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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS & HELPS » Staff Stuff » Why we set big limits around anxiety and reassurance

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Author Topic: Why we set big limits around anxiety and reassurance
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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I just found this piece for one of our users with anxiety who is chronically seeking reassurance, and who is not understanding the reasons we set limits with that.

By all means, some of the reason why is because we have to manage our time and energy effectively here. But mostly it's because reassurance is something we, and those who work in mental health, know does the opposite of helping with anxiety. Instead, it actually is something that only helps keep people STUCK in anxiety and makes managing it harder, not easier.

I think this piece does a great job of explaining why and how: http://www.ocdla.com/blog/reassurance-seeking-ocd-anxiety-597

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Because sometimes links don't stay around forever, here are some of the most pertinent bits from that link:

quote:
People with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) who experience the pain and terror brought on by unwanted intrusive thoughts will use whatever means necessary to alleviate their discomfort. If they can’t make themselves feel sure about something internally, they reach out to the nearest person who they think can do it for them. If they are unavailable, the person with OCD will often reach out to the cold, unforgiving internet where the answers they hope not to find will always be waiting.

When the part of the brain responsible for making humans feel “sure enough” fails to kick into gear on its own, those with OCD and related anxiety-based conditions often use compulsive strategies to artificially create this sense of certainty. While this temporarily provides some assurance, the joy is short-lived, replaced by an overwhelming and seemingly unfair demand for re-assurance. As a strategy for suppressing the occurrence and effects of an obsession, reassurance seeking is a compulsion commonly employed by virtually all OCD sufferers, as well as those with related OC Spectrum Disorders such as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), Social Anxiety (Social Phobia), and Hypochondria (Health Anxiety).
The Problem with Reassurance

So why is reassurance such a big deal? To put it in clinical terms, when an individual seeks reassurance, they reinforce that they are unable to tolerate the discomfort of the uncertainty they are experiencing. At the same time, they reinforce that the best way to alleviate the discomfort of that uncertainty is to compulsively seek reassurance.

Concurrently, reassurance as a behavior sends the message to the brain that whatever unwanted thought set these events into motion must be terribly significant. “If he goes through all of this just to know for sure, then this thought must be really important!”

Finally, reassurance is addictive. If reassurance were a substance, it would be considered right up there with crack cocaine. One is never enough, a few makes you want more, tolerance is constantly on the rise, and withdrawal hurts. In other words, people with OCD and related conditions who compulsively seek reassurance get a quick fix, but actually worsen their discomfort in the long term.



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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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