By Phil Rosenbalm
Anxiety is a large problem for many people. It is an even bigger problem for young people. Over 30% of people aged 13 to 18 suffer from anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders were the most common and pervasive mental disorders in the US in 2022. Some types of anxiety disorders include Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, phobias, and Panic Disorder. Some symptoms include abdominal pain, indigestion, chest pain, insomnia, headache, dizziness and chest pain, trouble concentrating, increased heart rate, and more. If the problem is not very serious, there are things you can do to reduce the anxiety. Some steps to alleviate the anxiety include limiting alcohol, quitting smoking if you are a smoker, staying active, getting enough sleep, exercising, doing deep breathing exercises, and meditating. In addition, doing things like Tai Chi, Yoga, and Mindfulness can be very helpful. Some experts suggest thinking of something funny when experiencing anxious thoughts, distracting yourself, or taking a brisk run for a few minutes or fast walking. Different things work for other people. For some people watching TV or a movie, listening to relaxing music, drinking a cup of tea, or even cleaning the house can be helpful. Many therapists use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help clients suffering from anxiety problems. Aaron T. Beck, the founder of Cognitive Therapy, wrote about how negative thoughts can make people feel bad about themselves. He called these negative thoughts automatic thoughts or ATs. He realized that depressed patients had a lot of negative and hopeless thoughts. He later realized that people with a lot of anxiety also have an abundance of ATs. It turns out that there are things one can do to reduce the ATs, and in so doing, one can reduce depression and anxiety. In the book Managing Social Anxiety by Hope, Heimberg, Juster, and Turk, the authors spell out a method to reduce the automatic thoughts. They first have you identify your ATs. This is done by asking yourself questions such as “What worries do I have in a certain area or “What doubts do I have?” They then have you analyze the thinking errors in each of the automatic thoughts by asking some of the following questions. Is this “all or nothing thinking?” Am I “catastrophizing” the situation? Am I disqualifying or discounting the positive? Am I overgeneralizing? There are other questions they have you ask yourself. The next step is to challenge the automatic thoughts by asking “disputing questions,” such as do I know for certain what I believe is true? Or “is there another explanation for what has occurred?” Finally, they have you come up with a rational response after you have successfully challenged the AT. It takes a bit of work, but if you are willing to do it, you will see a tremendous decrease in the number of ATs you use. Did you know that hypnotherapy can also be very helpful in getting anxiety under control? A certified hypnotherapist can teach you different ways to calm yourself down, can help you deal directly with the areas causing anxiety, and can help you understand where the anxiety is coming from. They can help you resolve the initial problem and learn new ways to deal with the anxiety. In addition, a hypnotherapist can teach you how to do self-hypnosis, which can be very helpful in reducing anxiety. If you want to learn more about hypnosis or experience a session, please call Phillip Rosenbaum at 248-688-6469. Anxiety can be brought under control. Don’t let it ruin your life.