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Can We Have Less Medication for Anxiety?

Medication & psychotherapy works, but can we do better?

By Mark Banschick, MD

Healthy Chill PillsAnxiety is fundamentally intrusive, interfering with going to sleep, preoccupying you while driving and preventing you from concentrating on what needs to be done. For many adults and their kids anxiety is always there, and if not, it’s always on the verge of being there.

It’s exhausting, and people want relief.

We live in a pill obsessed culture, so the reflex is to think medication.

Yet, other options are out there, and they often work.

Medications have a time and a place, but a little caution is not a bad thing. Other treatments range the gamut from diet changes, to meditation, to exercise to talk therapy. In addition, some treatments are based on better habits of living that will continue to help you years after the anxiety has abated. Sounds like a win win to me.

Healthy Chill Pills: Can We Have Less Medication for Anxiety?

According to the National Institute of Health, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness among Americans, with some estimates reaching 40 million people. It’s generally accepted that effective treatment for most anxiety combines medication and psychotherapy. And, I agree. These protocals work and I’ve used them for years. The issue at hand is whether we can do better.

At Issue: So, are drug interventions always needed?

A common trap that people get into with medications in general, and especially psychiatric ones, is thinking that a pill will end their suffering. This may be the case if the ailment has one simple cause, for example, if an improperly treated wound becomes infected by bacteria, an antibiotic can often clear the situation up quickly with minimal side effects. However, anxiety and other psychological issues are more complex, and the effects of medication are less fully understood. And, with all the breakthroughs of modern science, the functioning of the most important organ in our body, the brain, is still oftentimes a mystery.

Example: The placebo effect of psychiatric medications is very high. This means that taking medications does help, but often the effect is less because of the pharmacological action of the agent, and more about your mind “believing” that the pill will work. The message here is that what makes drugs work, may be more complicated than you think. In fact it may be because of the way you think.

Most medications prescribed for anxiety disorders can be characterized as either antidepressants or benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines can cause a relatively quick calm and are much appreciated by patients who are panicky. The antidepressants work more slowly but maintain a blood level every day so they have the advantage of muting some anxiety throughout the day. Side effects are varied. It is easy to get hooked on benzodiazapines because they work so quickly and can be quite effective. The antidepressants have a wide range of side effects, from rare cardiac issues, to weight gain or loss, to night sweats and more. Fortunately, most of the side effects of these meds are relatively benign, but who wants to be on medication if they don’t have to?

And here is the rub. In our society, the doctors, the patients, the managed care companies, and medical industry all push medications. It’s the easiest and, sometimes, the least costly of interventions. But does that make it good treatment?

Good research has shown that medication, especially combined with treatment from a competent therapist, can often give a person what they need to start down the road to recovery. But in the long run, the best way to manage symptoms of anxiety isn’t with a drug that might induce dependence or have other side effects.

Source: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-intelligent-divorce/201203/healthy-chill-pills

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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in General

 

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When Reducing Anxiety, Perfect Solutions Don’t Exist

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

When Reducing Anxiety, Perfect Solutions Don’t ExistThe distorted stories we tell ourselves can amplify our anxiety — which, ironically can occur when we’re trying to reduce the worry, jitters and angst. One of the most damaging of distortions is the desire for perfection.

In his book Little Ways to Keep Calm and Carry On: Twenty Lessons for Managing Worry, Anxiety and Fear, author and professor Mark A. Reinecke, Ph.D, describes this desire as “the belief that there’s a best solution and that nothing less than the best is acceptable.”

Since we can’t predict how events will unfold, that perfect solution simply doesn’t exist — not to mention that the idea of perfection only puts added pressure on ourselves and sets us up for failure. As Reinecke writes, “When you expect perfection, the only guarantee is that you’ll be disappointed.”

A more helpful way to approach anxiety is by being flexible — which I know is tough because when you’re anxiety-prone, the last thing you probably feel comfortable with is variability. But with practice and a shift in perspective, you can get there.

