Member Reviews

Overcoming Anticipatory Anxiety by Sally M. Winston and Martin N. Seif uses a cognitive behaviour therapy approach to help readers deal with chronic indecisiveness, avoidance, and catastrophic thinking.

The book begins by explaining anticipatory anxiety, which is the expectation of distress and the push towards avoidance that occurs before you encounter the situation you fear in real life. The authors refer to it as the “third layer” of fear—it’s being afraid of being afraid of being afraid. They explain that sometimes people will refer to this as “free-floating anxiety” when they’re not actually aware of what they’re anticipating.

The book describes how anticipatory anxiety shows up in anxiety disorders and OCD, as well as other conditions like PTSD, mood disorders, and substance use disorders. In generalized anxiety disorder, anticipatory anxiety is the initial what if, which is then followed by thoughts to try to make that anticipatory anxiety go away; however, those subsequent thoughts actually end up reinforcing the anxiety. In OCD, anticipatory anxiety drives the performance of compulsive behaviours. In anxiety disorders and OCD, anticipatory anxiety often sticks around the longest during people’s recovery journeys.

One of the topics covered is chronic indecisiveness, which is presented as a behaviour that can be changed rather than a personality trait. There’s a not-so-fun mental loop where people have anticipatory anxiety so they try to avoid making decisions (the book describes strategies like procrastination and convenient forgetting), but indecision increases anticipatory anxiety. The book explores several issues that can feed into indecisiveness, like FOMO, feeling the need to make the best/right choice, fear of regret, and perfectionism.

There’s a chapter devoted to how anxiety works in our minds and bodies. The authors explain how the amygdala works and why it sends out a lot of false alarms (way back in the day, that would have helped save you from getting eaten). There are also personality traits that people can be genetically predisposed to that make anxiety more of an issue. Because of the way the brain is set up, the feelings you get are basically the same when you’re actually in danger vs. when you’re anxious. I thought the authors did a really good job of explaining this in a way that validated why people feel the way they feel but at the same time giving a solid alternative way of evaluating those feelings.

The book also explores avoidance, pointing out that this removes the possibility of new learning to teach your brain that your catastrophizing isn’t accurate. Also, the more effort you put into trying to remove unwanted thoughts and feelings, the more they stick around.

“Surrender and commit” is presented as the antidote to avoidance. This includes “attending to what is instead of what if,” disentangling yourself from your thinking, and committing to proceeding with either action or choice. I quite liked this line: “problems related to too much thinking are not solved with more thinking.”

The book closes with a chapter on troubleshooting and a chapter that explores what recovery might look like (and what it won’t look like).

I liked this book. I thought the explanations were really effective at conveying why our minds work the way they do. Another thing I liked was that the authors seemed very realistic. There were no flowery promises about strategies that will have you feeling better lickety-split. CBT-based books sometimes annoy me by being overly certain, but this book didn’t have that feel to it. The focus on anticipatory anxiety isn’t something I’ve encountered in other books on anxiety that I’ve read. Overall, I thought it was quite well done.

I received a reviewer copy from the publisher through Netgalley.

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This book was easy to read with loads of practical information and advice. It validates the feelings of struggling with Anticipatory Anxiety which is sometimes labeled as "Freeflowing Anxiety." It is something I would recommend to anyone who struggles with anxiety. Love the cover! Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC.

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As someone with anxiety I was intrigued to see this come up as an ARC option. This book would be good for someone just starting out on their journey dealing with anxiety. I didn't think there was anything really new or exciting in this book, but I do think it will help others if just starting to understand and deal with their anxiety. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

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It's rare that I find a self-help book that addresses a LOT of the habits I need/want to change. OVERCOMING ANTICIPATORY ANXIETY helped show me 1) that I'm not the only one who feels the anxiety I feel 2) ways to overcome these issues that have been causing me more stress than the actual event or problem itself.

I found most of the examples in the book are situations I have been in many times. While reading the book I can recall a lot of these same instances in my life and felt the weight of worry on my back. To read these anxiety worries are legitimate and not just something floating in my head was extremely helpful.

The book addresses anxiety-related instances such as dreading events out of fear of something going horribly wrong, worst case scenarios, needing a "Plan B" (a big issue for me), equating love to worrying about others (another big issue for me), and PROCRASTINATION in decision-making out of fear of choosing the wrong decision.

I thought the book was a bit too wordy at times, but the explanations of why we worry were relatable and easy to understand.

The book then delves into solving those issues. How can we free ourselves from dreading those events we are sure something catastrophic will happen? Techniques like implementing your Worry Voice, False Comfort Voice and Wise Mind will help.

The main takeaway from OVERCOMING ANTICIPATORY ANXIETY is to acknowledge you are worried about something, acknowledge those things are thoughts - not facts or a future warning of something bad arising - and move on after understanding there are things you can't control.

I thought the book was good at giving relatable examples, solid advice and not just a bunch of psychological jargon.

Thank you NetGalley and New Harbinger Publications for providing me with an e-copy of OVERCOMING ANTICIPATORY ANXIETY. I will definitely buy a copy for myself to reference when it is published.

