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Direct commentary, information and education on anxiety, OCD, phobias and panic attacks regarding you and the world in which we live.

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Break Free From Anxiety Disorder and Get Your Life Back!
Call The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles: (310) 429-1024 or San Diego: (619) 961-1003. Or email Dr. April NOW.

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Do I Need OCD Treatment? Can OCD Go Away Without It?

by Dr. Craig April, Psychologist and Director of The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles
www.KickFear.com


Can OCD go away or get better without treatment?  The simple answer: No.  However, I think this question demands a longer response because once the proper techniques are learned, one can then treat themselves.

OCD has two major components: obsessions/compulsions and fear.

Obsessions and compulsions are intertwined.  Obsessions are repetitive thoughts that are unreasonable, disturbing in nature and difficult to stop.  Compulsions are behaviors or mental rituals designed to reduce anxiety caused by obsessions.  In order to reduce obsessions, one must ultimately face fear and anxiety without engaging in compulsions.  This is far easier to do with the proper tools and techniques taught by OCD and anxiety doctors or specialists.

That said, OCD and anxiety can wax and wane for long term sufferers.  In other words, sometimes it's better, sometimes it's worse.  Without treatment though, it's very difficult to free yourself from its grip.  Prior to seeking OCD treatment, people try many solitary ways to reduce their anxiety.   Some try exercise, yoga, herbs, medication, travel, traditional talk therapy (Freudian mostly), avoidance, alcohol, etc., but all for naught.  Sooner or later, they find these attempts to be weak and even useless.

Keep in mind, though many anxiety reduction methods advertised state they can help, this is untrue. The only scientifically proven form of treatment available is CBT.  I often say to patients that if hypnosis, acupuncture, medication, and so on resolved anxiety, I would have sought certification in these areas.  This explains why we offer CBT at The April Center.

CBT works to reduce OCD symptoms.   What matters is how motivated and committed one is to doing the work.  If facing fear was simple, no one would struggle with it.  And we know that's not the case.

Fear and anxiety are this culture's most common ailments.  So do what's required to live a calm, enjoyable life filled with freedom.  If you need help, seek OCD and anxiety treatment and break free!

All the best,

DR. APRIL 
Director of The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles

P. S.  Don't forget to sign up for my anxiety newsletter on my website's home page where you'll receive free anxiety tips!
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Monday, December 16, 2013

How Not To Fix OCD

by Dr. Lindsay Kramer, psychotherapist and staff writer at The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles
www.KickFear.com
   


            As I was perusing the web, I came across an interesting article regarding the famous rapper Eminem and his struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder*.  The article (link available at bottom) depicted Eminem’s previous addiction to prescription drugs as a way of repressing compulsive habits and behaviors.  Now sober, Eminem admitted to realizing things about himself that significantly interfere with his personal and professional life.
            Now I have to commend Eminem for speaking out about such a private matter.  It takes strength to shed light on an issue that has been long overlooked.  It furthermore takes strength to reach out and seek help for OCD or other anxiety related-disorders.
            Let’s take a step back and attempt to understand Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Simply defined, OCD is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and recurring thoughts, feelings, ideas, or sensations (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety (compulsions).  Obsessions can be centered on concerns of contamination, losing control, perfectionism, harm, superstitions, and unwanted sexual thoughts.  Compulsive behaviors include washing and cleaning, checking things, repeating routine activities or body movements, counting, and collecting.  In Eminem’s case, he stated that he needed to run on the treadmill until he burned a certain number of calories, or that he would make continuous changes in his music trying to get it “just right.”   
            A person suffering from OCD generally recognizes that their thoughts or behaviors are irrational or excessive.  However, the anxiety is much too great to simply stop the obsessions or compulsions from occurring, thus continuing the influx of intrusive thoughts and actions.  This can be time-consuming and distressing, and interferes with normal life functioning.
            Eminem resorted to using prescription drugs as a way to avoid anxiety and OCD obsessions.  Others may use alcohol or marijuana to escape the anxiety that pervades daily life.  Some just seek to ignore the problem and pretend it doesn’t exist.  Compulsive behaviors like those previously mentioned (hand-washing or checking things) also serve as temporary escapes from the obsessive thoughts.  The problem with all of these methods is that they are not effective and they do not get rid of the anxiety.  Avoidance behaviors only maintain and even increase distress levels and fears.  This concept is very important, especially if you are seeking out help for OCD or other anxiety disorders.
            Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the only research proven psychotherapy treatment that is effective for anxiety treatment.  With CBT, trained anxiety doctors help you to identify triggers that lead to obsessive thoughts, tolerate anxiety, and resist the urge to act on compulsions.  Furthermore, anxiety doctors can help you develop healthy coping strategies for stress and fear. 
            If you or someone you know can relate to Eminem’s struggle with OCD, it is imperative to seek out treatment.  Using maladaptive coping techniques such as drugs or alcohol will only perpetuate the problem.  So borrowing from Eminem’s words off his album Recovery, “We’ll walk this world together through the storm…whatever weather, cold or warm…just lettin’ you know that you’re not alone.”
*http://www.tv3.ie/entertainment_article.php?locID=1.803.810&article=119811

