DBT skills - Ride the wave
How to handle anxiety
Reduce anxiety - dbt skills
Drop The Rope Analogy
Imagine yourself facing a monster. Maybe it’s your anxiety or OCD. It can take on any form. It can look like anything. It can be tall, small, short, big. It can have claws, horns, sharp teeth. It can be furry, bald, or however you’d describe your monster. Between you and the monster is a giant pit that represents your symptoms. The never-ending feelings of anxiety or OCD. The nagging questioning and doubting that anxiety loves to bring. This canyon or pit is BIG. Real big. You can hardly even see the bottom. It almost feels hopeless that this big pit will be there to stay forever. Now imagine yourself near the edge of this pit holding a rope. The rope spans across the pit. Guess who’s holding on to the other end. You guessed it, your monster. That pesty thing.
You are stuck in a perpetual tug of war. To not fall into the pit, you’re holding tighter. I mean, the rope has been your security and safety this long. (the rope are your compulsions….the things that your anxiety says will keep you safe) They are the….”just check the stove one more time” “are you sure you’re a good person, go ask mom again.” “better research again to make sure you didn’t really do that thing.” As you’re pulling this rope, you’re in constant battle with your symptoms. The monster. It really doesn’t budge, it won’t go over this pit.
You think that the more you pull this rope (do the compulsions) the closer you’ll get to finding freedom and allowing that monster drop right into the pit. The sad part is….the monster gets right to that edge and does one bit TUG, pulling you right back into those compulsions and making you doubt all over again. It can feel never ending. The only thing the brain says is to keep trying….you almost had it. This cycle repeats over and over again. There is one thing the monster doesn’t expect……..you drop the rope. That’s right. You have all the power in the world. You’ve been feeding it this whole time. You stop doing the compulsions. You stop trying to figure it out. You stop all of it. You allow the anxiety to just be there. You even act like you don’t care. The monster is ANGRY man.
It screams across the pit telling you to pick the rope back up…it’s the only way…it throws out these threats… You answer each threat by agreeing with it or saying, “yep, maybe.” “cool, thanks for that thought.” You learn that the chatter of the monster slows down. It finally takes a seat….It’s no fun for this monster. You’ll realize that the threats it’s ever given you have been false this whole time. The urge to pick this rope back up becomes less and less. It takes commitment, but you do it. You’re dedicated to NEVER figure out your “what if” or to react to any “perceived threat” that comes your way. You’ve gained control again.
You’re the boss. You may feel like you didn’t “win” the battle, but you’ve accepted it for what it is. Acceptance is key. You’ve learned to live with this monster regardless of the threats. Some days it’s tougher, some days it’s no big deal. Regardless… you live the life you want to live. Ultimately, what I want you to do is to figure out what you’re still holding on to and allow yourself to “drop the rope”. Your time is NOW. Make sure you check out my online self-directed OCD course to help you drop the rope and learn the correct treatment for your own OCD. What things do you need to drop the rope with? Thank you so much for watching and I will see you next time.
Acceptance and commitment therapy and anxiety
act therapy and anxiety
Anxiety and how to move forward
So when I say stop moving the cup, this is what I mean. A few years back I was at my brothers house. We are all seated around the dinner table talking and laughing. Their dinner table is located right next to their white carpet. My three-year-old periodically would run up to the table grabbed her cup of juice, grape juice of all things, take a drink and put it back on the table.
What I noticed is that when she placed her cup back on the table it would be close to the edge. I would continuously move the cup back to the middle of the table. Just as I was done, she would run back, grab the cup and follow the same routine. Slamming that cup back on the edge of the table. I found myself moving this cup over and over and over again. I didn’t wanted to fall, I didn’t want to hit their white carpet. I felt like I could prevent this.
Little did I know, the more time I spent moving this cup, the more ingrained I got into the perceived threat that this cup was going to fall. So ingrained that I missed out on the conversations happening right in front of me. By the end of the night, I probably move that cup 20 times if not more. Guess what ended up happening, nothing. Nothing happened. Her cup did not fall. The catastrophe I was trying to avoid did not happen. And my brain said, good job…. You did really well preventing this threat from happening. My brain didn’t know any different, it really thinks I did a good job. But what if me moving the cup had nothing to do with the catastrophe not happening.
