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Anxiety and smart phones

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Anxiety and smart phones

Smartphones are causing some users to experience heightened anxiety when used for social interactions, new research from Britain shows.
The distress stems from the persistent need many users feel to repeatedly review and immediately respond to any incoming email, text, tweet or alert. Such compulsive behavior has lead researchers to suggest that the mushrooming use of smartphones to sustain social connections, friendships and personal networks is associated with increased stress.  
The research, conducted by British psychologist Richard Balding, MSc, of the University of Worcester, England and his colleagues, was presented at a conference of the British Psychological Society in Chester, England on January 12, 2012.
Surprisingly, though, the investigators found that the devices, including iPhones, Blackberries and Androids, did not result in a rise in stress levels when used for professional purposes. Instead, the added stress was found in social settings. Despite the ability of the phones to provide instant connections with friends and family, the handheld gadgets were actually contributing to stress, rather than alleviating it when used to manage personal contacts, the results revealed.
More than 100 people were recruited to participate in Balding’s study, responding to questions about their phone usage in surveys and completing a psychometric stress test. The participants included university students, retail industry employees and government workers.
The findings revealed that the multi-purpose phones were initially utilized to manage work obligations but ultimately became tools to control social networks. And as that type of usage increased so did the stress levels. Also, the results showed that 37 percent of adults and 60 percent of teenagers considered themselves addicted to their phones.
Additionally, those reporting the greatest increases in anxiety stated that they experienced phantom vibrations of new incoming messages even when no such alerts actually arrived. Many also reported feeling unhappy or stressed when their phones were turned off or when they did not receive any new messages.
As noted by other researchers not involved in the study, more research is necessary before a cause-and-effect relationship can be confirmed. It may be that people who are already stressed are more prone to repeatedly check their devices and always keep them turned on. On the other hand, many people are able to moderate their usage to ensure it is helpful, time saving, convenient and enjoyable, rather than a source of stress, tension and disappointment.
Nevertheless, the study, considered preliminary as it has not yet been published in a scientific journal, lead investigators to suggest that employers be aware of the added stress and negative impact smartphones may have on their employees.
According to the Pew Research Center, more than one-third of American adults have a smartphone, with an overwhelming majority using the devices to access emails or to search the internet daily.
Additional uses include gaming, watching videos through such sites as YouTube, and managing social networks via Facebook. With the rapid influx of new apps introduced to the public, and the devices' ability to provide constant information, instant news and ongoing entertainment, smartphones are expected to continue proliferating rapidly throughout the world.

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Anxiety and smart phones

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Anxiety and smart phones

Smartphones are causing some users to experience heightened anxiety when used for social interactions, new research from Britain shows.
The distress stems from the persistent need many users feel to repeatedly review and immediately respond to any incoming email, text, tweet or alert. Such compulsive behavior has lead researchers to suggest that the mushrooming use of smartphones to sustain social connections, friendships and personal networks is associated with increased stress.  
The research, conducted by British psychologist Richard Balding, MSc, of the University of Worcester, England and his colleagues, was presented at a conference of the British Psychological Society in Chester, England on January 12, 2012.
Surprisingly, though, the investigators found that the devices, including iPhones, Blackberries and Androids, did not result in a rise in stress levels when used for professional purposes. Instead, the added stress was found in social settings. Despite the ability of the phones to provide instant connections with friends and family, the handheld gadgets were actually contributing to stress, rather than alleviating it when used to manage personal contacts, the results revealed.
More than 100 people were recruited to participate in Balding’s study, responding to questions about their phone usage in surveys and completing a psychometric stress test. The participants included university students, retail industry employees and government workers.
The findings revealed that the multi-purpose phones were initially utilized to manage work obligations but ultimately became tools to control social networks. And as that type of usage increased so did the stress levels. Also, the results showed that 37 percent of adults and 60 percent of teenagers considered themselves addicted to their phones.
Additionally, those reporting the greatest increases in anxiety stated that they experienced phantom vibrations of new incoming messages even when no such alerts actually arrived. Many also reported feeling unhappy or stressed when their phones were turned off or when they did not receive any new messages.
As noted by other researchers not involved in the study, more research is necessary before a cause-and-effect relationship can be confirmed. It may be that people who are already stressed are more prone to repeatedly check their devices and always keep them turned on. On the other hand, many people are able to moderate their usage to ensure it is helpful, time saving, convenient and enjoyable, rather than a source of stress, tension and disappointment.
Nevertheless, the study, considered preliminary as it has not yet been published in a scientific journal, lead investigators to suggest that employers be aware of the added stress and negative impact smartphones may have on their employees.
According to the Pew Research Center, more than one-third of American adults have a smartphone, with an overwhelming majority using the devices to access emails or to search the internet daily.
Additional uses include gaming, watching videos through such sites as YouTube, and managing social networks via Facebook. With the rapid influx of new apps introduced to the public, and the devices' ability to provide constant information, instant news and ongoing entertainment, smartphones are expected to continue proliferating rapidly throughout the world.

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

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OCD

The main symptom of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is the presence of obsessions or compulsions (or both), so to understand what OCD is, it is first necessary to define what obsessions and compulsions are.

