Healing Anxiety

The agony of the obsessive worrier is that whenever something bad is remotely possible, it feels inevitable. Obsessive Merry-go-roundworrying become obsessive/compulsive disorder when the worrier begins to do some behavior to quiet the worrying. Rituals of checking, cleaning, praying, speaking, doing are probably related to the magical and superstitious belief that you can avoid disaster in this way.
Not being able to stop is called (by researcher Jeffrey Schwartz) “brain lock”. Obsessive compulsives ‘hold on’, they can’t let go.
Normal brains do the following when we make a mistake:
1. we get a mistake feeling
2. we become anxious so we correct the mistake
3. our brains automatically shift so we move on to the next thought and the anxious feeling disappears.
Obsessive compulsive brains do not move on, even though the mistake is corrected. The OCD brain stays stuck so anxiety remains and builds.
Brain scans have shown OCD to be located in 3 parts of the brain:
1. The orbital frontal cortex (part of the frontal lobe located just behind the eyes) detects mistakes. Obsessive people have highly activated orbital frontal cortexes.
2. Once the orbital frontal cortex has fired the ‘mistake’ signal, it sends a signal to the cingulate gyrus (located in the deepest part of the cortex). Anxiety is now triggered. We feel dread that, unless we fix it, something terrible will happen. This is where the physical symptoms come in.
3. The automatic gearshilft, the caudate neucleus (deep in the center of the brain) allows our thoughts to flow freely except in OCD when it becomes ‘sticky’.
In OCS, all three brain areas are hyperactive. The orbital frontal cortex and cingulate stay on as thought they are ‘locked’ The caudate doesn’t shift so the person is being bombarded by signals of anxiety and dread.
Therapy teaches people to “manually” shift the caudate by paying constant vigilant attention to something new and pleasurable until the rewards and pleasure become consolidated. It is replacing the old with the new, competing with it rather than ‘breaking’ the old ways.
1.A.  Relabel what is happening; not a health attack but an OCD attack. Yes, it is a problem but not a health problem. This gives you some distance to observe yourself.
B. The feelings are not going away because it is faulty brain chemistry. (look at the picture)
   C. Stay away from the content of your worry, just know that the heightened worry is the disorder.
2..    If you have a compulsion, DON’T DO IT.
3.     Refocus on positive, wholesome, pleasure giving activities. Other people help keep your focus away from worry. “Do” something, shift your gears manually. It doesn’t matter what you feel; it matters what you do. Resist !!!!!
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