Dental Anxiety Help 5 – “Ask these questions”
In this blog series, Dental Anxiety Help, we’d like to introduce our guest contributor, Andre Perreault, LMHC. Every Wednesday we will be featuring his advice and helpful tips for people who experience anxiety, fear, and phobias about dental visits. Please check back every week for more – we will tag our posts with “anxiety” for quick reference when viewing in a feeder program. At the bottom of each “Dental Anxiety Help” you can find links to previous entries as well. If you’d like to reach Mr. Perreault directly, please call him at (617) 835-6581.
Now that you’ve worried your quota you can really look at what you’ve got. One of the symptoms of anxiety is that you know, on some level, that your worries are irrational. That’s good. And now you’re going to find out how.
This works best when you have some of your worries written down. Look over the list of dental worries. If you need to, take a moment to write out some of the negative possibilities or predictions you have. Be as detailed as possible. These often hide in “what if” propositions.
So tip #5 is to ask yourself is your worry actually worth a worry? Worrying takes over valuable thinking time. There are plenty of more productive or pleasurable forms for your thoughts to take so stop, look at your worry, and see if it qualifies for mind-time. Worries often fit into a psychological category titled Cognitive Distortion. This means that a thought is distorted in some way, expanded, augmented, or multiplied. The product is a worry thought that is distorted and made much larger than it needs to be.
Cognitive distortions are not based on reality. All the same, they are hard to give up. They are part of a thinking habit that is long-lived. Like any habit this one can be hard to break. The good news is that the work, though hard, is simple.
Here is a short list of questions that you can apply to your worries. Asking these questions challenges a worry and can help you hold it to a new light.
Next week, I will provide a list of common cognitive distortions. You might recognize that some of your worrries fit into one of the categories of garden variety cognitive distortions. Some apply to dental anxieties more than others.
If you have any questions about dental anxiety and applying these tips and suggestions to your life, please contact me at (617) 835-6581. Drs. Ali and Ali are also available to answer any questions you may have about the types of treatments available to make dental work less stressful.