Overcoming Anxiety

Photo by Japheth Mast on Unsplash

According the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders volume 5 otherwise known as DSM 5 there are 9 mental disorders under the anxiety category. 

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Selective Mutism

Specific Phobia

Social Anxiety Disorder

Panic Disorder

Agoraphobia

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Substance/Medication-induced Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety Disorder due to another medical condition

There are many reasons one becomes anxious hence the long list of disorders which are categorized by their symptoms. Anxiety can be triggered by the thought of being separated from a loved one, fear of a specific social setting, or specific fear such as dogs, parents, or a spouse, etc. Other anxieties can be induced by taking medications or drugs. It can also be due to a medical condition such as hyperthyroidism and/or others. Whatever the trigger may be, in order to overcome anxiety, it is important to identify the cause or the trigger(s). 

If the cause of the anxiety is not induced by a substance, medication, or a medical condition, anxiety is best treated by an evidence-based therapeutic modality called cognitive behavioral therapy. This modality’s primary principle is to identify the thinking causing the anxiety and “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Once that faulty thinking is identified we are to replace it with the truth “and the truth will set us free” (John 8:32). We are admonished to “think upon whatsoever things are true” (Phil. 4:8). This faulty thinking—called a cognitive distortion—causes us to focus on a portion of the truth or something entirely false all together. It is important to first identify sin in order to remove it. The same concept goes for identifying cognitive distortions so that you may replace it with the truth. Common cognitive distortions are; all or nothing thinking, mental filter, jumping to conclusions, emotional reasoning, labeling, overgeneralizing, disqualifying the positive, magnification or minimization. An example of all or nothing thinking would be “if I’m not perfect I have failed” (Psychology Tools handout). 

Just knowing these cognitive distortions exist will now help you to recognize them if they are used as you process information daily that you receive from your environment. Once they are identified, you can begin to take in all evidence or in other words, the whole truth, as you process information. For example, have you ever heard of they saying, “they see the world through rose colored glasses”? Say you have grey, green, pink, red – you pick the color – colored glasses on. The way you see the world will depend upon which colored glasses you picked. You process the information you receive daily from the world according to your outlook on life. Your outlook on life could be that the world is a dangerous place or that people are out to hurt you. If so, you will process information according to that belief, producing something called biased memory. To gain a picture of the whole truth, all evidence is to be taken into account when drawing a conclusion. 

Practically speaking, if you feel you are going to flunk out of school, but you make A’s in every class you have taken, that is obviously not a rational thought. But in the moment of pure fear it feels very real. The key is to remind yourself of the truth in the moment that you are facing the lie causing anxiety. Not all anxiety is a lie. There are legitimate reasons to become anxious at times and in that case don’t change the thought, but change the problem. For example a guilty conscience or being in danger can cause anxiety. In that case anxiety serves an important role for change. But most anxiety comes from lies or cognitive distortions. Jesus when faced with the lies of the devil in the desert stated, “It is written,” “It is written,” “It is written.” We can do the same and be overcomers through Jesus Christ. You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You…” (Isaiah 26.3a). 

Christina Cecotto, LMSW
Mental Health Therapist & Life Coach
Website: www.victim2victor.org

2 thoughts on “Overcoming Anxiety

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