New Year Cheers -- or Fears? Five Ways to Treat Phobias and Anxiety

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This is an author's tip sheet featuring five ways to treat phobias and anxiety. Statistics are from the American Psychiatric Institute for Research and Education.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychiatric Institute for Research and Education reports, "In any given year, 7.8% of American adults have phobias. They are the most common psychiatric illness among women of all ages, and are the second most common among men older than 25." Many never seek treatment for it, even when it interferes with their lives.

Leann Marshall, author of the new time travel fantasy novel, The Starfish People, researched treatment options for her protagonist, Sera, who ultimately sought treatment for her particular phobia by traveling back in time. "It's a novel solution that most of us can't take advantage of, but there are still other options here and now -- within our reach -- that can help," Marshall says.

Here are some tips for coping with phobias and problem anxiety that she uncovered in her research:

  • Learn to relax. There are many books and videotapes out there for just this purpose. Relaxation techniques can be learned, then practiced every day, especially in certain situations.
  • Talk to someone. This sounds too simple, but many people don't open up easily, and might even be embarrassed to tell anyone about their problem. Find someone you trust, whose opinion you respect, and talk about it.
  • Find a self-help group. There are groups that can help with general anxiety and phobias, and then there are groups that are more specialized and focused on certain problems, for example -- a group helping those caring for a parent with Alzheimer's with coping skills.
  • Try psychotherapy. This can help an individual understand the reasons for their anxiety or phobia so that they can better deal with it.
  • Get help from professionals. Those trained to help and treat problem anxiety and phobias can certainly be beneficial, and the results can be life changing and positive.

Anxiety and phobias come in many shapes, forms and of varying degrees. The point is -- there is a lot of help out there. There's no need to suffer in silence.

In Leann Marshall's new novel, The Starfish People, Sera travels back in time and meets not only her past entity Lissa, but Lissa's paraplegic husband and two young children, whom she quickly grows to love, and Willie, a mentally ill man who lives in a box in an alley. Each of these characters has a unique perspective on the world, but they will be thrown together in an extraordinary way during the succeeding twenty-four hours.

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