It seemed like such a silly thing, but it got me thinking. How many times in our life do we have a perceived threat, something more completely guessing that could happen we are doing behaviors to prevent it. Even if the catastrophe actually did happen, we would be able to problem solve it. Think about this for yourself, how many times a day, a week, an hour are you trying to prevent something bad from happening. How much of life do you feel like you’re missing?
Life is meant to be lived. We are meant to make mistakes. We are meant to fail. We are meant to let the chips fall where they may. We do not need to solve the problem if there is not an actual problem. The cup on the edge of the table is not a problem. It could potentially be a problem, but at this moment it is not a problem. When we focus more on living life and enjoying the things around us, it is worth more to risk the perceived threat happening then to continually problem solve it and prevent it from happening.
When it comes to anxiety and OCD symptoms, the perceived threat happens day after day after day after day. The brain thinks that the only reason it hasn’t happened is because you may have done a compulsion or followed its rules. When we are doing treatment we have to retrain the brain to say that it is completely lying to you. When we don’t do the compulsion, and in my case it would be moving the cup. We allow ourselves to see what ends up happening. When we find that the catastrophe doesn’t happen the brain learns that the threat it gave you must’ve been false. Thus reducing the amount of threats you make it in the future.
But if the catastrophe actually does happen, we can problem solve it.
So when I say stop moving the cup, what I really mean is stop doing the compulsion. Stop trying to prevent the bad thing from happening unless you see immediate danger. Meaning there is no doubt in your mind that you are in danger, you don’t even have to question it. If you do have to question you already know it’s a perceived threat.
And I know what you’re thinking. Yeah Nate, your examples about grape juice falling on white carpet. Mine is so much more serious than that. Do not fall into the trap that your perceived threat is more important or is different than someone else’s. It doesn’t matter what intrusive thought comes your way, we treat it the same.
Stop moving the cup. Risk the threat. Is worth living life, than to live life to problem solve.
My question for you is what is going to be the thing that you are going to stop doing today? What cup will you stop moving?
Thank you so much and I will see you next time…
How to stop anxiety
Calm down from anxiety
OCD about the past
Think about your OCD and anxiety symptoms for a moment. Whenever you are feeling anxious or are ruminating. Is it about things that are happening right now in this moment? Typically we are feeling anxious about things from our past or things in our future. Really think about it. A thought like, did I leave the stove on? That lives in the past. Will I do this thing my brain says I’m going to do? This is in the future.
So, real anxiety that is meant to be felt is for the present moment. Meaning, we need to see the threat. It can’t be a guess of what the threat is going to be it has to be something we actually can see right now. Something like that car that is coming my direction and I need to jump out of the way. I am at somebody’s house and I threw up. My child fell in the swimming pool and they can swim. Here’s the thing. When real moments of anxiety actually happen we can fix it and problem solve it.
OCD and anxiety hate living in the present moment. Because in the present moment it knows there is not an actual threat. The only power it has is to warn you of a perceived threat even if it is so untrue and so unfounded. The only power thinks it has is to remind you of the past. To remind you of all those things that you did that you can’t believe you did. But the thing it forgets is that your brain back then is not the same brain you have now. Just like when you are five years old, the behaviors, the decisions you made, the tantrums you threw do not define who you are right now in this moment. Your brain is different now. We learn, we adapt, we look back at experiences and say wow, I can’t believe I actually did that. And the only way we got there is because we learned new things, we grew up.
OCD loves to attach to the past. We give it zero attention. We don’t even need to use logic with it. Life is what it is. We learn through experiences and we move forward. When the brain comes up with memories from the past we can answer them with, oh yeah! I remember when that happened. Sweet glad I made those decisions. With these answers do they allow your brain to stop going to the past because you simply are teaching it that you don’t care. You’re not answering it the way that you normally would.