All the best,
DR.  KRAMER  

from The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles


P. S.  Don't forget to sign up for our anxiety newsletter on our website's home page where you'll receive free anxiety tips!
 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Best Panic Attack Treatment


by Dr. Lindsay Kramer, psychotherapist and staff writer at The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles
www.KickFear.com
            Have you experienced feelings of intense fear and apprehension that seem to occur out of nowhere?  Have you been completely normal one minute and the next moment your heart was racing, you are short of breath, and your sense of terror has skyrocketed?  If any of this sounds familiar, you may have experienced a panic attack.  
            Panic attacks, or panic disorder (the condition of having repeated attacks) is not all that uncommon.  Research states that approximately 6 million people in the United States are affected by this disorder.  The most defining characteristic of a panic attack is a sudden onset of terror that is disproportional or unrelated to one’s current situation or circumstance.  Physical symptoms that may occur include sweating, heart palpitations, weakness, dizziness, hot or cold chills, chest and stomach pain, breathing difficulties, and tingly or numb hands.  “I thought I was having a heart attack!” is commonly heard after one experiences a panic attack.  These attacks can occur anytime, anywhere—on a date, walking to the grocery store, or even during sleep.  Though they are frequently short-lasting (usually ten minutes or less), panic attacks can take a huge toll on one’s life.  The unpredictability factor leaves people concerned with when the next attack will transpire, which in turn can severely interfere with daily functioning.  Needless to say, panic disorder can be emotionally debilitating … unless it is treated properly and effectively.

 Treatment For Panic Attacks


           How does one get treatment for panic attacks?  What is the best treatment out there and where does one begin the process of seeking help?  If you are reading this article, you are already headed in the right direction toward recovery and relief.

            Some people in the medical field believe that medication can be helpful in treating panic attacks, particularly anti-anxiety medications (i.e. Xanax or Ativan).  However, the underlying truth to using medication to treat panic disorder is congruent to that of a band-aid metaphor, but a band-aid that hurts in the long run.  These medications, though mind-numbing, are highly addictive.  They can also encourage more anxiety by reinforcing a desire to escape.  In fact, some studies have shown that using these medications can actually produce anxiety symptoms and panic attacks. 

            So how do you “heal” panic disorder?  The key is CBT!  Cognitive-Behavioral psychotherapy has been proven scientifically effective in not only the prevention of panic disorder but also in curing the anxiety attacks, so they eventually vanish.  At The April Center, we provide Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or CBT to assist people in learning how to deal with the panic symptoms using various specialized techniques, such as zen meditation and exposure with response prevention.  Staff therapists focus on teaching people different methods of thinking, behaving, and reacting to situations which may previously have caused heightened fear or arousal.  Working collaboratively in a safe and nurturing environment, the therapist can help the person find new and healthy ways of altering the negative thought patterns that lead to feelings of anxiety or panic.

            So, if you or someone you know is suffering from panic attacks or panic disorder, the best panic attack treatment is cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy.  So stop suffering and get started!  You can break free!

All the best,
DR.  KRAMER  

from The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles

P. S.  Don't forget to sign up for our anxiety newsletter on our website's home page where you'll receive free anxiety tips!

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Support Groups For Social Anxiety Disorder

 by Dr. Craig April, Psychologist and Director of The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles
www.KickFear.com



Support groups for social anxiety can be a curious endeavor to those that don't struggle with this common phobia. For instance, others might wonder how those with social anxiety (also called social phobia) will participate in a support group when this participation speaks to the foundation of their fear. This is a rational consideration. However, there is no cause for concern for a few reasons.

Why Support Groups For Social Anxiety Disorder Are Effective :

1.) All group members are struggling with social interaction and are not engaged in judging one another. This is a significant experience for all, considering that the foundation of social phobia is the fear that others will judge or criticize. Working on this struggle in a welcoming environment has a strong effect.

2.) The group is a setting that creates support and understanding. Because it takes courage to face social anxiety and all that it encompasses, receiving support and understanding is crucial.

