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I'm soooooo excited to share my anxiety mentor with you today! Dr. Catherine Pittman, Ph.D., HSPP, is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, and psychology professor at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN. A practicing clinical psychologist, treating anxiety for over 30 years, she's also experienced in neuropsychological rehabilitation for individuals who have experienced brain injuries or strokes. In this special Q + A episode, Dr. Pittman is dropping some serious nuggets of wisdom on how to not let anxiety stop you from living your life.
I decided to switch things up a bit and gave my courageous community over on Instagram an opportunity to ask my anxiety mentor some of their biggest burning questions. Well, friend, today is the day she delivers, so if you're ready to dive in, let's do this!
WAS I BORN WITH ANXIETY OR HOW DID MY BRAIN GET ANXIOUS?
Dr. Pittman states, “Anxiety is really a part of what we call the stress response, fear response, or fight-or-flight response, and all of those are really very similar in the brain. They are the same processes, so when you talk about the fear response or anxiety, all of that comes from the same processes in the brain, and they all go back to these two really small parts of our brain called the amygdala. The amygdala creates our fear response and what that means when we are in a threatening situation or some kind of danger, there is a deep part of our brain that kind of takes charge and does things so quickly before you can even think.”
She goes on to explain, “Information comes in that then travels to the amygdala, and the amygdala identifies it as a potential danger, so when we are experiencing some kind of danger, our amygdala technically sees and hears it before we do. Your anxiety comes from this part of your brain that is a defensive system that is designed to work really quickly without your knowledge.”
According to Dr. Pittman, “Partly we inherit anxiety, but then the amygdala is also able to learn. If the amygdala learns that something is dangerous in your life, it will start reacting to that, and it learns through these pairings where you were exposed to something, and something bad happened.”
IS IT POSSIBLE TO CURE ANXIETY?
Dr. Pittman explains, “Well, I just say no. We are going to have anxiety, we are going to have fear, we are going to have the fight-or-flight response, and honestly, I don't want to live in a world where people aren't anxious. Our fear and anxiety keep us from doing dangerous things. It keeps us safe.”
“I am sure you can think of times that this automatic response that the amygdala creates could have helped you. I would say that we can't cure anxiety, but what we try to do is help people to minimize the anxiety they experience. Having an anxiety-free life wouldn't be advisable to humans to be that way. We want to help people understand and learn how to live with anxiety and how to minimize it, so anxiety doesn't stop you from living your life how you want to live it,” explains Dr. Pittman.
HOW TO NOT FEAR PANIC ATTACKS WHEN THEY HAVE SPIRALED INTO EXTREME PANIC ATTACKS FOR MONTHS?
My anxiety mentor states, “Usually when people are having that kind of experience it often is related to a lot of factors making their amygdala really destabilized. For example, I notice panic attacks spiral into continued panic attacks under certain conditions like when a person hasn't been able to sleep well for weeks, or when a person has been on Benzodiazepines for a while and come off of them.”
According to Dr. Pittman, “First I would want to find out why this is happening. We would also look at things like what is the person thinking about. We are trying to figure out why the person is having panic attacks because that is not a normal situation, and we would really try to treat them.” Dr. Pittman suggests improving your sleep and exercising, and says, “When you get better sleep and exercise then you calm your amygdala down in its resting state. Try to find the triggers and identify what you're thinking about from a cognitive perspective, but there are all these angles to figure out what is going on.”
MORE FROM THIS EPISODE
Be sure to check out the rest of this episode to find the answers to more game changing questions such as: What is the difference between real anxiety and just feeling stressed out? How do you deal with anticipatory anxiety? How do you stop panic attacks that you can't do exposure for? Why do new mommas need sleep? How to not be afraid of exercise when exercise feels like a panic attack. Why can anxious thoughts be so bizarre, and so much more.
I seriously can't wait for you to hear all the wisdom my anxiety mentor brings to this episode!
If you're ready to minimize your anxiety be sure to download “How to Coexist Peacefully With Anxiety” today. Click here to snag your freebie!
LINKS MENTIONED IN EPISODE
Connect with Dr. Pittman on Instagram
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