Social anxiety news and stories round-up

Blogs

The writer provides a personal insight into a difficult incident of social anxiety in the workplace and her efforts to manage and reflect on the experience: “Today I had to lead a meeting on a topic about COVID and did horribly. I froze up, rambled, and made no sense. My supervisor and two others noticed I was freaking out and didn’t really help. Then I sat in my office and basically just stared at my computer for 30 mins. I decided to just text my boss and said I was going home because I have anxiety and can’t focus. Then I went home and cried for an hour.”

A 27 year old woman describes the difficulties with socialising with family members with strong Trump supporting political opinions and attitudes: “I guess I need to learn to steel myself a little better to their remarks. I know full well that just because they think one way intensely doesn’t necessarily mean they are right. I know it’s not a personal attack against me, but sometimes their opinions make me uncomfortable. It’s that whole them being so right-wing conservative (so Trump brain-washed) that eats away at me because the views they espouse are like night and day from how I feel. And sometimes I sit there wondering how could they really think that?”

The post explores dissociation, with the writer giving personal examples of experiences: “I used to volunteer at a food bank before Covid arrived. I had just received a call from a shop asking if I would like to do two months worth of work experience with them. I said yes and thanked them before hanging up. However, my anxiety kicked in and instantly I dissociated, zoning out into space. I could hear another male volunteer trying to have a conversation with me, but I couldn’t pull myself out. When I finally came out of it, I felt embarrassed and instantly apologised multiple times, explaining that I wasn’t ignoring him and I was just experiencing dissociation. I’m happy to report that he just laughed and said he was okay with that as long as I was okay.”

Working at a grocery store in the US, the writer is unfairly moved into a new role but is able to appreciate the personal benefits, despite the injustice of the decision: “Ultimately, I found this new position to be a million times less stressful than my old position—to the point that I almost consider it enjoyable. Most of my week is spent up front at the doors sanitizing carts or counting customers as I’m one of the few that can afford to spend all day up there without it affecting my work. It also might have to do with the fact that I’m one of the few employees that doesn’t bitch about being up at the doors. I really have no reason to whine since door duty no longer takes me away from working an understaffed area that desperately needs stocking constantly.”

A ‘thirty something environmental scientist’ describes the challenges of a work field trip having started her role as a remote worker, facing challenges with training and interaction: “My co-worker even told me not to be so hard on myself and not to feel like I need to get everything right away because he said after 14 years, he still gets confused and unsure. Our job is nebulous sometimes and subject to arbitrary decisions. Maybe that’s the nature of regulation. We’re almost environmental lawyers, having to interpret what laws mean and squash environment and science into these boxes where they don’t fit neatly.”

Creative writing

i’ll take the long way home, and carve out a path along hiking trails and highways, all of my own. trace the geography of broken promises along my collarbone, and try not to dance on the walk home, a smile breaking out across my cheeks despite it all. despite myself. feel the bruises, and scrapes, and scars, the way my thighs touch, and just let them fucking exist.

a catalog of fears, a series of questions, reasons to disappear. ideally, selfless writing mimics the camera, in the antiseptic laboratory condition tradition, stripped of human emotion. a program which mimics nostalgia. the verb is missing but the lecture continues.

For a group of communinist dissidents, no-one seemed to do much. Young, fashionable people, people with long hair and flared trousers and slim-fit paisley shirts, came to the flat each night to smoke and talk about movies, people at the university, the state of the economy, politics. Ana knew about soil acidity and fermentation tanks. She knew a little about American fiction and her favourite singer, Josipa Lisac. Sometimes she wouldn’t know if they were talking about a film director, actor, politician, or a mutual friend.

Research

  • Social Anxiety and the Generation of Positivity During Dyadic Interaction: Curiosity and Authenticity are the Keys to Success – Kevin C. Barber, Maggie A.M. Michaelis, David A. Moscovitch – Behavior Therapy, online March 31, 2021

“Dyadic analyses revealed that participants’ affiliative goals during the social interaction predicted positive outcomes for both themselves and their partners, although the link between affiliative goals and positive affect was weaker for participants with high SA. Mediation analyses demonstrated that adopting affiliative goals may promote more positive outcomes by increasing participants’ curiosity and felt authenticity. Taken together, results illuminate the pathways through which people with varying levels of trait SA may derive interpersonally generated positive affect and positive social outcomes, with implications for clinical theory and practice.”

