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Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies

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Paperback: 352 pages / Publisher: John Wiley & Sons / Reprint: 24 Aug 2007

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      07.10.2012 18:29
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      A comprhensive self-help book which goes right into understanding anxiety.

      I've recently reviewed the Dummies Guide to Overcoming Anxiety and Depression. Even though I found that extremely useful I decided to purchase a guide specifically for Anxiety as depression wasn't an issue.

      Again the name of the book and its cheery yellow 'Dummies Guide' make it look a little trivial. Again a read of the credentials of the writers and a flick through the contents should dispel any doubts (I was going to use the word anxieties but that would have seemed flippant)

      Like the Anxiety and Depression Workbook this book is divided into several parts.

      1) Detecting and Exposing Anxiety
      2) Understanding Thought Remedies
      3) Acting Against Anxiety
      4) Focusing on Feeling
      5) Helping Others with Anxiety
      6) The Part of Tens

      There's also icons that appear throughout the book:

      Anxiety Axe: A particular tip for getting rid of anxiety

      Anxiety Quiz: Quizzes to help your organise your thinking

      Remember: Essential information

      Tip: Important insights or clarification

      Warning: When you need to be careful or seek professional help


      Each part is divided into chapters. In Part 1 the first two chapters are dedicated to 'Recognising Anxiety' and looking at what's normal and what's not. These 2 chapters are essential. Being able to identify your anxiety both physically and mentally, and being able to identify your type of anxiety (social, OCD, etc) goes a long way to helping you know you're not going mad.

      It also helps you to see which of the chapters may help you the most, whether you are a Thinker, Doer or Feeler. The last two chapters are difficult to do mentally and emotionally, but the book wont help you if you don't follow them. Basically you have to decide if you want to get better and whether you're prepared to put the work in to do so.
      If you're not, seriously think about sticking this book on Ebay. And there are indeed people who like their anxiety or cant imagine or don't want to tackle their anxiety.

      If you do, its on to Part 2, Understanding Thought Remedies.

      There's a lot of discussing thoughts here! Of course for an anxious person its our thoughts that cause the problems. This part of the book is about catching our thoughts and the ways in which they cane make us feel and even act.
      I really like these chapters for not trivialising any of these thoughts and feelings. Too often people will say 'well you know that wont happen' or 'just think positive'. Well, we cant do that, I just knew I was going to have a seizure in the supermarket, or my partner or child were going to be in an accident! The rest of Part 2 continues in this way even though its about provoking assumptions and changing words that we use to describe things.

      Part 3 is when things can get really difficult, when we face our anxiety head on. Hence making those decision in Part 1 to actually deal with anxiety.
      Fear is a terrible thing so the idea of exposure is horrible but here it guides us through it and how to do it, the addition of breathing exercises and relaxation techniques that can used at the same time are a fantastic addition. I can confirm this is the case as my partner would often drag me to go outside during my worse bouts of anxiety.

      Exercise and sleep! These do help and not only is it explained why, but what we can do to aid these. And no, it isnt all relaxing baths and candlelight!

      Part 4 gets a lot more physical! There's a whole chapter on relaxation exercises. One of them I still use and its designed for when you suddenly start to panic. Others will definitely find it useful so I'll repeat it here

      1) Inhale deeply and slowly through your nose
      2) Hold your breath for a slow count of 6
      3) Slowly breathe out through your lips to a count of 8 making a slight hissing sound as you do
      4) The sound can be so soft that only you can hear it
      5) Repeat the above between 5 to 10 times.

      Honestly, use it! Other people may find imagery works for them and there's an excellent chapter on this.
      The last 2 talk about herbal supplements and medication that can be used for anxiety. It's very neutral, it neither condemns or or pushes towards taking something. It says what is used, what its supposed to do, research and the side effects and contraindications Extremely well done!

      I enjoyed the 'Mindful Acceptance' chapter. The main part of the book teaches us how to get rid of anxiety, but then along comes, what seems to be a completely contradictory chapter of just accepting it! Well it works! I accept I get anxious but I can also work to get rid of it.
      It helped me concentrate on what was happening when I start to panic and instead of getting panicky I can slow it down and change it. For me, it was possibly the most important chapter.

      Part V concerns itself with helping others with anxiety, divided into children and partners. I read some of it to my partner and he said it was useful to be able to help with the exposure techniques (He's a great fan of that!)

      And we finally come to The Parts of Tens. This is basically ten ways to deal or not deal with anxiety.
      So Ten Ways to Stop Anxiety Quickly: relaxing, listening to music, etc. There's Ten Anxiety Busters That Just Dont Work: this could be avoidance, drinking,etc. Also Dealing With Relapse and Ten Signs You Need Help.

      What I missed most about this book in contrast to the Depression and Anxiety Book is the lack of worksheets. A trivial thing it may seem but half the time I couldn't be bothered to go and find separate bits of paper thereby missing out the exercise, whereas I would do it if it was in front of me.

      There's a lot less of the questionnaires, etc and a lot more knowledge about anxiety. This is suitable for me as I like to know everything about the issue I'm dealing with, but others may like to go straight into working with the exercises in the book.

      That's not a criticism though, this is an excellent book and will definitely help some people. But they are different, for example this book goes far more into using Image Therapy and Mindful Acceptance. Of course thats because the Anxiety and Depression work covers anxiety and depression.

      This book is written by clinical psychologists and the advice given is clear, concise and obviously given by experts with no agenda other than to help people with their anxiety and give them the means and techniques to do so.
      The in-depth knowledge in the book will also make it a great resource. I've read many books on this subject and this is one of the best. Due to a certain amount of irony I've worked in mental health for over 5 years now, yes indeed those in the medical profession are the worse at helping themselves!

      I wouldn't say this book is better or worse than the Anxiety and Depression Workbook for Dummies. I think, as in so many cases different things work for different people. If you like knowing about things in-depth and find it easier to tackle things from that perspective than this is the book for you. If you like writing things down and working things out through the use of questionnaires, etc the Overcoming Anxiety and Depression Workbook For Dummies should be your choice.

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