anxiety Articles

10 Ways Anxiety in Children Affects Their Education and Life

Do you remember what emotions you felt on the first day of middle school? How about something a little more recent, like your first day of work at a new job? Maybe by now the scary thoughts and fear you had then are no longer part of your memory because they were fairly normal responses to what was happening that day, but can you imagine what it would be like if those feelings were a part of you all the time, even when they do not make sense?

What if you were a young child trying to go to school every day or to a friend’s birthday party on the weekend, but fear made it difficult for you go?

Perhaps you are the parent of a child struggling with anxiety and you're wondering exactly what is happening inside of their mind and body when they think about a social setting. It can be hard for everyone when a child in the family is experiencing anxiety symptoms, but even harder when their school teacher or their best friend doesn’t understand what is going on and they are not supportive of their emotional needs.

Teachers often do not know what is happening with the child and they can underestimate the effects of anxiety on the student and their peers. Teachers can mistake anxiety for many other things and sometimes do not have the knowledge yet on how to recognize anxiety in ...

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Am I Experiencing Symptoms of Anxiety?

When we are traumatized at an early age (and most of us are in one form or another), one of the most obvious and prevalent defensive structures we use to survive is disconnection from our bodies. This is the mind walling itself off from the experience of trauma to prevent being overwhelmed. When the mind is overwhelmed, it stops functioning.

If you are reading and understanding this, whatever you have suffered, it means your defensive and family or social support structures were sufficient to allow you to become emotionally formed. This disconnection from our bodies becomes important when we start to wonder about anxiety, because the first place we notice anxiety is in our bodies.

Symptoms of Anxiety

The American Heritage Medical Dictionary defines anxiety as “a state of intense apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a threatening event or situation, often to a degree that normal physical and psychological functioning is disrupted.”

Symptoms may include but are not limited to:

  • muscle tension
  • heart palpitations
  • sweating
  • dizziness
  • syncope (fainting)
  • tingling in the hands
  • shortness of breath

The body and mind store trauma as...

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Coping with Social Anxiety Disorder

I am walking through the woods on a peaceful day and I suddenly see a huge grizzly bear standing on its hind legs looking at me. I am paralyzed with fear. My heart rate accelerates, my mouth feels dry, my muscles tighten, my mind goes blank, my skin gets clammy, and I feel like I just drank 10 Red Bull Energy drinks.

These are all very adaptive fight or flight responses my body produces to protect me from the huge animal. Under this stress response, I will move faster, bleed less if hurt, be fueled by energy hormones, and will be less distracted by irrelevant details going through my mind. The Fight or Flight response is rooted in my instincts as an automatic response to help me survive when my wellbeing is threatened.

What if this survival response got triggered every time I had perform a new social interaction? My body and mind respond to a social interaction with another person as if I am about to be devoured by a grizzly bear. Having the survival response trigger when it is not needed can be exhausting and bring a person’s quality of life to a standstill.

Social anxiety disorder is the fear of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to social avoidance as means of coping. Fear of embarrassment or being in situations where you could be scrutin...

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Increasing The Effectiveness Of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy

In this article, we will discuss the effects of trauma and the benefits of trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy.

The Trouble with Trauma

Experiencing traumatic events can be overwhelming and disrupt a person’s ability to function. Serious cases can produce Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms, including:

  • Haunting memories with accompanying emotional upheavals as if the traumatic event was being experienced again
  • Overwhelming frustration in the form of feeling threatened, with a heightened sense of vigilance
  • An urge to fight or run away from the traumatic memory
  • Irrational thinking patterns and beliefs about yourself, others, and the world

The traumatic event can be the experience of surviving a serious car accident, a terrorist attack, domestic, physical, or sexual violence, or it could be the experience of life-threatening situations such as wars or natural disasters, or other horrendous events. Survivors may have feelings of shock, fear, false guilt, shame, anger, or vulnerability. The effects of these experiences can last for decades, especially in cases of traumatic events during childhood.

The Two Major Techniques of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive...

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A Christian Counselor on Overcoming Childhood Trauma as an Adult

A couple of times over the years, I have seen scenes in movies where a mob boss slaps an underling and says something like, “Stop bleeding. It’s stupid.” As silly as this sounds, this is often the way we treat our younger emotional parts when they intrude on the present and make us feel vulnerable, usually bringing anxiety and anger along with them.

When we feel weak or injured, it is easy to turn on ourselves with angry parental voices, telling us to get over it, grow up, or toughen up. Ironically, from our position as adults, it is not toughening up that makes us resilient, but kindness and curiosity. As we are able to welcome and integrate our damaged younger parts, the hurtful words and events of past and present are less able to cause more damage, mean comments roll more easily off our backs, and failures feel less like catastrophes.

A Word About Faith

Faith in a loving God is a beautiful thing, and can have a profound impact on our emotional healing. Strong or not, faith is our first step in our plan of action. We are not alone in this journey. Unfortunately, there are many things that can get in the way. We may imagine an angry God shaking a father’s finger at us, or a distant God who doesn’t really understand our pain, or we may even feel we don...

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Treating Depression in a Holistic Way: The Biopsychosocial-Spiritual Perspective

Part 2 of a Depression Biopsychosocial-Spiritual Perspective Series

In my previous article, I took a look at the big “D” – depression, as it affects and is treated by means of biological and psychological mechanisms. In this article, I consider two more realms that are often overlooked when considering a person’s makeup.

Depression Involves More than Just You

Classically, psychology has been seen as the study of the individual, with a focus on the mind. As technology advanced, the biological processes were also included. However, it does us all a disservice to neglect the fact that no human being exists in a bubble of isolation. We all have people in our lives with whom we interact, or could interact.

Furthermore, as a Christian, I believe that we also tend towards a spiritual connection with our Creator. Even in the secular world, the ever-growing identification of “spiritual but not religious” indicates an innate connection to something beyond oneself. Therefore, the all-consuming nature of Major Depression will inevitably also affect the social and spiritual aspects of human beings...

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Understanding Psychotherapy Involving Risk and Play

Beginning therapy can be scary. So many things can arise in us that prevent us from even reaching out to start the process. In my experience, and as I have reflected on it in retrospect, much of this fear is grounded in not knowing what will become of me: What will I have to give up, how will I live without those things, and what will remain? The things referred to are parts of who we are, the ideas we have, and our ways of being or seeing things.

Play and Risk: Partners Towards Connection

I propose that the process of talk therapy is an act of play, an act of creating something from within. In this article, I look particularly at the overlapping categories of risk and transformation within the act of play. What will come of what we do in life?

I often ask people, “How are you going to take care of yourself?” From a Judeo-Christian perspective, we could look to the Sabbath as a reference. The contemporary Sabbath is seen as a day of rest, on which we go to church or sit around the house and take naps. It is a different approach to productivity. While this is all true, the Sabbath is a day that is intended to ground us in a sense of our true Self with God. It is a returning to our primal oneness, from which we were never meant to be separated.

Our Sense of B...

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