Saturday, May 24, 2008

My Latest Experience With Panic Attacks

If you've been reading my posts on this blog you know that I suffered with panic attacks a few years ago. Fortunately I was able to find relief from that problem with a combination of both natural and pharmaceutical remedies.

Well guess what - that ugly snake came back out of his hole last week!!!

I won't go into detail about what caused my stress that led to the attack - let's just say I had a very stressful and unexpected family event happen. Initially when I received the phone call about the matter I was stressed - extremely stressed but I was handling it okay. It wasn't until the next day that the stress seemed to get worse and worse.

As I was putting on my make-up the attack began. I couldn't breathe - I began crying and my heart was racing. I was home alone - thank goodness I was at home - my phone rang during this tremendous feeling that the world was coming to an end for me (and of course I couldn't explain why).

It was my husband calling to check on me - he knew I had been upset the night before. Okay - again, I don't want to disclose a lot of things in this blog but the issue meant that a family member would be in court that morning. I wanted to be there also.

Mission accomplished, the panic attack was over almost as quickly as it had arrived. But I knew I was leaving my house and driving downtown. Well if you have panic attacks you can imagine the fear I had related to that. I mean I was in for a 20 - 30 minute drive plus time at the court room. I was a nervous wreck!

I made it downtown without any real drama - just the constant worry that I would need to stop the car to let an attack pass. By the way - I had a female friend with me - she was my support person.

Just as I thought, while waiting for court to begin I felt like I was going to have another attack. I hurriedly excused myself and ran to the bathroom. Once there I composed myself - no attack, just the fear of one.

But after court was over we needed to take care of some paperwork - that had to be done in another building. My companion kept reassuring me that court went well and everything was ok now.....she doesn't know about my panic attacks. I was not in the right frame of mind to explain to her that I wasn't worried about the legal matters - that it was the attacks that I feared.

Anyway - it seemed to take forever to get the paperwork taken care of and just as we left the office there I realized my fear - I had another panic attack! This one was much milder than the earlier one and I was able to handle it without drawing a lot of attention. As I said, my friend thought my worries were all related to the legal matters.

When I got home I phoned my doctor and set up an appointment. However, I missed that appointment - I totally forgot about it. By the next day I had almost completely recovered from the fear of the panic attacks. I talked to myself remembering that I was able to handle the attacks and I survived - even in a very public setting. I told myself that I was stronger than the attacks are. Perhaps they will not return!!!

I have not called to re-schedule my appointment and I hope I am not forced to; I am hoping that those panic attacks were purely situational and will not occur again. But I have promised myself that if I have another episode I will immediately make another appointment.

Debbie C. Allen

Thursday, May 22, 2008

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Depression- Typical Causes

The questions related to depression are many. Some people wonder if depression is actually a disease. Technically, no it is not. But keep reading.

Although in depression there is evidence of an imbalance in the brain chemistry there is no proof that the imbalance in question causes the mood swings experienced by depressed individuals. For some of us stress results in depression. How does this happen....stress is known to suppress the immune system - that alone can affect the chemistry of the brain. This can lead to a disruption of the normal serotonin signaling and that disruption has been linked to depression.

Many drugs - recreational as well as prescription - can cause chemical imbalances that can lead to depression. Alcohol is a known brain depressant. Nicotine is a stimulant that can affect sleep. Many smokers snore which can result in waking throughout the night. That can lead to a lack of sleep which has been linked to depressed moods.

Caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and tea have been linked to anxiety, panic disorders, nervousness, heart palpitations, irritability, and recurrent headaches. I should mention that any of those can contribute to depression.

Exercise and good nutrition can help to combat or prevent depression. Lack of exercise triples the likelihood of depression. Good nutrition helps to ensure good physical health - including a healthy immune system.

Sleep is very important when discussing depression. The normal adult requires an average of 8 hours of sleep per night ( though this varies from one individual to the next). Disruptions to the normal sleep patterns can result in disruptions to the circadian rhythm which can result in depression.

For further information related to depression and other issues please click on any link in this blog or visit Fit Inside and Out.

Debbie C. Allen

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Personal Mother's Day Ramble

Today's post is a little different than the usual. I want to ramble a bit. First of all, I need to mention that yesterday was Mother's Day. This year the meaning of Mother's Day really touched me more deeply than it has in the past.

