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How Can DBT Help You Manage Anxiety?

anxiety

Anxiety is a typical, emotional reaction to danger, and has been explained as “the body’s automatic fight-or-flight response that is triggered when you feel threatened, under pressure, or are facing a challenging situation.” It is the body’s natural response to stress. Anxiety will manifest differently in different people. The feelings of anxiety can range from mild to severe. While fleeting anxiety is unavoidable, it is atypical for an individual to experience persistent and debilitating symptoms of anxiety, and this may be indicative of an anxiety disorder. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) asserts: “Anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions, each having unique symptoms. However, all anxiety disorders have one thing in common: persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening.” There are currently five distinct types of anxiety disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Psychologist Marsha M. Linehan developed dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) in the late 1980s as a means to more effectively treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). It is founded on the principals of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), utilizing standard CBT techniques for emotional regulation and reality testing, and combines concepts derived from Buddhist meditative practice such as awareness, mindfulness, and attentiveness to current situations and emotional experiences. DBT remains the only empirically supported treatment for BPD, and current evidence also recognizes DBT as an applicable and effective treatment method for many other mental health conditions. Clinical findings indicate that DBT is increasingly used as an effective approach for managing anxiety and related issues.

DBT is a multifaceted approach consisting of weekly individual psychotherapy sessions, weekly DBT group skills training therapy sessions, and as-needed phone coaching to provide additional support between the weekly individual and group sessions. Within each setting, DBT focuses on the teaching and reinforcing skills in four fundamental areas, known as the four modules, which include: core mindfulness (focusing skills), distress tolerance (crisis survival skills), emotion regulation (de-escalation skills), and interpersonal effectiveness (social/ relationship skills). The distress tolerance module is entirely dedicated to teaching skills that help individuals learn to better manage stress and tolerate painful events, urges, and emotions.

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options.

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

Can DBT Help With Anxiety?

anxiety-help

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. Anxiety will manifest differently in different people. The feelings of anxiety can range from mild to severe. While fleeting anxiety is unavoidable, it is not healthy for an individual to experience persistent and debilitating symptoms of anxiety. An individual may be struggling with an anxiety disorder when pervasive anxiety interferes with his or her ability to function in daily life. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) asserts: “Anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions, each having unique symptoms. However, all anxiety disorders have one thing in common: persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening.” There are currently five distinct types of anxiety disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). They include the following: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder (social phobia). According to the American Psychiatric Association, close to thirty percent of adults in America struggle with an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy treatment that was originally developed by Marsha M. Linehan, in the late 1980s to more effectively treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Since its inception, dialectical behavior therapy has been and remains the gold standard method of treatment for individuals diagnosed with BPD, and its efficacy has also expanded to other ailments. DBT is based on the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approach that relies on talk therapy and emphasizes the psychosocial aspects of treatment. It utilizes a multifaceted approach that consists of weekly individual psychotherapy sessions, weekly DBT skills training group therapy sessions, and as-needed phone coaching between sessions. DBT strives to help individuals learn to identify triggers outside of themselves and pair those triggers with healthy responses and coping mechanisms. This is accomplished through focusing on and cultivating therapeutic skills in four main areas, known as the four modules, which are: 

  • Core mindfulness: focuses on improving an individual’s ability to accept and be present in the current moment
  1. Distress tolerance: focuses on increasing an individual’s ability to tolerate pain that may arise from difficult situations, as opposed to trying to change and/ or escape it
  2. Interpersonal effectiveness: focuses on teaching techniques that enable a person to communicate with others in a way that is assertive, maintains self-respect, and simultaneously strengthens relationships
  3. Emotion regulation: focuses on decreasing emotional impulsivity by shifting intense emotion without reacting instinctively to them

An individual that suffers from debilitating anxiety will benefit most from a customized treatment plan. DBT offers both the ability to provide personalized therapeutic support through the individual therapy sessions, as well as peer support in DBT skills training group therapy sessions. Through DBT an individual can learn an array of effective coping mechanisms and anxiety management strategies that can help to prevent, reduce, and even become more resilient towards anxiety.