3.) The safe group environment provides a forum for those struggling with social anxiety to explore its origins. CBT oriented groups generally don't spend a lot of time on how this phobia was created. However, a safe group environment often evokes curiosity in members, routinely followed by a discussion of how social anxiety develops.

4.) The focus of the group is on breaking free from the grasp of social anxiety and not on unrelated topics. The best social anxiety groups don't waste time talking about issues that are irrelevant to members struggles.

5.) Group members become accountable to themselves, but also to each other to complete homework assignments designed to help them overcome the barriers of social anxiety. Homework then is a key component in the successful treatment of social anxiety.

6.) An experience of camaraderie develops amongst group members who are all sharing in this anxiety therapy process and getting to know one another. This is generally a positive experience for all.

7.) Momentum builds as members begin making progress. This creates further motivation to move beyond social phobia. Members tend to reach their progress goals with a strong level of inertia. The cliche "Seeing is believing" tends to occur here.

8.) CBT oriented social anxiety support groups are technique focused. In other words, group members are taught strategies that address how to manage anxiety symptoms.

All of the above are reasons why social anxiety support groups can be so effective in reducing anxiety and providing relief.

If you struggle with social anxiety, don't hesitate to seek group therapy. Follow the link for more information on The April Center's social anxiety support groups now.

All the best,

DR. APRIL 
Director of The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles

P. S.  Don't forget to sign up for my anxiety newsletter on my website's home page where you'll receive free anxiety tips!


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Do Family Doctors Treat Anxiety?

by Dr. Craig April, Psychologist and Director of The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles
www.KickFear.com



The question "Do family doctors treat anxiety?" is one that deserves a real response.  There is a simple answer: "Unfortunately, they think they do."  This post is not meant to criticize or judge.  However, it is meant to share the truth about a disturbing reality for those struggling with anxiety that seek treatment from their family doctor.

Are you ready?  Here is the truth:

Family doctors do not know how to treat anxiety!

I have nothing against family doctors.  They provide an extremely valuable and important service for broad illnesses and medical needs.  However, they are simply not trained or skilled in diagnosing or treating anxiety disorders, such as Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety, phobias, OCD, Hypochondriasis, PTSD, and Generalized Anxiety.

Treating anxiety requires specialized training and experience.  It cannot be treated with general knowledge, nor can it be treated like all other medical or mental health issues.  Unfortunately, society tends to support the notion that family doctors can treat everything!  And although most know that without specialized knowledge, there are many ailments that can't be treated with a cookie cutter approach, most tend to fall into the trap of seeing a family doctor for anxiety treatment.

One interesting observation is that family doctors are willing to refer patients to other medical doctors when more expertise is required.  Why not always do the same when facing a patient with anxiety? 

Many anxiety sufferers that seek my help have had a long journey prior to discovering my anxiety treatment center.  Many initially visited their family doctor for treatment, only to be prescribed Xanax or Ativan (addictive anti-anxiety medications) for anxiety symptoms that could be treated naturally.  Meanwhile, their family doctor provided no awareness of diagnosis, no treatment plan, no referral to an actual anxiety doctor (a psychologist specializing in the natural treatment of anxiety disorders) and no offer to monitor tolerance of the medication.  Following their poor treatment and possibly adverse reactions to the inappropriately prescribed medication, most patients renewed their search for someone who could actually help them with their anxiety.

I want to be clear.  I'm not blaming family doctors.  Many are victims of training that tells them that they should be able to treat all of what ails their patients.  Some of them, thankfully, have a respect for the limitations of their scope and will refer to a therapist or psychologist.  But these are in the minority.  Most simply whip out their medication pad and start prescribing.  And, ultimately, it's the anxiety sufferer who experiences even more struggle as they then go back to the drawing board (hopefully without another problem -  addiction to the meds prescribed!). 

For those of you reading, it's probably clear that this is a reality that I find frustrating.  But this is why I provide this information.   For those suffering with anxiety symptoms and anxiety disorders, I hope to quicken the path towards finding help that can actually reduce and resolve their suffering.

Anxiety Disorders are treatable!  But only when one finds the proper treatment!

Follow the link for more on our anxiety treatment services and how to break free!

All the best,

DR. APRIL 
Director of The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles

P. S.  Don't forget to sign up for my anxiety newsletter on my website's home page where you'll receive free anxiety tips!

photo credit: diekatrin via photopin cc
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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

CBT For Agoraphobia: Progress With Treatment Awaits

 by Dr. Craig April, Director of The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles
www.KickFear.com



Many view Agoraphobia as a complicated phobia, due to its tendency to permeate so many aspects of the sufferer's life.  In fact, in my field it is labeled as a "complex phobia" as opposed to a "simple phobia".  However, it really isn't that complicated or complex, just involved. Recently, I wrote a blog post on what Agoraphobia is about, in addition to its typical symptoms.  If interested, it's entitled Agoraphobia, Panic Attacks and You.  In this post,  however, I'll be focusing on treatment. 