Obsessions


    Obsessions are thoughts, images, or impulses that repeatedly come into a person’s mind and are experienced as intrusive and distressing. The following are examples of some common obsessions in OCD:

      • Becoming contaminated with germs

      • Worrying about having done something bad by accident (e.g., accidentally running someone over with a car)

      • Worrying about having forgotten something important (e.g., forgetting to lock a door)

      • Needing to have things in a particular order (e.g., having things arranged symmetrically)

      • Impulses to do terrible or embarrassing things (e.g., harming a child or yelling out profanities in church)

      • Graphic or disturbing images


    Obsessions are described as being “ego dystonic” which means that even though the person who experiences them recognizes them as their own thoughts, they feel the obsessions are outside of their control. Someone with OCD also often recognizes that their obsessions are unreasonable but feels they cannot put them out of their mind. Obsessions can provoke significant anxiety, leading the person experiencing obsessions to seek ways to counteract them. This attempt to reduce the anxiety of an obsession by counteracting it may lead to the development of compulsions.

    Compulsions


      Compulsions are repetitive physical or mental actions that a person engages in to reduce anxiety. Often, the compulsion is designed to counteract or undo an obsession. For example, a person who has an obsession about being contaminated with germs might develop a compulsion to wash their hands over and over. The following are examples of some other common compulsions in OCD.

        • Checking (e.g., to make sure doors are locked or to make sure some type of mistake wasn’t made)
        • Counting
        • Repetitive praying

      Often, compulsions can be clearly associated with a specific obsession, such as repeatedly checking to make sure a door is locked to reduce the anxiety of an obsession about forgetting to lock the door. However, many people with OCD develop compulsions that have no logical connection to the thing they are intended to prevent. For example, a person with an obsession involving thoughts about something bad happening may have a compulsion to touch each shoulder three times that they feel somehow makes the bad event less likely to happen. People with OCD often recognize that their compulsions are unrealistic but find it very difficult not to engage in them.

      In order to qualify for a diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, someone must have either obsessions or compulsions (or both) and these must interfere with their daily functioning. The person must also recognize, to some degree, that the obsessions and/or compulsions are excessive or unreasonable. This recognition is called “insight” and it varies widely among people with OCD. Some people with OCD have good insight and usually understand that their obsessions and/or compulsions are excessive and unlikely to be true, while others have poor insight and do not often question whether their obsessions and/or compulsions are true. The amount of insight someone has into the symptoms of their OCD can also change quite a bit depending on the situation, and even someone with very good insight most of the time may find it difficult not to believe in their obsessions and/or compulsions when they are stressed or anxious.

      OCD treatment

      OCD can be treated with both therapy and medications and usually responds best when both are combined. The type of therapy with the most evidence supporting its efficacy for OCD is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This is the type of therapy that the myAnxietyApp self-help program on this website is based upon.

      Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for OCD

        Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) involves helping the individual suffering from OCD to see the connection between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Once this connection is understood, CBT uses a variety of techniques to change the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that underlie and perpetuate the OCD. The doctors of Anxiety.org have created a CBT-based self-help program called myAnxietyApp that can be used for free on this website. Anxiety.org also has a directory of mental health care providers that can be searched for therapists who specialize in the treatment of OCD.

        Medications for OCD

          Medications are used very frequently in OCD treatment. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most frequently used class of medications for OCD. These are the same medications that are used to treat depression, but they are usually prescribed at higher doses for OCD. SSRIs work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the space between neurons called a synapse. Psychiatrists generally consider all SSRIs to be equally effective for OCD, but the SSRIs that have an FDA indication for OCD treatment are fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), and fluvoxamine (Luvox).


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          Anxiety and Children

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          Anxiety and Children

          Anxiety is a normal experience that serves protective functions throughout a person’s development.  However, sometimes the anxiety in anticipation of or in response to a situation is consistently exaggerated and may interfere with functioning or cause significant distress.   We expect to find a certain level of fear and anxiety in children; however, anxiety disorders in children are different from normal childhood fears in that they tend to be more intense and maladaptive, and they tend to last longer.  Most childhood fears are usually not very serious, they vary by age, and they don’t last long. 
          Anxiety disorders are some of the most frequent childhood and adolescent disorders, occurring in about 20% of children and adolescents during any stage of their development.  Some children may continue to experience anxiety disorders into adulthood.  Children with any anxiety disorder may experience excessive anxiety that causes distress and interferes with normal functioning; however, the differences among anxiety disorders center around the feared situation itself and the anxiety reaction produced by it.  For example, in the context of social anxiety disorder in children, the fear focuses on being judged in social situations; whereas the anxiety in obsessive-compulsive disorder in children is a product of obsessions, which are generally unpleasant thoughts, images, or impulses that are repeated frequently and seem uncontrollable.  Compulsions are carried out in an effort to avoid or decrease the anxiety produced by obsessions and they are physical or mental acts that are repeated a given number of times or until the anxiety subsides (Please see the section on OCD symptoms for further detail). 
          Symptoms of anxiety disorders, including OCD, in children usually manifest in the same way as in adults, sometimes with minor variations.  You can find detailed descriptions of the different anxiety disorders, including information about symptoms and treatment, in the corresponding sections.
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          Causes of Anxiety

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          What causes anxiety disorders? 

          Multiple factors play a role in the development of anxiety disorders.  As in other disorders, genetic factors seem to play a role, particularly when it comes to individual characteristics, such as temperament or how a person reacts to a situation, and neurobiological determinants or how the brain and body react to stress. 
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          Mental Health - Definition

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          Mental health

          Mental health describes a level of psychological well - being, or an absence of a mental disorder.  From the perspective of 'positive psychology' or 'holism', mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life, and create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience. Mental health can also be defined as an expression of emotions, and as signifying a successful adaptation to a range of demands.
          The World Health Organization (WHO)
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