The idea of a self-help book on anxiety in the For Dummies series germinated in the summer of 2001. At the time, we wondered how the audience would react to a book with a title like Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies. Would potential readers feel turned off or insulted by the title? Would they think such a book would be condescending and “dummied down?”
A few people actually did respond negatively, and a couple of e-mails made us a tad anxious. Like most folks, we find that criticism stings. But we were surprised and gratified at the overwhelmingly positive responses we got from the majority of readers who contacted us.
People all over the world e-mailed us that they had found this book to be one of the most comprehensive and accessible books on anxiety that they had ever read. Some told us that for the first time in their lives, anxiety no longer dominated their lives. We were also thrilled to discover that many counselors, therapists, and psychologists reported using the book as a supplement to psychotherapy sessions for their anxious patients.
When our editors approached us about updating Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies, we took some time to think about what had happened in the world since we wrote the first edition. As we reflected on this issue, we realized that the world has changed a lot in the eight years since the first edition appeared on bookshelves. We have more to worry about than ever. Because of these growing, emerging sources of worry, we felt a need to include information in this book that addresses them.
For example, some airport security areas now have equipment that takes a virtual naked picture of you as you enter. We’ve suffered through what’s currently called the Great Recession and at the time of this writing, it’s unclear where the world economy is headed. People worry about getting jobs, keeping jobs, and fragile dreams of retirement. The globalization of economies and travel have made the spread of pandemics faster and potentially more deadly than ever. Environmental worries have escalated; the viciousness of Mother Nature has frequently flashed across our computers and televisions. The spread of nuclear weapons continues, and worries abound about war, crime, and terror. Children are frightened by stories about abuse and violence on the Internet and television, while their worried parents increasingly restrict their lives.
So today’s world gives us plenty to worry about, as it always has. But just as we don’t want to become victims of terror, we can’t let ourselves become victims of anxiety. Anxiety clouds our thinking and weakens our resolve to live life to the fullest. We realize that some anxiety is realistic and inescapable; yet, we can keep it from dominating our lives. Even under duress, we can preserve a degree of serenity; we can hold on to our humanity, vigor, and zest for life. We can love and laugh.
Because we believe in our collective resilience, we take a humorous, and at times irreverent, approach to conquering anxiety. Our message is based on sound, scientifically proven methods. But we don’t bore you with the scientific details. Instead, we present a clear, rapid-fire set of strategies for beating back anxiety and winning the war against worry.
About This Book
We have three goals in writing this book. First, we want you to understand just what anxiety is and its different forms. Second, we think that knowing what’s good about anxiety and what’s bad about it is good for you. Finally, we cover what you’re probably most interested in -- discovering the latest techniques for overcoming your anxiety and how to help someone else who has anxiety.
An Important Message to Our Readers
Since the first edition of Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies, we’ve made a point of commenting on our use of humor in these books. Although topics like anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and borderline personality disorder are serious, painful subjects, we believe that laughter, like a little sugar, helps the medicine go down and the message come through. We hope you agree.
This book is meant to be a guide to overcoming a mental state or disorder called anxiety. It should be used to give support and information to our readers. Everyone alive suffers from anxiety from time to time. However, if your anxiety greatly interferes with your day-to-day life, restricts your activities, and robs you of pleasure, we urge you to seek professional mental healthcare.
PLEASE NOTE: If you wish to receive a bibliography of selected background literature for this book, please CONTACT US.
How This Book Is Organized
Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies is organized into six parts and 23 chapters. Right now, we tell you a little about each part.
Part I: Detecting and Exposing Anxiety
In this part, you find out a great deal about anxiety — from who gets it to why people become anxious. We explain the different kinds of anxiety disorders; they’re not all the same, and we tell you who is most susceptible and why.
Part II: Battling Anxiety
In Part II, we give you an array of proven, specific strategies for battling and overcoming anxiety. We show you strategies for transforming anxious thoughts into calm thoughts. And you discover how the words that you use can increase anxiety and how simply changing your vocabulary decreases anxiety.
Part III: Letting Go of the Battle
These chapters take a look at ways of dealing with anxiety indirectly. Changes in lifestyle such as staying connected with others, exercising, getting enough sleep, and maintaining a proper diet all help. Learning to relax through breathing exercises, mindfulness, muscle exercises, or conjuring up calm images all can relieve anxiety passively.
Part IV: Zeroing in on Specific Worries
Part IV is a brand new part in this edition of Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies. The chapters in this part focus on anxieties about finances, terrorism, natural disasters, and health. You can’t live a meaningful life without having some concern about issues such as these. This part gives you ways of preparing for unexpected calamities, as well as ideas about how to accept uncertainty in an uncertain world.
Part V: Helping Others with Anxiety
What do you do when someone you love worries too much? First, we look at how you can help a significant adult in your life with anxiety. As a coach or simply a cheerleader, you can help your friend or family member conquer anxiety. In this new, expanded portion of the book, we give you the tools to understand the differences between normal fear and anxiety in children. We also provide some simple guidelines to help out anxious kids.
Part VI: The Part of Tens
If you’re looking for a quick fix or a simple review, take a look at these helpful lists. You can read about ten ways to stop anxiety in its tracks, ten ways to handle relapse, and ten signs that professional help is in order.
Finally, the Appendix gives you books and websites for obtaining more information about the topics covered in this book.