  • Response Inhibition, Cognitive Flexibility and Working Memory in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder – Ana Isabel Rosa-Alcázar, Ángel Rosa-Alcázar, Inmaculada C Martínez-Esparza, Eric A Storch, Pablo J Olivares-Olivares – Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Mar 31;18(7):3642 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33807425/

“This study analyzed response inhibition, cognitive flexibility and working memory in three groups of patients diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, considering some variables that may influence results (nonverbal reasoning, comorbidity, use of pharmacotherapy).”

  • Social anxiety disorder and the fear of death: An empirical investigation of the terror management approach towards understanding clinical anxiety. Zuccala, M., & Abbott, M. J. (2021). https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2021-01861-001

“Emerging evidence suggests that death anxiety is an important transdiagnostic construct underlying a range of psychological disorders. Terror Management Theory (TMT) is currently the preeminent theoretical framework used to explain the role that death fears play in psychopathology. This study sought to examine the TMT approach to understanding clinical anxiety while addressing several methodological limitations associated with the existing empirical literature. Method: Semi-structured diagnostic interviewing was employed to recruit two groups of participants with either Social Anxiety Disorder or no anxiety diagnosis. All participants were randomly allocated to receive either mortality salience or control priming, before undertaking two tasks designed to measure social and physical anxiety symptoms, respectively. Results: The overall pattern of results failed to provide evidence in support of the novel hypotheses derived from TMT. Mortality salience priming did not exacerbate social anxiety symptoms for participants with Social Anxiety Disorder, but did exacerbate physical anxiety symptoms for these individuals. No such effect was observed for non-clinical participants. Conclusion: These results suggest that more robust theoretical frameworks may be needed to explain the evident, but likely complex, relationship between death fears and clinical anxiety. Directions for future research are discussed. “

“The relationship between separation anxiety and suicidality has not been explored extensively,” Stefano Pini, MD, of the department of clinical and experimental medicine at University of Pisa in Italy, and colleagues wrote. “One study found an association between separation anxiety disorder and increased risk [for] suicidal behaviors in a prospective study of 500 Indian adolescents in a rural community. Another study reported an association between severity of separation anxiety symptoms and suicidal ideation in a small sample (n = 31) of patients with social anxiety disorder, although the observed association was dependent on comorbidity with major depression and avoidant personality disorder.”

  • Candidate Factors Maintaining Social Anxiety in the Context of Psychotic Experiences: A Systematic Review – Warut Aunjitsakul, Nicola McGuire, Hamish J McLeod, Andrew Gumley – Schizophr Bull. 2021 Mar 29 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33778868/

“Prominent psychological factors maintaining social anxiety included self-perceptions of stigma and shame. Common correlates of social anxiety included poorer functioning and lower quality of life. In conclusion, stigma and shame could be targeted as a causal mechanism in future interventional studies. The integration of findings from this review lead us to propose a new theoretical model to guide future intervention research.”

News articles

A light-hearted look at the fears of a young woman and her friends as lockdown restriction easing in the UK allows her to meet up with five friends outdoors over Easter: “Staying at home eliminates the holy trinity of social anxiety: the fear of missing out, the fear of actually being there, and the fear of what you did or said that creeps in after you’ve left.”

A humorous take on common behaviours prompted by socially anxiety: “This is my favorite game to play. Peek-a-boo, you don’t see me. I can’t recall the number of times I’ve strolled into a store and out of nowhere, launched myself behind a rack for cover because I recognized someone. Did they see me? Oh God, I hope they didn’t see me. What if they saw me hide? What if they come my way now, what do I say? Oh God, why am I like this? Usually, I’m by myself, so I don’t have to explain my behavior to someone else and feel extra stupid. But when I’m out with my husband, I have to deal with him too because he snickers and leaves me to my own insanity. Hello, social anxiety. I trail slowly behind and intermittently ask him to check if the coast is clear. I keep track of that person’s whereabouts until they leave the store. Don’t ask me how much time I’ve wasted doing this.”

“Think about the biggest challenges you’ve faced and overcome. Looking at your strongest, wisest moments, do you think you could use that same strength and wisdom to prevail in this potential challenge as well?