When it comes to the future, we treated the same way. It comes up with any what if’s and we need to learn to answer it with yes, that may or may not happen. I don’t know, I don’t have a Time Machine to know for sure it is not my job to know right now. We will cross that bridge when I get there. Because more hours of ruminating and problem solving about possible threats does not prevent it from actually happening. Because we often find that there was no threat to begin with. Even when anxiety tells you so strongly that is true. We are not falling for it.
So your job is to keep your anxiety and OCD symptoms in the present moment. Staying in the present means you’re not trying to problem solve future. Staying in the present moment means you are not revisiting the past. Staying in the present means you are actually being present. You’re going out and doing things even if you don’t feel up for it. You are allowing yourself to enjoy life and continually answering these past or future thoughts with uncertainty.
So for you to gain the upper hand, we already know staying in the present moment is one of the best things you can do. Feel empowered when you do not engage in the past or the future. Allow life to be lived right now. Start by answering any threat with and maybe maybe not.
This is how you will gain control over your OCD and anxiety.
Here’s my question for you, let me know in the comments. Does your anxiety or OCD threaten you about the past or your future?
Thank you so much for watching, and I will see you next time.
OCD about the future
OCD about the present
I talk about exposure and response prevention quite often as the best, in my opinion, treatment for OCD and anxiety. I mean you are actually facing your fears. Retraining your brain. You are essentially becoming a researcher. You are doing experiments. You are testing theories.
You are willing to take the risk that the fear that you currently have may be a false signal.
I’m going to go through how you can do these experiments better when it comes to your treatment.
So how to do better exposures for experiments. One of the first things is to be aware of what the perceived threats are the come to your mind. Something like, if I don’t check the door one more time someone can break in. If I don’t pray, God will smite me. If I don’t put those knifes away I might react and do something. If I get close to that person, what if I like it or them. If I look at somebody else, maybe I don’t really love my partner. If I touch this item, I will get sick.
This is how you are keeping track of your fears. What does it mean if you don’t follow through with your compulsion? What does it mean because you have a certain intrusive thought?
This shows exactly how we can do experiments. Your brain already came up with the threat if you don’t follow through with the compulsion. Now it’s your time to test the theory out. Each one is going to feel very real. It’s going to feel very important. It’s even going to feel risky.
But just like any experiment, we do not know the outcome until we tested. So what I would do is take one of my fears, and I would test the theory out. My brain says if I don’t check the stove, I will start my house on fire. So guess what I’m going to do, not check the stove. I’m also going to pay attention to all the compulsions that my body wants to do. Maybe it wants to listen for a fire, maybe in researching online the chances of the fire happening.
I cannot do an experiment, and then mess with the data in between. Instead I’m practicing staying uncertain. Choosing to see what the outcome is going to be. I’m living my life, if there is a problem I will solve it. If there’s not there’s nothing to solve.
While I am sitting with this uncertainty, I might be practicing statements tell me through. The house may or may not set on fire. Yep, might be my fault.
Here’s the cool part, after a few hours, maybe the next day. Your brain looks that moment and says, hey, I told you that you were in danger. The house is supposed be on fire, it’s not, maybe throughout all false signal your way.
You did this experiment to see what was going to happen. You tested the theory out. Your brain needs to know that you are testing these fears out, over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. It will finally get it.
The thing is though, we can never be hundred percent certain that our fear won’t come true. But we are willing to take that risk, it might be the only way to retrain the brain and for you to enjoy life more freely.
I know what you might be thinking, yeah I can test the theory out for something like your example. But mine is different. Mine is more dangerous. Might involves my child, mine involves my salvation, mine involves death. That’s one of the biggest pieces to get past, you are not special in that your OCD or anxiety is different. It’s all false signals. The only way for you to retrain the brain is to do these experiments. Do these experiments with meaning. It’s not, I’m going to avoid checking, and that I’m going to rock back and forth staring at a wall for the next five hours. It’s continuing to live life despite of this uncertainty that you’re living in. And anytime a threat comes up, but is a house going to start on fire? Your answer is, yeah man, maybe maybe not. I guess we’ll see after the experiment.
