Managing Anxiety and Panic Disorders (Anxiety Part 3)

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In managing anxiety, like any other emotional disturbance, there are a lot of approaches. Many therapists provide some form of behavior modifications like behavior rehearsal, modeling, thought-stopping, and relaxation training.

These approaches may be helpful, but an apparent deficiency with behavior modification is that mental state and perception that cause the anxiety may not compromise the basic focus or consideration of the treatment.

The treatment should be cognition and not behavioral. Behavioral approach is usually concomitant and secondary.

Some approaches of managing anxiety have been already given in our second article but further suggestions and elaboration are now offered in this article. As already contended, anxiety is dependent on the mental state of a person. Therefore, managing anxiety should start with analysis and confrontation of the mental state causing the anxiety. The method will include a consideration of perception and interpretation of a person of the situation occasioning the mental state.

Confrontation entails self-consciously dealing a person’s thinking. It composes of self-consciously turning inward on a person’s thoughts and observing them. It is trying to identify the commensurate thoughts of an experienced anxiety. For instance, an aspiring young minister may become anxious before the day he will preach. This anxiety may be simple stage freight. His mental state may be one of fear though unconsciously recognized that is often the case. He may be scared of not being good, appearing inadequate, and rejection. Confrontation is a mental act of being courageous and honest with oneself.

Analysis is a complex process when compared to confrontation. It entails the critical examination of the person’s mental state by understanding its origin, validity, and justification. For instance, when feeling anxious, one may feel that he is harboring guilt. He should ask why he is feeling guilty or what has brought the guilt. It may be that he did not hand shake with a fellow member on Sunday or he asked a simple question in his economic class. He should ask himself whether it is right to feel guilty or he really did wrong. In the first case, he may not have had the opportunity to shake a fellow member’s hand and should not feel guilty. He is not obliged to shake a member’s hand every Sunday.

Shaking hands is an expression of spiritual fellowship and not a mere religious duty. In the second case, he may have asked a simple question to which he did not know the answer in order to clarify something or enhance apprehension. He should not be worried about the personal evaluation of his classmates because he wants to learn and grow. In the two cases given, the guilt is false and should be rejected. His mental state is unjustified and his thinking is faulty. Therefore, analysis entails a close and thorough investigation of the dynamics shaping a person’s mental state to evaluate the elements of such state. The cause of such state may find its origin in childhood experience, making the analysis difficult, and professional aid may be needed at this case.

Analysis allows assuming a certain mental positive to correct a tenuous mental state which has been arisen. Usually, when one confronts his thoughts and recognizes the equivalent thoughts of the experience anxiety, he simultaneously recognizes the root of the mental state if the anxiety is situational. In this two-process of confrontation and analysis, it is beneficial for the sufferer to discuss his anxiety problems with a friend of with a competent colleague. Transparent and honest conversation is very helpful.

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This method of confrontation and analysis must be viewed as a special cognitive process, namely, self-examination. This process allows an object-subject relationship to be established between the person and anxiety with its causative factors. The person, rather than staying indistinguishably one with anxiety problems, being caught up by it as it were, can stand over and fight it. This psycho-positioning in itself reduce the anxiety and it starts a dissipating anxiety. The person with anxiety should become the water or the observer. The person is now able to become emotionally removed from the experience, making a quasi-objective situation to examine the validity and cause of the anxiety and the justification for the occasioning situation causing the anxiety.

This objectivizing, which means moving from subjective relationship with respect to anxiety to a quasi-objective relationship, is essential for an effective anxiety treatment. Ignorance will make the situation worse, and may even make it severe. Understanding is the core of mental health and can edifice a self-adjustment to solidly stand. The emotive is secondary and the cognitive is primary. The emotions reflect or express thoughts and perceptions and emotions are not isolated and independent entities. They are dependent on how and what a person thinks. Treatment should be primarily cognitive. Emotional disturbances should be treated indirectly by directly treating a cognitive state of a person.

With the states of analysis and confrontation achieved, the state for transformation is ready. To overcome anxiety, a person needs to change his thinking patterns and attitude. This mind set relates to the assumption of a future perspective that is conductive to doubt and uncertainty. A person should focus on challenges and problems of any day, and try not to worry and focus on it extremely. One should discipline himself to condition his mind to become focused (though aware of the future).

A person should cultivate a universal perspective. He should examine, analyze, and assess events and maters within a larger scope of the global village and collective consciousness. Being narrow-minded and unreasonable preoccupation with personal details will only provoke anxiety. Too much attention given to details of life, not evaluating them within a larger setting, leads to a misconception of what composes true significance and real value.

In addition, when managing anxiety, there are practical steps that may be used to keep control of the anxiety. First, changes must be done concerning situations that provoke anxiety. For example, if a person is anxious about going to work on time, then the clock should be set 30 minutes earlier. Second, a list of daily responsibilities and tasks should be established, preferable with more demanding and exacting duties listed first. One should list only the things that can be done for the day. Third, there must be a schedule of recreation times and periodic breaks daily. Even a short walk can be invigorating. Fifth, regular exercise should be done as physical exercise is paramount. Exercise enhances stability and stamina. Sixth, one must learn to talk through his problems and frustrations with a friend. Honest and transparent conversation is very therapeutic. Seventh, vacations must be taken regularly and should be a complete change from daily regime. Eight, one must schedule regular medical checkups as anxiety can have a chemical or biological basis. Ninth, one should adopt to listening melodious music. Right kind of music has beneficial and soothing effects. Tenth, one must have a good circle of friends. Socializing has psychological effects and rewards as one gets a sense of belonging. In addition, a good support system is good for emotional well-being. Eleventh, one should have a hobby. Enthusiasm and interest produce positive and well-directed energy. Twelfth, consuming healthy and nutritious foods can mitigate anxiety. One should also consider health supplements along with organic foods. Herb tea like chamomile is also healthy.

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