What to do when you feel anxious for no reason

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  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

    Also visit the online treatment locator.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Also visit the online treatment locator, or send your zip code via text message: 435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you. Read more about the HELP4U text messaging service.

The service is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

English and Spanish are available if you select the option to speak with a national representative. Currently, the 435748 (HELP4U) text messaging service is only available in English.

In 2020, the Helpline received 833,598 calls. This is a 27 percent increase from 2019, when the Helpline received a total of 656,953 calls for the year.

The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.

The service is confidential. We will not ask you for any personal information. We may ask for your zip code or other pertinent geographic information in order to track calls being routed to other offices or to accurately identify the local resources appropriate to your needs.

No, we do not provide counseling. Trained information specialists answer calls, transfer callers to state services or other appropriate intake centers in their states, and connect them with local assistance and support.

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Last Updated: 08/30/2022

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The toxic positivity trap: what it is and how to get out of it

  • Lucia Blasco
  • BBC News Mundo

Image copyright, Getty Images

Image caption,

Do you hide "negative" emotions?

Do you ever feel like you have to hide your negative emotions? As if you are forced around the clock and at any cost to maintain the image of a "happy person"?

It may sound counterintuitive, but being positive can be toxic.

"Everything of value in life is achieved through overcoming the accompanying negative experience," says American writer and personal development consultant Mark Manson.

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"Any attempt to avoid negativity, suppress it or stifle it, results in a backlash. Avoiding suffering is a form of suffering. Denying failure is failure," he continues.

But toxic positivity requires you to do just that - force yourself to pretend to be an optimist and drown out negative emotions, no matter how false your optimism may be.

Psychologist Antonio Rodellar, a specialist in anxiety disorders and clinical hypnosis, says that negative emotions (the psychologist prefers to call them "unregulated") need to be acknowledged.

"The palette of emotions includes unregulated feelings such as sadness, disappointment, anger, worry or envy," he recalls.

"We can't ignore the fact that as humans we have a whole range of these emotions that are useful and give us information about what's going on around us and in our bodies. We can't ignore them," adds Rodellar.

British therapist, psychologist and author Sally Baker agrees: "The problem with toxic positivity is that it requires us to shut down some of the wide range of emotions we may experience in a difficult situation."

Image copyright, Getty Images

Image caption,

Accepting our emotions makes us stronger, says Sally Baker

"If you allow yourself to experience only positive emotions, you're lying to yourself," she says.

"When you're in a difficult situation, suppressing all the 'negative' feelings that come up will exhaust you. And worse, you won't be able to build up resilience to them," says Baker.

"It isolates us from ourselves, from our true emotions. We hide behind positivity so that people don't see us in a bad light," she sums up.

Positive - ordinary and toxic

To understand what toxic positivity is, we must distinguish it from positive thinking. It sounds similar, but they are completely different things.

"Positive thinking was popularized by psychologist Martin Seligman, who studied depression. He found a new approach to a number of problems, situations and pathologies," says Rodellar.

In the 1990s, Seligman, then president of the American Psychological Association, told a conference that psychology should take a new step in the scientific study of everything that makes people happy.

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In his famous 1995 book The Optimistic Child, an American psychologist explained that people are not born pessimists, but become pessimists because of their life experiences. He argues that we can combat this pessimism and transform our negative thoughts into more positive ones.

Excellent! So if I'm sad, all I have to do is focus on being happy, right? Not certainly in that way. This would be the short cut into the toxic positivity trap.

Negative emotions cannot be ignored - you must first recognize and accept them.

The trick is to moderate your positivism and avoid extremes.

Image copyright, Getty Images

Image caption,

You won't always feel good, and that's okay

"Positive psychology has become distorted over time," says Rodellar. decrease in the ability to withstand negative situations, "says the psychologist.

"Properly applied positive thinking is very useful, but it inevitably creates a fragmented perception of reality and a sense of helplessness. Denying harmful and painful situations is like looking at the world with one eye," says Rodellar.

How to know that you are trapped in toxic positivity

  • You are hiding or masking your true feelings.
  • You are trying to "not dwell" on the problem by ignoring your emotions.
  • You feel guilty about how you feel.
  • You try to minimize the negative experience of others by saying things that make you feel good.
  • You try to rationalize the situation ("it could have been worse") instead of acknowledging your emotional experience.
  • You shame or point the finger at others if they express disappointment or other "negative" feelings.
  • You ignore what's bothering you ("as it is, as it is").

