|PHOTO: Linden Oaks Anxiety Program
provides tools to cope with negative
thoughts, including Acceptance and
We might ask ourselves, "Am I losing it?" when we misplace our keys or overreact to a setback. But for 26-year-old Naperville resident Lauren this thought was one she couldn't shake. She says, "I was thinking I was going crazy, even though I wasn't. And I'd obsess about it for hours."
Anxiety had plagued Lauren for years; this fall it triggered a panic attack that brought her to Edward's Emergency Department. According to Steven Prinz, MD, a psychiatrist with Genesis Clinical Services, "A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear, often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as a rapid heart rate or an overwhelming feeling they're going to faint."
The ER staff recommended a free mental health assessment at Linden Oaks at Edward. The result: a referral to the behavioral health center's Anxiety Program. The Intensive Outpatient schedule includes 3-1/2 hours each weekday, of group and individual therapy.
A key Anxiety Program tool is ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). As Lauren explains it, "Instead of trying to eliminate your negative thoughts, you accept that you have them. The less you struggle, the less powerful the feelings are. You commit to pursuing what you value, without letting negative thoughts consume you."
Exercises help the patients act in keeping with their personal values. Says Lauren, "I enjoy spending time with my brother. My homework was to go shopping with him, despite my anxiety about malls."
The program also focuses on mindfulness -- living in the present. People with anxiety disorders often worry extensively about the past and future.
Lauren completed the program December 5, and now sees an ACT therapist. She says, "The anxiety is nothing compared to what it was. I felt hopeless and scared; now I'm confident that I'll be able to do what I want to do."
To make an appointment for a free behavioral health assessment, call the Linden Oaks Help Line at (630) 305-5500. For more information, visit www.edward.org/lindenoaks or www.edward.org/anxiety.