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

What Is High Functioning Anxiety?

woman with high functioning anxiety

The term ‘high functioning anxiety’ is currently used as a broad, umbrella term that includes individuals who live with anxiety but are not debilitated by its symptoms in various aspects of one’s life. The medical definition of anxiety provided in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.” However, according to the Mayo Clinic, having occasional feelings of anxiety is a normal part of life. In relation to the adverse effects of high functioning anxiety, Health Magazine explains that even if one’s anxiety symptoms are not interfering with one’s productivity at work or in one’s relationship status, they can still be problematic if they take away from one’s overall quality of life. High functioning anxiety is not recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a mental health diagnosis. 

Signs and Symptoms

It is highly common for an individual with high functioning anxiety to exude unwavering confidence and appear to be leading an anxiety-free life. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates 40 million adults, approximately 18% of the population, deal with an anxiety disorder at any given time, including those that fall into the category of high functioning. An individual who is suffering from high functioning anxiety could exhibit any combination of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Stress-free
  • Insomnia
  • Productive
  • Outgoing 
  • Dizziness
  • Exhaustion
  • Appearance of being level-headed
  • Organized
  • Perfectionist
  • Successful relationships
  • Muscle weakness
  • Irregular body temperature
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Type-A personality
  • Detail-oriented
  • Social 
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Gastrointestinal complications

While silently suffering, individuals with high functioning anxiety often hide behind a façade of effortless success and are typically viewed as overachievers. Psychology Today asserts “anxiety is built into our primate origins as a warning system,” and that there are several benefits to experiencing occasional anxiety. Anxiety can help an individual avoid danger as its presence elicits a heightened state of alertness which in turn can help to detect and attend to potential threats. Anxiety can help an individual further develop his or her empathy. Situational anxiety can contribute to enhancing one’s motivation and increasing performance levels. While there may be benefits to anxiety, experiencing persistent anxiety is not healthy. It is important to note that individuals with high functioning anxiety often appear perfectly healthy to others, but are likely internally suffering from many of the same symptoms that accompany a diagnosable anxiety disorder. Fortunately, there is professional help available for individuals who are dealing with any form of anxiety, including high functioning forms. 

 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

Symptoms Of An Anxiety Attack

woman with anxiety

Often the terms panic attack and anxiety attack are erroneously used interchangeably. While they have many similarities, they are two distinct conditions. Anxiety can be a symptom of panic, but experiencing anxiety is different from a panic attack. Unlike panic attacks, anxiety attacks are not recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Medical News Today identifies specific features of anxiety attacks that distinguish them from panic attacks, including: 

  • Anxiety attacks are not a diagnosable condition
  • Anxiety attacks can have a specific trigger 
  • Anxiety attacks are less severe than panic attacks
  • Anxiety attacks can develop gradually when a person feels anxious 
  • Anxiety attacks typically involve physical symptoms

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful situations, and anxiety attacks are generally precipitated by the anticipation of a stressful experience, situation or event. Experiencing bouts of anxiety is to be expected. However, experiencing random and/ or frequent anxiety attacks may suggest the presence of diagnosable mental health condition. Anxiety disorders, for example, involve excessive feelings of nervousness, anxiousness, fear and anxiety. According to the American Psychiatric Association there are several different types of anxiety disorders, some of which include: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia). While each type of anxiety disorder comes with its own distinct characteristics, they all share the common symptom of anxiety attacks. The exact cause for developing an anxiety disorder remains unknown. Research suggests that it is likely due to a combination of contributing factors such as psychological, environmental, genetic, and developmental factors.

