Our not so realistic reality

Not so real reality

Not so real reality

The basis of any anxiety or panic problem is a personal belief about something that in reality is not true. Whatever your individual fear may be, the chances are that it is completely illogical and not at all rooted in real facts. Living a life based entirely on thoughts and feelings which we know don’t reflect reality is one of the strangest experiences a person can have, and yet so many of us live this way every day, sometimes without even realizing they’re wrong.

Myself, I could say with total conviction that I know my anxious thoughts are incorrect. My logical brain is well aware that a panic attack will do me no harm; I’ve had more than enough to factually confirm that. However, there is still that thought, a voice so to speak, which convinces me to avoid any situation that could cause a panic attack because there is always a “what if?”. This makes my anxiety very difficult to explain to others, and I know I’m not alone. People will say “there’s nothing to worry about, you’ll be fine” and you can’t help but answer “I know I will”. They ask why you’re so scared if you know you’re going to be safe, and unfortunately you’re left with no real answer. It is simply a feeling which guides you through your day, and although this may only make up 1% of your thoughts, that 1% is stronger than all of your logical thoughts combined.

It seems mad, on paper, to allow something you know is wrong to dictate everything you do. From what you eat, to where you go, to who you go there with, this one small sensation, which tells you that maybe this time will be so much worse than all the others, is in control of your life. It doesn’t take long to collect a full repertoire of symptoms and side effects of anxiety, from heart palpitations to nausea and full panic attacks. You become familiar with each one, you’ve experienced them all at their very worst and still survived to tell the tales, but still you continue to avoid and fear situations which may cause them again, all because of one tiny voice.

Imagine a world where this voice, this feeling, is the minority. Where you consider that maybe there is a risk, a small “what if?”, but you don’t allow it to control you because you truly do believe that those anxious thoughts are nothing but lies. Simply knowing that your paranoid brain is wrong is just step one, and while it’s an excellent step, it doesn’t change the fact that there is still a part of you which refuses to commit to the belief entirely. There is so much more freedom and liberation which comes with fully accepting and internalising the idea that these thoughts you have are only there to hold you back, and in no way reflect what life is really like. You first have to realise that you’ve seen it all before, you have the wisdom and benefit that comes with experience. You have been through the worst of it and you are still standing, and that should suggest that maybe, just maybe, some part of your way of thinking is very, very wrong.

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To see ourselves as others see us

I don’t know about you but there have been times in my life when I have been acutely sensitive to the gaze of others. I am not immune even now, although I am better at managing how it makes me feel.
Which is why I found this video interesting and I thought you might also. It shows how different our own impression of ourselves can be to that of others.
It is like having a window into the subtle ways we see ourselves (not the good ways) and how that can distort everything else we feel.

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After Paris does the world feel more dangerous and do you feel more anxious?

Terrible things do happen.

Terrible things that happen without warning can make you feel more vulnerable and anxious. The media play and replay their footage, with comment and analysis. All of this can have the the effect of making the terrible event seem more likely to happen to you or the people you love. Your brain is genetically tuned to detect threats to you. Indeed it is highly sensitive to any situation that may even turn threatening. So when a threat is perceived but there is no obvious focus for the threat your brain often goes into a worry loop.

If you find that the terrible events in Paris have caused you to be more anxious but you’re not sure why then watch my video. I will explain how worry gets started and why anxiety goes up.

Are you anxious?

 

The link to the next film

About Dr David Purves

Dr David Purves is a Reading based psychologist providing private CBT in Reading, Berkshire. Dr Purves is the clinical Director of The Berkshire psychology service and former Consultant Psychologist and Head of the NHS Berkshire Traumatic Stress Service. He treats trauma and PTSD at his clinic and writes and speaks internationally on matters of terrorist related trauma.

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Seeking an alternative depression treatment?

What is an alternative depression treatment? Well in this case we’re looking at options that aren’t medication. Usually antidepressant meds are the first treatment plan people consider after finding out that they are suffering with depression.

alternative depression treatment running
Antidepressants have their place but with them come side effects. And if you only use antidepressants to treat your depression when you stop taking them you have a 60% chance of relapsing.

So what can you do? Consider alternative depression treatments as part of your assault on depression.

Alternative depression treatment: Lifestyle changes

For some, looking for alternative treatments for depression, lifestyle changes are all that’s required but they can also be an important part of an overall treatment program if your depression is more severe.

