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Light On Anxiety Expert Perspectives: LOA in the News

Six steps for managing anxiety

By Debra Kissen

To medicate or not medicate?

That is the question.

If you are like 23% of women, you may be taking a selective serotonin reuptake  inhibitor (SSRI) such as Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, or Zoloft to manage your anxiety.  You may also be contemplating getting pregnant and feeling confused over whether you should taper off versus staying on medication.  You are certainly not alone in this dilemma.  There is no “one size fits all” answer to this question. The decision to continue to take or stop medication is a personal one, which should be  discussed with your ob-gyn, as well as the physician who prescribes the psychotropic medication.  If you do decide to either take a break from medication while you are pregnant or to discontinue medication indefinitely, there is still much that you can do to manage your anxiety using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) tools.

1. Break the cycle of fearing fear.

The first step in utilizing CBT to manage  anxiety is learning that you need not fear anxiety.  The more we fear feeling anxious,  the more we feel anxious. This pattern leads to a continuous cycle of fear of fear.  It is  possible to teach your brain that anxiety may be uncomfortable but it is not dangerous  and therefore need not be feared.

2. Mindfully observe verses react to anxiety.

Mindfulness based treatment for anxiety entails noting that which is uncomfortable, and then allowing these  thoughts and sensations to pass, without clinging to them or attempting to eliminate  them. By learning to mindfully observe all thoughts and sensations, whether they are  labeled as “good” or “bad”, we can more quickly move on from anxious moments in  contrast to getting stuck in them.

3. Slow breathing calms and soothes the body and mind.

By practicing slow, diaphragmatic breathing, you can train your body to act calm, even if your mind  is feeling anxious. After engaging in slow breathing for several minutes, your mind will  catch on to the body’s signal that the coast is clear and that there is nothing to fear.  In  doing so, the body will shift from the fight or flight response to the relaxation response.

4. Obtaining assistance – you need not go at this alone.

Obtaining help in managing your anxiety is a sign of strength and an act of bravery.  To admit that you  are imperfect and have struggles is a key ingredient in moving past anxiety’s demand  for “perfection or bust.

5. Stay active – anxiety loves time to snuggle up and get cozy.

Anxiety has a harder time staying front and center, soaking up all of your attention, when you  are engaged in valued living.  By choosing (and at times forcing yourself) to participate  in a meaningful activity, you are teaching anxiety that there is no real danger and it can  “chill out” and take a break from guard duty for a bit.

6. Practice self-compassion – be kind to yourself.

You are working hard to live life to its fullest. There are hard moments and beautiful moments.  Try to hold them all lightly.  Accept yourself for whom you are while striving to be the person you know  you can be. – include article from light on anxiety newsletter “what is the most effective treatment for  anxiety” -include article from light on anxiety newsletter,  “what is the difference between normal  stress and an anxiety disorder?

Dr. Debra Kissen is CEO of Light On Anxiety CBT Treatment Center. Dr. Kissen specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)...

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