CBT for Agoraphobia is the key form of treatment and the only one that is research proven.  Unfortunately, rather than receiving phobia treatment from an anxiety doctor or specialist who can provide it, many with this phobia are still wasting time with traditional therapy that has not been proven to work.  As far as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is concerned, it easy to see why it has been scientifically shown to help those with this anxiety disorder make progress.

Why CBT works for Agoraphobia and all other phobias:

The only way to overcome fear is by taking action, not by talking about it and reviewing why you have it.  CBT is about ACTION.

"What kind of action?"

The action of CBT takes many forms.

One form of action is identifying the perspectives that encourage one's Agoraphobia.  These perspectives, because they are false and only lead to fear, need to be changed.  Working on changing these perspectives and seeing one's life experience differently is one form of taking action.  For example, Agoraphobic thoughts tell you that you are trapped with no easy escape or without any help easily available.  This then encourages a panic attack or leads to panic attack symptoms.  However, CBT can help you shift your perspective in these anxiety producing moments, so that you realize you're in no present danger.  This perspective shift is one aspect of the Cognitive Therapy piece of CBT. 

Another form of action is the type that most associate with CBT.  This is called Exposure therapy.  In order to truly overcome Agoraphobia, one must face fear and anxiety.  You might anxiously be asking, "But is CBT going to force me to face all of my anxiety at once?"  CBT doesn't force anyone to do anything they're not ready and willing to do.  Also, based on how quickly an Agoraphobia sufferer is ready to move forward, Exposure therapy is best done gradually.  Each step builds confidence as one begins to face panic attack symptoms and situations they have been avoiding.  Taking action in this way is empowering and a great confidence booster.  Once you begin, you'll see that progress can provide comfort with:

standing in lines,
being stuck in traffic,
being on a crowded elevator,
driving out of your comfort zone,
being alone without a support person . . .

and all the other classic symptoms of Agoraphobia you thought you could never face.  More importantly, once your brain adapts to your anxiety provoking stimuli (your scary, anxious situations), it will no longer trigger the fight or flight response and adrenaline surge that encourage panic attack time!

Agoraphobia, though involved, is just like any fear.  And fear can be conquered!

For information on our treatment options for Agoraphobia at The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management, just follow the link.

 All the best,

DR. APRIL 
Director of The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles

P. S.  Don't forget to sign up for my anxiety newsletter on my website's home page where you'll receive free anxiety tips!
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photo credit: Kaptain Kobold via photopin cc

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Public Speaking and Speech Anxiety: 5 Ways To Overcome Nervousness

 by Dr. Craig April, Director of The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles
www.KickFear.com


For many, public speaking can be a nerve rattling proposition.  If you get nervous or experience anxiety when giving a speech or in any form of public speaking, you are not alone.  In fact, fear of public speaking is one of the most frequent anxiety issues around.

Why Is Speech Anxiety and Nervousness In Public Speaking So Common?

There are a variety of reasons, but one of the most reasonable explanations is that we are social beings and care about how others perceive us.  Part of this concern is healthy.  Unfortunately, for millions of people, the concern has reached an unhealthy level.  They worry too much about being evaluated and lend too much importance to public speaking performance.  This then leads to anxiety or even a phobia.

So, in order to assist those with speech and public speaking anxiety, here are:

5 Ways To Overcome Nervousness and Anxiety in Public Speaking:

1.)  Focus on what you can give to the audience, not on your performance.

When you focus on how you're presenting to the audience and what you are doing wrong, you're moving away from the reason you're speaking to the audience - To give them something.  Focusing on your performance creates anxiety.

2.)  Over prepare.

Unless it's an impromptu speech, prepare well so that you remove anxiety about forgetting the material.  Also, being prepared inspires confidence. 

3.)  Practice presenting in front of a pretend audience at home.

Practice presenting as if you are speaking to the most critical, hostile audience you can.  That way, when actually giving your speech, you'll be ready and aware that this real audience is friendlier and less difficult.

4.)  Maintain a realistic perspective.

People don't care as much about your performance as you think they do.  They just want the information.  And if you can give it to them with a smile and engaging explanations even better.

5.)  Find a public speaking role model and imitate them.

Role models are guides for behavior we wish to cultivate.  Search for a model at work, in the media or even in your social circle.  Ask yourself how and why this person appears so comfortable. How do they engage an audience?  How do they carry themselves?  Then act accordingly.

