Fears & Phobias
Fears and phobias develop because people avoid a situation that frightened them initially. Over time both the avoidance and the fear grow. More and more things trigger the fear and are avoided. Eventually, the avoidance becomes so extreme that it robs people of their ability to manage daily life.
I use a modified form of Exposure Response Prevention and EMDR to treat fears and phobias.
OCD is a disorder with many different forms. It begins with a scary or anxiety-provoking thought which can get stuck in the mind. This is the obsession. Compulsions develop as a way to reduce, escape or avoid the anxiety. Compulsions can be observable like excessive hand washing/cleaning, arranging, checking, re-reading or re-writing excessively to avoid missing something or making errors. Compulsions can also be rituals which occur in thought and are not observable to others. These can include counting, replaying events (like the contamination OCD sufferer who recites everything they touched and might have contaminated). These internal rituals serve to temporarily reduce, escape or avoid anxiety. In the long run, though, compulsions keep the OCD strong because they provide enough temporary relief to make the sufferer think that if they do it enough the thoughts will go away. When the thoughts don’t go away, sufferers try doing their rituals more and eventually find themselves caught in endless cycles of checking, washing, touching objects, tapping, counting, saying “magic” words aloud or silently, seeking reassurance, trying to find the “perfect” answer to their most frightening concerns. It arises from a desire to reach a point of feeling safe or “ok”. Sadly, even if that feeling is reach it doesn’t last.
OCD grows until it takes over hours and days and makes it hard for people to do the things they need and want to do.
The treatment I most commonly use for OCD is Exposure Response Prevention.
Panic is a very extreme anxiety reaction. Both the physical and mental components are more severe than in regular fear and anxiety. Sometimes panic attacks have identifiable triggers, but other times they do not. Panic attacks can be so severe that people fear they will die. This leads them to worry about and avoid the situation where panic was experienced and to fear the panic itself.
Treatment involves learning how to calm the mind and relax the body when symptoms appear. The next step is repetitive exposure to the triggers while continuing to calm and relax. Over time this leads to the reduction and elimination of panic symptoms.
For more information about anxiety disorders and treatments go to Anxiety Disorders Association of America.