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I Am a Woman with an Anxiety Disorder: What Should I Do?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 18.1% of adults in the United States are affected by an anxiety disorder of some kind – that’s about 40 million people. However, when allowing for errors in misdiagnosis or those who do not seek treatment for anxiety, this estimate rises quite a bit, to approximately 30% of Americans in the United States being affected by an anxiety disorder.

These numbers are already quite astounding, but when we look at the research conducted by Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA), we see that over the past decade, 54% of those with reported anxiety are women, while 46% are men. Thus, we can conclude that this is a massive issue that is plaguing Americans in general, but for whatever reason, we are seeing that the issue is perhaps affecting women on a greater scale than it is men.

What is an Anxiety Disorder?

An eastern philosopher is credited with a saying that I believe holds a great deal of wisdom – “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the moment.” – Unknown (widely thought to be Lao Tzu)

Obviously, there are multiple causes for depression in people, and biological co...

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What Does the Grief Process Feel Like?

Grief is never something you get over. You don't wake up one morning and say, “I've conquered that; now I'm moving on.” It's something that walks beside you every day. And if you can learn how to manage it and honour the person that you miss, you can take something that is incredibly sad and have some form of positivity. Terri Irwin, widowed wife of Steve Irwin

Grief comes at us hard. Whether we had time to prepare for its onset or not, no one is ever really ready for the experience of loss. It is painful, messy, confusing, and constantly in flux. Grief is the soul’s adjustment process and growing pains to a new life situation. Further, it is often shrouded in mystery in terms of what is “acceptable grief.”

Since everyone experiences the grief process differently, we often shy away from sharing our experience or listening to how our loved ones experience it.

C.S. Lewis had this to say about it: “Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say 'My tooth is aching' than to say 'My heart is broken.'”

When our tooth aches, we go to the dentist. When our arm is broken, we ...

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Understanding the Grief Stages

“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly – that still hurts when the weather gets cold. But you learn to dance with the limp.” – Anne Lamott

I am writing about one of life’s most uncomfortable and difficult topics to discuss – grief. This topic is so much more poignant and sensitive to the touch for me right now, as I have been walking through some personal grief recently that happens to be associated directly with this line of work that I have been called to do.

I must admit, as a counselor, grief is one of the toughest topics for me to grapple with when I am sitting across from you and you're in the midst of heartbreak and loss. Your world has just been forever changed; the reality that you have been accustomed to is now forever different.

As someone whose job it is to sit with you and share in this heartache, I find that no matter how many skills or tools, or how much knowledge or education I have for you during this time, I am still as human as ...

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Emotional Abuse: Effects and Solutions

Emotional abuse is one of those categories that has an incredibly broad spectrum of narrative variety. Therapeutically, you will find as many kinds of emotional abuse as there are patients. They often follow similar themes of parental neglect or denigration, but because we are all wired differently, the impact on us is quite varied.

One person may suffer cutting judgments from a parent and somehow understand they are wrong, and retain a good emotional structure, while another with similar treatment turns inward into self-loathing and despondency, or outward into feeling one down and rage. Our internal structure is a combination of our innate wiring coupled with our responses to traumatic experiences.

How We are Wired

When we are born, we have no sense of self. We experience our mother literally as a breast, the source of our sustenance. When we first experience that we cannot have that breast on demand, we begin to learn that we are not a god, and want to destroy this source of nourishment since we can’t have it when we want it.

As we grow and develop, we begin to understand that the breast is attached to a mother, whose gaze we want to capture, and that this mother can leave us but she always comes back. We need to be seen, known and loved well; to be able to ...

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Understanding Your Own Grief Process

As we seek to understand our own grief process, this article will draw from the resource, Understanding Your Grief, by Alan Wolfelt to outline ten essential touchstones.

Touchstone One: Open to the Presence of Your Loss

“You have probably been taught that pain is an indication that something is wrong and that you should find ways to alleviate the pain.

In our culture, pain and feelings of loss are experiences most people try to avoid. Why? Because the role of pain and suffering is misunderstood. Normal thoughts and feelings after a loss are often seen as unnecessary and inappropriate.”

“You will learn over time that the pain of your grief will keep trying to get your attention until you have the courage to gently, and in small doses, open to its presence. The alternative – denying or suppressing your pain – is, in fact, more painful. I have learned that the pain that surrounds the closed heart of grief is the pain of living against yourself, the pain of denying how the loss changes you, the pain of feeling alone and isolated – unable to openly mourn, unable to love and be loved by those around you.”

Setting our intention to heal is a commitment to sometimes being frightened, painful, and often lonely. No words can take away the pain. Ho...

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Honey, I Think We Need a Communication Coach

You may have heard that only a small percentage of what you communicate is actually in your words. The look in your eyes, the expression on your face, the shape of your mouth, the tone and timbre of your voice, your body language – all join together in a little symphony of communication when you try to speak to someone else. All this information is coming your direction when someone is trying to communicate with you.

To make matters even more complicated, in addition to receiving all this information, your mind has to comprehend the language, the form, and the idea behind it. Add to this the fact that typically while someone is speaking, we are having possible responses pop up in our minds at the end of every sentence, and it’s amazing anyone ever communicates anything.

When we reach an impasse in our ability to communicate effectively, it is time to call on a professional communication coach to help us navigate those waters. We need a referee.

A Quick Example

Let’s make up a couple, Karen and Bill. They’ve been married a few years, have a couple of young kids, and by mutual agreement, Bill has a day job and Karen runs the household. Karen is having one of those days – kids have been fussy, the check engine light came on, she dropped a full cup of coffe...

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Do You Suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? Take this OCD Test

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is one of the more well-known disorders, made popular, among many other portrayals, by Jack Nicholson in the movie “As Good as it Gets” as Melvin Udall, a misanthropic author with OCD. If you’ve seen the movie, you may recall Melvin turning the lock repeatedly after closing his front door.

As with all mental disorders, it is important not to self-diagnose based on information we have gathered from pop culture or the internet. OCD can cover a broad range of behaviors and thought patterns, and it is perhaps best evaluated in the context of how disruptive or distressing it is in your life. If you are concerned you have any mental disorder, see a mental health professional and get a diagnosis.

What is OCD?

The DSM-V Manual defines obsessions as (1) “recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are experienced, at some time during the disturbance, as intrusive and unwanted, and that in most individuals cause marked anxiety or distress,” and (2) “The individual attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts, urges, or images, or to neutralize them with some other thought or action (i.e., by performing a compulsion).”

The manual goes on to define compulsions as:

1. “Repetitive behaviors (e.g., hand washing...

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