Anxiety & OCD

If you are suffering from anxiety, the good news is that there is help and hope. Your life does not need to be marked or controlled by this distracting, troubling, and often overwhelming challenge. If you are suffering from anxiety attacks or troubling thoughts that are difficult to control, and you’re wondering whether you should get help, this is a good place to start.



What is anxiety?

“I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s the only thing I can concentrate on these days.”
“I feel like a hamster on a wheel, turning the same thing over and over.”
“My body feels electric.”
“I just don’t go there anymore—I avoid that place at all costs.”
“I always feel like something terrible is about to happen.”
“I’m worried all the time. I can’t seem to turn it off.”

Do you resonate with one or some of those statements?

Anxiety (defined as worry, undefined fear, and agitation) manifests itself into many different types of anxiety disorders. But all anxiety has what feels like “an untamed life of its own,” which has nothing to do with your character, your intelligence, your spirituality, or your ability to reason.

Some of the common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Tiredness
  • Sweating, trembling, or weakness
  • Hyperventilating
  • A sense of impending doom
  • Difficulty concentrating on anything outside of the anxious thoughts
  • Inability to control worry

The components of anxiety are the mind (“mental grinding”), emotions (fear, worry), and the body (increased breathing/pulse, stomach churning, muscle tightness, etc.).

Our understanding of anxiety has improved drastically over the last 30 years. We used to try to figure out what was going on in their lives to figure out the root “cause” of the issue. Even though it’s true that circumstances can trigger anxiety, we were missing the real root cause: the brain. With neuroimaging and a greater understanding of genetics, we can see how multiple brain regions interact to create anxiety, and also how some people are prone to it on a genetic level. Medication or natural supplements to balance brain chemistry, combined with cognitive behavioral therapy and Neurofeedback therapy, has brought a lot of freedom to people suffering from anxiety.

For natural treatments using supplements, we work with an experienced individual who has her Masters in Chinese medicinal herbs and supplements to help us treat depression, ADHD, OCD, anxiety, etc.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

When Dr. Neal first came into the field over 30 years ago, the prevailing course of treatment for anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) was primarily psychodynamic psychotherapy. Medication was viewed mainly as an adjunct to reduce the symptoms of anxiety, not as a primary treatment to target the region of the brain responsible for causing the anxiety or OCD. Therapy was utilized for exploring people’s life situations to see what was causing their anxiety or OCD.

With the introduction of functional neuroimaging and, hence, a much greater understanding of the brain and genetics, we now can see how the relationship between multiple brain regions interact to create anxiety and OCD. Many professionals no longer view OCD as an anxiety disorder but rather a result of a specific part of the brain called the “anterior cingulated gyrus.” This brain region “hijacks the person” to lock down or over focus.

Anterior Cingulate Gyrus (ACG) problems:

  • worrying “by default”
  • holding on to hurts from the past
  • uncooperative, argumentative
  • automatic tendency to say no, deliberately un-cooperative or oppositional behavior
  • rumination (over-focusing on thoughts; possibly obsessions)
  • stuck on behaviors (possibly compulsions)
  • hair-trigger anger/frustration response (either “over the top” or “freezing you out”)
  • road rage
  • addictive behaviors (eating disorders, alcohol or drug misuse or abuse, chronic pain)
  • obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • cognitive inflexibility

Combinations of medication, natural supplements, cognitive behavioral therapy, and Neurofeedback therapy has brought much freedom for those suffering from anxiety or the OCD type disorders.

Both children and adults can suffer with anxiety or ACG type hyper focusing brain impairments resulting in social and school phobias. Dr. Neal has found it is less about making behavioral and psychological changes and more about balancing a person’s brain chemistry. Once the brain chemistry is balance, then we can focus on the behaviors and thoughts that may need to be modified. If we treat a child with OCD or paralyzing anxiety, we will most likely find one of their parents or family members who have it because it is so genetically linked.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Because emotions are hard to change, we instead approach anxiety by redirecting and reprogramming both the body and mind through interruption and distraction.

Interruption includes deep breathing techniques, alternating body movements, and distraction (such as squeezing a squishy object or turning over a pen in your hand), which serve to distract the brain and refocus energy.

Next we work to divert anxious thoughts. There are several techniques, but using a thought log to identify and extinguish your negative thinking, and then generating positive thoughts to replace them, has the most success. (This is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT.) This tool, along with others that your counselor will use with you to change your thoughts and negative behaviors, can help you make some immediate changes in your life. Other techniques we use include mindfulness, mental imaging and relaxation techniques. These tools can be quickly learned so that you can start to sense that you have mastery and hope over the anxiety right away. Your counselor can work on what triggers set off the anxiety or panic attacks so you can understand and learn to manage it on your own.

The Next Step

If you think you might have anxiety symptoms but you’ve never been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, if you’ve been having anxiety attacks, or if you’re frequently troubled and worried, the counselors at NPS are here to help you in your journey.

Contact us at 815-477-4727 today and take the next step toward peace and freedom in your life.

 

Doug Neal

CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST

Dr. Neal has been in practice since 1981. He is passionate about helping his clients discover freedom and live the life they were created for. He works with... Meet Doug Neal