Signs and Symptoms

The lack of diagnostic recognition of anxiety attacks contributes to the vague and wide-ranging signs and symptoms that are often associated with anxiety attacks. Every individual is different and could exhibit a unique combination of symptoms when it comes to anxiety attacks. Medical News Today provides examples of common signs and symptoms that could present with an anxiety attack, some of which include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Dizziness, lightheaded, unsteady, faint
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry mouth
  • Chest pain
  • Being easily startled
  • Hot flashes
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Irritability
  • Numbness and/ or tingling sensations
  • Loss of concentration
  • Sleep disturbances
  • A rapid heart rate
  • Restlessness 
  • Chills 
  • Feeling of choking
  • Worry and/ or distress 
  • Trembling
  • Abdominal pain
  • Excessive sweating

The symptoms of an anxiety attack can range in severity and duration. Usually, acute anxiety attacks are short-lived, but for some, the intense symptoms can leave an individual experiencing residual effects of anxiety long (e.g. days, weeks, or even months) after an anxiety attack has ended. It is important to note that not all individuals that experience anxiety attacks unequivocally go on to develop an anxiety disorder. Due to the fact that anxiety disorders are highly common, it may be advantageous for an individual that experiences frequent and/ or severe anxiety attacks to consult a mental health professional. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

Do I have Anxiety? Here’s How to Tell

Helpguide International explains that “anxiety is a normal reaction to danger, the body’s automatic fight-or-flight response that is triggered when you feel threatened, under pressure, or are facing a challenging situation, such as a job interview, exam, or first date.” Basically, anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. Anxiety is often unavoidable, as every individual will experience stress at some point in his or her life. Further, although its symptoms are often unpleasant, experiencing anxiety is not necessarily a bad thing as it can help an individual remain alert and focused. However, there is a big difference between experiencing anxiety and having an anxiety disorder. According to the American Psychiatric Association there are several different types of anxiety disorders, some of which include: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia). Anxiety disorders can be debilitating, and interfere with one’s ability to function optimally in one’s everyday life.  

Signs and Symptoms

In order to gauge whether or not you are experiencing anxiety it is helpful to be aware of common signs and symptoms. The Mayo Clinic provides examples, some of which include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry mouth
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
  • Chest pain
  • Hyperventilation (breathing rapidly)
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Irritability
  • Feeling nervous, restless and/ or tense
  • Loss of concentration
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Sweating 
  • Trembling
  • Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems

Symptoms can range in severity and duration. It is important to note that while anxiety disorders are highly common, not every individual that experiences anxiety will inevitably go on to develop and anxiety disorder. The exact cause for developing an anxiety disorder remains unknown. Research suggests that it is likely due to a combination of contributing factors such as psychological, environmental, genetic, and developmental factors.

Do I Have An Anxiety Disorder?

Consider the following questions, and if you identify with any of them it could be indicative of an anxiety disorder, and it may be advantageous to seek professional guidance: 

  1. Does your anxiety interfere with your daily life (e.g. school, work, family responsibilities, etc.)?
  2. Are you constantly tense, worried, or on edge?
  3. Do you believe that something bad will happen if certain things are not done a certain way?
  4. Do you experience unshakable, irrational fears? 
  5. Do you feel like danger and/ or catastrophe is lingering around every corner?
  6. Do you experience sudden, unexpected anxiety attacks?
  7. Do you avoid everyday situations and/ or activities because they cause you anxiety?

In order to obtain the most effective treatment, it is crucial to be thoroughly evaluated and diagnosed by a qualified mental health professional. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

How To Deal With Anxiety

anxiety word cloud

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. Anxiety will manifest differently in different people. The feelings of anxiety can range from mild (e.g. fluttering in one’s stomach) to severe (e.g. racing heart). Some individuals, however, will experience severe, debilitating anxiety and this could be indicative of the presence of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders involve excessive feelings of nervousness, anxiousness, fear and anxiety. According to the American Psychiatric Association there are several different types of anxiety disorders, some of which include: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia). It is important to note that while all people will experience stints of anxiety every now and then, not every person that experiences anxiety will go on to develop an anxiety disorder. 

