The Best Foods to Ease Anxiety

Even though anxiety may require medication or psychotherapy, or both, lifestyle changes can still help to improve overall mood and well-being. A balanced diet and regular exercise can help to improve these. There are certain foods that have been shown to reduce stress, which could help reduce anxiety as well. The following are what have […]

Feb 28, 2014
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Childhood Anxiety Disorder: Long-term Follow-up

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine discovered how important long-term follow-up is when it comes to childhood anxiety. Published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and five other institutions found that only half of children and teens that receive treatment for anxiety actually achieve long-term […]

Feb 05, 2014
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Parent Delivered CBT Shown to Reduce Anxiety in Kids

Five to ten percent of children have some form of anxiety disorder, which can increase problems later in life, such as mood disorders and substance use. A new study, published in British Journal of Psychiatry, found that parent delivered cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), with the guidance of a therapist, is effective in treating child anxiety disorders. […]

Jan 29, 2014
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Excitement Can Help Ease Anxiety

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According to research conducted by Alison Wood Brooks, PhD, of Harvard Business School, saying the phrase “I’m excited” out loud can help ease performance anxiety and help individuals become more calm before taking tests, engaging in public speaking, and other anxiety-induction events.

This research was published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. In Brooks’ studies, participants who used the phrase “I am excited” gave longer speeches and were more persuasive, competent, and relaxed.

Dr. Brooks explains the relationship between the state of arousal and the state of excitement, noting “Since both anxiety and excitement are emotional states characterized by high arousal, it may be easier to view anxiety as excitement rather than trying to calm down to combat performance anxiety.”

Next time you are preparing to speak to a large audience, try uttering “I am excited.” Dr. Brooks adds, “When you feel anxious, you’re ruminating too much and focusing on potential threats. In those circumstances, people should try to focus on the potential opportunities. It really does pay to be positive, and people should say they are excited.”


Dec 30, 2013
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Spotting Separation Anxiety Disorder in Kids

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It’s normal for some children to experience anxiety when away from home or separated from a parent or caregiver. But if this anxiety is extreme, it may indicate separation anxiety disorder.

“Although kids may develop separation anxiety following a traumatic event such as the loss of a loved one or a move to a new house or school, many kids develop symptoms independent of a clear environmental cause. In this regard, there are likely to be a number of genetic and/or physical causes for separation anxiety disorder,” says Steven L. Pastyrnak, PhD, division chief of pediatric psychology at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Separation Anxiety Disorder: Know the Signs

It can be challenging to determine if your child has normal anxieties or separation anxiety disorder. There are, however, some signs to look out for.

Common scenarios of children with separation anxiety disorder include:

  • Refusal to go to school or camp
  • Reluctance to attend sleepovers
  • Following a parent around
  • Avoiding going places by themselves
  • Demanding that someone stay with them at bedtime
  • Sleep problems

Separation Anxiety Disorder: Getting Help for Your Child

The good news is there are many ways to help a child who has separation anxiety disorder. Consider these options:

  • Give them coping skills. Teaching kids skills to handle their anxious thoughts can be helpful. “Even very young kids can learn simple affirmations like ‘I will be okay,’ ‘I am safe,’ and ‘No big deal,’ as well as simple breathing exercises — breathe in slowly through the nose, out through the mouth,” says Pastyrnak.
  • Set the right example. Parents may be influencing their child’s anxieties. “Behind most children with a separation anxiety disorder is a parent who cannot allow the child to separate,” says Vivian K. Friedman, PhD, a child-adolescent psychologist and professor at the University of Alabama School of Medicine. “Don’t use your children to meet your own need for companionship, and don’t project your own fears onto your children.”
  • Provide reassurance. Let your child realize that there’s nothing to worry about. “It’s important for parents to help their kids continue to experience safe periods of separation rather than always adjusting their lifestyle to avoid it,” says Pastyrnak.
  • Consider therapy. If your child’s anxiety is affecting his or her quality of life, then consider visiting a qualified child psychologist or other mental health professional. “Seek therapy for both the parent and child. Each has his own anxiety and possibly depression,” says Friedman.



Dec 25, 2013
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Parent Behaviors Linked to Kids’ Anxiety, Depression

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Young people whose parents tend to fight with each other or are too involved in their kids’ lives are at increased risk of depression and anxiety, according to a new comprehensive review of past studies.

Kids tend to first experience depression or anxiety between ages 12 and 18, the authors write. They reviewed 181 papers published on potential links between how parents behave and which young people experience either disorder.