Reinecke features a three-step process in his book to help readers find a variety of anxiety-alleviating strategies.

  1. To start figuring out which strategies can help, pinpoint a problem that’s bothering you. Then brainstorm at least 10 to 15 solutions (no erasing or crossing off just yet). “Be bold and creative,” Reinecke says. And consider how you’re feeling. Next to each solution, record the pros and cons along with the short- and long-term consequences. Lastly, look at your list and assign each solution a grade from A to F. Eliminate any of the Ds and Fs. After that, you’ve got a good-sized list of strategies.
  2. Try to be flexible if things don’t turn out according to your plan. As Reinecke writes, “Be open to a range of results, and maintain your sense that you are capable of handling a host of outcomes.”
  3. Remember that the only thing you can control is your perception. “Although you can’t control the future, you can control how you view it,” according to Reinecke.

Reinecke starts the chapter with a quote from Winston Churchill that serves as an important reminder for anxiety — and for life: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no less enthusiasm.”

Source: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/03/15/when-reducing-anxiety-perfect-solutions-dont-exist/

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Posted by on March 22, 2012 in General

 

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Anxiety: Practical Management Techniques

Anxiety: Practical Management Techniques

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Nearly every client who walks through a health professional’s door is experiencing some form of anxiety. Even if they are not seeking treatment for a specific anxiety disorder, they are likely experiencing anxiety as a side effect of other clinical issues. For this reason, a solid knowledge of anxiety management skills should be a basic component of every therapist’s repertoire. Clinicians who can teach practical anxiety management techniques have tools that can be used in nearly all clinical settings and client diagnoses. Anxiety management benefits the clinician as well, helping to maintain energy, focus, and inner peace both during and between sessions.

The purpose of this continuing education course is to offer a collection of ready-to-use anxiety management tools. 2007 | 41 pages | 30 posttest questions | Course #40-12

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Customer Reviews:

  • “I really liked the course. Very user friendly!” – Kris B. (Counselor)
  • “Thank you for the opportunity to access interesting subject for ceu’s. Your online class information and techniques are practical and easy to apply to the every day therapy.” – Cheryl B. (Occupational Therapist)
  • “Very concrete and helpful course that I can use personally and in my OT pediatric practice” – Anne E.(Occupational Therapist)
  • “I really enjoyed this course. It was a great review of major concepts and provided excellent opportunities to improve and expand best practices.” – Kathleen F. (Social Worker)

CE Credit: 4 Hours (0.4 CEUs)
Target Audience: Psychology Counseling Social-Work Occupational-Therapy Marriage-and-Family
Learning Level: Intermediate
Online Course: $56

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe two natural bodily functions that serve as powerful and basic tools for anxiety management
  2. Distinguish between the use of anxiety management techniques for prevention and intervention
  3. List and define nine basic categories of anxiety management techniques
  4. Identify at least one specific exercise in each of the nine basic categories of anxiety management techniques
  5. Name ten anxiety management techniques that employ cognitive restructuring as their base
  6. Describe two anxiety management techniques that address the specific disorders of phobia and panic attack

About the Author:

Lisa M. Schab, MSW, LCSW, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice in Libertyville, Illinois. A graduate of Loyola University School of Social Work, Ms. Schab has specialized in anxiety and depression, blended families, and the treatment and prevention of eating problems and disorders. She has presented a number of professional training seminars and is the author of several books and continuing education courses, among them:

Professional Development Resources is recognized as a provider of continuing education by the following:
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APA: American Psychological Association
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CDR: Commission on Dietetic Registration (#PR001)
NBCC: National Board for Certified Counselors (#5590)
NAADAC: National Association of Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counselors (#00279)
California: Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625)
Florida: Boards of SW, MFT & MHC (#BAP346); Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635); Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635); Occupational Therapy Practice (#34). PDResources is CE Broker compliant.
Illinois: DPR for Social Work (#159-00531)
Ohio: Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501)
South Carolina: Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193)
Texas: Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) & State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678)
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Posted by on May 6, 2011 in General

 

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