I know that it doesn t make any fucking sense, but that s what my brain does sometimes But reading this book turned out to be one of the most cathartic experiences of my life I woke up early one Saturday morning and took a cup of coffee, my iPod, and my cat out onto the balcony, read the first 65 pages in one shot, and cried at how real it was Scott Stossel s anxiety is waysevere than mine is, and waygeneralized I don t typically worry that much about things that could kill me or make me sick I worry a bit about situations where I can t predict the outcome, but the real, true, pathological worry comes from the fear that I won t know the proper way to behave in an unfamiliar situation I don t have a fear of vomiting or a fear of flying and I don t medicate my anxiety with anything other than food I ve only taken Ativan once, given to me by a friend, when I was out at a bar and had a panic attack so severe that I went into the bathroom and threw up It helped me feel calmer, but I am so afraid of being dependent on medication to feel calm that I prefer to focus on psychotherapy Just a personal preference So while I couldn t necessarily relate to Stossel s experience, I was moved by his open writing and his thoughtful approach to the causes, manifestations, and treatments of anxiety Stossel mixes descriptions of his own anxiety with his anxious familial history and how society s understanding of anxiety has shifted through the centuries He examines what ancient philosophers and Darwin thought of anxiety, as well as what the current psychoanalytic, cognitive behavioral, neurobiological, and psychopharmacological thoughts are I do wonder if this may get a little dense for some folks It was a breeze for me, but I do have a B.
A in psychology, and my current job involves whittling cutting edge psychological research into brief bites that can appeal to psychologists and lay folk alike I ve also sat through sessions with therapists who have different philosophies on how to approach my anxiety I was already familiar with many of the ideas that Stossel talks about, but I appreciated how he brought everything full circle.
I had several personal epiphanies while reading this book That Saturday morning with my coffee and my cat was probably the first time that I genuinely thought about just how closely linked my depression and anxiety are, and I laughed out loud when Stossel talked about how he gets anxious about his anxiety the fear that you have to keep it hidden has an exacerbating effect I also appreciated the acknowledgement that anxiety can have its benefits, as that s something I ve insisted many times I rarely act without thinking my problem is that I often can t act without overthinking This is a deeply personal book, so it primarily emphasizes one man s experience, but it s also packed with research It s very well written, honest, and thoughtful Many of the negative reviews I ve read address my initial concern that it would not reflect my experience with anxiety, but I found that I appreciated how Stossel used his own personal story without dismissing the experiences of others I personally found it wonderfully validating and highly recommend it But, then again, I am the kind of person who has learned to find a great deal of comfort in the process of talking about my anxiety with others If I were to list off my closest friends for you, the thing that most of them have in common is our anxiety When I get together with Katie or Liz or Sarah, we often spend time comparing our experiences with anxiety and recounting therapy sessions I like it because it helps me validated, less like a big fat weirdo I also like it because I ve had enough CBT and REBT pounded into my head that talking about what makes me anxious helps me identify the irrationality of what makes me anxious I find it therapeutic That may not be the case for you I understand why others say this book made themanxious, and I think that s something to consider if and when you approach this book as an anxious person.
This is perhaps the best book on anxiety I ve ever read For one, Stossel suffers from anxiety in many forms and has done so for most of his life, so he knows first hand what it is like to have one oranxiety disorders Further, thanks to mastery of an investigative reporter skill set, he researched the dickens out of anxiety, from its potential neurological, social, environmental, ad infinitum causes and summarizes these causes in a very readable and understandable way He also talks about the pharmaceuticals used in treating anxiety and he s been on a bunch of different meds , the side effects, other forms of treatment, and so on He also talks about the anxiety experiences of several other people, not just himself, and I found much of this to be utterly fascinating For example, I had never known that Charles Darwin was practically incapacitated with anxiety a few very serious anxieties it amazes me that he was able to accomplish as much as he did.
I have a much, much better understanding of anxiety after reading this book It is not at all something that equates with depression, although one can have depression and anxiety at the same time.