My question to you is this….Has your fear EVER come true? Really think about it, the thing your brain threatens to you day after day.
Thank you so much for watching and I will see you next time.
How to help ocd
How to stop OCD
OCD Treatment Lifestyle
So maybe you have done the treatment for OCD and anxiety. Or you’re currently working on it. The treatment that I love and focus on his exposure and response prevention. This treatment can be tough as nails. I mean were telling you to completely forgo everything you think you know and change it. To face your fears. Responds completely different to them. Stop doing those things that made you feel comfortable and gave you relief. Man, this treatment can be tough but it is so worth it.
As you are going through your treatment journey for anxiety and OCD I wanted to give you some information to help you through gaining more success in these treatment strategies.
So if this is the first time you’re hearing about exposure and response prevention, man you’re in for a treat. And you also found what is in my opinion the best treatment I can help you with your anxiety and OCD symptoms. We broke it down by just the name of the treatment.
Exposure = you are exposing yourself to perceived threats. Meaning, your brain is going to be throwing out a lot of threats. Mixed with a lot of anxiety, and we are choosing to face these fears with uncertainty. Almost like you are doing an experiment to see if the threat that came to your brain is actually going to happen or not…. Sounds scary right. What we find time and time and time and time again is that the threat doesn’t happen. We can never be 100% sure what we are willing to take that risk..
Response prevention = This is the way you were responding to the fear. You cannot face the fear and continue to respond as if it’s a big deal. Is that still has meaning and power. The response to me is one of the most important aspects of this treatment. When we respond with almost the complete opposite of what we normally would do and must imagine your brain exploding. Saying, what the heck are you doing? I’m warning you you’re in danger and you’re completely acting like this is no big deal. If you’re saying this is in the big deal and you can show me that over and over and over again maybe I need to stop telling you this is a big deal. Some people respond was smiling, they respond with words like maybe maybe not. Sometimes they agree with the threat. Yeah I would totally love if that happened. And it doesn’t matter what seem or topic anxiety or OCD is attached to. We can use the same response techniques.
So with this treatment of exposure and response prevention. One idea I would give you is to find times in your day and life to practice uncertainty. Even with things that actually don’t bother you or cause much anxiety. This can be like, what time my going have dinner today? I don’t know, could be 3 o’clock 4 o’clock 5 o’clock 6 o’clock.
I wonder how long it takes me to get to this location, I don’t know. I could hit traffic, could take 10 minutes longer, maybe I’ll get there five minutes sooner.
I wonder if this person likes me or not…. You know they may or may not like me. I may never know for sure.
I wonder if people think this video is boring? They may or may not… I may never know for sure. Except for I can see my stats. And if you’re watching this right now this current moment, thank you for sticking around, I appreciate you.
Essentially, you don’t need to know anything unless it’s super important. We spent our day looking for certainty. When we can take opportunities to practice uncertainties in most aspects of life we actually are more free. We no longer are trying to control everything.
My favorite phrase is maybe, maybe not. I use this every single day in some aspect or another. Of my brain never says what if, the answer is maybe maybe not. If it’s something that’s really not that important but I am catching myself trying to problem solve it, I may just answer with them maybe maybe not allow myself to move forward.
This is something you can practice with yourself, with your family, with your kids. Allow kids to be uncertain. This helps them prepare for this uncertain world that we live in. so when they say when we get to get there, the answer may be five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes. One of those three. We leave life ambiguous on purpose.
Allow yourself to face uncertainty in life, daily activities, and especially anxiety moments where you do not see an immediate threat.
So what uncertainties can you face today? Let me know in the comments below.
Thank you so much for watching, and I will see you next time.
How to do OCD treatment
Thought stopping doesn't work
One of the most common questions I get asked is….How do I STOP thinking about my fear? How do I stop obsessing? How do I STOP the anxiety.
If you’re like most, you’re searching videos to learn how to STOP your symptoms. There in lies the TRAP. We don’t learn to STOP thoughts or fears…we learn to respond differently to them….which in turn allows symptoms to decrease.