What do you think you could learn from it? In what ways do you think you would gain strength as you face these new obstacles?

Thinking about your strengths and your best moments can help you to remember that, while you may not enjoy your current circumstances, you have the strength to handle what comes. You may find new strengths you didn’t know you had!”

Article on London based writer, Russell Norris, who experiences severe facial blushing as an anxiety symptom: “Norris has decided to confront his fears by being more open about them. He’s written a book, Red Face: How I Learnt to Live with Social Anxiety, about what life is like as a perpetual blusher. “It’s not easy, is the short answer,” he notes. “I became an expert in avoidance.””

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Social anxiety news and stories round-up

“Taking LSD granted me a temporary lift off my anxiety, which, unfortunately, was chemically induced. I hoped that I would somehow be able to take those benefits into sober life by being in that anxiety-less state as often as I could manage to do so. I also noticed a great increase in my openness and creativity. I was enjoying music like I never had before and drew for hours on end. But it didn’t take long for the negative side effects of my consumption to manifest themselves.”

An insightful and inspiring interview with Vietnamese American mental health activist and travel blogger, Meggie Tran: “My organization, a travel and mental health blog called Mindful Meggie, normalizes the discussion about mental health and its illnesses. Being open about them is the antidote to the negative stigma. I hope that people will be encouraged to acknowledge their mental health struggles, seek help from a medical professional when necessary, and open up to supportive family and friends.

The travel aspect is there to liven up the discussion with fun and relatable content. (After all, lots of people love to travel, or at least, read travel stories). Many of my nonfiction narratives discuss both mental health and travel. I also have practical resources for travelers with a mental health condition, which equalizes the opportunity to travel.

I strive to make my Vietnamese American voice heard. That way, I can invite and empower fellow Asians in the travel and mental health fields, both of which are still not quite there yet in terms of racial and cultural inclusivity.”

On work commitments and health: “Here’s the thing – there are positives to where I work. I work part-time and mostly from home; I set my own schedule; I can take time off for illness or family emergencies whenever I need too without feeling any guilt; and I don’t have anyone breathing down my neck or micromanaging everything I do. It’s these things that make me stay. It’s about balance and what it important to me at this stage of my life. With my anxieties and health and family issues, the work environment and flexibility are more important to me than not being able to do my job the way I know it should be done. All I can do is do the best I can with what I am given, and of course keep good notes on the side. I don’t think I could handle a fulltime corporate job anymore, especially since it would pay less for more work.”

Reflecting on anger and emotional self-control: “One of the ways I’m still growing is in regard to my anger. It’s better than it was but it is still there, bubbling away just beneath the surface, raging into a fire when I’m not doing well. Sometimes, it flares so strongly that I become violent – not toward other people or living things, but still violent.”

News articles

“Social anxiety and depression symptoms were positively associated with participants’ extent of dating app use, and symptoms of psychopathology and gender interacted to predict various dating app use motivations.

Symptoms of social anxiety and depression predicted a lower likelihood of initiating contact with a dating app match among men but not women.”

“For the study, researchers from The Ohio State University and the University of Oregon set out to learn whether identifying with a fictional character is connected with the brain activity that occurs when a person thinks about themselves.”

“Individuals have conveyed that this trait identification allowed them to experience a greater level of self-confidence and self-compassion,” says Dr. Magavi. “For example, I evaluated a young man who identified with [“Game of Thrones” character] Samwell Tarly, as he similarly felt ostracized by society and his family. When Samwell Tarly found his calling and helped his friends, he was so touched that he found the courage to apply for a job, despite his debilitating social anxiety.”

“Stress hormones like epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine flood your body, which can increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and the blood flow to the muscles in your arms and legs. All of these can cause you to start shaking.”

“By strategic experiment I mean doing something to test your assumptions about how others react to you. Your goal in conducting an experiment is to obtain new facts, data, information about how others see you to begin constructing a new, more realistic image of yourself – – NOW – – to counteract the old, negative self-impression stored in your memory from THEN.”

“A study out of China published in April found that 10.8% of people met the diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after returning to work. Following personal protective measures, like wearing face masks, reduced psychiatric symptoms and made people feel more confident. It also helped when workplaces listened to employees concerns and increased workplace hygiene.”

