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The Benefits of Anxiety

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by: Kendall McCarthy, LPC, CSAC
Anxiety can be a horrible feeling that most want to avoid at all costs. Biologically, there is researching showing that anxiety can be related to dips in serotonin levels, predisposing us to hypervigilence and awareness of stress.  Nonetheless, to the individual feeling these symptoms, it can seem all encompassing and overwhelming.
As a trauma therapist, I want to change the narrative on anxiety. Think about amazingly protective anxiety is. When bad things happen in our life that are out of our control, our anxiety is our gut instinct talking. It’s the thing that keeps us safe when there is real danger. This is a biological thing, driven from the part of the brain we share with prehistoric man when the dangers of the world were literally life or death.  The cavemen that were not anxious were lunch, and the others ran off and survived to be our predecessors. In this way, the anxious tendency was literally passed to us from our predecessors.

Nonetheless, i…

Trauma...what’s behind behavior and what we can do about it

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When we think about trauma, we instantly think of the “Big T” traumas that we are familiar with from Law & Order and our other favorite television shows.  While these “Big T”s can have huge impacts, what we also know to be true is that the “Little T” traumas that are much more common can have equal impacts on brain functioning.  Let’s break it down…

Kaiser Permanente conducted a study between 1995 and 1997 of individuals completing a physical examination, attempting to correlate risk factors for future physical health issues.  What they found was Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) were highly correlated with future physical health and mental health issues.  These ACEs could be “Big T”s (physical abuse, sexual abuse) or could be “Little T”s (not feeling special within one’s household, family member going to prison, parental divorce or separation, mental health issue of a family member).  What we know to be true is that 20% of the general population has experienced three or more …