Anxiety is a mental health issue which informs, not defines, those struggling with it. There are many resources available to help those who have anxiety as a prominent feature in their story. Finding specialized resources and support is worth the effort and reaching out for help may be one of the bravest choices one can make.
Myth: Safety comes from the absence of anxiety.
MEANING: Repeated experiences with anxiety can make safety feel far away. Learning to tolerate intense and negative emotion is important so the brain and the body can begin to trust it is okay to feel. The first and most important start in this process is to become a self-advocate and primary resource in healing. This is done by being diligent about practicing self care, respecting the struggle (even if it is a loathed one), reaching out for help, speaking your needs to safe people, pacing the research of treatment options and holding onto hope during the windy road to healing.
The following self-paced and affordable resources are a good place to start developing a deeper understanding of anxiety and its impact on the brain and the body:
- The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Anxiety by William J. Kraus
- The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne
- The Body Keeps Score: Brain, Mind and the Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, MD
- The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety: A Guide to Breaking Free from Anxiety, Worry and Phobias by John P. Forsyth and Georg H. Eifert
- Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy by Francine Shapiro
- Perfecting Ourselves to Death: The Pursuit of Excellence and the Perils of Perfection by Richard Winter
These web resources can help with educating loved ones and finding specialized support:
- Anxiety Resource Center
- Anxiety and Depression Resources of America
- National Institute of Health
- The Pursuit of Happiness
Myth: There is no way to heal from my anxiety.
MEANING: The truth is the body and the brain are designed to move towards health. This process can get halted based upon: genetics, family of origin, life experiences and physical health issues. Additional support is often needed and is in no way a sign of failure. White-knuckling life while constantly bracing for the impact of another wave of anxiety is not the way to live.
… the body and the brain are designed to move towards health.
Resources, access, time, support and awareness all impact the options available. Do the research and talk with friends, health care providers and look for anxiety experts who have specific training and experience in treating the anxiety spectrum. Some of the approaches that can support those who are seeking relief from clinical anxiety are:
- Mindfulness Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral + Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
- EMDR Therapy
- Sensorimotor Psychotherapy
- Family Systems Therapy
- Medication Therapy
- Nutritional Therapy
Myth: If my first attempt at recovery from anxiety does not work, it is not worth it to keep trying.
MEANING: Finding the best resources and treatment team is not a one size fits all approach and will vary from person to person. Make sure to work with a collaborative and specialized team who understand that anxiety tells a unique story with each individual. It is scary to reach out, to invest time and resources, and to be vulnerable with professionals. Sticking with treatment when relief is not experienced quickly challenges patience and hope. Patience and anxiety rarely hang out well together, but finding a trustworthy support team — both clinical and personal — can help offer much needed support when hope reserves are low.
Sometimes additional support is needed through a higher level of care such as: intensive outpatient, day treatment, residential or inpatient. Severity of symptoms, access to health care and type of health care benefits will help inform availability to treatment options.
Find the previous parts of our anxiety series, here.
Image via Michelle Roller