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At The Center for Stress and Anxiety Management, our psychologists have years of experience. Unlike many other providers, our clinicians truly specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of anxiety and related problems. Our mission is to apply only the most effective short-term psychological treatments supported by extensive scientific research. We are located in Rancho Bernardo, Carlsbad, and Mission Valley.

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Read our award-winning blogs for useful information and tips about anxiety, stress, and related disorders.

 

Filtering by Tag: psychotherapy

Most Americans Are Stressed About the Future of Our Nation

Jill Stoddard

by Annabelle Parr

Have you found yourself feeling especially anxious or stressed out in the current political climate? You’re not alone. This particular election and transition of power is unique for many reasons, not least of which is the widespread stress it is creating in Americans across the political spectrum.

According to the American Psychological Association’s most recent Stress in America survey, two-thirds of Americans report feeling stress regarding the future of our nation.

This stress is bipartisan.

Prior to the election, stress may have been divided more along party lines. Back in August, Democrats were significantly more likely than Republicans (72 percent vs 26 percent) to feel stress regarding the outcome of the presidential election. However, according to the most recent study conducted in January, 59 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Democrats reported that the future of the nation was a significant source of stress.

Overall stress levels have increased since the election.

In the ten years since the inception of the Stress in America survey, Americans’ stress levels had been gradually decreasing. However, between August 2016 and January 2017, Americans’ average reported stress level increased from 4.8 to 5.1, on a scale where 1 represents no stress and 10 represents enormous stress. This was the first statistically significant increase in stress since the survey began 10 years ago.

We are not the first cohort to feel stressed about the future of our country.

It is important to remember that this APA survey has only been conducted for the last decade, and to keep in perspective that our country has been through numerous tumultuous and stressful times. We are not the first group of citizens to be very stressed and concerned for America’s future. History shows us that we have inevitably and cyclically encountered dark times as a nation, and that hopefully, after each struggle, we emerge stronger and maybe a little bit wiser and more just.

However, currently we are very much in the midst of the anxiety and uncertainty. We are deeply stressed, and we are not alone in that experience. There is comfort to be found in the “me too,” but it is also important that together we learn to find balance during this time.

How do we manage our stress?

Engaging in democracy.

One of the beautiful things about our country is that we are part of a democracy, where we are empowered to use our voices to speak up regarding those things that do concern us. In order to properly voice our concerns, it is important that we use our access to information to stay informed about what is going on. (However, we must also recognize when we need to disconnect. More on the importance of limiting our information intake below).

One way to try to assuage the stress we feel is to use it as fuel for action. We can spend a few minutes calling our local representatives and communicating our concerns. We can get involved volunteering for or donating to an organization whose efforts are in line with our values. We can participate in protests or marches to literally stand up for the things that are important to us. There is something very empowering about engaging in community and collective action with other Americans who share our views.

Regardless of our political views and beliefs, our stress seems to be collective. The details of our concerns may differ, but we all have the opportunity to use our voices and engage in the future of the nation.

Finding a balance between staying engaged and allowing ourselves to disconnect.

However, as much as it is important to stay engaged, we must also recognize the limits as to what we can do to help foster change. When we come together, we are strong. But individually, we cannot carry the weight of the nation on our shoulders. And as we work to remain informed, it is also important that we allow ourselves the time and space away from news.

Limiting technology and news consumption.

Between all of our technological devices, 24-hour news cycles, and politically saturated Facebook news feeds, we could allow our eyes and minds to be occupied all day long by the constant, stress-inducing updates. We need to limit our news consumption in order to allow our minds and bodies to rest. Allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by the news will leave us feeling powerless.

Practicing self-care.

Maybe the most important thing that we can do at this time of great national stress is to take care of ourselves. Self-care is vital to our mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being. And if you have felt that your nation (or perhaps its commander in chief) has failed to care for you, or sent you the message that you are unworthy of care, maybe your greatest act of protest and defiance will be to choose to take care of yourself in spite of this.

Self-care will not fix the national situation, of course. However, wouldn’t it be powerful to have a nation filled with citizens who know how to care for their own well-being, and as a result they have the energy to stay engaged in their democracy?

How can we practice self-care?

