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Thursday, August 13, 2015

The good news is... Overcoming Anxiety by David Berndt

The good news is that anxiety can be overcome without relying on medication. Psychologist David Berndt, Ph.D., in Overcoming Anxiety outlines several self-help methods for management of anxiety and worry.


The good news is that anxiety can be overcome without relying on medication. Psychologist David Berndt, Ph.D., in Overcoming Anxiety outlines several self-help methods for management of anxiety and worry. In clear simple language and a conversational style, Dr. Berndt shares with the reader powerful step by step proven techniques for anxiety management. 

You will learn:
· A Self-hypnosis grounding technique in the Ericksonian tradition.
· Box Breathing, Seven Eleven and similar breathing techniques for anxiety relief.
· How to stop or interrupt toxic thoughts that keep you locked in anxiety.
· How to harness and utilize your worries, so they work for you.
· Relief from anxiety through desensitization and exposure therapy. 

The book was designed to be used alone as self-help or in conjunction with professional treatment Dr. Berndt draws upon his experience as a clinician and academic researcher to give accessible help to the reader who wants to understand and manage their anxiety.

Skin Picking and Anxiety
David Berndt, PhD author Overcoming Anxiety

Picky, picky, picky. We all have nervous habits that seem to be left over from childhood. Who doesn’t wring their hands when uncomfortable? Or, when you are put on the spot, maybe you will tap your feet or pace? Or perhaps you pick too often at a scab or blemish? While nowadays you may well dismiss these habits as “nervous” or even consider them part of a wider mental health issue like an anxiety disorder, they are typically not abnormal.

Truth is you didn’t learn these quirks accidentally. Most of these habits, back in the day, actually helped; that is why you kept doing them. In my just-published book Overcoming Anxiety, I explain that one of your nervous system’s reaction to stress is cold hands and feet. It seems that when you feel you are under threat, your body naturally moves the blood away from the skin and extremities (hands and feet) to the center of your body and the big muscle groups. So when your hands start to shake, if you are “anxious” that is a natural shiver reflex: to warm up what is cold. That is why you tap your fingers and feet, and wring your hands, as well. As a kid you learned that it helps a little. In the book I explain how to mine that and other “talents” in order for you to develop grounding techniques you can use to help you relieve anxiety. 

Skin picking, however, is more of a problem than it is a help, at least for my clients who take it to something of an extreme. Skin picking is a special problem for some people who are chronically stressed and anxious, and in its most severe form, can feel all-consuming and take up too much of the day. The technical name for this when it becomes a disorder is Excoriation Syndrome.

People with Excoriation Syndrome do not just have a bad habit. They repetitively (and often compulsively) scratch, rub, touch, and pick at their skin, ostensibly with a purpose of improving perceived irregularities or imperfections. Sometimes they will “excavate” a pimple or blemish, and they can do it so deeply as to cause scarring. Excessive picking and popping can spread the infection that was contained, or introduce new irritants and infection. 

This problem of skin picking can co-occur with other anxiety-based problems that also focus on repetitive body-focused behaviors. They all can be considered a special variant, or at least close relative, to body dysmorphic disorder, a problem that will also be discussed in greater depth in my second Psychology Knowledge book Special Topics in Anxiety, which will be released in October. Examples of these repetitive behaviors include hair pulling (trichotillomania), severe nail biting, and sucking and biting on the inside of the mouth and cheeks. These Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRB’s) are, at least initially, typically a compulsive response to stress and anxiety, but they can be harmful and damaging, if not disfiguring, to the body. 

The nervous habits mentioned above – the ones that actually are an effort to warm the hands and feet back up, do not typically take on a compulsive and OCD life of their own, but they can. However with BRFB’s there is no warming effect and so there is no functional reason for the client to pick, bite, scratch or pull.

Ruling out other causes is an important first step in dealing with Excoriation, as the treatment will vary with different causes. Medical problems like autoimmune disorders, dermatological problems, opiate withdrawal, autism, medication reactions, and – when confined to the face, it might be rosacea. 

What are the treatments for the true skin picking disorder? Usually they involve help from a psychologist or other therapist experienced with anxiety, and ideally with skin picking. Among the things they may suggest are strategies that interfere with the habit, like wearing gloves or standing far enough from the mirror that a blemish would be hard to see (a piece of tape on the floor, where you should stand, can help). In many cases techniques like mindfulness or exposure therapy can be helpful, especially when the habit occurs in a person who tends to be obsessive and compulsive. Finding something else to do with your hands can be a good strategy, and one thing you can do with your hands that kills too birds with one stone is to add makeup to conceal the blemish. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be very effective, by providing you with a healthier thought process, You might, for example, learn to replace the thought “I need to pop that black head so it doesn’t get worse,” with a more accurate thought along the lines of “I should let my body handle that, and not pretend I am a dermatologist.” (of course if it really did get bad, then a dermatologist would know more than you would about what to do).

If you are going to mess with a pimple yourself, then consider what would a professional do? First and foremost a dermatologist would wait: there is plenty of time for a black head to develop into a white head (the white is evidence you have been fighting an infection). Usually there is no need at all to drain it, but if there is a real need, waiting adequately will allow it to move closer to the surface, and that would make your efforts easier, with less likelihood of your making things worse. If you are going to proceed, and you insist on not going to a doctor, wash your hands thoroughly, and use soap. Then, after sterilizing a needle, you could prick it at the center of the white area (gently make a fine hole) and next, using a cotton swab, you can gently squeeze the pimple from the edges. If it does not come out, you are likely in too big a hurry, you need to wait until a later time when it is ready. You can then apply a small amount of alcohol and/or ointment. 

Thank you for your time and the opportunity to do a guest post at Mythical Books and it’s good to have a Romanian connection. I saw the cool translate button, I guess I have got to try and use it. I hope you will consider reading Overcoming Anxiety, which in eBook form is for the moment exclusively only at Amazon ™, but is widely available in print. To keep up with what I am writing and get lots of free information and reports you can sign up for the Psychology Knowledge Readers Group. 

About the author:
David J. Berndt, Ph.D. was an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Chicago where he published or presented over 80 papers and articles before establishing a private practice.

Dr. Berndt currently lives in Charleston, S.C. where he also teaches in an adjunct capacity at the College of Charleston.

He is best known for his psychological tests The Multiscore Depression Inventory, and the Multiscore Depression Inventory for Children, both from Western Psychological Services. 

His latest book is the nonfiction self-help, Overcoming Anxiety

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