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Anxiety 101: How to Reduce the Anxious Brain

Unknown or Unseen Trauma’s

  • Traumatic Events

    • Acute Stress

      • One Month, Short Term

    • Adjustment

      • Six Months

    • Post Traumatic

      • Three-Six Months Plus, Long Term

  • Trauma Emotions of Loss, Grief, Powerless

    • Unseen vs. Seen

Fear of the Future…?


  • Severe Emotional Distress/Pain

  • Linger

  • Physical Body

  • Mental Imagery

  • Less Problem Solving

  • Negative Mental Imagery

  • Not Controllable

  • Blocking Progress

  • Perfectionism

  • Personal Functioning is Impaired

  • Ruminate (Playing the Scene Over n Over)


  • Normal

  • Mild Distress

  • Temporary

  • Verbal

  • Thoughts/Mind

  • A Given Situation with Solution

  • Controllable

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders manifest in different ways, and are often diagnostically distinct

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a chronic state of severe worry and tension.

  • Panic disorder (PD) refers to sudden and repeated panic attacks—episodes of intense fear and discomfort that peak within a few minutes without a trigger.

  • Agoraphobia (AG) is fear of feeling trapped and avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel helpless or embarrassed.

  • Specific Phobia (SP) is fear related to exposure to specific objects or situation and avoidance of it.

Additional Worry

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is marked by intrusive thoughts or compulsions to carry out
    specific behaviors for more than one hour a day (hand washing).

  • PTSD disorder may develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event.

  • Dissociative Disorders involve problems with memory, identity, emotion, perception, behavior and
    sense of self.

  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) irritable mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities
    for more than two weeks.

  • ADHD chronic condition marked by persistent inattention, hyperactivity, and sometimes impulsivity
    in all areas of environment.

Vagus Nerve

  • The vagal circuitry narrows our focus and prepares us to fight or flee or freeze—called the stress response brain.

  • If the danger is so overwhelming that there’s no escape or there’s a feeling of being trapped, a third circuit of vagal operations engineers a shutdown. In this out-of-focus, numb state, social contact becomes an intrusion and is aversive.

  • The bodily responses are not voluntary, and often people are not aware of what triggered them, although they are likely aware that their heart is pounding or their body is trembling.

Watch for..

  • Excessive crying or irritation in younger children

  • Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)

  • Excessive worry or sadness

  • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits

  • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens

  • Poor school performance or avoiding school

  • Difficulty with attention and concentration

  • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past

  • Unexplained headaches or body pain

  • Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs


Tips and Coping (Stopping the Bleeding)




Mindfulness Coping

The focus on what’s right in front of you, turning to your physical sensations with full awareness. Letting go of thoughts of the past or future without judgment.

  • 2-10 Minute Distraction to Break the Urge

    • Pause throughout the day with present mindfulness, walking, eating, imagery, or body scan

  • Ways to Calm the Autonomic (Sympathetic) Nervous System

    • Four Square Breathing

    • Trace or Color or Record Feelings

    • Focus Point (hold a pen 6 inches from eyes)

    • Call Someone

    • Room Scan and Use 5 senses (point out what you see etc.)

    • Worry Bag (to take with you places)


5 Steps of Emotional Coaching

  1. Become Aware and Intelligent of ALL Emotions

  2. Recognize an Opportunity for Teaching and Intimacy

  3. Listen, Validate, and Reflect

  4. Coach the Child to Label How They Feel

    • Accept -communicate your understanding and acceptance of the emotion through empathy

  5. Set Limits and Problem Solve Accordingly to your Family Values

(Gottman 1997)


  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of drugs that are typically used as antidepressants in the treatment of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders.

  • SSRIs function by increasing the extracellular level of the neurotransmitter serotonin by limiting its reabsorption (reuptake) into the presynaptic cell, increasing the level of serotonin in the synaptic cleft available to bind to the postsynaptic receptor.

  • They have varying degrees of selectivity for the other monoamine transporters, with pure SSRIs having only weak affinity for the norepinephrine and dopamine transporters.

  • Studies question the efficacy of treating anxiety with an antidepressant. Doctors often prescribe antidepressants, such as paroxetine (Paxil), fluvoxamine (Luvox), or sertraline (Zoloft), for the treatment of anxiety

  • SSRIs can be helpful for depression, panic disorder, social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety and PTSD

Signs…To Body and Mind

  • Cognitive

    • Attention & processing reduces, short-term memory problems, judgment impaired, racing thoughts, ridged thinking, focus on the negative

  • Emotional

    • Increased irritability, frustration, impatience, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, confusion, numbness

  • Behavioral

    • Increased bad/nervous habits, sleep disturbances, impaired listening skills, withdrawal, aggression

  • Physiological

    • Rapid heartbeat, increased fatigue, illnesses, stomach problems, nausea, dizziness, aches, decreased libido, headaches, difficulty breathing, sweating

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