If you start off you search or mindset with….how can I stop……Don’t do it! It’s a trap!
Seriously. You’re just training your body to continually check To see if you are still having thoughts or not. Which actually produces more thoughts. It is actually natural for the brain to automatically start pushing thought we don’t want. Which is why it takes practice to lave them back.
Let me take you through what to do instead of pushing thoughts away or ignoring them.
So how to avoid suppression? To get out of the thinking that you need to STOP thinking about your fears. Well, you can start by learning to notice when these thoughts occur. Allow thoughts to be thoughts. Not put any meaning to a single thought. A thought is bad or a thought is good. When a thought brings anxiety or distress, we tend to label it as bad. When our brain hears bad, it goes to this automatic process of pushing. Practice having a thought than simply saying, “oh cool, there is the thought again. You’re welcome to stay as long as you want”
As your learning to accept a thought is a thought you’re also practicing not doing a compulsion. A compulsion is anything you are actively choosing to do to remove the thought, or to reduce your anxiety symptoms. For instance, if you have a distressing thought you quickly shake your head to get it to go away. Maybe you tap something a few times. It’s possible you go to the Internet to research different ideas about your thought. You might have to say a phrase for the thought to go away. These are all the things you have to be aware of and stop doing.
Because we cannot accept a thought, take value away from it, and also do a compulsion of the same time. It’s like we’re not fully accepting the reality of the thought. It’s a halfway effort.
Once you learn to accept our thoughts, even if you think it is the worst thing in the world to think. OCD can bring some pretty gnarly thoughts. It’s easy for somebody to say, yeah I can accept a thought about something small but this doesn’t apply to my big scary thoughts. Going back to what was said earlier, thoughts are thoughts. There is not one thought that has more value or power than another.
Some choose to use act therapy. Acceptance and commitment therapy. This builds flexibility in your thinking and allows you to accept the thought. Without changing it whatsoever. At the same time some choose to expose themselves to the triggers or obsessions. This is so you can continually learn. Learn to not respond the way you normally would want to with a thought.
For instance, I might pay attention and write down all the triggers I noticed that bring these thoughts. I might purposely expose myself to them. Not all at once, but starting off with something small. Maybe it’s looking at a picture of something, maybe it’s a video, maybe it’s hanging out with my kid, maybe is driving, maybe it’s cooking dinner, maybe it’s saying a certain word, maybe it’s touching something. Regardless of what it is, you are practicing engaging with this thing, not doing the compulsions, and pretty much acting like you don’t care. Allow the thoughts to come, allow them to leave.
You don’t care how long they stay. They have no value unless you give it value. This takes practice, practice, practice. It is easy for anxiety or OCD to say, this one is important. This one is different. The tools that were just presented to me, do not apply to me.
Let me tell you, your OCD or anxiety is no different than someone else. The next time you think, “I need to get rid of these thoughts. I need to get them to stop.” Remember that we are actually doing the opposite. You can even say, “oh boy, I love these thoughts.” “yes, thanks for coming my way.” “these are amazing!” “I wish you would stay forever.”
These types of responses, help the brain know that you simply don’t care.
Let me know in the comments, what response can you give your OCD and anxiety today when you have distressing thoughts?
Thank you so much for watching, and I will see you next time.
Thought suppression and OCD
OCD thoughts won't stop
Backdoor Spikes with OCD
Backdoor spikes are a response to your recovery and success. Those who are recovered with anxiety all of a sudden feel a SPIKE of anxiety that came out NO WHERE. It almost sneaks through the back door and says, “hello, is anywhere there….remember me.” “Let me make you doubt yourself, your diagnosis, and all your feelings.” “make you fearful that you’re going to get stuck with all these OCD and anxiety symptoms all over again.”
Introduction: Hi, my name is Nathan Peterson and in this video I want to share with you what a backdoor spike is and what to do with these nasty things. Just when you think you have it all figured out…..uhhhhhh
The “backdoor spike” is a term that is used to describe the overwhelming feelings that individuals with OCD get when they have thoughts that may make them worry that symptoms may come back.