“Curb the urge to seek reassurance from others that you are doing the right thing,” Shannon wrote. “Getting reassurance reinforces the belief that if we do everything right, we will avoid criticism. True confidence comes from allowing for mistakes and accepting that we cannot please everyone.”

“I began smiling at strangers when I went out in public and noticed how relaxed I was when I got home. In my mind, I was smiling as a way to tell people I was non-threatening, kind, maybe even a cool person to know. Lo and behold, seeing their smile in return eased my own mind; quelling my anxiety. I became confident going places solo. I could smile at a stranger at the grocery store and the incessant buzzing in my head would quiet down. I started traveling to different countries on both solo and group trips. Smiling at strangers made me more confident and safe. It was every kind of reassurance I needed.”

Research

“Results suggest that distractor stimuli that are either threatening or faces impair performance of high SA participants. Results demonstrate a hypervigilance for threatening faces in SA but indicate that this happens primarily when cognitive resources are available, that is, under low perceptual load.”

  • From scanners to cell-phones: Neural and real-world responses to social evaluation in adolescent girls Stefanie L. Sequeira, Jennifer S. Silk, Elizabeth A. Edershile, Neil P. Jones, Jamie L. Hanson, Erika E. Forbes, Cecile D. Ladouceur – Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Oxford University Press https://watermark.silverchair.com/nsab038.pdf

“As hypothesized, associations were found between reactivity to perceived social threat in daily life and neural activity in threat-related brain regions, including the left amygdala and bilateral insula, to peer rejection relative to a control condition. Daily life reactivity to perceived social threat was also related to functional connectivity between the left amygdala and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex during rejection feedback. Unexpectedly, daily life social threat reactivity was also related to heightened amygdala and insula activation to peer acceptance relative to a control condition. Findings may inform key brain-behavior associations supporting sensitivity to social evaluation in adolescence.”

A 2015 publication considering role of obesity, body esteem and social anxiety: “The structural equation modelling displayed that obese individuals with sedentary behaviour and poor body esteem were more likely to show social anxiety. Body esteem partially mediated between sedentary behaviour and social anxiety. Our results highlight the role of sedentary behaviour and body esteem as promising avenues for reducing social anxiety in obese individuals.”

2016 study: “These findings indicate that single dose testosterone administration can alleviate gaze avoidance in SAD. They support theories on the dominance enhancing effects of testosterone and extend those by showing that effects are particularly strong in individuals featured by socially submissive behavior. The finding that this core characteristic of SAD can be directly influenced by single dose testosterone administration calls for future inquiry into the clinical utility of testosterone in the treatment of SAD.”

“Results confirmed that self-reported emotional tendencies of social anxiety and psychopathy Factor I (interpersonal-affective deficit) correlated negatively, but self-reported behavioral tendencies (social avoidance and psychopathy Factor II [impulsive behavior]) correlated positively. Furthermore, Structural Equation Modelling demonstrated that participants with higher social anxiety and higher cortisol levels showed an avoidance tendency towards happy faces, while participants with higher psychopathic traits showed an approach tendency towards angry faces. In sum, the notion that social anxiety and psychopathic traits are opposing ends of one dimension was supported only in terms of self-reported emotional experiences, but a comparable relationship with regard to behavioral and endocrinological aspects is debatable. The current findings stress the necessity to study emotional, endocrinological and behavioral factors in unison in order to better understand the shared and distinctive mechanisms of social anxiety and psychopathic traits.

  • Cognitive therapy compared with CBT for social anxiety disorder in adolescents: a feasibility study Cathy Creswell, Eleanor Leigh, Michael Larkin, Gareth Stephens, Mara Violato, Emma Brooks, Samantha Pearcey, Lucy Taylor, Paul Stallard, Polly Waite, Shirley Reynolds, Gordon Taylor, Emma Warnock-Parkes, David M Clark, Health Technol Assess 2021 Mar;25(20):1-94 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33759742/

“Objectives: To train child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) therapists to deliver cognitive therapy for SAD in adolescents (CT-SAD-A) and assess therapist competence. To estimate the costs to the NHS of training therapists to deliver CT-SAD-A and the mean cost per adolescent treated. To examine the feasibility of a randomised controlled trial (RCT) to compare CT-SAD-A with the general form of cognitive-behavioural therapy that is more commonly used.”

