013: Ask David — Is Anxiety Inevitable?

A fan points out that many of the examples in David’s book, When Panic Attacks, are high functioning individuals with lots of education and good jobs. She asks Dr. Burns if depression and anxiety are inevitable among people who are poorly educated and without many assets. Dr. Burns again addresses the ancient but persistent question of whether our suffering results from the actual problems in our lives, or rather by our distorted thoughts about them.

He describes the treatment program he created at his hospital in Philadelphia for individuals with little education and few resources, including gang members and homeless individuals. He also describes his work with a depressed, suicidal high school student with significant intellectual and physical impairments who was absolutely convinced she was a failure, and concludes with a story about a depressed woman recently diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer.

If, like so many people, you also believe that your own mood slumps are caused by the problems in your life, this heart-warming episode may be an eye-opener for you!

2 thoughts on “013: Ask David — Is Anxiety Inevitable?

  1. I love your work and have found it tremendously useful. You’re just inspiring.

    I’m curious whether you think there is anything positive to say about happiness beyond getting rid of negative feelings?

    Also, and excuse this for being philosophical, do you think there is anything important in the human psyche left out in CBT? (Religious meaning, existential meaning?) Or are these just problems that take care of themselves once you have gotten rid of your irrational thoughts? Do you think feelings like death anxiety are due to hidden emotions or distortions? (Like notions of a midlife crisis)

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