A backdoor spike often comes about when an individual has been doing well with their treatment plan for a few weeks or months, leading them to believe that they no longer need treatment. This could be related to the person having had some success and believing they are doing well on their own, or it could happen simply because the anxiety-provoking events of their life are naturally subsiding. But then suddenly out of nowhere comes this thought:
“Even though I haven't had any obsessions or compulsive behaviors in weeks, I still may not be able to control them if anything happens to mess up my treatment plan. What would happen if my Dad got sick? Or if my family gets into another car accident? Then these thoughts wouldn't go away and I'd never get better.” (The word “I’ll never get rid of OCD!” is often present here.) This thought can also take the form of an intuition:
Because I have the thought it must be true. It must mean something great and amazing. It must be my intuition trying to warn me of something.
The individual struggling with a backdoor spike can spend days or even weeks trying to regain control over their thoughts and feelings as they cycle through obsessive questioning of their own sanity.
Even after many months or years of recovery, some people with OCD may still find themselves struggling with backdoor spikes. For example, a person might not be able to "really" believe that they are not going back into full-blown OCD because of feeling so depressed without their obsessions and compulsions. Or they may feel so much shame about having had OCD in the first place that any thoughts about getting better make them feel like an impostor who doesn't deserve such good fortune.
When symptoms start to decline. Individuals are feeling really good. I guess what, those darn intrusive thoughts don’t want to stop. So individuals can start questioning. Wait! I’m still having all these thoughts and I’m not feeling anxious about them. This must mean something. That must mean that I was really a bad person this whole time. Must mean the things I was thinking about is actually going to happen.
So with these backdoor spikes what we do about it? The answer may surprise you. Are you ready? You do everything you’ve already doing. That’s right! The treatment that you did which is most likely exposure and response prevention is the treatment that we continually use for backdoor spikes. Because the body and brain all of a sudden come up with a threat, tries to convince you that you’re in danger all over again and most of the time your job is to respond completely different to these threats. If you’re looking around you don’t see immediate danger we choose to leave these threats uncertain.
Responses like yeah totally I’m going right back into that OCD what a fun ride this is going to be. I sure hope these experiences come back that would be so amazing. It will not feeling anxiety about it probably does mean I like it. Some may choose to just stick with the uncertainty route which is those maybe maybe not statements.
Essentially, we are not problem-solving anymore. Not trying to figure out if you’ll have symptoms again or not. Not figure out why you’re not feeling anxiety. We’re not putting any value to this anymore!
Intuition isn’t a part of this. The brain is really tricky and make someone believe their thoughts are so powerful. Don’t fall for it.
One thing to know about backdoor spikes is that it may make you believe that this new topic or fear that throws your way is different. It can make you believe that this is so absolutely important. Because all it wants is for you to come back in to the OCD cycle. To reattach. They think about it, individuals may go weeks or months without anxiety, then all of a sudden comes back. We naturally are going up a lot of meaning to this.
In here is how we can see the difference between something you need to put value to something you don’t. When anxiety hits, you might look around you, if you don’t see anything happening. The ceiling is falling down, there isn’t a lion running at you, your child’s not about to fall off the counter, It has to be see something you can physically see. Not something you “THINK” is going to happen.
If there is nothing you can see where you would be in danger, you may choose to treat it as a false alarm and give it NOTHING. Answer a lot of fears with, Yep, maybe maybe not. Or Totally man.
To reduce the likely hood of a backdoor spike, people do treatment, even when they’re doing well. They do treatment. They continue to face the fears they did in the past. Just to remind them that they are still the boss.
If you are wanting to learn treatment for yourself, check out my online self-directed course for OCD. There are 42 videos this thing. Takes you through everything you need to know about your OCD and how to do treatment. I’ll leave a link down in the description below. You can even check It out for free.
So here’s my question for you, have you experienced these backdoor spikes? What did it look like for you?
Backdoor spike with anxiety
OCD coming back
What is PANDAS?