It’s impossible to say how important parenting is relative to other factors that might influence depression and anxiety, like bullying at school, study author Marie Yap said, but “it is clear from the wider body of research that by virtue of their role and presence in children’s lives . . . parents have an incredibly important role, both directly and indirectly.”

In the new analysis, stronger links were seen between parenting and depression, including sad moods and decreased interest in activities, as compared to anxiety.

Keeping constant track of kids’ whereabouts while giving them an autonomous say in family decisions were parent behaviors associated with lower levels of depression.

Parents who were harsher, fought more, were over-involved or generally “aversive” had kids who more often experienced both depression and anxiety, according to the review in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

“In our meta-analysis, (aversiveness) includes harshness, meanness, sarcasm, hostility, criticism, punishment and shaming or rejecting behaviors by the parent towards the teenager, as well as parent-teen conflict,” Yap said.

Identifying the exact parental factors linked to depression and anxiety could help prevention efforts, she said. However, the researchers noted that there are many factors involved in the development of anxiety and depression that can’t change.

Important messages from this study are that parents should try to be supportive, warm and open with their kids, give them clear guidelines and boundaries, but at the same time allow them freedom to learn from their own mistakes and not to over-control them.

“But the most important message for parents, perhaps by way of a caveat, is this: Don’t blame yourselves when things go wrong,” Yap said. “Such research evidence should be used to inform and empower parents in enhancing their children’s mental health, not to use for blaming them.”



Dec 19, 2013
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More Anxiety for College-Age Cellphone Addicts

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A new study is suggesting that college students who can’t keep their hands off their mobile devices, “high-frequency cellphone users”, report higher levels of anxiety, less satisfaction with life and lower grades than peers who use their cellphones less frequently. The researchers also found that the results may apply to people of all ages who have grown accustomed to using cellphones regularly, day and night. “People need to make a conscious decision to unplug from the constant barrage of electronic media and pursue something else,” said Jacob Barkley, a study co-author and associate professor at Kent State University. “There could be a substantial anxiety benefit.”

For this study, researchers surveyed around 500 male and female students at Kent State University. The researchers captured cellphone and texting use, and used established questionnaires about anxiety and life satisfaction, or happiness. Questions examining cellphone use asked the students to estimate the total amount of time they spent using their mobile phone each day, including calling, texting, using Facebook, sending photos, checking email, gaming, surfing the internet, watching videos and tapping all other uses driven by apps and software.

On average, students reported spending 279 minutes, which is almost five hours, a day using their cellphones and sending 77 text messages a day. The researchers said that this is the first study to link cellphone use with a validated measure of anxiety with a wide range of cellphone users. Within this sample of college students, as cellphone use increased, so did anxiety. The study authors noted that the data they collected in previous studies, suggest that some cellphone users may experience anxiety as a result of a perceived obligation to remain constantly connected to various social networks through their phones. “We need to try to understand what is behind this increase in student anxiety,” said Andrew Lepp, lead study author and an associate professor at Kent State University. “At least for some students, the sense of obligation that comes from being constantly connected may be part of the problem. Some may not know how to be alone to process the day’s events, to recover from certain stressors.”

While the researchers did not determine a cause-and-effect relationship, Barkley said that it is possible that those who are more anxious may use or check their cellphones more frequently. “And without a doubt, the more people use their cellphones, the less time they have to engage in other stress reducers, such as getting exercise, being alone and having time to think, talking with a friend face to face, and engaging in other activities they truly enjoy”, Barkley said. To help change this, study author Lepp says that “students need to shut off their phones, ignore text messages and try to insulate themselves from some of the extraneous distractions that reduce the quality of their work,” he advised. “And learn how to be alone with yourself.”


Dec 17, 2013
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Yoga Poses to Ease Anxiety

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It’s easy to become more stressed during the winter time. The holidays are approaching, the sun sets earlier, and the cold weather can keep you from doing things you enjoy. Whatever the reason is for anxiety, yoga can be the perfect fix.

Here are poses geared towards easing anxiety and a busy brain:

Cat/cow: While these two are technically poses, one is not often done without the other to counter. Cat/cow repetitions relieve any abdominal cramping caused by anxiety.

Come to all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. On an inhale, look up and arch spine, rolling shoulders away from ears for cow. As you exhale, press the floor away with hands and knees, and round your spine. Do at least five complete breath cycles (five inhales/cats and five exhales/cows).

Devotional warrior: Open both the hips and shoulders-two places that tighten when we’re anxious-and improve focus with this pose.

