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Worry
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61 of 68 people found the following review helpful
I picked up Dr. Hallowell's book about three years ago. I was in a horrible job with a demanding and verbally abusive boss and thought I had died and gone to Hell. On more than one occasion I seriously considered driving my car into a tree just to avoid having to go to work another miserable day. I was in counseling with a psychologist at the time who, though quite a funny guy, was of no help to me. I worried about a lot of things. I worried about everything: how to survive in a rotten job; how to regain joy in my life with my wife and newborn son; how to stop self-destructive behaviors; how to get back my lost sense of humor. I was, needless to say, desperate! Then, while browsing through the "Self-help Section" of the bookstore, I was grabbed by the title of Dr. Hallowell's book: "Worry". I bought the book and read case studies all about myself. People who suffered exactly like I did. I learned that I wasn't a failure. I wasn't crazy. I wasn't destined to live out the rest of my life as a miserably unhappy man. I talked about the book with my wife and told her I thought I was depressed and really needed help. I went to a psychiatrist who said I was suffering from Major Depression. He prescribed medication and long term therapy. The change in me was dramatic. I felt better, mentally and physically, enjoyed my family, regained my sense of humor, and, best of all, I quit my job. Of course I found another job and I'm still in therapy. I'm no longer depressed. This book literally saved my life.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2002
I was very happy that I bought this book. As a person who suffers from worry/anxiety (learned from the best of them....my mother) I turned to this book to help me understand the reasons behind worry and what can be done to help the person suffering from it. Dr. Hallowell does an incredible job discussing the different forms of worry (including the differences between good and bad worry), the possibility of genetic reasons, how worry fits in with other mental illness (depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder), etc. He then talks about the different ways that worry can be dealt with. I was pleasantly surprised to see that he is not an advocate of just giving medication. He discusses a well-rounded approach of therapy, medication (if necessary), and things a person can do on their own. He discusses the various types of medication and how they work with different types of mental illness. The last part of the book talks about various things a person can do to help themselves deal with worry.
Overall I think this is a wonderful book. It is definitely a great starting point for those who know they have a problem but are unsure of how to start dealing with it.
I completely disagree with the reviewer who said this book would not be good for learning how to deal with worry. Its as if they were reading a completely different book than I did.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 1999
I disagree with the reader from Minneapolis who feels that this book won't help you worry less -- you just have to read past the case studies that dominate the first two sections. The third section of the book (chapters 19-26) contains a good deal of practical advice that goes beyond Prozac, exercise, and low alcohol consumption. I would recommend this book as a good starting point for those who know they worry too much, but aren't sure if they worry enough to see a physician or psychologist.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2000
This is a good overview of the various forms of worry and the generally recommended treatments. I don't think it will reduce your worries on its own, but I do think it will help point you in the direction of help. I found the book "Choose to be Happy" more useful in identifying the positive steps I could take to reframe my perspective on my life.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2007
If you are looking for a book on worry that goes beyond the usual platitudes or advice found in "stress management" books, this is a great choice. Instead of just repeating the basics such as exercise, meditation, or others, Dr. Hallowell brings the background of a clinical expert to the discussion. He shows exactly how exercise, meditation and other ideas can help, and when they might not.

Dr. Hallowell explains that worry is natural and necessary, but because it ties into the potent human imagination, it can become hard to control in some people, and for various reasons. The author delivers his world class expertise in short chapters that are easy to read, though there is pretty deep information for the interested layperson.

Some examples of the insights I appreciated in the book include: not thinking of excessive worry as a moral failure, but rather a condition to be treated; recognizing the relationship between procrastination and worry, realizing there are basically two kinds of worry - adaptive, which is healthy and maladaptive, which manufactures imaginary dangers. A good quote on the importance of healthy worry: "Refusal to worry constitutes denial". Many modern professions reward healthy levels of worry (scenario recognition and planning), but this can get away from an individual when it becomes a personality trait (and some are born to it). Perfectionists are setup up for toxic worry because they do not feel safe enough to fail.

The overall plan of the book helps the reader determine if they should seek professional help for worry due to psychological, physical or combinations of these causes. There is a lot of reflective questioning and case studies to help you think deeply about why you worry in an unhealthy way. Reading the real life cases helps you put your situation in perspective, no matter what course you should follow. There is a helpful survey to gauge the severity and amount of your worrying. Larger issues such as connectedness to others, unresolved guilt, hereditary factors, vengeful thoughts, anger, negative self-talk and many other deeply personal causes of worry are explored. Genuinely engaging these parts of the book can help you learn some things about yourself.

The book does a great job for the person who does not need professional treatment, but does need solid clinical advice. On the other hand, if you do need professional counsel tailored to your situation, the book helps you see why and does not demean you for getting the help you need. There are full chapters for OCD, phobias, GAD and other conditions that require more treatment than the book provides, but it can help you get on the right track with solid information.