Let me mom has cancer. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in Jan. 2007. She is currently undergoing chemo for the second time. My mother has been a terrific role model for showing me how to be a good mother.

She was a stay-at-home mom and I have never doubted that she would do anything possible to see that my sister, my brothers and I have what we want and need in life. Don't get me wrong - I did not grow up wealthy. As a matter of fact, I can remember times that I knew my parents were struggling. The point is that my parents were always there for me in whatever way they could be.

I was not pressured to follow in their paths or to go in any particular path at all. But whatever I chose in life - and continue to choose - I feel encouragement and support from my mom. My dad died several years ago but I still feel his love.

I am very fortunate indeed to have been blessed with such loving parents. I have done my best to make my own kids feel this type of love and support throughout their lives. Luckily I have had excellent role models that have provided the foundation for that.

I find that having feelings of gratitude for the people in my life helps to ease any stressful situation. I am going to add this to my coping mechanisms. When I find myself getting anxious I am going to give gratitude and appreciation for all my blessings in life. Perhaps you will also find this technique useful.

Whether it's your parents or other family members, certain friends, or special people you admire, consider the wonderful advantages you have because of those individuals. We are blessed in so many ways - it is often easy to overlook the most important and meaningful things in life.

Make a list of all you have to be grateful for - look it over on a daily basis. Each day focus on the appreciation you have for at least one person or thing on your list. You might find that helpful in maintaining positivity in your life!

Debbie C. Allen

Monday, May 5, 2008

Anxiety Disorders: The Untold Story

Millions of people suffer with anxiety disorders. The associated symptoms can totally change and upset the life of the sufferer as well as that of his/her loved ones. Anxiety disorders can be based on anxiety, fears, phobias, or a combination of any of the three.

Anxiety is worry that is illogical or irrational, worry that is not completely grounded on facts. The stresses that one incurs due to such a disorder take a toil on the person over time. The sufferer may not cope well with daily annoyances and frustrations.

Of all the mental health disorders anxiety disorders are the most common. The statistics vary depending on which research you read but it has been estimated that approximately 30 - 50 percent of the American population may be affected by anxiety disorders.

The ongoing frustrations associated with anxiety disorders can be chronic and debilitating. For some the disorder begins at an early age but for others it is triggered late in life. It seems that no one is completely immune to this disorder.

Many sufferers say they feel anxious most of the time. Obviously this wears on the sufferer and often results in feelings of exhaustion and fatigue. During times of high stress the disorder seems to worsen.

Most sufferers of anxiety attacks complain that the symptoms are frequently accompanied by strange or depressing thoughts and feelings of despair. Anxiety attacks happen very suddenly without warning. The sufferer may experience any or several symptoms, such as hypertension, palpitations, sweating, headaches, plus many others.

The most common complaint during an attack is an overwhelming fear. Keep in mind though that the fear is not reality based.

Reality based or not the body will respond as if the fear is real. There is an immediate release of adrenaline which is used effectively in the Fight or Flight response. Because this is not based on a real threat the body will experience and maintain a higher level of symptoms that then escalates into an anxiety attack.

The body and mind give credibility to the symptoms of the anxiety attack which perpetuates more fear and increased symptoms, and so the anxiety cycle is created.

As time goes on and the attacks continue many sufferers limit their activities and social outings according to the anxiety attacks. Some eventually find that they are home more than not and this is their preferred environment because it is a safe zone.

It is not surprising that many sufferers develop depression, particularly if agoraphobia is developed. The sad truth is that many people suffering with anxiety disorders will never seek help.

If you or a loved one needs help with the symptoms of an anxiety disorder you should know that help is available. To learn more about anxiety disorders click on any link in this blog.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Anxiety: Learning To Deal With It

Learning to deal with stress and anxiety can be a difficult task - as a matter of fact, if you take it too seriously it can add to your stress. So the point is to learn to accept that some stress and anxiety is inevitable - no matter who you are, how much money you make, where you live, etc., etc. We all have stress in our lives and we must as individuals find ways to deal with it - ways that work for us.

Another problem is the fact that some people simply do not utilize appropriate coping mechanisms when they experience feelings of anxiety and stress. Did you know that suppressing your feelings may be one of the worst things you can do for your health?

It is vital that you find a way to deal with stress that will work for you. Some people find that they can tolerate stress better if they take a break from reality for a period of time. Fortunate individuals are able to take actual vacations or perhaps visit a spa.