Signs and Symptoms

In order to effectively deal with anxiety it is helpful to be aware of how it can manifest. When an individual experiences a sudden and intense episode of fear and anxiety it is known as an anxiety attack. Medical News Today provides the following examples of signs and symptoms that can be the result of anxiety, many of which are commonly associated with anxiety attacks:

  • Loss of concentration
  • A rapid heart rate
  • Restlessness 
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry mouth
  • Chest pain
  • Being easily startled
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fear 
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Irritability
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • Feeling of choking
  • Worry and/ or distress

Anxiety attacks can range in severity and duration. Each person is unique and as such different triggers can initiate the onset of anxiety and/ or anxiety attacks in different people. Typically, the symptoms of anxiety attacks come on suddenly, and the intense symptoms can leave a person with residual effects of anxiety long after (e.g. hours, weeks, or even months) an anxiety attack has subsided. 

Helpful Tips

It is helpful to arm oneself with a variety of coping strategies to navigate anxiety when it arises. In order to better deal with anxiety consider the following tips:

  1. Explore relaxation methods: try out different relaxation tactics (e.g. meditation, journaling, listening to music, etc.)
  2. Exercise: regular exercise can not only help you remain physically fit, but also provides a natural release of endorphins, elevating your mood
  3. Get creative: engaging in creativity can be an excellent emotional outlet; consider taking a painting class, try out ceramics, take a cooking class
  4. Breathe: focus on slowing down your breath to help pull your focus away from your symptoms and onto your breath.
  5. Acknowledge your feelings: although it may seem that your anxiety will last forever, it won’t; by acknowledging and naming your feelings you can help diffuse your angst.
  6. Focus on external stimuli: look around you and notice tangible items in your surroundings; this can be both grounding and helpful in gaining perspective over your anxiety

If you are experiencing frequent and/ or severe bouts of anxiety it is best to err on the side of caution and obtain an evaluation from a qualified mental health professional. At the vary least, they will be able to provide you with more pointed guidance regarding how to most effectively deal with your anxiety. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

Anxiety Treatment For Children

boy with anxiety

Preadolescence and adolescence can be incredibly challenging periods in a young person’s life. It is both normal and unavoidable for a young person to experience bouts of anxiety, especially during their teenage years. However, severe and frequent levels of anxiety that interfere with a young person’s ability to complete everyday tasks could be indicative of an anxiety disorder. In some cases, it can be difficult to discern normal levels of anxiety from debilitating anxiety levels, especially as children endure the countless physiological changes that occur during the preadolescence and adolescence stages. It is generally best to err on the side of caution when it comes to a child’s mental and emotional wellbeing. In situations where a child’s anxiety becomes increasingly problematic to the point that it interferes with his or her ability to function socially, occupationally, and/ or educationally in daily life it is best to pursue guidance from a qualified mental health professional. Every child is different and will respond distinctly to the varied methods of treatment for anxiety.

What Are Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety disorders are a common mental health condition that is characterized by persistent feelings of fear, worry, and/ or distress. There are several different types of anxiety disorders. Children with anxiety disorders are likely to have one or more of the following: 

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Selective mutism (SM)
  • Panic disorder
  • Phobias
  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
  • Separation anxiety disorder 

Research has discovered that anxiety disorders are more prevalent in females than males, of all ages.  

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder

There are many different types of anxiety disorders, and each have their own respective set of symptoms. Some of the more general signs and symptoms that span across most anxiety disorders could include, but are not limited to, any combination of the follow, as provided by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating 
  • Muscle tension
  • Behavioral problems
  • Excessive worry
  • Strong startle response
  • Nervousness
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Fear of being alone
  • Nail biting
  • Frequent urination and/ or bedwetting 

The Child Mind Institute has pointed out that, unfortunately, nearly eighty percent of young people with anxiety go untreated. 

Treatment

There are many different therapeutic modalities that can be used to treat children with anxiety. With the help of a qualified mental health professional, the nuanced mental health needs of each child will be considered and used to develop a customized treatment plan. The specific components of a child’s anxiety treatment plan could consist of a combination of different therapeutic approaches. It is highly common to include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in one’s treatment plan. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment approach. Through CBT a child can learn to replace and adjust negative self-views through behavior modification. Other treatment options that could be included in a child’s treatment plan may be creative arts therapies, group therapy, exposure therapy, and medication. It is important to note that though medication is always an option, for some children it may be unnecessary. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.