Anxiety For Dummies, 3/e
Charles H. Elliott
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368 Pages
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Feel like your life is spinning out of control? Not sure how to handle what seems like constant change and chaos? You’re not alone—the world has taken some pretty crazy turns recently—but if you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you’re likely suffering far more than you need to. Anxiety is our natural reaction to unfamiliar, stressful, and dangerous situations, but for some of us this reaction can become all-consuming and ultimately debilitating. Anxiety For Dummies has the antidote to this, showing you how to manage feelings of uneasiness, distress, and dread—and take back control of your life.

In a straightforward and friendly style, clinical psychologists Charles H. Elliot and Laura L. Smith show you how to pinpoint your triggers, use proven techniques and therapies, improve health and eating habits, and make other practical changes to your lifestyle that will have you feeling better fast.

  • Understand what makes you anxious and learn to let go
  • Change your thinking to “right-size” your worry
  • Evaluate self-help as an adjunct to professional therapy
  • Explore healthy lifestyles and medication options

Including updates to the clinical literature and discussions of the impacts of world events—such as COVID-19—this book has everything you need to manage your worries and put you, not them, in charge of your life.

Introduction 1

About This Book 1

Foolish Assumptions 2

Icons Used in This Book 2

Beyond the Book 3

Where to Go from Here 3

Part 1: Detecting and Exposing Anxiety 5

Chapter 1: Analyzing and Attacking Anxiety 7

Anxiety: Everybody’s Doing It 8

Tabulating the Costs of Anxiety 9

What does anxiety cost you? 10

The cost to society 10

Recognizing the Symptoms of Anxiety 11

Thinking anxiously 11

Behaving anxiously 11

Finding anxiety in your body 12

Seeking Help for Your Anxiety 14

Matching symptoms and therapies 14

Finding the right help 16

Chapter 2: Examining What Anxiety is All About 17

Anxiety: Help or Hindrance? 18

What Anxiety Looks Like 20

Worrywarts 20

Avoiding people 22

Beyond everyday anxiety 24

Panic’s companion 26

Phobias: Spiders, snakes, airplanes, and other scary things 27

Rare symptoms of anxiety in adults 29

How Anxiety Differs from Other Emotional Disorders 30

Chapter 3: Investigating the Brain and Biology 33

Examining the Anxious Brain 33

How the brain’s circuits connect 34

Neurotransmitters 35

Preparing to Fight or Flee 36

Mimicking Anxiety: Drugs, Diet, and Diseases 39

Exploring anxiety-mimicking drugs 39

Ingesting calmness into your diet 41

Investigating medical anxiety imposters 42

Chapter 4: Clearing the Roadblocks to Change 45

Digging Out the Roots of Anxiety 46

It’s in my genes! 47

It’s how I was raised! 47

It’s the world’s fault! 48

Finding Self-Acceptance 49

Having Second Thoughts about Change 51

Deciding to Get the Show on the Road 53

Arguing with your arguments 53

Taking baby steps 54

Watching Worries Come and Go 57

Following your fears 57

Writing about your worries 59

Getting Help from Others 60

Seeking the right therapies 60

Seeking the right therapist 61

Part 2: Battling Anxiety 63

Chapter 5: Understanding Feelings 65

What Do You Feel and Why? 66

Feelings are sensational! 67

Feelings tell you what to do 68

Feelings often arise from your thoughts 68

Distinguishing Thoughts from Feelings 69

Blocking the blues 69

Getting in touch with your feelings 70

Getting in touch with your thoughts 73

Looking at the Feeling Cycle in Action 76

Chapter 6: Rethinking Your Thoughts 79

Tackling Your Thoughts 80

Weighing the evidence 81

Rethinking risk 83

Deconstructing worrisome scenarios 85

Cultivating Calm Thinking 91

Considering a “friend’s” perspective 91

Creating calm 92

Watching Out for Worry Words 94

Stacking sticks into bonfires of anxiety 94

Encountering extremist words 95

Misrepresenting with all-or-none, black-or-white words 96

Running into judging words 97