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Good self-care is unique to each individual. What is relaxing and healing for one person may not be as helpful to another. It’s important to pay attention to those things, those rituals, that calm and center us. That signal to our psyche a time of rest or peace. Here are some ideas to help inspire you:

  1. Set aside some time to walk each day and focus on breathing the fresh air in your lungs and feeling the ground under your feet with each step.
  2. Practice yoga.
  3. Find a mindfulness meditation to practice every day. This doesn’t have to take more than five minutes. Check out this link for some suggestions: http://marc.ucla.edu/mindful-meditations
  4. Not a fan of meditation? Try focusing on your breathing. Take a minute to practice some mindful breaths. Check out our blog post on breathing for some tips: http://www.anxietytherapysandiego.com/blog/2016/6/8/the-power-of-breathing
  5. Turn off your devices. Allow yourself to unplug entirely. Maybe consider deactivating your automatic news updates, or deleting the Facebook app from your phone. Set limits on your news consumption by mapping out a given time to check the news each day.
  6. Find time for humor. Is there a show that makes you smile or laugh? Laughter is healing and helps relieve stress.
  7. Spend time with loved ones. Share your experiences and your feelings, but also make sure to find time to talk about things unrelated to the current political situation. It’s healing to talk with others who feel the same way that we do and to know that we are not alone. But it is also important to have fun and to remember that we can still enjoy the sweet things in life even when there are reasons to be concerned.

In conclusion,

In order to manage the stress that so many of us are feeling, seek balance. This means finding ways to be proactive about the things that you can change or that you have control over, but also accepting the things that are beyond your control. And in the midst of it all, remember to take care of yourself in the ways that work best for you.

Source URL: https://fundingforgood.org/fundraising-and-the-serenity-prayer/

Source URL: https://fundingforgood.org/fundraising-and-the-serenity-prayer/

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the stress or anxiety that you feel, and you need some extra help, a therapist can help you to process your feelings. They can give you a space to feel heard, which in itself can be healing and empowering. They can help give you tools to manage your stress so that it doesn’t leak into other areas of your life or prevent you from leading a healthy day-to-day. Sometimes the best form of self-care is knowing when we need to reach out for external support.

CSAM IS HERE TO HELP

If you or someone you love might benefit from acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or biofeedback for anxiety, depression, stress, or PTSD, or if you would like more information about our therapy services, please contact us at (858) 354-4077 or at csamsandiego@gmail.com.

References:

(2017, Feb. 15). Many Americans stress about future of our nation, new APA Stress in American survey reveals. Retreived from: http://apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/02/stressed-nation.aspx

Misophonia: A “Rarely Known” Conditioned Aversive Reflex Disorder

Jill Stoddard

by Annabelle Parr

Most of us can probably agree that it’s very unpleasant to hear nails scraping a chalkboard. Other sounds that tend to make us cringe include a woman’s scream, a disc grinder (think construction site), and a baby crying. This is because we are genetically wired to respond to a baby’s cry, so any other sound similar in frequency tends to be upsetting (Dozier, 2015).

There are sounds that are almost universally annoying, and then there are those sounds that get to each of us individually. But for some of us, a specific sound can be more than simply annoying or unpleasant; it can be intolerable. Do you find yourself experiencing a particularly extreme or adverse reaction to a sound or stimulus that seems strange or out of proportion? If so, you may be encountering a misophonic reaction.

What is misophonia?

Misophonia is a condition characterized by an extreme, immediate, involuntary emotional response accompanied by a reflexive physiological reaction to a specific, commonly occurring sound or visual stimulus (Dozier, 2015).

Tom Dozier, director of the Misophonia Institute, describes misophonia as a Conditioned Aversive Reflex Disorder. Though misophonia is most commonly identified by the emotional response – typically anger, rage, disgust and even hatred - there is almost always a physiological response that occurs as well. Tom’s research suggests that it is actually the physical response that lies at the heart of misophonia. When a person hears (or sees) their trigger, the autonomic nervous system elicits a reflexive physical reaction. It could be contracting of a particular muscle group or it could be an internal reaction, varying from nausea to a numbing sensation to constriction of the esophagus. Because the intense emotional reaction follows so quickly, the physical response often goes unnoticed. But it appears that the emotional reaction is directly related to the physical reaction. In individuals with misophonia, the connection between the autonomic nervous system and the limbic system (emotional center) becomes hypersensitized (Bernstein, Angell, & Dehle, 2013), such that the trigger stimulus elicits the physical reflex which then elicits the extreme emotions and fight or flight response.

