Distress Tolerance

This video gives a brief review of psychoeducation around the fight/flight/freeze response and how that influences the brain/amygdala.

Symptoms of both depression and anxiety can trigger these physiological fight/flight/freeze responses and contributes to significant distress. In this workshop today we will be focusing on learning skills that can help reduce distress in these instances. We call these skills “distress tolerance” skills. Distress tolerance is the ability to tolerate intense emotional distress when you (1) cannot solve the problem that’s causing it right away, AND (2) want to avoid making things worse by doing something impulsive. 

In the attached packet, you will find a number of skills we will review today to help with both anxiety and depression. We encourage you to keep an open-mind when reviewing these skills but also want to validate that perhaps not every skill will be effective for each individual and your challenge is practicing these skills and finding which ones work for you. All of these skills take practice (even as the facilitator, I am not “perfect” at utilizing these skills and need to continually practice them in my own life as well). The skills discussed in today’s distress tolerance workshop are to utilize primarily in crisis situations, to calm yourself down when you feel so emotionally overwhelmed that you’re unable to think straight;(not necessarily every time one experiences low-levels of distress).

The handouts begin by introducing skills to utilize when you are in crisis (when you are experiencing a panic,for example). The handouts also provide more long-term skills that can be effective at reducing your emotional pain and suffering. With practice and repeated use, these long-term skills can lower your amygdala response over time.

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