“If empathy is impaired in socially anxious individuals, appropriate emotional reaction to and interpretation of social cues is hampered. This in turn, might negatively impact social interactions thus reinforcing the socially anxious individual’s fear of acting inappropriately. An alternative line of reasoning might be that being unable to correctly infer the other persons’ emotional state provokes uncertainty and anxiety in social interactions (Hezel & McNally, 2014), thus fostering fear in and avoidance of social interactions. Altered empathic functioning might thus play a role in both the development and maintenance of SAD.”

Social anxiety news and stories round-up

Blogs

An artist studying art therapy gives an account of her life and experiences of bullying, judgement of her physical appearance and of subsequent social anxiety: “The pain and loneliness I felt from my social isolation was beyond imagining, so I drew to feel less alone. I am no stranger to heartbreak, betrayal and disappointment, and rather then let the pain defeat me I used it to create something beautiful. Heartbreak actually inspired most of my artworks. I use my emotional pain as a major source of inspiration in most of my works. I like to focus on the themes of life and death, nature because it brings life to my heart, and death which represents the suffering.”

A series of clearly written suggestions for using our senses to de-stress, highlighting sound, smell, feel and touch: “Figure out what sounds bring you a sense of peace or help relax you and begin using them to your advantage. The most commonly suggested method for this would be through listening to music, as this can have a positive psychological impact and has been shown to help ease low moods. Whether you are a fan of upbeat pop or more melancholy ballads, music can help us explore our emotions and ease our stress very effectively.”

A succinct post, describing emotions, particularly, feelings of helplessness: “Went for a walk with Sherri yesterday…and came back just full of social anxiety…I just have such a proliferation of thoughts after social encounters, even with people I trust. Why is it so hard to be straight forward? I’m so fed up with myself…”

The writer presents succinct descriptions of childhood friendships, which provide an insightful perspective into character and bonds: “From my infant friend Lincoln, I learnt in humans that I like those who complement my personality, but that’s not to say I atall dislike people similar to me. In fact a certain threshold of shared ethics is necessary. If you ask me when I juxtapose all of these friendships, I see very little in common. Maybe that’s the point. I build myself strong allies of a diverse settings.”

Research

This is a 1990 publication which suggests that social anxiety or phobia has a high incidence amongst the Saudi population and compares it to “the West” where “agoraphobia is the most common phobic disorder and constitutes about 60% of all clinically diagnosed phobic conditions, while social phobia is relatively rare.” The article goes on to suggest some possible reasons for this, including sociocultural.

I have included this article in this list particularly for the following quote: “Social anxiety seems to arise in people who are unduly sensitive to disapproval and criticism and who have inflexible ideas about social conventions which cause them to expect criticism unnecessarily.” This is attributed to a 1974 journal article which I could not find online: Nichols KA. Severe social anxiety. Br J Med Psychol. 1974; 47:301-6.

This quotation suggests an objective judgement of social fear based on an unspecified general standard, without reference to individual history, vulnerabilities or capacities. This objective standard may be helpful for identification of the need for treatment or support, but as a definition of social anxiety, it denies the subjective experience and condition of the person with symptoms and thus denies a holistic treatment approach. The definition also denies the reality of social power differences and social harms, beyond disapproval and criticism. I believe that this narrowly focused understanding of social anxiety disorder is found in modern medical understanding and treatments.

“Social anxiety is a highly prevalent and impairing condition. Understanding prodromal features of social anxiety in infancy can facilitate early intervention and mitigate negative long-term impacts. The present study is the first to examine social anxiety risk markers across multiple indices in infants with fragile X syndrome (FXS), who are at elevated risk for comorbid social anxiety disorder. Evidence suggests that infants with FXS display both behavioral and physiological markers of social anxiety that are detectable as early as 12 months of age. However, these findings were nuanced and not consistent across all measures, highlighting the importance of a multi-method biobehavioral approach.”

Articles

Australian freelance writer, Marnie Vinall, describes the positive experience of joining and integrating into a supportive Aussie rules football team: “I managed to make it a whole three weeks in before needing to sit out a training session because my anxiety got the better of me. It was in a regular drill called “chaos”, which involves a series of balls going in any and every direction. The purpose to practise kicking, marking, calling for the ball and making yourself open and available. “The aim,” the coach said, “is to get your hands on the ball as many times as possible.”