What misophonia is NOT.

Misophonia is not a sensitivity to the volume of the sound; it is not a fear of a sound; it is not becoming upset by a continuous, loud, intrusive, irritating sound; and it is not a logical response to the meaning behind a sound (for example, responding to a baby’s cry is a natural response to address the infant’s distress). It IS the emotional and physiological response to a single occurrence of the trigger, regardless of how loud or noticeable the trigger is.

What are some common triggers?

There is an enormous range regarding potential trigger stimuli. However, some common examples include the eating or chewing sound, breathing sounds, coughing, swallowing, pen clicking, whistling, typing, and a dog barking. A trigger can be any repeating sound or sight. Triggers tend to be most strongly associated with one particular person, but they do have the ability to generalize. For example, the original trigger might be the sound of a sibling chewing. This will likely remain the strongest trigger, but it could also generalize to the sound of any person chewing.

How common is misophonia?

Not very many people know about misophonia, doctors and therapists included. Many people with misophonia struggle with feelings of guilt for their reaction, as they are aware that it is both out of proportion and irrational. They may also feel isolated in their experience. But if you struggle with a misophonic reaction, you are far from alone. It is not a rare disorder, but rather a “rarely known” disorder. Based on several studies and surveys, it is estimated that misophonia affects about 15% of the population (Dozier, 2015), compared with Major Depressive Disorder which, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (2016), affects about 6.7% of the population above the age of 18 in a given year.

How does misophonia affect people?

Misophonia can range from manageable to debilitating. If a person’s trigger is fairly uncommon, it may hardly affect him or her at all. However, if a trigger is very common and the reaction is severe, it can lead to avoidance of situations and serious strains on relationships.

Can I get help for misophonia?

If you think that you may be struggling with misophonia, you don’t have to continue to try to handle it alone, particularly if it is something that has begun to impair your day-to-day functioning or affect your relationships. Misophonia can continue to increase in severity if it is left unaddressed, so it is important to know that help is available.  However, because there is not a widespread awareness of misophonia, it can often be misdiagnosed as anything from oppositional defiant disorder to ADHD to anxiety or OCD. So if you are struggling with what sounds like misophonia, it is important to find a professional who understands what you are experiencing and knows how to help.

For more information about misophonia, how it is treated, and related resources, please visit http://misophoniainstitute.org. If you think you or someone you love may be struggling with misophonia, CSAM’s Dr. Michelle Lopez offers specialized treatment at our Rancho Bernardo office. If you would like more information…

CSAM IS HERE TO HELP

Please contact us at (858) 354-4077 or at csamsandiego@gmail.com if you or someone you love might benefit from treatment for misophonia. We also offer acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or biofeedback for anxiety, depression, stress, or PTSD, and would be happy to provide more information about our therapy services.

References:

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2016). Facts & statistics. Retrieved from: https://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

Bernstein, R. E., Angell, K. L., & Dehle, C. M. (2013). A brief course of cognitive behavioural therapy for the treatment of misophonia: A case example. The Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, 6(10), 1-13. doi:10.1017/S1754470X13000172

Dozier, T. H. (2015). Understanding and overcoming misophonia: A conditioned aversive reflex disorder. Livermore, CA: Misophonia Treatment Institute.

Depression: The Autoimmune Disease Of the Mind

Jill Stoddard

Written by Marnie at http://www.lovebutblog.com/depression-the-autoimmune-disease-of-the-mind/

Depression: The Autoimmune Disease Of the Mind

I’ve seen so many great tributes to Robin Williams in the past 24 hours. I hope he knows how much he affected others in a positive way. That, despite his inner torment, the fact that he made people laugh was able to penetrate the immense sadness he must have felt and give him some sort of peace … even if only for a little while. In fact, peace is something those of us with depression rarely feel.

I hate the word “depression”.  Frankly, it’s depressing. And I hate the commercials about it. You know those Cymbalta commercials? Depression hurts; Cymbalta can help. They show these scenarios of people having trouble getting out of bed, or not even wanting to play ball with their dogs. The truth is, sometimes depression probably does look a lot like that. But sometimes it looks like Robin Williams. Sometimes it looks like comedy, as that is one of the many coping mechanisms people with depression use. Sadly, with people like Robin, it masks something much deeper and darker. Sometimes it looks like a busy schedule. Sometimes it looks like forgetfulness. Sometimes it looks like the person standing up on the podium, accepting an award. As Glennon Melton from Momastery said in a recent post, “People who need help sometimes look a lot like people who don’t need help.”