I rate OVERCOMING ANTICIPATORY ANXIETY five out of five stars.

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I felt seen by this book. I saw a lot of myself in the scenarios that were laid out in each chapter. I loved the actionable items that will help me with my anticipatory anxiety as well as give me a jumping off point for things to discuss with my doctor. This is a great book for anyone who finds themselves living in fear of fear.

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This book was my first nonfiction type read every and I actually really enjoyed it. As someone who really struggles with anxiety and has it control a big part of their life, I feel as though this book taught me some amazing ways to help me make it through some of the harder times. If you’re also struggling with anxiety I very much recommend you pick this one up !

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Overcoming Anticipatory Anxiety was an easy-to-read, useful self-help book for me. After reading the first chapter I realized that anticipatory anxiety is a specific form of anxiety I experience often. I am glad to have found a book that focuses on this type of anxiety rather than anxiety in general.

The book was a nice short length; the theories/practices mentioned were conveyed in layman's terms and were fairly self explanatory. The formatting of first explaining what kinds of processes are happening in an anxious mind, then addressing how to better deal with anxiety, made sense. I also liked that the authors made use of lists and acronyms to format their main points. Additionally they frequently used dialogue and real-life examples to demonstrate concepts. I especially liked this for learning how to use my "wise mind" to intervene between my "anxious mind" and " false comfort mind".

I am a little confused about why the writers say to not try to soothe anxieties with "comfort thoughts" like "you've done this before. you'll be okay." They even these thoughts "false comforts". Therapists have taught me to use those kind of rationalizations. Maybe the key is not to rely on them but instead change my negative perception of my anxious thoughts? I think it would be good to use "wise mind" with "comfort mind" as a support line.

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Overcoming Anticipatory Anxiety is a must-read for anyone who struggles with a monkey mind and in particular one who is always thinking about the worst possible outcomes. The principles and practices found within this book is literally life-changing! I highly recommend!

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A fantastic book that speaks plainly and easily for those experiencing anxiety (or maybe may not even realize their habits are caused by anxiety). Examples and solutions are also provided which can help in self I reflection and problem-solving.

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This book may be quite relatable to many readers, especially after the last few years. While a lot of the information isn't new or groundbreaking, the book does explain how and why anxiety happens, and it contains helpful tidbits. It's more detailed than I expected, and it's a bit wordy at times, but it could be helpful to those battling anxiety.

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This book is very helpful in the exploration of anxiety and how to recognize it as well as things you can do to combat it. The authors do a fabulous job of explaining how and why anxiety occurs. This is more than a self-help book! I would say it seems to be along the lines of a college textbook in the way it gives such in-depth information.

This is a very well written book and very helpful to those who suffer from anxiety and/or want to understand it. Thank you to NetGalley and New Harbinger Publications for an ARC of this book. It is greatly appreciated.

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Such a poignant novel truly was insightful. The research that went into this was evident and impactful. Great read!

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When I read over the description of this book, it struck a nerve with me on how closely it described what I experience daily - I had no idea that this was something quantifiable beyond just general anxiety or that it was associated with depression or ADHD. I quickly read through this, paying particular attention to the science behind anticipatory anxiety, and especially avoidance and chronic indecisiveness (since that's what gets me hung up the most in my daily life), hoping to understand more about why this happens and how to overcome or cope with it in a more productive manner. This gave me a lot of food for thought and perspective, and hopefully some techniques that I can use in the future to overcome my anxiety.

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Repetitive and wordy at times. I read a lot of what I already knew and found little substantial resolution. Although this may not be a groundbreaking book it still might be helpful to different people looking for accessible information.

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This was an interesting book. Over the past year, I've started reading self help books, specifically for anxiety and OCD. I've found them to be a pretty mixed bag. Overcoming Anticipatory Anxiety (OAA) was no different but there were somethings that I thought it did particularly well.

The first thing I appreciated about this book was that it talked in length about anticipatory anxiety which in most of the other books I read is merely glossed over or talked about very briefly. I think anticipatory anxiety and it impacting sufferers by making them feel a need to put off what they are doing/working towards is probably one of the most significant impacts of anxiety and I think this is an important work for that reason. I also think that overall their suggestions for what sufferers can do to mitigate the impact of it is helpful if not anything too groundbreaking.

I think my biggest issue with this book were that there were a few times that the book seemed almost dismissive of sufferers who might skip to the end of the book to find relief. That wording might be fixed a bit between now and its publication but sometimes when the authors suggested that the reader NEEDS to read the book in order to get it and not just skip to the sections where advice is offered to overcome anticipatory anxiety seemed a little dismissive and also seemed to ignore the reality that most of the people that are going to pick this book up are looking for relief more than discussion of the science behind anticipatory anxiety.

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Well, I just sped through that with ease. As someone who suffers from lifelong anxiety, I learned so much in this book not just about how to deal with it but where it comes from and the different types. I recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about anxiety. Though a little wordy at parts, it is very informative. Thank you to NetGalley and New Harbinger Publications for the advanced copy.

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