You may find it strange to hear that anxiety is a surprisingly complex emotion with many possible causes and manifestations. If you’ve lived with anxiety for a long time and never asked yourself about it, it may seem like just the way you are, a simple state of being.
Anxiety is not our normal state, however. It has causes and symptoms that can be addressed, and can be reduced and managed over time. We don’t have to just accept it.
Like pain, anxiety is intended to be a beneficial, healthy part of our normal function. You have probably heard of the "fight or flight" response. This is our sympathetic nervous system telling us what to do in a crisis.
Imagine walking into a dark room in your basement. Out of the corner of your eye you catch a glimpse of an animal shape on a shelf at eye level, the perfect spot from which to pounce on unsuspecting prey. You hastily flip on the light and are greeted by the sight of your beloved stuffed teddy bear.
In that moment between the glimpse and flipping on the light, your body went into high alert, adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormone) pumping, readying your body to either run for it, or grapple with the beast to the death.
When the absence of a threat was revealed, the first thing you did was take a de...
Imagine that you are sitting in a sailboat. Looking out at the water, you envision where you want to go. You set the rudder, lift the anchor, put up the sails and away you go. If the wind is strong, you can move quickly to your destination. Perhaps the wind picks up and up and you're suddenly feeling less like a sailor and more like a pilot. The wind is carrying you faster and faster and this has become an incredibly fun thrill ride! You look down at the water and enjoy watching the waves go by as you speedily fly atop the waves, nothing holding you back. However, the wind eventually dies down. After some time, it crawls to a stop and you are stuck.
With no wind in your sails, you float in the ocean all alone. You feel isolated. You look at your boat and realize that that high speed thrill ride you were on a short while ago left your hull damaged, chunks of wood flown off, and you neglected basic maintenance for some time. Perhaps you try blowing into the sails, but nothing can get your boat going again.
Eventually, the winds pick up and once again you're flying. But soon they die and again you're stuck. This process goes on and on for some time. It wears on you, and you never get where you wanted to go in the first place. Ultimately, you are at the whims of the wi...
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition and many people think that it causes severe mood swings. In a sense this is true. But did you know that there is actually much more to bipolar than just mood swings? In fact, you can’t be diagnosed with bipolar just because you have mood swings, no matter how many or how severe they may be. In this article, I outline some key bipolar symptoms in men.
A Pattern of Thoughts and Behaviors
Bipolar disorder involves a pattern of thoughts and behaviors which, when seen together, signal a problem. As you probably guessed, mood swings are typically a part of that pattern and are checked for when someone is evaluated for bipolar. But there are many other symptoms of bipolar, and these can be even more problematic than the mood swings.
One of the main things that men (or their significant others, friends, or supervisors) complain about is the severe difficulty they have focusing. People who are experiencing a manic episode typically have a hard time focusing for more than a moment. They feel as if their thoughts are racing through their head at a million miles an hour. Someone who was experiencing this once told me that they were thinking so fast that as soon as they tried to focus on any one specific...
As I write, I am alone in my office, just a couple of days before Christmas. My adult children have come home from college and I wonder how I survived without their advice and opinions. Our usually quiet evenings have been replaced by sibling rivalry, holiday preparation, and abundant conversation. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is good to have them home and I am enjoying their company. But that wonderful and much-needed presence has again come for a visit – quietness. Oh how I love it… And how I need it. My thought lately has been that I cannot be the man I should unless I make time for quiet. Stillness is an essential part of our growing deeper as we grow older. It is the security of being comfortable with ourselves and alone with our thoughts. It is an opportunity to refocus and to listen to our hearts and to that still small voice. Or, as someone once said, “We will not become men of God without the presence of solitude.”
Make Time for Quiet
Those words haunt me when I get caught up in the treadmill of time and schedules, and the deadline of demands. Does this sound familiar? I fail to coast in neutral and instead find myself to often in overdrive. Thanks to Alka Seltzer, Excedrin, energy drinks, and Sleep Eze, we are able to repeat our nonproductive haste w...
In a previous article, I sought to clarify the terms we use in speaking of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in order to help identify the disorder. I also attempted to normalize obsessional thoughts and emphasized the importance of accurately judging intrusive thoughts. In this article, I would like to follow up by outlining how avoidance and safety-seeking behaviors contribute to the vicious cycle of OCD. If you are struggling with what you think might be OCD or something similar, getting as much information as you can about some common symptoms and behaviors can help you to clarify your need for help. I will also outline how a Christian counselor can help if you think that you, or a loved one, are experiencing OCD symptoms.
Strategies That Provide Temporary Feelings of Safety
In discussing OCD symptoms and behaviors, it is always important to remember that OCD is a specific type of anxiety disorder. Obsessions are the persistent and repetitive thoughts, images or impulses that are experienced as intrusive and that cause distress or anxiety. Compulsions, on the other hand, are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that individuals enga...
When the language of certain mental disorders becomes commonly used in popular culture, this can produce confusion and result in the improper labeling of individuals and symptoms. This is unfortunate because it stigmatizes these individuals and can lead to a misrepresentation of a real condition. This is often the case with Bipolar Disorder. This is indeed a mood disorder. But Bipolar Disorder does not simply mean that people’s moods go from happy to angry, or even just happy to sad, in a short period of time, as many popular uses of the term suggest. In this brief article, I provide a clearer understanding of Bipolar Disorder and I also outline a Christian counselor’s approach to treating the disorder.
Bipolar Disorder Involves a Manic Episode
While an accurate breakdown of Bipolar Disorder would involve differentiating between Bipolar I and II, the most important thing to look out for is the presence of a manic episode. Mania is the defining feature of Bipolar Disorder and needs to be accurately understood. It involves an abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood. This distinct mood must last at least a week or else it must involve hospita...