Source and : Tamara Quintero (Trauma, Hypnotherapy and Personal Growth Specialist) , Jamie Long (Relationships, Eating Disorders and Anxiety Specialist 2) 1

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Suppressing or ignoring "negative" emotions can be bad for your health.

"All the emotions we repress are somatized [psychological stress manifests as physical symptoms] and manifest through the body, often as a disease. When we deny an emotion, it finds another way out," says Rodellar.

Baker agrees: "Suppression of emotions affects your health. If you hide your problems behind a façade of toxic positivity, they will show up in your body in alternative ways, from skin problems to irritable bowel syndrome."

"When we ignore our negative emotions, our body tries to draw attention to the problem. Suppression of emotions exhausts us physically and psychologically. It's unhealthy and doesn't work in the long run," says the therapist.

Another consequence, says Rodellar, is that "when we focus only on positive emotions, we get more naive, infantile versions of situations that happen to us in life, and we become more vulnerable in difficult moments."

Image copyright, Getty Images

Image caption,

Are you honest with yourself?

Psychopedagogy and neuropsychology expert Teresa Gutierrez believes that toxic positivity "has more serious psychological and psychiatric consequences than depression. "

"The world of emotions is devirtualizing, and this can lead to the fact that a person does not live a real life - this affects our mental health. This amount of positive is harmful for everyone. If there are no disappointments and failures, we will not learn to develop in our lives", she says.

If you're not okay, it's okay

Is toxic positivity in fashion? Baker believes so, and attributes this to the proliferation of social media "which forces us to compare our lives with other ideal lives that we see on the Internet."

"There's a constant trend on social media to show the most perfect version of yourself, it's exhausting and not real," says Baker.

"If we were more honest, we would feel free to experience any emotion. We are human beings, we should allow ourselves to experience the full range of emotions. It's okay if you're not okay. We can't be positive all the time." she supposes.

Gutierrez believes that "in recent years" toxic positivity has become more common, especially during a pandemic.

"We are living in atypical and strange times, many people are suffering. Anxiety, uncertainty, frustration, fear... All these are normal feelings. But we are too addicted to toxic positivity, and this is dangerous," she says.

Image copyright, Getty Images

Image caption,

"Everything will be fine" is a nice thought, but not very valuable advice

Rodellar says that "people are trying to find a shortcut to mental health, to feel better immediately, as if it is a right given to them by nature."

"It's nice to think that everything will be fine. But this does not mean that the process of achieving a goal should be pleasantly easy. It's more realistic to say to yourself "this will pass" when you have a difficult period in your life," says the psychologist.

"Emotions are like waves: they accelerate, gaining strength, and slow down, becoming foam and disappearing. Problems begin when we do not want to feel what we feel, then we lose resistance to the next wave," Rodellar explains.

Recognize and not ignore

Psychologists consulted by the BBC agree that the ideal is to embrace all emotions without suppressing the ones we don't like.

Image copyright, Getty Images

Image caption,

We always "should" feel good, but it's unhealthy pressure moment, even if we are uncomfortable.

"Be more honest with yourself, don't be afraid to say that you're sad, that you're depressed, that you're worried. It's important to acknowledge when you're feeling down and understand that it's happening and will continue to happen," says Baker. "Just get on with it." your emotions and learn from them to become more resilient" (this advice will not work for those suffering from clinical depression, clinical depression can worsen without treatment).

University of Michigan psychology professor Stephanie Preston says the best way to test your emotions is "just to listen to them. "

"When someone shares negative feelings with you, don't rush to encourage them or try to get them to think positively by telling them that 'everything will be fine.' Instead, try to think about what is bothering or scaring them. Try to listen," - advises the expert.

"To be emotionally disturbed is already isolation, and when people try to drown out these feelings, especially if they are your family and friends, it hurts a lot. Listening to someone who is hurting can lead to big changes in their lives " says Preston.

You may find it useful too. There is evidence that being altruistic is good for your health, Preston notes.

Image copyright, Getty Images

Image caption,

Listening to a friend is more important than trying to encourage them

What if you feel down?

"The most important thing is to practice mindfulness," says Rodellar.

"Acknowledge the situation and your feelings. Don't deny that something is wrong, don't look the other way, and at the same time don't dwell on negative emotions," adds the psychologist.

"Emotions are information that we need to read and understand in order to take a better look at the situation and see what lessons can be learned from it, what can be changed in the future," says Rodellar.

