Helping Patients Stay Informed
Dr. Vallée believes that one of the best ways to help patients is to ensure that they stay informed and educated. She has provided the following information regarding different personality types, the benefits of setting goals and effective techniques to address anxiety and stress.
To learn more, call Dr.Vallée’s office in Sarnia, Ontario to schedule an appointment.
What is Anxiety?
Brief moments of moderate anxiety are common and a part of normal life. However, anxiety can become intense, long standing and even disruptive to everyday living.
Anxiety stems from fear, which causes symptoms like increased heart rate, rapid and shallow breathing, dry mouth and a frightened feeling. Anxiety can also cause a stress reaction and may result in many different physical conditions. Some common examples of anxiety-causing activities include: writing exams, upcoming surgery and job interviews.
Causes of Anxiety
There are biological and behavioural causes for anxiety. In general anxiety may come from ‘negative thoughts’. This means the individual may subconsciously exaggerate the negativity associated with certain situations or stimuli. They can also underestimate their own capacity for dealing with threatening events. This way of thinking may have come from a past experience or be learned from social interactions with others.
Anxiety can be an uncomfortable feeling resulting from worrying, financial concerns, relationship difficulties, paranoia, uncertainty and many other personal and professional concerns. Not being able to cope with day-to-day situations can also cause anxious feelings.
What can I do about Anxiety?
Anxiety can be reduced and sometimes resolved by:
- Identifying what situations or events cause the anxiety
- Understanding why those situations or events cause the anxiety
There are many different steps that can be taken to minimize the feelings of anxiety such as avoidance techniques, positive reinforcement, rationalization and putting things into perspective.
If troubling thoughts and beliefs can be identified, then work can be done to first reduce and eventually resolve any anxiety symptoms that may have been caused by those thoughts and beliefs.
Anxiety can be helpful, even productive in some situations. Elevated adrenaline is a natural response that helps prepare the body for action. Without it, we might not perform as well.
Letting anxiety overwhelm us, can cause problems, however, by controlling anxiety, we can make it work for us. One way to do that is to use some of the coping strategies listed below:
- Focus your energy by rehearsing the task in your head.
- Consciously stop the negative thoughts going through your head by replacing them with positive ones.
- Spend a few minutes doing some relaxation exercises.
- Take a break: physically move your body by stretching, walking or some other form of exercise.
- Stretching: When feeling anxious, stretch as many muscles as possible while staying seated or laying down. Try tensing and releasing various muscle groups. Starting from your toes, tense up for five to ten seconds and then let go. Relax and then go on to another muscle group.
- Deep Breathing: Breathe deeply, close your eyes, then fill your chest cavity slowly by taking in a deep breath. Hold each breath for five seconds and then let it out slowly.
- Positive Thinking: Use a calming word, pleasant thought or positive mental image to focus on while relaxing.
Talk to Dr. Vallée to see how she can help you:
- Recognize your anxiety symptoms.
- Resolve your anxiety symptoms.
- Prevent a relapse of anxiety symptoms.
Importance of Goal Setting
- Helps you to think about your future.
- Helps you to make wise choices.
- Helps you to recognize opportunity.
- Keeps you motivated, striving to be your best.
- A good way to acknowledge your accomplishments.
Sadness Versus Depression
Characteristics of Healthy Sadness
- You are sad but do not feel a loss of self-esteem.
- Your negative feelings are an appropriate reaction to an upsetting event.
- Your feelings go away after a period of time.
- Although you feel sad, you do not feel discouraged about the future.
- You stay involved with life, including friends, family, sports, school, and work.
- Your negative thoughts are realistic and logical.
Characteristics of Depression
- You feel a loss of self-esteem.
- Your negative feelings are far out of proportion to the event that triggered your bad mood.
- Your sad feelings may go on and on endlessly.
- You feel demoralized and convinced that things will never get better.
- You give up on life and lose interest in your friends and your career.
- Your negative thoughts are exaggerated and distorted, even though they seem logical.
Introvert - Extrovert
- Like to be in the thick of things.
- Relish variety, bored with sameness.
- Know lots of people, consider them friends.
- Enjoy chitchatting, even with strangers.
- Feel stoked after activity, eager for more.
- Speak or act without needing to think first.
- Are generally quite peppy.
- Tend to talk more than listen.
- Prefer to relax alone or with a few close friends.
- Consider only deep relationships as friends.
- Need rest after outside activities, even enjoyable ones.
- Often listen, but talk a lot about topics of personal importance.
- Appear calm, self-contained, and like to observe.
- Tend to think before speaking or acting.
- Mind may go blank when in groups or under pressure.
- Do not like feeling rushed.
The following groups of statements refer to a special type of thought, idea, image, or impulse called an “obsessional intrusion". Most people have these types of thoughts to a greater or lesser extent.
- Are unwanted, unacceptable, and distressing, and may be disgusting thoughts, images, or impulses.
- Seem to repeatedly intrude into your mind against your will.
- May be inappropriate or uncharacteristic of the type of person you really are; that is, these mental intrusions are not the type of thought you would expect to have.
- Are usually difficult to control even though they may seem senseless or illogical to you.
Examples of obsessional intrusions include thoughts, images, or impulses of accidentally or intentionally hurting someone, of making mistakes, of dirt or contamination, of not being exact or precise, of acting immorally, of engaging in unacceptable sexual practices, of losing control and doing something embarrassing, or of forgetting to lock doors or turn off appliances.
- The domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc.
- The state of being obsessed.
- The act of obsessing.
- Compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea or an unwanted feeling or emotion, often accompanied by symptoms of anxiety.
- A compulsive, often unreasonable idea or emotion.
- A preoccupation with a feeling or idea. In psychology, an obsession is similar to a compulsion.
- A persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling; also: something that causes such preoccupation.
The following groups of statements refer to thoughts or behaviours called “compulsions”:
- Thoughts or behaviours that you feel driven to perform again and again.
- Thoughts or behaviours that may be quite senseless or excessive.
- Compulsive thoughts or behaviours that many people engage in from time to time.
Examples of compulsions include: washing your hands again and again until it feels “right”; checking the stove over and over again until you feel comfortable leaving the house, repeating words or phrases over and over again until you feel you have recalled them “correctly”; excessively saving things you do not need (e.g. old phone bills, newspaper, etc.) because it feels “wrong” to throw them away, counting to a certain number again and again until it feels “right”; tapping objects a certain number of times; and the like.
- Psychology, a strong, usually irresistible impulse to perform an act, especially one that is irrational or contrary to one’s will. An irresistible impulse to act, regardless of the rationality of the motivation. An act or acts performed in response to such an impulse.
- In psychology, an internal force that leads persons to act against their will. A “compulsive” act cannot be controlled: for example, “Smith was a compulsive gambler.”