How to Cope With Pandemic Anxiety, With Psychologist Elena Welch, Ph.D. and Psychiatrist David D. Burns, M.D.

This week we are learning how to reduce anxiety with the help of two cognitive behavior experts: psychologist Elena Welch, Ph.D., and psychiatrist David D. Burns, MD. Hear these two experts give advice on how to tame your anxiety with certain CBT techniques, why we tend to descend the anxiety spiral in the first place, and how to change our thinking and achieve better results.

Dr. Welch is a Los Angeles-based psychologist specializing in a wide range of anxiety, emotional, and depressive disorders and author of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Workbook for Panic Attacks . Dr. Burns is a pioneer in cognitive behavioral therapy and is the author of The Good Mood: Therapy with a New Mood and the latest Feeling Great: A Revolutionary New Treatment for Depression and Anxiety .

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Highlights from this week’s series

From an interview with Elena Welch, Ph.D.

How CBT works:

[T] The basic premise behind CBT is that your thoughts, behavior [and] your emotions are interconnected. [R] Indeed, you can intervene at any time. [I] If you change your behavior, it will entail subsequent changes in your emotions and your thoughts. If you change your thoughts, you will have changes in your behavior and emotions so that everything is interconnected. So CBT, again, in terms of where we are trying to make the change. This usually starts with an examination of thoughts and behavior. So, especially with disorders like anxiety, it’s often our way of thinking that triggers this cascade of physical symptoms because our body is prompted to think we’re in danger. So, if we can even slightly change the thoughts that automatically arise in provoking anxiety or anxiety situations, then you again, as it were, again change your behavior, your emotions and your physiological reaction.

How to calm down when you start to feel anxious:

[What] happens to all of our stress-related illnesses: “I’m afraid of losing my job, losing my home, being homeless …” My body thinks this is really happening. My body is like, “Oh, we’re in danger. Freak. “This is where stress hormones are released. Your heart can start pounding. You feel so short of breath. I find that just understanding what happens physiologically when you are anxious is a really useful tool … Some people notice their physiological symptoms such as heart rate Some people are the first to notice their thoughts. So whatever you notice first. But every time you notice yourself being activated in this way, just remember: “Okay, my body is thinking, that I am facing real danger. Let me take a deep breath. “This immediately engages a part of your brain that slows down the fight or flight response and begins to calm you down. And even say to yourself out loud or think,” It’s okay now. So you literally tell what’s going on with your brain and then help everyone work together. rest.

From an interview with David D. Burns, M.D.

On a common misconception about motivation associated with anxiety and depression:

[People] used to think, “Oh, those people who are struggling with treatment seem to be stuck in depression. They want to feel sorry for themselves, otherwise they have secondary benefits. [T] they want to try to get people’s attention. ” This is how therapists since Freud have thought about resistance and why people get stuck in depression. But there are two problems with these interpretations. First, they really hurt people. They are offensive … That means they do not help anyone. And in most cases this is not even true. We’ve found that people get stuck in depression and anxiety, relationship problems, habits, and addictions for a variety of reasons, but people get stuck in depression and anxiety because your symptoms are actually an expression of what is most beautiful and beautiful about you. amazing. …

How to best support someone who is anxious or depressed:

[M] ost people don’t know how to help a loved one. They try to cheer them up or tell them to correct their distorted thoughts. And it will never be effective. And you need to learn compassionate listening … You know, it’s just listening and giving support, not trying to cheer someone up or throw help.

For more practical advice from Dr. Welch and Dr. Burns, listen to the entire episode.

Any feedback or ideas for future episodes? Do you want to participate in the show? Leave us a voicemail at 347-687-8109 or send a voicemail to upgrade@lifehacker.com.

Update 11/2/20: We’ve updated the story to correctly point to psychiatrist David D. Burns, M.D.

Episode transcript

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