How to put this advice into practice? Here are typical phrases characteristic of the toxic positivity paradigm and alternatives to them.

Toxic positive

  • "Don't think like that, be more positive!"
  • "Don't worry, be happy"
  • "Defeat is not our option!"
  • "Only positive things here!"
  • "Could be worse!"

Emotion validation

  • "Tell me how you feel, I'm listening"
  • "I can see that you're not well. How can I help?"
  • "Failure is part of success"
  • "I'm here, you can rely on me"
  • "I'm sorry you're going through this"

Source: The Psychology Group for your happiness, achieving it with the help of constructive psychology," calls Rodellar.

"It's okay to think that the glass is half full, but we need to accept situations when it's half empty, and from that point on, take responsibility for how we build our lives," he adds.

"All our emotions are real and real, and they all have value," Baker agrees.

Night awakenings: causes, causes for concern, ways to deal with

December 14, 2015 Health

You fall asleep without problems, but wake up in the middle of the night and toss and turn in an attempt to get back to sleep. What causes nighttime awakenings and how to deal with them?

Iya Zorina

Author of Lifehacker, athlete, Candidate Master of Sports

The usual story is that you haven't had enough sleep for three days and this time you decided to go to bed early. You go to bed at ten o'clock in the evening, hoping to get a good night's sleep, but suddenly you wake up at two in the morning. Sleep in one eye, you lie and stare at the ceiling, trying to fall asleep again. It takes two hours before you fall asleep again, and then almost immediately the alarm goes off and you're sleep deprived again and feel disgusting.

Causes of night awakenings

There are many reasons, both external and internal, for which a person may suffer from sudden night awakenings.

Common external causes include street noise, partner snoring, too much light in the bedroom, inappropriate temperature (too warm or too cold), pets nestling in your bed, an uncomfortable mattress, or a baby who wakes up and comes to your home. room.

The internal causes of sleep are also varied and depend on many parameters.

Gender and age

The older a person gets, the more often he suffers from interrupted night sleep. Elderly people often take a nap during the day and wake up in the middle of the night.

Young women experience nocturnal awakenings associated with the menstrual cycle: just before the onset of menstruation.

Pregnant women wake up at night for a variety of reasons: swollen legs, back pain, frequent urination, heartburn, and fetal movements.

Night awakenings can torment women at the onset of menopause due to fever, palpitations, sweating, stress and anxiety.

Diseases and medicines


Talk to your doctor if you have sleep apnea (breathing stops), especially if you snore or wake up unrested in the morning.

Chronic pain, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia, is also a frequent cause of nocturnal awakenings.

Although everyone wakes up sometimes to go to the toilet, if you wake up with a urge to urinate, it is worth paying attention to and consulting with your doctor.

Diabetes, diseases of the thyroid gland, kidneys, lungs, cardiovascular system can also cause nocturnal awakenings.

Drugs such as beta-blockers and diuretics have a bad effect on sleep.

Mental causes

Stress, depression and anxiety disorders are often accompanied by insomnia and sudden nighttime awakenings.

When to start worrying

If you wake up periodically in the middle of the night, this is not necessarily a sign of illness or disorder. To understand when to start worrying, doctors advise applying the rule of three.

If sudden awakenings occur three times a week, last at least 30 minutes, and recur for 30 days, it is worth visiting a doctor.

What to do if you wake up at night

There are several ways to help you deal with nighttime awakenings on your own.

1. Do not spend more time in bed. Some think that the more time they spend in bed (going to bed earlier than usual or sleeping longer), the more time they will sleep.

This is actually the worst thing to do if you have insomnia. Instead, on the contrary, spend less time in bed. For example, go to bed an hour later than usual and wake up at the same time as always. It may seem counterintuitive, but it really works. Here are some more ways to deal with insomnia.

2. Don't doze off. If you sleep during the day, it takes hours away from your night's sleep. But if you really feel like it, you can take a nap no more than 20 minutes before 14:00 - this time is enough to rest and gain strength.

3. Limit your intake of alcohol and nicotine, liquids and heavy meals, and avoid physical activity at least three hours before bedtime. All this can provoke a sudden nighttime awakening.

4. Avoid caffeine eight hours before bed . Caffeine not only prevents you from falling asleep, but it can also cause you to wake up at night.

5. Stay out of bed if you cannot sleep. Get up, walk around the room, do something quiet and calm in dim lighting (do not turn on your smartphone or computer). Here is a list of things to do if you can't sleep. Go back to bed only when you feel sleepy.

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