An important part of using worry in a healthy manner is to act using a simple three step formula: Evaluate, Plan, and Remediate. Basically, instead of continuing to worry, use the worry itself to identify a straightforward plan to at least improve the situation. The book helps you determine the source of the worry and connect them to a plan. You don't have to fix the whole world in one shot, just make some progress; this reduces worry and makes a difference outside your mind in the real world too.

I really like the book and it has helped me. I was lead into some very personal reflection about my background that I would not have come up with on my own and I did not have to pay for expensive counseling (and I am better informed about when that is appropriate). If you are tired of light advice on a difficult subject, try this book.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2001
I found this book extremely practical and helpful. Dr. Hallowell describes different types of worry and explains the various approaches for working to curb worry. Dr. Hallowell is honest in that worry cannot be cured -- only managed. Dr. Hallowell comes up with a variety of approaches for worry including medical and non-medical. I am sending a copy of this book to all the worriers in my own family!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2000
I got a LOT from this book. Yes, it is very simply written and there is repetition in his recommendations. However, people who worry are used to repetition, as that is what worry is all about! It is a definite starting point for anyone who has nagging worries, but doesn't need to see a therapist right away. In certain sections, there were passages that leapt off the page and demanded my attention,either personally or for others in my life who struggle with worry,paranoia, etc. in a variety of settings. I don't know what the expectation was by those who rated this book lower than 4 stars, but I definitely disagree with them!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2000
I appreciated the case studies in Dr. Hallowell's book because they made me realize that "I am not alone." Indeed, some very accomplished people struggle with the same "worry weight" that I do. Enough ideas are presented for attacking worry to give the reader a good start. No book solves a person's problems. But Dr. Hallowell's book can give you the tools to start whittling away at worry's effects in your life.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2008
I have been struggling with anxiety ever since a close relative died suddenly of a heart attack in my presence. From time to time I worry about having a heart attack, and imagining chest pain, and I know that I'm in good health and that it's not really my heart, but every time I still struggle with the thought of "is this IT?"

One day I was feeling anxious and I happened to be in the bookstore, so I stepped into the "self help" section to see if there were any good books that might help me. I noticed this book, and paged through it. There appeared to be enough of interest that I decided to buy it.

The book is very conversational, the author takes you through many case histories of his clients, detailing how they developed their anxiety and how he treated them with cognitive behavioral therapy, reassurance, and medication. Through each of these case histories you see the principles he describes in action, that many anxious conditions are actually not "all in our head" but are real physiological conditions ("brain burn") predisposed by our genetics and/or triggered by cognition or traumatic/stessful events. As such, they are not a matter of "will power" but a matter of reconditioning oneself to respond differently to stimuli, to break out of the feedback patterns that spiral up into anxiousness and instead learn to refocus on reality.

One thing I noted was that nearly every case history described also involved the prescription of psychotropic medications as part of the treatment regime. It does tend to make this less of a "self-help" book if one is led to feel that one must go to a psychiatrist, but then again many people reading this book may be beyond self-help and truly need a professional's assistance.

I found that just reading the various stories of his patients has a calming effect in itself, helping to reduce the feelings of catastrophic panic and showing that indeed this is a manageable condition that people can overcome and learn to live normally again.

I also found interesting a chapter in which the author talks about the beneficial effects of worry, and how it isn't all bad but can help us prepare for real challenges and enhance our performance, as well as keep us alert and propel us to confront and deal with real problems.

The book concludes with a chapter on 50 things that one can do on their own to help reduce worry. Someone suffering with an acute problem might do well to turn to that chapter first. There is also a chapter reviewing the various types of medications that are prescribed for anxiety and related conditions.

I also liked that the author speaks of God, spirituality, prayer, and meditation as options to be considered in learning to cope with fears, along with cultivating friendships, connectedness with others, etc. The book was filled with such easy, practical steps.

I plan to keep this book around and re-read it periodically.

(For another book that I find beneficial, with specific step-by-step bibliotherapy sessions, I recommend "Master Your Panic" by Denise Beckfield, Phd.)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2010
I am 1/3 the way through the book for a second time - at the suggestion of my psychologist - and am someone who suffers / have suffered from panic attacks and general anxiety disorder. I found the book helpful in understanding the physiological reasons why I might be predisposed to this condition. It helped to releive some of the 'guilt' and failure feelings that often go hand and hand with anxiety. Also, its great to get some perspective on how this problem manifests itself in others and how they have learned to manage the feelings. For me, it also helped in validating that I am not on a path to going crazy! This book (though over 10 years old now) is well worth the read if you are having anxiety issues, and the author's writing style is superb.
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