How to Cope With Anxiety Disorder

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Part of recovering from severe anxiety disorder is learning how to cope with it in the first place. Cope with anxiety disorder with help from an expert counselor in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Anxiety
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Video Transcript

My name is Gordon McInnis. I work here at Carolina Beach Counseling, here in wonderful Carolina Beach, North Carolina, and today we're going to talk about how therapy can help you cope with anxiety. Well, therapy helps in a variety of different ways. One, it helps to identify real versus imagined causes of your anxiety. A lot of times, it helps you to focus on what kinds of thoughts are going through your head when you have an anxiety or a panic attack. A lot of times, we have these feelings start to come up, and then we start to think very negatively about what's going on. What's going on with my body? I'm going to die. I'm going to have a heart attack. I'm going to embarrass myself in some way or fashion. I'm going to faint, people are going to laugh at me. They're going to make fun of me. This is very uncomfortable. I can't stand being uncomfortable, all those kind of things. And so, therapy helps to kind of identify those thoughts and those processes, almost those automatic thoughts and processes. It also helps to educate people on what anxiety is and what it isn't. A lot of time anxiety, it starts as, it's a brain issue. It starts out as a brain issue. You have various parts of your brain. One is called your Amygdala, and it's a small, almond-shaped, size portion of your brain that is your early warning detection device, and what it does is it basically picks up things from the environment and it starts the fight-or-flight symptoms. It starts the fight-or-flight process going, whereas if, like, let's say you see a bear in the woods. Your Amygdala is going to fire off. That's danger. It's going to give you a shot of adrenalin so that you get prepared to either fight or flight. Well, you're probably not going to fight the bear, you're going to run from the bear, okay? And sometimes, your Amygdala will fire off in situations that there's no bear, and it misinterprets cues within your environment. Well, your Amygdala kind of sits next to what's called your Limbic System, which is where your emotions are processed, and your Hippocampus, which is where your memories are processed. So, your Amygdala looks at when have we ever been in a situation like this before, what are the feelings that were supposed to go along with this, and it does it all, what's called preconsciously, or does it before your conscious brain can kick in and say, "Oh, no, we don't really have to worry about the situation." It's already started this whole process going. You've already got this adrenalin rush going. You're already starting to have the symptoms, your palms are sweating, maybe you feel keyed up. Maybe you're starting to breathe funny and there's a variety of different physical issues that are going on, that therapy helps you to identify what those are, and kind of take the mystery out of them, like your heart beating fast. Well, your heart is designed to beat fast. I mean if you go jogging or do strenuous exercise, your heart is going to beat fast, and people worry that I'm going to have a heart attack. Well, actually when you have a panic attack or an anxiety attack, it's the opposite of a heart attack. A heart attack is when your heart stops beating or just quivers. A panic attack is your heart beating more quickly, and so people worry about, "Am I going to faint?" because they feel dizzy. One of the things is that you probably won't faint, because you're actually raising your blood pressure and you're increasing your blood flow to your brain, which is the exact opposite of what happens when you faint. When you faint, you're decreasing your blood pressure, and you're decreasing that blood flow to your brain. When you increase it, what's really happening is you're probably not going to faint. The dizziness usually comes from because you've changed your breathing pattern and you've changed your oxygen and CO2 content in your blood, and so it kind of gives you that dizzy, kind of weird feeling. So again, therapy can help with that. Therapy also helps with managing stress, teaching you how to manage stress. Teaching you how to use appropriate relaxation techniques, also helps you to monitor what you eat, what you intake, your sleep habits, those kind of things, because those are all really important in dealing with anxiety. That was just some advice on some various topics related to anxiety. As always, you should go seek professional help or go see your doctor if these things are continuing to bother you.

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