All of us have experience anxiety, but only 1 in 10 suffer from an anxiety disorder and 8 out of every 100 have had a major depression episode. Chronic disease and pain can cause or make anxiety and depression worse.
The Here to Help website has excellent mental health tools, but internet care is not a substitute for medical advice.
Even reading can be difficult when you have anxiety. The brain gets fogged. Concentration is difficult. You are tired. Start with using your Body to Heal the Brain.
All humans experience a flight, fight, freeze response to danger. Our brain’s alarm system turns on under threat in order to protect us.
Threat affects our emotions. Even thinking about a future concern can cause anxiety. We become scared, freaked out, or worry. Our thoughts can change and can circle through our brain without stopping. Our body responds and we often behave differently.
Body Responses from Here to Help, BC:
Rapid heart rate, palpitations, pounding heart, sweating, trembling or shaking, shortness of breath or a choking or smothering sensation, dry mouth, chest pain or discomfort, nausea, stomach distress, abdominal pains and bloating, an urge to urinate or defecate, cold chills, hot flushes, dizziness, unsteady feelings, lightheadedness, fainting, feelings of unreality or being detached from self, numbing or tingling sensations, visual changes like bright lights or spots, muscle tension, muscle aches or twitching or weakness, or a heavy sensation in your body.
Thoughts – What goes through our mind:
Frightening thoughts, images, urges, or memories.
A feeling that something bad is going to happen – feelings of doom – for oneself, or fot others, like dying, not being able to cope, being responsible for terrible things, accidents, crime.
Increased attention and scanning for things related to a source of danger.
Difficulty concentrating on things not related to danger.
Difficulties making decisions.
Frightening dreams or nightmares.
Severe anxiety can change the way we think. We can develop unhealthy thinking patterns, like all-or-nothing thinking, overgeneralization, filtering out events to pick on one negative part, rejecting positive experiences, jumping to conclusions, mind-reading, fortune-telling – or predicting what is going to happen, magnification – exaggerating the importance of something, believing your emotions reflect the situation, judging yourself harshly and blaming yourself even when you are not responsible.
Behaviors (How we respond):
Avoiding feared situation, place, or people.
Escaping or leaving the feared situation.
Needing to be with a person or pet who makes us feel safe to find a safe spot.
Getting reassurance from others.
Telling ourselves reassuring things, “I’ll be okay” or trying to distract ourselves.
Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol or food.
Carrying items that make us feel safe.
Compulsive checking to be sure safe or ritualistic behavior, like counting objects or excessive cleaning or checking door locks.
Mental mind rituals like thinking the same word over and over.
Panic attacks are more common than an anxiety disorder, about a third of us having experienced the sudden rush of high anxiety. This could happen because of a new job, or a dental appointment, or a conflict in our relationship. Drinking coffee or using drugs like marijuana could make this worse or even cause these attacks. Often a panic attack can lead to a feeling of doom, as if you were dying.
When anxiety occurs over a long period of time, or when it causes significant discomfort, or affects your everyday activities, it may be time to consider you suffer from this common disorder.
My parents had anxiety disorders and so do I. Ours come from difficult childhoods, but there are many reasons for an anxiety disorder. You can do a Self-Test on line, please try to get supports and a professional to guide your path to healing.
When you have anxiety, you may be more vulnerable to substance use to manage your symptoms. Drugs like benzodiazepines can help your symptoms, but when used for a long time can be addictive and have side effects.
Depression leaves a person with a feeling of emptiness, or lack of motivation, a lack of interest, or a feeling of sadness. You could feel irritable, have a change in your appetite and energy levels. Many people with depression have a low self-image. You could feel worthless, or a have a sense of hopelessness for the future. Often, concentrating can be difficult, and there is also a lowered sexual desire, even impotence.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, especially any feelings of self-harm, it is very important to reach out for help. Depression can be managed. Here are Help Lines.
There are many Online Resources for Depression.
Anxiety and depression can occur because of changes in your genes, or childhood stress, or because we try to be perfect, setting ourselves up for failure. With therapy, tools can help us overcome our anxiety or depression. Medications can also help.
From the anxiety toolkit (heretohelp.ca), tips for talking with your doctor or mental health profession.
Plan: think about what you’d like to talk about. Draw up a list with the most important topic on top.
Report: Let your provider know what you’d like to talk about.