Stress

Spend a few minutes looking at your life and identifying causes of stress and consider how you might reduce this.

Mark’s depression became substantially worse after he took a new job. His manager seemed to dislike him immediately and bullied him almost from day one. Mark realised this was adding to his stress and depression so made a complaint to HR. They worked with Mark to try to improve the situation but he didn’t feel it was enough. Mark was lucky enough to find a new job where he worked with much nicer people who recognised his ability and were very supportive. By reducing stress in this area he found that his depression eased considerably and very quickly.

Sleep

How well are you sleeping? Try to make sure that you are getting enough rest. You will find your symptoms are worse if you are trying to get by on less than 7 hours sleep a night.

alternative depression treatment sleeping
Diet

What is your diet like? In my experience people suffering with depression either comfort eat or don’t eat enough. Whilst fast food, chocolate and desserts may be really attractive try to ensure that you eat a balanced diet with plenty for fresh fruit and vegetables. And eat regularly. This will ensure that your sugar levels don’t dip and help to stabilise your mood.

Exercise

Regular exercise is an important weapon in the fight against depression.  It’s a great alternative depression treatment because when you exercise it releases endorphins and boosts serotonin which make you feel happy. If you’re not used to exercise start with walking as walking is a great stress buster. Just 30 minutes a day is enough to make a difference to how you feel.

Brandon had started taking antidepressant meds when his father died. It coincided with a very stressful time in his life as Brandon was also studying for his law degree finals. His GP prescribed antidepressants for depression with the idea of helping Brandon to get through the exams. After his exams Brandon started seeing a psychologist. After a few months Brandon was keen to come off the antidepressant meds. He joined a gym and went five times a week really focusing on cardio. Brandon came to really enjoy running especially and when his 30 minutes were up he often kept going  for another 15-30 minutes. Under his doctor’s supervision Brandon was able to reduce and finally come off the antidepressants  without feeling his mood dip. Exercise continues to be a constant part of Brandon’s life and his depression has never returned.

Alternative Depression Treatment: Supplements

In addition to alternative depression treatments there are some natural treatments for depression which you can try. As far as supplements go St John’s Wort is probably the most well known. You can learn more in my natural treatments for depression article.

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Alternative Depression Treatment: Complementary Therapies

If you’re seeking an alternative treatment for depression then complementary therapies such as homeopathy and acupuncture can also be helpful.

The way homeopathy works is to treat the whole person. Before prescribing a remedy a homeopath would consider your mental and bodily types along with your symptoms. There isn’t a one size fits all in homeopathy. One person with depression could get a different remedy  from another.

If you are taking antidepressants homeopathy had still be used in addition.

With acupuncture very fine needles are inserted in to the skin at specific points to unblock stagnant energy in the body. It’s a practice that has been used for many years in the East. Among other things Acupuncture can lift your mood and reduce stress.

Alternative Depression Treatment: Therapy

Those who seek therapy for depression have  around a 30% chance of relapsing within two years . If you only take antidepressant medication than your chance of relapsing within two years is around 60%. So I think you’ll agree that it’s worth exploring  therapy.

self-help-depression-man
Why is this the case? Well, therapy helps you get to the root of your depression. Through therapy you can uncover the underlying cause.

There are different types of therapy you can try but Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT therapy is put forward by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) as the psychological treatment of choice for mental disorders such as anxiety and depression.

CBT therapy is a talking therapy that can help you challenge negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

I favour CBT therapy because it gives you, the patient, a greater knowledge and sense of control over the whole process.

Our feelings are not a good guide to reality in a lot of circumstances and in particularly when we have very negative beliefs and feelings about ourselves. If we don’t challenge these beliefs and feelings and change them they will continue to exert a powerful influence over us and they will distort and eventually ruin the course of our lives causing depression, for example.

CBT therapy is a good way to go about changing your thoughts and feelings.

Alternative Depression Treatment: Finding a therapist

Your GP should be able to refer to a good therapist or you can ask around and see if anyone has a therapist they recommend.

Sometimes you can’t access therapy as quickly or cheaply as you’d like. If you find that’s the case there are some online courses such as Mood Control which you can begin immediately.

There are also free CBT exercises on the internet which you can use to get you started.

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