But many of us have to accept a smaller version of that and use our minds to take a break. This can be done in a matter of minutes and it really can change the way you feel. The next time you are feeling stressed try closing your eyes and imagining the most magnificent place you can.

Make this your ‘escape haven’. When you think about this place make it wonderful – but keep in mind that this is your place and only your place. You get to design in whatever fashion you like. The colors do not have to relate to what is real or in nature – you can have purple trees and a blue sun in an orange sky if you like.

It’s your private escape. Let this be a place you can go to in your mind at anytime at all. Here you are safe and trouble free – all is good. You are rested and happy.

You may find that breathing exercises help with your stress as well. Practice controlled breathing. Breathe in deeply and hold that for just a moment before you let the air escape. Make your breathing regular and even.

If you find that something is stirring up stressful thoughts try the old favorite of talking yourself down, telling yourself that it will be all right. Be your own friend! If you cannot escape from reality for the time it takes to do any of those things you may find that through controlled breathing and a simple counting to ten you are able to regain composure.

Journaling seems to be very helpful for many people. Since you are encouraged to share your problems – with a t least one other person – believe me, many of us would rather not share – it helps to put those thoughts down on paper. We can even burn the paper afterward but just getting the thoughts out seems to help.

Most of us are guilty of using inappropriate coping mechanisms - at least once in a while to deal with our stress and anxiety. This might mean that we resort to using food as a comfort tool, or we lash out at friends or family members. Most of us realize when we've done this and try to do better next time - but for some, this is the constant coping techniques used. Obviously that can result in bigger problems.

Regardless, we all need little ways to help us ‘get through’ our stressful times. Try various techniques until you find something that works for you! To learn more about anxiety and ways to cope with it please click on any link in this blog.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Stress: How Can You Escape From It?

Stress is something we all think of in a negative way – but in reality, a little stress can be good for us. That’s wonderful because it really is not possible to completely escape from all stress.

You may be wondering how stress can possibly be good for us – after all – stress seems to make us feel frustrated and, well, stressed out. But if we didn’t have at a little stress in our lives we would not worry about deadlines, whether that is work related, or a doctor’s appointment. Bills would not get paid.

A little stress can help us maintain control over our surroundings and that is a good thing. As I said, we cannot escape from stress completely – it doesn’t matter how much money you have or where you live – stressors are everywhere.

They can be as simple as a traffic jam or as complex as the death of a loved one. But why does one person perceive something as a stressor and the next does not? Do they have a secret of some sort? Is it their outlook on life? Are they more optimistic than the people that get stressed over the smaller things?

Studies tell us we will feel stress when the demands of a situation seem to be greater than our biological, psychological, or social systems. I think that’s a long way of saying we will feel stress when we feel the situation is out of our control.

This may be when we are asked to speak in public, or going on a first date, or even meeting new people. Surely you’ve heard the saying, ‘Where the mind goes the body follows’, and I cannot think of a time that this applies more.

If you perceive a situation as stressful then it will be. There is not any question that particular things in life are stressful to us. That includes things like moving, starting a new job, a new addition to the family, the death of a loved one, getting fired from a job…..etc.

Can you see that some of the things on that list are actually positive events that one may expect to completely enjoy – but there is still a stress value included. So what can we do about stress – obviously we cannot avoid it.

Here are a few things that may help:

· Yoga

· Meditation

· Tai Chi

· Conscious Breathing

· Dancing

Some people find that an occasional vacation or a massage helps to reduce the stress in their lives. The only problem with this is that it is usually a short-term solution. On a daily basis try to add something to your life that you enjoy – even if it’s as simple as having some pretty flowers or an art piece to enjoy.

Do fun things whenever you can. Practice walking, working, and eating at a relaxed pace. Take breaks after meals to just relax for a few minutes. Get some fresh air everyday – if only for a few minutes – go outdoors and find something in nature that you can admire.

Dress comfortably. Remove your shoes when you can – the idea is to make you feel comfortable inside and out. If you notice yourself tensing up be sure to practice controlled breathing.

When you are overcome with stress it is important that you do not hold your feelings in. If possible share your feelings with at least one other person. If not, try journaling. Believe it or not this can be an effective coping mechanism.

Since we cannot hide from stress we must face it. Find ways to deal with stress that work for you. You may need to try a few options before settling on what works best but don’t let stress control you and your life.

For more information related to stress click on any of the links in this blog.