How to Overcome Your Fear of Crowds, Restaurants, and Strangers

social anxiety

You know that other people don’t bite, right?

Of course they don’t. So why do people with social anxiety run around like they do?

Well, if you fear other people let’s start with why you’re afraid.

You’re afraid of being judged, criticized, ridiculed or laughed at. You don’t like the feeling of strangers approaching or crowds gathering.

So you hide.

You cower in your home. You limit the places you visit. You drown your fears in the mundane but deep down you wish you could do more.

Maybe there’s hope though. Maybe your fear of other people is just an illusion. Maybe you just never gave yourself permission to explore the world without preconceived notions about what’s out there.

The best part is that you can put an end to your fear of people starting today.

You can overcome your fear of crowds, restaurants, movie theaters, or whatever, and it doesn’t require any special tricks.

So in today’s episode of The Anxiety Guru Show I explore what steps you can take to get out of your house and into every fantastic human experience that you deny yourself right now.

Plus, I discuss what a “normal” person is and how to tell if you fall into that category.

Don’t forget to comment below and share this podcast on Facebook and Twitter.

anxiety, panic, podcast

Do You Have to Take Antidepressants Forever?

This is a damn good question.

I got an email from a reader the other day asking whether or not it was a good idea to ditch their SSRI (antidepressant) in favor of going all natural.

This is an issue that a lot of people have pondered given the many concerns surrounding the use of psychiatric medications.

I’ve known quite a few people that worried about addiction or the long-term effects of SSRIs before starting up, which isn’t unreasonable given the side-effects and addictive qualities of certain medications.

However, SSRIs are relatively effective and are not addictive the same way that say alcohol or tobacco is.

So, let’s say everything goes smoothly with your SSRI experience. When should you stop taking them? And what happens when you stop?

I thought that this was a particularly good question given the number of anxiety sufferers that use SSRIs to quell their anxiety.

In this week’s episode of The Anxiety Guru show I explore this question in detail to give you a better idea about when and how you can stop taking your SSRI.

But, of course, I didn’t stop there. I also tackle why anxious people often think they’re crazy and how you can learn to take your own anti-anxiety advice.

anxiety, panic, podcast

How You Tricked Yourself Into Becoming Anxious

Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will make you nervous. Well, if you let them anyway.

If you tell yourself the wrong things about anxiety symptoms over and over they tend to get more tenacious. This makes the words you choose to describe your anxiety symptoms super important.

That’s exactly what happened to me. When I first encountered anxiety symptoms I didn’t know what they were so I ended up associating threatening words with the symptoms I was experiencing.

This was a horrible mistake that a lot of rookie neurotics make. I’m sure you’ve probably done this too.

When anxiety symptoms strike the first few times it tends to leave you speechless and fumbling in your mind for an answer. So naturally you start making stuff up as to why you’re dying all of a sudden.

Palpitations turn into heart attacks, headaches into brain tumors, and racing thoughts into pure insanity.

But the words you choose to describe your anxiety symptoms, especially in the beginning, play a huge role in how your relationship with anxiety will play out.

In today’s episode of The Anxiety Guru Show I discuss my theory on why we tend to use threatening words to describe anxiety symptoms and how you can turn this around to help yourself regain control.

Don’t forget to comment below!

The Anxiety Guru Show

The Most Important Anti-Anxiety Advice in the World

anxiety, blog

Let’s face it; taking the time to really understand anxiety symptoms is boring. There just isn’t anything sexy about the autonomic nervous system.

But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s important. If you can wrap your head around how your anxiety symptoms spring to life then you’ve won.

Remember that scene from The Matrix when Neo is standing in a hallway made of green numbers? That’s true badassery. And that can be you.

Truly understanding how anxiety symptoms work paves the way towards ultimate freedom from fear, worry, and every single part of abnormal anxiety that’s made your life suck.

But why symptoms? Well, isn’t that what this is all about? I know that symptoms are only a reflection of emotional angst, and maybe bad genes, but not for you.

For you they are everything when it comes to feeling bad.

So, instead of trying to take you on some transcendental trip, I’m just going to roll up my sleeves and explain the nuts and bolts of how anxiety symptoms work and why this is so crucial to feeling better.

I get so many emails from my anxious brethren about their latest ache, itch, or twinge and it saddens me, really.

