationships. In reality, their friendships may be much stronger than they think.
"People who are impaired by high social anxiety typically think they are coming across much worse than they really are," study co-author Thomas Rodebaugh, a psychology professor at Washington University, said in a statement. "This new study suggests that the same is true in their friendship.
Social anxiety is usually treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or pharmaceutical interventions like antidepressants, benzodiazepines or beta blockers. A recent meta-analysis from researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that CBT tends to be more effective than other options in treating the disorder. .. “Current treatments focus, in part, on helping people with social anxiety disorder see that they come across better than they expect they will,” Rodebaugh said. “Our study suggests that’s true for specific friendships as well
Excerpted from The Huffington Post
PERFECTIONISM, RESPONSIBILITY AND OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE SYMPTOMS
Although both perfectionism and responsibility have been associated with OCD at a theoretical level, responsibility has been the focus of a number of recent articles. This study was conducted in order to empirically test the relative importance of perfectionism and responsibility in Obsessive-Compulsive symptoms…A hierarchical regression analysis revealed that although responsibility accounted for more variance, perfectionism was still a significant predictor of Obsessive-Compulsive symptoms, once responsibility had been partialled out. These results suggest that although responsibility is related to OCD symptoms, perfectionism is also independently associated. While responsibility has received much attention lately from OCD theorists and clinicians, perfectionism may also play a significant if underestimated role in some OCD patients.
When to Stress About Stress
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