From down dog, step right foot forward, spin back heel down, and inhale arms up to frame head in warrior one. Then allow hands to fall behind you, clasp them behind sacrum, take a big inhale to open chest, and use your exhale to fold yourself inside of your right knee. Stay here for at least five deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.

Seated forward fold: Do this introspective pose when you want to generate self-reflection.

From a seated position, extend legs long in front of you and together. Keeping knees soft, take a deep breath to fill yourself with space, and use your exhale to lean forward into the space you just created. If you have a tight lower back, sit on a block or blanket. Take at least five deep breaths here.

Twist: Erase any negative energy or unwanted thoughts with twists. With each exhale, picture yourself wringing out like a sponge, getting rid of what you don’t want or need in your body or mind.

Lying on the ground, hug right knee into chest, “T” arms out to either side, and allow right knee to fall to the left. You can stay with a neutral neck or, if it feels good, look to the right. You can also take left hand to right thigh to allow the weight of your hand to ground your twisted leg. Stay here for at least five deep breaths, and then repeat on the other side.

Legs up the wall: This pose allows your nervous system to chill, reroutes circulation, grounds you, and brings you back to the present.

Sit sideways next to a wall and then lie down on side, facing away from the wall with butt touching it. Using arms, lift legs up the wall as you roll over onto back. Allow arms to fall on either side of you. Palms can face up for openness or face down for an extra level of grounding. Stay here for at least five breaths or as long as you feel comfortable.



Dec 10, 2013
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Materialism Makes Bad Events Worse

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Materialism is already known to have a direct negative effect on a person’s well-being; however, it is lesser known that materialism has an indirect negative effect by making bad events even worse. This insight comes from a recent paper co-written by a University of Illinois expert in consumption values. What does this mean? Basically, if you are a materialistic person, then you will perceive “bad” events—such as car accidents, deaths, etc.—as worse than a person who is not materialistic.

Aric Rindfleisch, John M. Jones Professor of Marketing in the College of Business, explains “If you’re a materialistic individual and life suddenly takes a wrong turn, you’re going to have a tougher time recovering from that setback than someone who is less materialistic.”

This is based on research that studied the impact of traumatic stress and maladaptive consumption. In the field study, which took place in Israel, when faced with a mortal threat from a terrorist attack, highly materialistic individuals reported higher levels of post-traumatic stress, compulsive consumption and impulsive buying than their less-materialistic peers.

The study also analyzed a survey in the US to build on results. According to the US-based survey results, the increased negative effects of materialistic people is likely due to materialistic individuals exhibiting lower levels of self-esteem, which lessen the ability to cope with traumatic events. Both components of the study provide evidence that high materialistic individuals seek comfort from stressful situations by engaging in impulsive consumption.

With the holidays approaching, Rindfleisch warns “In times of stress, people often seek solace through shopping…Soon after purchasing something this is a reduction of anxiety. But it doesn’t last very long. It’s fleeting. Materialists seek that as one of their coping mechanisms. And Black Friday and the holiday shopping season plays into that.”


Nov 27, 2013
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8 Tips for Surviving Depression and Anxiety during the Holidays

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Most people feel a sense of anticipation and joy as we approach the holidays. However, a considerable amount of people, including those in therapy, can feel depressed, frustrated, and anxious. What can these people do to make the holidays more enjoyable?

Try to schedule a theater or dance performance either the night before or the day of the holiday. In major cities, many shows are on or near Thanksgiving and Christmas. If there is no live theater go to a movie and invite someone so you don’t have to spend the day alone.

Go on a trip out of town. There are many cruises or day trips during this season. If you want to stay in a location where a Thanksgiving dinner was had before, do this. It can link an image of the holidays with a past experience and could boost the spirits quickly.

Join a community group like the YMCA, or take a photography or art class. You can take a class taking pictures of trees and turning those into holiday cards or presents.

Organize a hike into the countryside or a park tour with a group. In New York City and Los Angeles, there are tours every day of the week.

Go to a yoga retreat or a spa resort. Many hotels and spas have special weekend activities and rates at Thanksgiving and Christmastime.

Plan an intensive exercise routine. Exercise increases certain chemicals in the nervous system that fight depression and anxiety.

Help others who are less fortunate by volunteering at a soup kitchen. One of the best ways to forget your own loneliness is to help others at shelters or hospitals. Getting “outside of ourselves” and helping others in need helps take the focus off our own situations and feelings, and often delivers an emotional boost.

Try an AA meeting if you find yourself drinking too much. AA meetings on the holidays are immediate communities that help people deal with alcohol or drug abuse, which may be covering up negative feelings during the holidays.



Nov 22, 2013
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