“For some, it will be hard to quiet the ‘threat brain’ and as a result, we may actually see a rise in OCD type symptoms. It’s important to understand that with OCD it is actually anxiety and fear at the root of the problem, it’s just the OCD are the symptoms we see.”

Another article looking at the fears that reopening of countries may bring, with particular attention on those most vulnerable, such as people with anxiety disorders: “Experts say it’s important to acknowledge your stress during this transition. It’s normal to feel nervous. People shouldn’t judge themselves too harshly for their anxieties.”

A deeper look at foods beneficial to emotional and physical health: “Serotonin has a calming effect and also promotes sleep and relaxation, McKittrick explained. In fact, low levels of brain serotonin, research has suggested, can lead to increased vulnerability to psychosocial stress.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that is necessary for the production of serotonin in the brain. Complex carbs including whole grains and vegetables can help boost levels of serotonin because they make tryptophan more available in the brain.”

Very frank and insighful account of a woman fearing social interactions after the lifting of pandemic restrictions in the UK: “Fortunately, I found a career where I could escape those feelings for a couple of hours. As a nanny, social anxiety dissipated as the focus was on the children and I was able to forget about me. I worked long hours and did something so fulfilling, that I realised when it came to caring for others – such as the children I worked with, or taking my husband to hospital – the feeling of being needed, the purpose of doing something for others, overtook the dread and fear.”

Prior to the lockdown in the UK, she had started a new job role: “I don’t currently know if I will be able to go back to it – the most I can achieve is going to a chemist to collect my husband’s medication once a month and that is a mammoth task that takes a lot of psychological build-up.”

Social anxiety news and stories round-up

Blogs

Introspective piece questioning the causes of feeling less desirous of being in love and more content with being single: “You’d think this lack of interest would be a comfort to me, considering how much I use to agonize over my loneliness. Yet, even though this new state doesn’t necessarily cause me pain, it’s still a cause for concern. How can it be that in the span of just a few years I can feel so completely different about something that was once so vitally important to me? If I could be certain these were an accurate reflection of inner growth and independence, I might not mind. However, there is part of me that wonders if this isn’t somehow a result of so many years on anti-depressants. Paxil has helped me in a lot of ways, and I am grateful for that. But now I’m beginning to question if I’m even still the same person I was before. Which version of myself would I ultimately prefer? Can I even trust the way I think and feel now?”

A perspective of a loving relationship: “I feel like love is everything. It’s the good, it’s the bad, it’s the glue that holds life together. Whether that’s in a romantic or platonic way, whether it’s between you and family, or you and your favourite song; love is the glue.”

A writer managing relationships with those who have caused them emotional harm in the past: “so, while i’m working on myself and my relationships, i’m going to let myself feel angry. i’m going to let myself feel bitter. i’m going to remind myself that all of these feelings are valid. healing from trauma is a nonlinear process that takes time, and i’m going to give myself that time.”

On the complex relationship we might have with mental health difficulties: “As much as I wish my coping mechanisms were healthy and productive, I can’t deny my anorexia didn’t serve me a temporary kind of protection, however much this point will overshoot the rational brain. It’s almost like hugging a cactus, expecting the delights of a teddy bear.”

An interesting perspective on the issue of courtship between genders with the backdrop of media attention on the sexual violence against women: “But in reality men are told from almost birth its their job to make the first move to ask women out, to initiate contact,. men have chat up lines, not usually women. I worked in a company for 20 year and never had a female try to befriend me in a romantic type of way ever. The odd hello is not the same as chatting someone up but I had plenty of people especially women think me weird for being quiet. As I said once before hearing girls say “he wont do anything at a bus stop!” as I did not chat their friend up Well if the world is equal then why didn’t she do something?”

A fascinating account of the pressures placed on workers by a grocery chain: “I don’t do this job to impress people. I do what I’m supposed to do, which is to deliver the groceries to customers. 97% of the time, customers drive away content or thrilled. Sure, we have hiccups. We do get bad reviews. Mistakes are made. Do you think that stops customers from using the online grocery pickup service? Not in a million years. We’re being asked to push these surveys as if the very existence and justification of a digital grocery department is in jeopardy. And it’s really not. Grocery pickup from online orders is here to stay. This is life now. No bad review is going to shut it down.”