Exchange information: Tell your provider what is wrong. You can print off online screening tools or bring a diary. It is helpful to bring a friend or family member to the appointment to help you describe your symptoms.
Participate: Discuss with your provider the different ways of handling your health problems. Ask questions so you understand the positive and negative aspects of management.
Agree: Try to reach an agreement with your provider about your next steps.
REpeat: Tell your doctor what you understand are the next steps.
If you have mild anxiety, calming breath can help. Step 2. I would also suggest if the anxiety feels almost like a panic attack, try the 5 -4 – 3- 2- 1 Grounding Technique: look around – notice 5 things you see, 4 things you feel – touch, 3 things hear; 2 things smell and 1 thing taste. And you could do morning or evening Qi-Gong exercises on Daily Program or read your spiritual books.
Chronic pain causes anxiety and depression and anxiety and depression can lead to pain. Anxiety is seen as an inflammatory disorder. See at the end of the page for an excellent article on inflammation and anxiety.
Flight Fright Fight Response
The body responds with the flight fright fight response. The changes that result from this stress response include increased adrenaline and norepinephrine. If these stress hormones are high for a few days, cortisol starts to rise. These hormonal changes can cause many different problems, long term even weight gain. ADH, anti-diuretic hormone, is another hormone that can be released with stress and cause swelling of extremities, including fingers, toes, legs.
Another great explanation of what happens with stress – perceived danger: How Anxiety causes Illness.
Anxiety is an inflammatory disorder and causes illness, including heart attacks and strokes.
Calm the brain with correct breathing
In order to work on PTSD, you need coping tools. These tools are often not available to people who have grown up in dysfunctional families. Usually dysfunctional parents will have come from homes with their own dysfunction.
Before you can tackle PTSD, you need coping tools – a toolbox of skills that can help you manage your problems, be it drinking, drugs, overeating. These are all abnormal tools we use to manage our emotional pain. Tools to numb our feelings. Try to find mental health counselors to help you build your toolbox.
Mindfulness: Palouse Mindfulness Course
See some of the videos from this site: Palouse Mindfulness Videos
Here are great tools on this video. 3 Tips for Stress
Another important tool to add to your coping toolbox is paying attention to how you think. What you think is what you feel. Here is a great program, costs a bit of money, not much. Try it if you can afford it. https://moodgym.com.au/
Website for sleep management: CBT for insomina
Anxiety causes inflammation which can affect your arteries, joints, muscles, connective tissues and even sinuses.
This is quite gentle Yoga – the one below that is more intense
Choose what suits you best and listen to your body – TAKE NOTICE OF HOW YOUR BODY FEELS IN POSTURES
Meditation can be helpful but do talk to your doctor as meditating can cause trauma flashbacks
Have a chair and a strap handy to help support you in your yoga practice. Yoga is not supposed to hurt. When your knees are bent, always make sure that you can see your toes over your knees.
Chronic pain is a source of repeated stress and may lead to a form of PTSD. Check out the Complex PTSD section.
For more information, go to Stress Anxiety and PTSD
Anxiety can improve with Mindfulness and there are many free programs
Meditation: first talk to your mental health counselor as sometimes meditation can awaken past traumas: Awakening
Contact your local Women’s Health Resource Team or Mental Health Resources.
Anxiety: Online Anxiety Tools
Ask people close to you if they feel you may be suffering from depression or anxiety.
If you have severe depression or anxiety, it is almost impossible to manage chronic pain. There is help out there.
Mindfulness: Palouse Mindfulness
Many times pain and anxiety cause stiffness and loosening up can relieve pain and anxiety
If you are a parent and you have severe anxiety, or severe depression, or PTSD, it will affect your children. Here is a great way to help your children and yourself.
For Needle Phobia – Treating Needle Phobia – https://youtu.be/FQ4znfRL2eQ
Are you afraid of needles? Needle phobia is common and can be helped. Treat Needle Phobia.
Books: recommended : The Urban Monk
The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer;
Mindfulness Pocket Book by Gill Hasson
Dr. Divi mindfulness books
Try app Headspace for iphone
What you think is what you feel. Negative thoughts do make pain worse. If you have mood swings, try this course which costs about $40.00Canadian. I think it’s worth it. Called MoodGym
Other tools include EMDR therapy, neurofeedback, tapping, writing, meditating, touch, yoga, dance, vigorous exercise and a healthy diet.
Good Luck. You are not alone.