But I get it. So in today’s episode of the Anxiety Guru Show I lay down the law on how to smash your fear of anxiety symptoms.

And as a bonus I even discuss anxious parenting and how to defy your fear of death. Good stuff.

Don’t forget to comment below!

The Anxiety Guru Show

What To Do When Your Anxiety Comes Back

relapse, anxiety, stress

If your anxiety has come back after leaving you in peace for a while don’t feel bad. It’s normal. It’s also annoying and somewhat terrifying.

Just when you thought all this anxiety business was old news you can become accidentally immersed in it again, but this time you might have the sinking feeling that things are about to get a lot worse.

Sometimes a relapse is set off by a stressful situation or a big change in your life but, and I’ll be honest with you, sometimes it just happens for no reason.

It’s happened to me several times over the years. And although my anxiety never returned to the living hell levels of 1999, it does enough to get my attention every now and then.

I wrote about this issue in 2009 but never followed up with a podcast. It’s helpful to revisit this topic from time to time because for some reason after going anxiety free for a while dealing with it again can feel brand new in a horrifying way.

So in this week’s episode of the Anxiety Guru Show I explore anxiety relapse and how you can manage it and avoid another long stint of bad nerves.

Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

The Anxiety Guru Show

How to Get the Most Out of Therapy

podcast, blog, anxietyWhat’s so special about therapy anyway? Isn’t it just a super long conversation with a stranger?

No, it’s not. It’s much more. It can feel like the millions of conversations you’ve had in the past but with one major twist.

When done right therapy elicits the truth; you know that thing you hide from everybody.

Most people aren’t totally honest about their inner world because humans are damn good liars, which isn’t all bad.

Lying serves an important function in that it helps us to keep on a pretty mask so the “ugly” doesn’t scare away our friends and family.

That’s what makes therapy useful. It creates a safe place to talk about things that are usually taboo or sensitive.

And although a therapist is the farthest thing from a friend, they are in fact human beings that provide other human beings with an opportunity to spill the beans, dare I say explore the soul, without all the dangers associated with talking to people you know in a “real” way.

Therapists are also able to assist you with developing skills that will help you to identify issues that need to be addressed and guide you through the process of choking out your inner demons; or something like that.

The problem is that therapy doesn’t always work. There are a million reasons why therapy could end in failure, but I also know that there are steps you can take, aside from being brutally honest, to ensure that you get the most out of your therapy sessions.

In today’s episode of the Anxiety Guru Show I share four tips that will help you squeeze everything you need from therapy so you can decrease your bad nerves and get your life back on track.

Click the icon below to listen now and leave your comment below.

podcast, anxiety, blog

 

Why I Never Took Psych Meds

Phobia

The reason I never took medication is dead simple. I was scared.

I used to think that using psych meds meant risking my sanity, so why push my luck?

Sounds dumb now but that’s what my mind screamed at the height of my nervous sickness.

There was also the issue of control. Actually, I still have control issues.

I like to be in control – always have. When I’m in a car, I drive. When I’m on an airplane, I wish like hell that I could drive.

So back in the day the more I felt anxiety the more I craved control of my environment and everything in it. It made me feel safe.

But it was also that need for control that clashed hard with any kind of risk taking – even the kind that helps.

In the end, I regret not trying anti-anxiety medications because they could have reduced my suffering.

To help me explain why I never used anti-anxiety medications and how that impacted my life I produced a short podcast.

Take a moment to listen and comment below.

And if you’re feeling particularly kind share this podcast on Facebook or Twitter.

anxiety medications

3 Types of Anxiety Medications That Work Fast

anxiety, blog

When it comes to curing abnormal anxiety you have to keep your head on a swivel; always on the lookout for a permanent solution to your problem.

How you do this will vary but an important part of healing, regardless of the method, is managing the physical symptoms of anxiety.

The reality is that it’s difficult to make progress when your body is under constant assault by chest pain, palpitations and other symptoms.

Anxiety symptoms breed terror and ferocious mental unrest making it hard to do anything much less get better.

I always tell people and firmly believe that the key to stopping anxiety is confronting anxious thoughts.

But how are you supposed to confront your thoughts when you can’t even be sure that you’re going to survive?

If you are consumed with fear or lost in rumination you will remain immobilized and held hostage by rotten ideas and aimless worry.