Turning to victim words 98

Refuting and Replacing Your Worry Words 98

Exorcising your extremist words 99

Disputing all-or-none 100

Judging the judge 100

Vanquishing victim words 101

Chapter 7: Busting Up Your Anxious Assumptions 103

Understanding Anxious Assumptions 104

Sizing Up Anxious Assumptions 105

Recognizing anxious assumptions 105

Assessing your anxious assumptions 106

Coming Down with a Case of Anxious Assumptions 108

Acquiring assumptions in childhood 109

Shattering your reasonable assumptions 109

Challenging Those Nasty Assumptions: Running a Cost/Benefit Analysis 110

Analyzing perfection 111

Tabulating approval 113

Reviewing vulnerability 113

Counting up control 114

Debating dependency 115

Challenging your anxious assumptions 116

Designing Calm, Balanced Assumptions 116

Tempering perfectionist tendencies 117

Balancing an approval addict 118

Balancing vulnerability 119

Relaxing control 120

Diminishing dependency 120

Above All: Be Kind to Yourself! 121

Chapter 8: Mindful Acceptance 123

Accepting Anxiety? Hey, That’s a Switch! 124

Taking a calm, dispassionate view 124

Tolerating uncertainty 126

Being patient with yourself 127

Appreciating your imperfections 128

Connecting with the Here and Now 130

Making contact with the present 132

Putting worries about the future to rest 133

Being tolerant and flexible 134

Accepting Mindfulness into Your Life 134

Savoring Spirituality 135

Chapter 9: Facing Fear 137

All About Avoidance 137

Avoiding emotions 138

Breaking the avoidance cycle 140

Accepting discomfort and distress 141

Exposure: Coming to Grips with Your Fears 142

Understanding your fears 143

Constructing an exposure list 145

Facing your fears (gulp) 146

Conquering Different Types of Fears 148

Waging war on worry 148

Fighting phobias 150

Pushing through panic 151

Expecting the Impossible 153

Chapter 10: Medications and Other Biological Options 155

Making Up Your Mind About Medications 156

The downside of medications 156

The upside of medications 157

Understanding Medication Options 158

Antidepressants 159

Benzodiazepines 162

Miscellaneous tranquilizers 163

Beta blockers 163

Mood stabilizers 164

Medical marijuana 165

Searching for Vitamins and Supplements 165

Viva vitamins! 168

Sifting through the slew of supplements 168

Stimulating the Brain 170

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) 170

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) 171

Part 3: Letting Go of the Battle 173

Chapter 11: Looking at Lifestyle 175

Friends and Family — Can’t Live with ’em, Can’t Live without ’em 175

Staying connected to others 176

Delegating for extra time 177

Just saying “no” 177

Ready Exorcise! 178

Don’t wait for willpower — Just do it! 180

Working in your workout 181

The ABCs of Getting Your Zs 182

Creating a sleep haven 183

Following a few relaxing routines 184

Taking action when sleep just won’t come 186

Designing Calm Diets 187

Enjoying small, frequent portions 188

Following nutritional common sense 188

Chapter 12: Meditating as Part of a Healthy Lifestyle 189

Meditation Basics 190

What’s So Good About Meditating? 191

Meditation Methods 192

Breathing meditation 192

Body scan meditation 193

Tasting meditation 194

Walking meditation 195

More meditation methods 196

Discovering Other Meditation Resources 197

Buyer Beware: Meditation Myths 197

Part 4: Zeroing in on Specific Worries 199

Chapter 13: Emotional Preparedness During a Pandemic 201

Pushing Through Pandemic-Related Anxiety and Stress 202

Accepting emotions 203

Distinguishing between useful and useless pandemicrelated anxiety 204

Gathering emergency supplies 206

Setting daily goals 207

Staying connected 208

Figuring out Fact versus Fiction 209

Is this the end of the world? 211

Is it safe to leave your house? 211

Chapter 14: Facing a Career Crisis and Financial Woes 213

Meeting Job Worries Head-On 214

Shoring up your resume 214

Finding flexibility in your career view 215

Considering careers with stability 216

Keeping the right focus 217

Taking Stock of Your Resources 218