Imagine your child waking up one morning and they seem completely different. Not a gradual change but an immediate change. Their language may be different, the way they are talking can be different, they are mentioning fears they’ve never mentioned before, their choosing not to eat, they are raging with anger, their anxiety is out of control, they may be doing a lot of tics. They may even have some psychotic symptoms such as seeing or hearing things. It may look like full-blown OCD symptoms all in one night. These personality changes can change in an instant.
Let's talk about PANDAS. No not that kind of panda. You may or may not have heard of this. PANDAS stands for: are you ready for this:
Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections
Say that five times fast.
Pandas occurs when the strep virus triggers a misdirected immune response and results in inflammation on the child’s brain. Neurologists believe it affects the basal ganglia of the brain. It is Estimated that one and two children may be affected.
A clinical diagnosis of PANDAS is defined by the following criteria:
• Presence of significant obsessions, compulsions, and/or tics
• Abrupt onset of symptoms
• Happens before puberty
• There is an association with a strep infection
Obviously, the strep virus is very common. Many children get step. This doesn’t mean they automatically have pandas.
When looking for strep, did you know that it can occur and reside in somebody’s sinuses, their ears, their gut, or in other areas of their body. So when individuals get a throat swab, the strep virus maybe missed. It has been said that the majority of strep infections are missed.
Individuals may do blood work to see the amount of titers. An elevated anti-strep titer means the child has had a strep infection sometime within the past few months, and his or her body created antibodies to fight the strep bacteria.
Some children create lots of antibodies and have very high titers (up to 2,000), while others have more modest elevations.
One of the most common diagnostic tools I have seen individuals use is called the Cunningham panel. This tests the likelihood of the child having PANDAS.
So here’s the dealio, a lot of emails and phone calls I get regarding pandas start like this…. “do you believe that pandas exists” --- is not such an interesting question? People ask this because there is a lot of information and even doctors who say that this does not exist. While I am not a medical doctor, but in the licensed professional, I have seen many individuals come through my office who exhibit a sudden onset of OCD symptoms and or tics. Sometimes mixed with rage and anger. Sometimes mixed with psychosis. And what I mean sudden onset, I mean sometimes literally overnight.
How scary and confusing this is for parents. For me, I absolutely believe that pandas exists, according to research that I’ve studied as well as individual cases that I have. Because this is what I see, an individual with all of the symptoms is going through what they call a “flare” - where symptoms may increase and last for typically 5 to 6 weeks and then gradually dies out. This may be the time where they were exposed to other viruses or the strep virus in their body is elevated.
This is a pattern that an individual may go through time and time and time again. Typically these infections dictate the need of an antibiotic. Penicillin seems to be the first choice because it is well studied. I wouldn’t believe it if I haven’t seen it with my own eyes, but when an individual starts their antibiotics, their symptoms start decreasing. The treatment that we are working on tends to work much better.
Individuals may do what is called IVIG. It essentially is an IV that injects immunoglobulin, some say this is been able to reset the immune system. This is made from thousands of human donors.
So as far as the medical side goes, in individual may see an OCD therapist to take care of some of those symptoms. We use exposure and response prevention. To teach the brain to respond completely different to the anxiety and fears that come their way. Individuals that experience pandas will have different OCD themes. These can be seen just the same as somebody that has OCD.
So ultimately, what I want to get you to know out of this whole video is this. Get proper treatment if possible. Exposure and response prevention for the OCD symptoms, CBIT for the tics and a medical trained professional for the physical body and brain. I tend to go to the pandasnetwork.org to find a professional near you. With the information I provided, this is just scratching the surface.
Parents trying to navigate through this, you are not alone. I hope this video is helpful for you. If your child is struggling with OCD type symptoms, please watch some of my other videos that might relate to what they are going through.
Here’s my question for you? What you think of pandas? Have you or someone you know experienced this before?
Strep and OCD
Treatment for PANDAS
Stopping anxiety when it hits
Imagine getting this voicemail at the time the school bus is supposed to arrive. Anxiety provoking right? I mean I sent my 5-year-old to kindergarten. They sent emails and made comment assuring us that “our child will not get lost”. I didn’t even ask for that assurance, they just offered it freely.