Okay, cool, so anxiety symptoms are bad. What can you do about it?

One of the most effective ways to calm the body during a bout of acute anxiety is through the use of fast acting anxiety medication.

Now I don’t want you to think that medications are a flawless solution because they are not. They are, however, a powerful tool that should not be ignored.

Especially because certain medications can bring relief within 30 minutes preventing a downward spiral into a world of false beliefs and perturbed navel-gazing.

Remember that anxiety medications can be taken on an as needed basis which does not require a lifelong commitment to big pharma.

And although medication represents only one part of the recovery process it should always be considered when making an honest effort to get better.

Here’s the menu:

Benzodiazepines: A Swift Kick to Bad Nerves

Perhaps the most powerful, and tricky, type of fast acting anxiety medications are known as benzodiazepines, or benzos for short. These medications relax the body by slowing nerve impulses.

They work well but have been linked to a high incidence of dependence and abuse; especially when they are used for more than 6 months.

This means that if you select a benzo you should exercise caution by working closely with your doctor to prevent physical dependence.

There’s also a tendency for these drugs to cause withdrawal symptoms if you stop using them abruptly. However, if benzos are used only as needed you’re less likely to develop problems with withdrawal.

For all their drawbacks though benzos do have an upside. They offer a rapid means of stopping acute anxiety symptoms which is both practical and reassuring. Even the act of carrying these babies in your pocket could ward off a panic attack.

That matters because when people get locked into long battles with anxiety they tend to develop negative thinking patterns that dog them for years.

Benzos are not a panacea but they can stop unnecessary suffering while you seek a long-term solution.

Examples of Benzodiazepines:

  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Klonipin (clonazepam)
  • Valium (deazepam)
  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Halcion (triazolam)

Adrenaline Cork

Beta-blockers are common medications with a variety of uses; chief among them is the control of high blood pressure, chest pain and migraine headaches.

Beta-blockers help to block epinephrine and norepinephrine at adrenergic receptor sites which are primarily located in the heart.

Translation: This stuff slows down the heart. They also decrease sweating and tremor.

These medications have been used for some time as a kind of performance enhancer by musicians, public speakers, and others that may encounter stage fright.

Of course, these medications also come with a set of drawbacks. Beta blockers may cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, dizziness, cold hands, or vomiting. You may also experience rash, blurred vision or fatigue.

What’s nice about beta-blockers though is that they are not habit forming and effective at treating anxiety symptoms.

They can provide hours of relief and are safe for people that don’t have underlying health issues.

Examples of Beta-blockers:

  • Inderal (propranolol)
  • Sectral (acebutolol)
  • Brevibloc (esmolol)
  • Coreg (carvedilol)
  • Tenormin (atenolol)

Antihistamines Are Not Just for Sniffles

When you think of antihistamines you probably think of stopping allergy or cold symptoms but they are also used to treat anxiety. They work by blocking histamine receptors in the central nervous system which produces a sedative effect.

Sedation may cause you to feel sleepy or develop a headache but otherwise these medications are well tolerated by most people.

One of the upsides to using antihistamines is that you can buy certain brands over the counter.

This can make anxiety management cheap and convenient. But I encourage you to not treat yourself with these medications long-term.

Besides, the more effective versions of these medications are prescription only and it’s always better to err on the side of caution and consult with a doctor about what you’re taking to manage your anxiety.

Examples of Antihistamines:

  • Atarax/Vistaril (hydroxyzine)
  • Benadryl (diphenhydramine)

It’s Not Just About Drugs

It’s important to understand that it is difficult to heal abnormal anxiety while experiencing intense physical symptoms. They make it hard for you to focus on solutions because they cause an OCD like obsession with well being.

However, through the use of fast acting anxiety medication you can calm your body and eventually your mind thereby limiting the amount of suffering that you have to endure before you get better.

Unfortunately, reducing your physical symptoms alone won’t be enough. Once you get your symptoms under control you still have to do the hard work of learning how to manage stress.

That means developing effective coping skills, taking care of your relationships, and addressing long-term problems that are contributing to your anxiety.

If I could do it all over again I would have at least tried a fast acting anxiety medication to deal with the intense symptoms that I experienced.

Maybe then I could have found my way out of the woods sooner.