I heard Scott Stossel interviewed on WHYY s Fresh Air with Terry Gross in early January here, have a listen Terry Gross Interviews Scott Stossel and I immediately put My Age of Anxiety on reserve at the library This calm, articulate, engaging writer touched my heart So much so that I had an anxiety attack while walking and listening to the Fresh Air podcast Reading this book led me to the beginning of a fewI had to set the book aside, get out of bed on a few occasions, and work my head around my body to halt the descent into full blown, heart screaming, throat closing panic Great Now I can add to the litany of triggers that just READING about anxiety makes me terribly anxious But it also really pissed me off And anger is good I like being angry I don t like being anxious It s hard, but not impossible, for me to review this remarkable memoir separate from the kaleidoscope of my own experiences with depression and anxiety Forgive me if my first reaction is, Thank GOD I m not Scott Stossel I LOVE CHEESE I found much to ease my mind e.
g being able to give a clinical name to the difficulty I ve had swallowing since anxiety attacks started a year ago disphagia naming something helps take away its mystery and power knowing that the dissonance of being an outwardly calm, easy going person who suffers from crippling anxiety is very common And Stossel is so brutally, beautifully honest, it s impossible not to be in awe of his ability to thrive and succeed despite his Augean stable of anxieties But man, so much of this book really upset me No, it wasn t the graphic descriptions of his emetophobia fear of vomiting , nor the painfully tiny font in the innumerable footnotes It wasn t even the disquieting sense that Scott Stossel might not really want to resolve his anxieties For they make up the only Scott Stossel he s ever known His anxieties define him He addresses this paradox quite openly, but so little of his narrative offers hope for healing and resolution that it left me feeling quite sad Until I realized that this was his journey Not mine What really got to me can be summed up in one word Drugs I do not question the biological and genetic components of depression and anxiety Stossel does an outstanding job of illuminating the strengths and weaknesses of these links and how they connect with the factors of a child s culture and an adult s environment I do not question the role psychiatric drugs can play in alleviating the devastating effects of mental illness But again, I had to put down my kaleidoscope and allow Stossel to tell his story, without letting it define mine My Age of Anxiety is one big book report combined with a show and tell on psychopharmacology Most upsetting are the details of Stossel s routine before a public speaking event The combination of drugs and alcohol is bewildering Awful The behavior of an addict I had to set the book aside The ending chapters on Resolution and Resilience are the shortest of all Resilience merits a brief mention as an emerging area of research, which is so unfortunate Dr Martin Seligman has been conducting research into developing resilience as a means to treat and resolve anxiety and depression forthan twenty years and currently heads the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania There is valuable empirical research available on the power of positive psychology interventions Scott Stossel has been treated for profound anxiety since childhood He has been in therapy and on some form of medication for over thirty five years He bares his soul and his brain in this book, to the service of all who suffer from or who love someone with anxiety and depression I m grateful that I am not Scott Stossel my small posse of trouble looks like a box of chocolate cupcakes with pink cream frosting compared to his gallon of cod liver oil I m also grateful he risked everything to write and speak about his journey His research is priceless, his story unique, his voice incomparable And it made medetermined than ever to pursue a path to healing and peace of mind that doesn t have side effects.
Excellent Funny, full of fascinating historical, medical and psychological bits and bobs and, as someone who has struggled with anxiety all his life, and has been having a really shitty time of it the last few months, unexpectedly helpful.
I need to think about this book someMy first reaction is that I didn t really like it, but I m struggling with articulating why, and I haven t quite figured out if that s mostly just frustration with the author for seeing the same therapist for 25 years with little positive result, or if there sto it than that.
ETA Ok, I think I ve figured it out The author inserts himself into the narrative as a case study, but he actually does a very poor job of discussing his treatment in the context of the philosophies and therapeutic techniques described He doesn t want to talk about that, he just wants to tell you how he FEELS about it He also does a terrible job of actually describing coherently how anxiety is treated by psychiatric professionals in general he mainly talks about his own experiences, which are kind of weird, and probably not all that representative I was particularly irked by the way cognitive behavioral therapy was represented, given that it s one of the only techniques for treating anxiety that has a proven track record.
Evendamning, I think, is the absence of anyone else s experiences Many of the great mental health books The Noonday Demon, for example bring in the author s own experiences, but they also call upon the experiences of others Stossel, instead, has two modes insanely personal about his direct experiences, or very journalistic and broad There s very little middle ground and very little acknowledgement of the varying experiences of anxiety.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who suffers from anxiety and related conditions like phobias, depression, panic attacks, etc.
Anxiety and heroism, or what happens in the brain when neurons fire the different way.
If you have an anxiety or panic disorder or know someone who does, read this book The author exhaustively researched the history, genetics, and role of nurture of anxiety Up until perhaps 25 years ago, anxiety was not considered a real condition ask any psychiatrist who has been practicing for many years and was called by many other names such as hysteria and neurosis If you have anxiety, the information is priceless and the author s own memoir contributions about his own anxiety is comforting you are not alone However, if you DO NOT suffer from anxiety, but know someone who does, this will help you understand what hell living with the condition can be We wouldn t tell cancer sufferers that they aren t trying hard enough to get over their cancer or to cheer up and think positive to get over the disease Neither should we say the same to those who have anxiety Great book Completely readable and chock full of info.