Of course, these tips are for more mild fears and anxiety symptoms in public speaking.  If you find that your speech and public speaking anxiety is severe,  seek treatment from a doctor specializing in anxiety

All the best,

DR. APRIL 
Director of The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles

P. S.  Don't forget to sign up for my anxiety newsletter on my website's home page where you'll receive free anxiety tips!
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Thursday, February 21, 2013

o.c.d., phobias or anxiety? THE Question

by Dr. Craig April, Director of The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles
www.KickFear.com



Here is a vital question to ask yourself if you suffer with phobias, o.c.d. and any other form of anxiety:

"What am I truly afraid of?"

I'm not talking about the content of your fear or anxiety.  For example, I'm not talking about your fear of panic attacks, your fear of driving, a blood phobia, agoraphobia, fear of germs, fear of flying, obsessions or really any piece of anxious subject matter or content.

What I'm talking about is what you're really truly afraid of.  Often times, when anxious, one can get lost in the content of their anxiety and lose sight of or not even know what they truly fear anymore.

When we know what we truly fear, we can set the stage to confront the content and anxiety symptoms that have become a barrier.  Working through whatever anxiety plagues you then becomes easier.

For example, what do many with social phobia truly fear?  Is it really just parties or social gatherings or meeting someone that may reject or criticize them?  Or is it ultimately a fear that they'll be alone?  Looking beneath the fear of rejection is a powerful process.

For those with o.c.d., if we look beneath the content of obsessions about germs, contamination, sex, harm, etc. , what we often find is fear of loss, of being alone, and of death.  In fact, fear of death or that which people equate with death, such as loss of family, loss of control, and loss of identity is often the foundation of all fear!

THE IMPORTANT ANXIETY QUESTION:

The question: "What am I truly afraid of?"  is one that is most often asked in our anxiety therapy support groups.  As part of group treatment for o.c.d., social anxiety or panic attacks, honest discussion of each member's fear is encouraged.  This exploration enables members to confront their anxiety in a safe, supportive atmosphere which can move them towards anxiety relief.

When battling anxiety with or without an anxiety doctors assistance, it is always a mistake to focus entirely on content.  In other words, when anxious, most tend to focus on fighting thoughts about their particular anxiety.  Unfortunately, this can increase anxiety because trying to control anxiety by forcing it away can unintentionally create more!

Therefore, asking yourself The Question above can circumvent the natural tendency to fall into the anxiety trap of battling the story in one's head - rather than really looking at what supports it.

So, the next time you're struggling with anxiety symptoms, practice taking a deeper look at the real foundation of your fear.  And then begin working on shifting the perspective that holds that faulty fear foundation together.

All the best,

DR. APRIL 
Director of The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles

P. S.  Don't forget to sign up for my anxiety newsletter on my website's home page where you'll receive free anxiety tips!
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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Treating Anxiety, OCD and Panic Attacks with Songs

 by Dr. Craig April, Director of The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles
www.KickFear.com


Treating anxiety, OCD and panic attacks with songs?  Though music is not a panacea, it can certainly help.  Studies have shown that music can boost mood, reduce stress, assist us with expression and be restorative.  Plus, music can be so inspiring!  I think we all can attest to having at least one experience where a certain song made us feel like we could take on any problem or challenge.

And yet, we often forget to turn to music in times of need.

Well, this post has been written to be a reminder.  What better time to use music as a tool for coping and inspiration than when caught in the throes of anxiety?  So, with this in mind, I have created a list of The Best 30 Songs To Help You Face Anxiety, OCD, Fear, Panic Attacks and Phobias!

Click on the above link and be inspired to face anxiety NOW!

The songs on this list have been handpicked by Dr. April, aka the anxiety doctor, as the top songs to help you battle anxiety.  Each and every song on this list can inspire you to face the fear you've been avoiding.  After viewing this list, some people have chosen to listen to several of these songs for courage and strength while actively facing their particular fear.  Ever watched Olympic athletes, boxers or MMA fighters before their main event?  There's a reason they listen to music moments before.  It can pump you up!

So get pumped up and take a look at the list now.

Life is short.  Kick fear today!

All the best,

DR. APRIL 
Director of The April Center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles

P. S.  Don't forget to sign up for my anxiety newsletter on my website's home page where you'll receive free anxiety tips!


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The April Center for Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles and The South Bay

The April Center for Anxiety Attack Management is committed to helping you remove the destructive barriers of anxiety, so that you may lead a calmer, healthier, happier life.

Take a look at our website at www.KickFear.com or give us a call: (310) 429-1024
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