On poor posture as a symptom of anxiety and fear: “I’ve carried heavy books in backpacks for years, but I don’t think they’ve weighed me down quite like fear and submission. My entire life, I’ve learned to shut up, cocoon myself, break off from the others, and shrink into myself whenever life became uncomfortable. Again, to stand up with a good posture is to face everything. My body follows how I feel on the inside. Therefore, slouching was always a subconscious norm. I adapted to fear and submission so easily that my physical reaction was just built-in.”

Research

“Results indicate no between-group differences in heart rate variability (HRV) and heart rate (HR) at baseline. When starting the working memory task, the control group decreased significantly in HRV and the anxious group did not differ substantially in their change pattern from baseline to the start of the stressor. Finally, during the recovery phase of the working memory task, the clinically anxious and control individuals did not differ in their HFV or HR response compared to baseline.

From a clinical perspective, the results suggest that screening for the presence of anxiety disorders may help to identify patients with impaired HRV and HR functioning and to intervene on these important patient characteristics early in the treatment process.”

  • Recalling autobiographical self-efficacy episodes boosts reappraisal-effects on negative emotional memories – Christina Paersch, Ava Schulz, Frank H Wilhelm, Adam D Brown, Birgit Kleim. Emotion Feb 25, 2021 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33630625/ (Abstract)

“Self-efficacy is a key construct in behavioral science with significant impact on mental health and wellbeing. A growing body of work has shown that perceptions of self-efficacy can be increased through recall of autobiographical episodes (AEs) of mastery (“self-efficacy memories”) in experimental settings. Doing so contributes to improvements in clinically relevant processes, such as emotion regulation and problem solving. Here we examine whether the recall of self-efficacy AEs contributes to more adaptive appraisals for personally experienced negative memories.

These findings suggest that recalling self-efficacy episodes may promote adaptive self-appraisals for negative memories, which in turn may contribute to recovery from stressful events and, with further research, may prove to be a useful adjunctive strategy for treatments such as CBT.”

  • Crosstalk between Existential Phenomenological Psychotherapy and Neurological Science in Mood and Anxiety Disorders – Lehel Balogh, Masaru Tanaka, Nóra Török, László Vécsei, Shigeru Taguchi https://www.preprints.org/manuscript/202012.0625/v2 (This version is not peer-reviewed)

“Existential phenomenological psychotherapy (EPP) has been in the forefront of meaning-centered counseling for almost a century. The phenomenological approach in psychotherapy originated in the works of Martin Heidegger, Ludwig Binswanger, Medard Boss and Viktor Frankl, and it has been committed to account for the existential possibilities and limitations of one’s life. EPP provides philosophically rich interpretations and empowers counseling techniques to assist mentally suffering individuals by finding meaning and purpose of life. The approach has proven to be effective in treating mood and anxiety disorders. This narrative review article demonstrates the development of EPP, the therapeutic methodology, evidence-based accounts of its curative techniques, current understanding of mood and anxiety disorders in neurological science, and a possible converging path to translate and integrate meaning-centered psychotherapy and neurological science, concluding that the existential phenomenological psychotherapy potently plays a synergistic role with the currently prevailing medication-based approaches for the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders.”

“These exploratory results indicate that anxiety, but not regulation tendency, predicts how individuals regulate emotion in the laboratory. These findings suggest that how individuals report regulating in the real world does not map on to how they regulate in the laboratory. Taken together, this underscores the importance of developing emotion-regulation interventions and paradigms that more closely align to and predict real-world outcomes.”

“Social anxiety impairs the balance performance of older women, particularly in those most affected by the evaluator, and during more dynamic modified gait tasks that challenge balance while walking. However, co-performing balance tasks with a partner reduced the effects of social anxiety, suggesting that social support may help to mitigate some of the potential ‘white coat’ effects experienced during clinical balance assessments.”

News

“Mental health experts said this fraction of the population found the quarantine protective, a permission slip to glide into more predictable spaces, schedules, routines and relationships. And the experts warn that while quarantine has blessed the “avoidance” of social situations, the circumstances are poised to change.”