A friend of mine recently broke my heart with a Facebook status update that said something about how she has an autoimmune disease and that, while she might look happy and healthy on the outside, the pain can be unbearable. It was such a simple statement and yet really had an impact on me, as my mother has had chronic pain her whole life but, to the outside world, she looks fine. In fact, she’s gotten dirty looks and even comments from people for using her Handicapped placard.

Depression is the same way. It’s an autoimmune disease of the mind. For all intents and purposes, many of us who have it look fine on the outside. We might even be somewhat, if not very, blessed by our life circumstances. Abby Heugel put it perfectly on her recent Scary Mommy post, saying, “These are the times that I should reach out, but the thing about depression is that it comes with the sense that you shouldn’t have it to begin with, that it’s a bunch of self-indulgent navel gazing and not an actual illness like those that everyone can see looking in.”

Despite everything good in our lives, the negative thoughts persist in our minds and hearts. Its attack on ourselves feels silly, embarrassing, ridiculous, hateful, awful, confusing, shameful, and a whole bunch of other emotions. When I’m tired, it attacks the most, sensing the weakness within.

Physically, I’d consider myself one tough mother f*cker. In fact, when I was little, I had an unusually high pain tolerance. I went to bed once on a broken wrist that my parents didn’t even know about until they saw me the next morning with an arm that had swollen to twice its size. I once let a man stand on my fingers at a baseball game until they were completely flattened because I didn’t want to say anything. I sprained my ankle a week before my first marathon but ran it anyway, having to stop and get it taped about three times. And yet the feelings of melancholy can crush me like I’m a cancer-ridden 100-year-old.

I hate saying but the truth is I suffer from depression. Some days are great and others are horrible but, you know what, that’s life. I have to learn to accept myself the way I am and not be afraid to talk to others about it. And if you need someone to listen, I’m your gal. In the meantime, when you’re out and about doing your daily deeds, remember that things are not always as they seem. Be kind. Be gentle. Be aware that others might be suffering beyond belief despite that fancy, new car, perfect hair, or insanely clean house. Give meaningful hugs and warm smiles. You never know what those could do for someone who is feeling at the end of his rope.

RIP, Robin Williams. You were loved.

 

10 Tips to Stop Sleep Anxiety: More Rest, Less Stress (Part 2 of 3)

Jill Stoddard

by Lucas Myers

With people juggling work, school, friends, families, and the 1,001 other things we've got to do everyday, Americans are not getting enough sleep. This week we continue our 3 part series 10 Tips to Stop Sleep Anxiety: More Rest, Less Stress.

4. Practice good habits

Having the same bedtime ritual night after night teaches your body when to expect sleep and eases the transition into a drowsy, bed-ready state. Bright lights, especially those from TV's computers and other electronics promote alertness, so try to avoid them before bedtime. Instead, try reading a book, taking a soothing bath or shower, listening to relaxing music and dimming the lights as you get ready for bed.

5. Eliminate distractions

The bedroom should be your sanctuary for sleep, so avoid watching TV in bed, bringing the laptop to bed, or engaging in any other activities. You want your mind to associate this setting with relaxation and rest rather than stimulating daytime activities. Consider setting limits on children or pets sleeping in your bed with you.

6. Get comfortable

Find bedding that feels comfortable to you. If you share your bed, make sure it is large enough for both of you to sleep comfortably. Most mattresses last 9-10 years; make sure to replace them when they exceed their life expectancy because a good mattress should be comfortable and supportive. Your pillow should support your head without straining your neck. Make sure your bedding is allergen free.

7. Set the mood

Dark curtains can help prevent light from inadvertently resetting your internal clock. Even the tiny light from an alarm clock can be disruptive so seek ways of limiting light pollution. Even small noises can interrupt sleep. Earplugs are helpful for some. A fan, or a free white noise app on your phone can help cover the sounds of noisy neighbors, car alarms, traffic and other disruptive nighttime noises. To keep your bedroom from becoming too hot or dry for comfort consider a fan, air conditioner, or humidifier.