What’s been your experience with these medications? Share your ideas with me in the comments section below.

How to Create Coping Skills That Don’t Suck

If you’re still hoping to find a quick fix to abnormal anxiety, stop.

I understand your frenzied hunt for answers; why you spend so much of your time looking for special solutions that will put your mind at ease, but that’s not how it works. There’s nothing special about fixing bad anxiety.

You need to search for a solution, there’s no doubt about that, but there’s no way that you should spend years on that search. Instead, find coping skills that interest you, make them your own, and then practice them. That’s it.

Good anxiety management leads to decreased symptoms, fewer negative thoughts, and guides you towards full recovery.

So if random Google searches won’t work, what will? It depends. It depends on what works for you. What I can say is that your solution, your coping skills, must be simple. If they require a lot of steps, or fancy equipment, forget about it.

The second thing is that your coping skills have to be original. That doesn’t mean starting from scratch; it means adapting coping skills to suit your needs – whether that’s through mixing, matching, increasing, decreasing, whatever it takes until it works for you.

Here’s 3 Coping Skills that worked for me:

1. Morning Nirvana

Meditation has to be the best coping skill nobody uses. This is because people assume it’s hard, or that you need to be connected to Buddhism to make good use of it, but that’s not true.

You don’t need to shave your head and sell all your furniture to benefit from meditation. What you need is patience. People suck at being patient because the world is an adderall driven mess. That, however, is no excuse to ignore this silent blessing.

Here’s my version:

Step 1.

Meditate first thing in the morning. You’re busy all day and all night doing god knows what, so take away all potential excuses for not meditating by setting your alarm clock 10 minutes earlier than normal, wipe the crust from your eyes and you’re good to go.

Step 2.

Sit on the edge of the bed and give yourself a few minutes to wake up. Once you’ve powered on take a few deep breaths – no fancy positions, or chants, just continue to breathe normally and, with purpose, relax.

Step 3.

The goal is to be still for 10 minutes, never-mind the thoughts bouncing around in your head, never-mind your job or whatever is ahead. Whether it’s with your eyes open or closed, the goal is to be tranquil.

What makes a good coping skill is something that brings you peace with the least amount of resistance. For example, there’s no way that I’m going to roll out a yoga mat, stretch, light incense, then get busy on meditating. That’s not me.

I’m too lazy for that. Instead, I just adapted a quick meditation skill that now works for me. Now morning meditation may not work for you at all, maybe you need to do it at midnight in your garage; the time and place is irrelevant, what matters is that it works for you.

2. Stepping On Anxiety

Walking isn’t just great exercise; it creates space for clear thinking.

The only hard thing about taking a walk is overcoming laziness. One easy work around is to try and take walks somewhere you’ll enjoy like a park, hiking trail, or any place that fits you.

I tend to walk in a park because it’s nearby and away from a major street that runs near my place. I don’t know about you, but I’m not walking down a high traffic street, but I will walk in a quiet park. I took the “take a walk” tip and adapted it to my style.

3. Mighty Slayer of Fear

Have I ever told you how much writing about anxiety helped me to recover? No? Well, it did. Writing was far and away the most effective way of processing my fears and understanding my problem.

It revealed a lot of my thinking flaws and allowed me to sort out all the gibberish my brain produced. There’s something special about writing down your thoughts and then going back to deal with the guy who wrote that stuff!

Heh. Yes.

You are complex. There are parts of you that you don’t understand and writing about your issues will help you gain a clearer picture of yourself. You can do a lot with clarity; with it you’re pretty much guaranteeing an honest conversation with yourself about what’s going on and how to put an end to it.

You don’t have to go public with all your inner thoughts, either. A good journal will suffice.

Keep It Simple

The coping skills I’ve used are dead simple. They’re also mine. That’s not to say that there aren’t hordes of people using these coping skills for themselves, but I made them my own, which made them doable.

In that regard, what makes a good coping skill is something that brings you peace with the least amount of effort.

I have no clue what coping skills would work for you and I certainly won’t pretend like I do. But getting better is not about copying someone else and hoping that you’re lucky enough to get the same result.

It’s more helpful for you to remember this: If you’re focused and creative with the information that you consume you can create coping skills that work, and more important, that you will actually use.

If you have any questions please post these in the comments section below.