As a therapist who strives to live my life with uncertainty, I initially wasn’t worried. Like I always say, when there is a problem, we’ll solve it.
What do you think? Is there any question in your mind that THIS IS A PROBLEM?
This is what I’ve been talking about all along. When your anxiety hits you and you’re anticipating a problem, you’re guessing a problem, you’re living your life as if there is going to be a problem……IT’S NOT A PROBLEM.
A problem needs to slap you in the face.
You need to not have any doubt that there is a problem to be solved. If you cannot physically see or hear the problem that slapped you in the face.
(b-roll slap face)
Then you’re feeling false anxiety and are reacting to something that isn’t really there. The body needs to learn that you ONLY react to REAL problems.
So back to the story. The bus was supposed to arrive at 3:30….. it didn’t show. The call was given at 3:30 – what was I to do? Problem solving kicks in, the anxiety kicks in.
This is what it’s designed for. What would you do in this moment? When there is a real problem presented in front of us, we have to focus on what we have control over.
I can call the school for an update.
I can get in my car and drive to the school.
There really isn’t much more I can do. Here’s the kicker. The brain automatically plays out situations in our head. These are the what if’s. and guess what? We can treat them the same as ANY OTHER PERCIEVED THREAT. Yes, I do have a real problem presented in front of me, but I practice not reacting to the guesses.
We do this by using a lot of maybe, maybe not statements, even though it can be very scary. My brain went to the worst….
Did she get kidnapped?
Did she get on the wrong bus?
Did she think she could walk home?
Is she wondering around the school?
Did she get hit by a car?
Did she pass out somewhere?
These guesses are NOT THE PROBLEM. My perception is. I can answer each of these with a “maybe” or “possibly” --- because all I know is that they cannot find my daughter.
Man, this is incredibly tough to do, but it’s ALL WE CAN DO. So in short, we focus on what we have control over and leave the rest uncertain.
If I reacted to “did she get kidnapped?” what am I supposed to do? Call the police and report a possibility, just because it came to my head. Drive the neighborhoods looking?
Here is what ended up happening…….10 minutes later I got this voicemail.
(b-roll answering the phone)
I now know a solution…get in the car and pick her up. That’s what we did. When we got to the school, the teacher was sobbing, the school was apologetic, my daughter was well….. only sad because she didn’t get the chance to ride the bus with her brother on the first day.
I mean, you were told to get on the wrong bus, following blindly the directions of others, taken back to the school and picked up by your parents.
Man, kids are resilient. Here’s the deal….What we learn is that giving assurance or reassurance doesn’t work. The school sending an email assuring all the parents that everything is going to be fine is a guess. This is most assurance giving. A complete guess. We need to learn in our life to either
1. Not give assurance unless we know 100% (something like, gravity will continue to hold us to the ground)
2. Leave things uncertain, teaching us and our kids to allow life to be and solve problems when there are problems.
We can only prevent so much and must allow life to just be. So why am I telling you this story?
I’m sharing this story as an example of when we need our anxiety. These moments happen rarely. I mean it. RARELY. And even with real danger anxiety, we still can practice uncertainty.
Treatment for anxiety is uncertainty. Allowing yourself to risk the what ifs. Allowing yourself to live life regardless of the buzz reminding you of dangers. Because you don’t follow those “what if’s” anymore.
So tell me, for the times you feel anxiety, how many of them are REAL? Meaning, How many have actually manifested the way you thought they were going to. You see, we forget about the times it didn’t happen are really good at remembering the times where the catastrophe or “bad” thing did.
Your job when you’re feeling anxiety is to quickly look around you for immediate danger. If you don’t see any, you treat it as a false alarm by using the magic words….”maybe, maybe not.”
Stop living in the future of what ifs. Instead live and enjoy your life NOW.
Real events bring anxiety
How to solve anxiety problems
Nathan Peterson specializes in working with OCD and Anxiety related disorders and has done so for the past 7+ years.