REMEMBER: Having an occasional sleepless night is normal, but if you are experiencing a pattern of restless or sleepless nights, don't hesitate to seek an expert, especially if lack of sleep is beginning to interfere with your normal daytime functioning. Contact your doctor to determine whether physical causes may be contributing to sleep problems. If your physical health is sound, contact a psychologist with experience treating sleep problems. Cognitive behavioral therapy and other evidence-based treatments are highly effective for improving sleep. If you are in the San Diego area and you would like to speak with one of our other qualified therapists, you may contact the Center for Stress and Anxiety Management at 858-354-4077 or csamsandiego@gmail.com.

Want more tips? Subscribe to the CSAM RSS feed, and follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@CSAMSanDiego) so you don't miss Parts 2 and 3 of our 10 Tips to Improve Your Sleep and articles on other hot topics such as stress, anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, and more. 

References

Dement, William C; Vaughan, Christopher (1999). The promise of sleep: a pioneer in sleep medicine explores the vital connection between health, happiness, and a good night's sleep. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN 0-385-32008-6.

Dement, WC (2005). "Sleep extension: getting as much extra sleep as possible". Clinics in Sports Medicine 24 (2): 251–268, viii. doi:10.1016/j.csm.2004.12.014PMID 15892922.

Kryger, Meir H; Roth, Thomas; Dement, William C (2011). Principles and practice of sleep medicine (5th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Saunders/Elsevier. ISBN 978-1-4160-6645-3.

Sleep Tips: Seven steps for better sleep. Mayo Clinic Staff. Retreived on November 25th, 2013 from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sleep/HQ01387


 

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Encouraging Family & Friends to Seek Psychotherapy

Jill Stoddard

It is difficult to see friends and family members suffer. Even if you are a great friend or relative, always lending an ear and your support, there is only so much that you can do. If you have a friend or family member who is suffering from anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns, it may be best to encourage your loved one to seek professional help. Remember that any time that you think your loved one is a danger to him or herself, or to someone else, it is crucial that you seek immediate medical attention to ensure everyone's safety. But in the event that your friend or family member has no intention of harming anyone, but is exhibiting psychological symptoms that are interfering in his/her functioning, the best thing to do is gently encourage the individual to seek psychotherapy.

This can be a very difficult process, as such attempts are sometimes met with resistance or even hostility. To your friend/relative, it may feel like you "think they're crazy," or, "don't know what you're talking about." But in the end, therapy can help your loved one get his/her symptoms under control so s/he can live a fuller, happier life.  Although it may take some time, patience, and hard work, the benefits of therapy will certainly outweigh the costs. 

When encouraging a friend or family member to seek psychotherapy, here are some important things to keep in mind:

DO begin by emphasizing how much you care and how worried you are. It is not that you are tired of listening, but that you recognize your limits, and are concerned that you are not proiding the appropriate care. 

DO NOT confront them or shout at them regarding some of their behavior or choices, as this will only lead to the person feeling ashamed, cornered, and defensive. Instead, keep the emphasis on your concern for them and your desire for them to live a happy life. 

DO get the advice of local professionals, and consult their research or pamphlets when considering how to express your concern. Local support groups, psychotherapy clincs, and community centers are almost always willing to help.

DO NOT take this approach for the wrong reasons. Are you genuinely concerned about this person's welfare, and not trying to put him or her down in any way? Are you upset about how this person's behavior is affecting his or her life, or merely your life? Make sure you have sorted out your own motives before attempting to talk to this person. If not, they will likely see through your attempt, and it may damage your relationship.

DO realize that this is not the least-confrontational course of action, and may impact your relationship if the individual does not take the suggestion well. This is a serious solution, however when necessary it is a crucial one. Mentally and emotionally prepare yourself--try going through the different ways that the conversation could play out, and consider your response in each case.  

 

DO NOT be impatient. Even if your friend has a non-negative reaction to your suggestion, he or she may not reach out for help right away.  Be supportive, keep listening, and be patient.  Continue to encourage your loved one, even if s/he doesn't feel totally ready.

DO offer to help this person seek therapy, whether that means finding a doctor, booking an appointment, or just giving him or her a ride to an appointment. The support of a loved one will encourage the individual to follow through. 

If you are in the San Diego area and would like to speak to a professional at CSAM about helping a loved one seek therapy, please contact us.