Tallying up your financial balance sheet 218

Knowing your personal assets and liabilities 220

Committing to a New Game Plan 221

Setting short-term goals 221

Planning for the long haul 223

Chapter 15: Keeping Steady When the World is Shaking 225

Assessing Your Risks 226

Looking at the likelihood of dying from a natural disaster 226

Tabulating your personal risks 228

Assessing risks from climate change 229

Preparing a Plan for Realistic Worries 230

Imagining and Dealing with the Worst 232

Rethinking uncertainty and anxiety 233

Rethinking your ability to cope 233

Going right at your worries 235

Doing Your Part to Improve the World 236

Helping the environment 237

Volunteering in disasters 237

Chapter 16: Racism and Anxiety 239

Racism: The Elephant in the Room and the Snake in the Grass 240

Structural racism 241

Interpersonal racism 243

Internalized racism 245

How Racism Leads to Anxiety 246

Coping with Racism 248

Finding empowerment 249

Staying connected 249

Accepting emotion 250

Taking care of yourself 251

Fighting Racism 251

Becoming an ally 251

Educating yourself 252

Speaking up 252

Teaching your children well 253

Exploring the unfamiliar 253

Chapter 17: Keeping Out of Danger 255

Evaluating Your Actual, Personal Risks 255

Avoiding Unnecessary Risks 257

Actions for keeping health risks low 257

Actions for keeping daily life risks low 258

Dealing with Trauma-Related Anxiety 259

Thinking through what happened 260

Exposing yourself to the incident 261

Accepting a Certain Degree of Uncertainty 261

Choosing to put yourself in high-risk situations 261

Experiencing danger in everyday places 262

Part 5: Helping Others with Anxiety 265

Chapter 18: When a Family Member or Friend Suffers from Anxiety 267

When Your Loved One Suffers from Anxiety 268

Talking Together about Anxiety 270

Helping without owning the albatross 271

Avoiding blame 271

Giving reassurance: When help turns into harm 271

Guiding the Way 274

Coaching the right way 274

Looking at a coach in action 276

Teaming Up against Anxiety 278

Accepting Anxiety with Love 279

Chapter 19: Recognizing Anxiety in Kids 281

Separating Normal from Abnormal 282

Reviewing the Most Common Anxieties in Children 284

Separation anxiety 284

Constant worry 286

Phobias 286

Problems connecting with others 288

Silent anxiety 289

Chapter 20: Helping Kids Conquer Anxiety 291

Nipping Anxiety in the Bud 292

Early mastery experiences 292

Fine-tuning emotions 293

Inoculating against anxiety 294

Resisting the desire to comfort and reassure 295

Taking precautions via parenting style 296

Helping Already Anxious Children 298

Helping yourself first 298

Modeling mellow 299

Leading children through anxiety 300

Exorcizing anxiety through exercise 301

Getting Help from Others 303

Who to get help from 303

What to expect at the first session 304

What happens in therapy? 304

Part 6: The Part of Tens 307

Chapter 21: Ten Approaches That Just Don’t Work 309

Avoiding What Makes You Anxious 309

Whining and Complaining 310

Seeking Comfort 310

Looking for a Quick Fix 310

Sipping Herbal Tea 311

Drowning Your Sorrows 311

Trying Too Hard 311

Hoping for Miracles 311

Taking Medication as a Solution 312

Getting Help on the Couch 312

Chapter 22: Ten Ways to Deal with Relapse 313

Expecting Anxiety 313

Counting the Swallows 314

Checking Out Why Anxiety Returned 314

Seeing a Doctor 314

Revisiting What Worked Before 315

Doing Something Different 315

Getting Support 315

Considering Booster Sessions 316

Doubling Down on Exposure 316

Accepting Anxiety 317

Chapter 23: Ten Signs That You Need Professional Help 319

Having Suicidal Thoughts or Plans 319

Feeling Hopeless 320

Handling Anxiety and Depression 320

Trying to No Avail 321

Struggling at Home 321

Dealing with Major Problems at Work 321

Suffering from Severe Obsessions or Compulsions 321

Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 322

Going through Sleepless Nights 322

Getting High 322

Finding Help 323

Appendix: Resources For You 325

Index 329


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