There are so many reasons why you should try meditation! You'll find that you have less anxiety, less depression, better health, and better relationships. How many practices can claim that? Would you rather take a pill for anxiety or learn to calm your mind and body in a more natural way? There may be many unwanted side effects from medication (such as feeling "hung over" for hours, not being able to function with normal activities, and developing a dependency on the medication.) Meditation gives you calm and peaceful feelings without the side effects. And having a peaceful mind is a form of stress protection that can help you to clear your mind of worries.
This is not to say that you won’t worry about things ever, but you'll find that worry decreases in both intensity and duration. In addition, you will develop a more effective way of dealing with the stressful situations in your daily life; you'll become more resilient. You will be able to understand situations in a different light and be able to see the situations for what they really are. When your mind is not at peace, it is hard to be happy even under the most pleasant circumstances. In some forms of meditation, you can analyze the thought processes that pass through your mind. When you concentrate deeply on the thoughts and situations of your life, you can reach the point at which you find your own answers to your problems.
Today many types of meditation are recommended by health care professionals as a way of cleansing the mind and emotions of negative thoughts. By meditating, you can benefit from improved concentration and memory. It also helps to help you develop a greater understanding of stressful situations in your daily life so that you can have a greater understanding of the real cause of the problem. Anxiety is reduced dramatically. This helps you approach your problems with less stress because you do not impulsively react with fear, panic, depression, or anger. This, in turn, helps you get along with others much better.
Your body also benefits from meditation. When your mind is clear, you are better able to bring healing to the parts of your body that are ill. Meditating helps to improve the overall functioning of your immune system so that your body can fight off disease. As your body becomes more relaxed, your blood pressure lowers and your heart can pump the blood to the organs of the body.
The aim of meditation is to give you a sense of inner peace that you will use throughout your day in all your dealings. This is why it is recommended that you meditate in the morning as soon as you wake. The positive feelings that you bring into your mind and body will then help you cope with your day. I highly recommend meditation for all of the above reasons.
Start with a few minutes of silence each morning. It doesn't have to be long. In order to start a new habit, researchers tell us that you're better off doing your new habit a minute or two a day consistently for three weeks than an hour every once in a while. Once the habit is established, you'll want to keep this new habit because your physical and emotional health improve so much. Like anything else worth learning, you'll improve with practice. Let me know how it goes for you!
My client's husband was leaving her. And she was very worried. In fact, she worried all day long (and most of the night). There were some very real concerns. She had a lot of problem-solving to do in a very short period of time, and needed to make a lot of life-changing decisions. She was not doing well. This was probably the worst time in her life to be making decisions.
When we're in a stressful situation, it's difficult to sort things out and to make good decisions. Yet, all of us must do this at one time or another. Let's talk about some of the things that can make this process a little easier.
My client was forecasting a dismal future for herself. None of us know what the future will bring. But awfulizing about what might happen doesn't help. And worrying is like spinning your wheels when you're in hub-cap deep in mud; it gets you nowhere. It makes things worse, in fact. Accept the fact that you're making some changes, and those changes aren't necessarily negative in the long run. Here are some steps that can help:
WRITE DOWN YOUR WORRIES
Rather than have all those random worries floating around in your head, write them down. Keep coming back to the list until you have most of your worries on paper. Here are three of the worries that my client wrote:
1. I'm afraid that I won't have enough money.
2. I'm afraid that I won't be able to afford the house payment.
3. I'm afraid that I won't be able to find a good job.
WHAT DO YOU NEED?
The next step is to take those worries and write them differently--stating what you need. So, here is what she wrote:
1. I need to have enough money.
2. I need to be able to afford the house payment.
3. I need to find a good job.
LOOK FOR SOLUTIONS
Brainstorming is the next step. Take your list of needs and think of possible solutions. Not all of the solutions will work for you, but write them anyway. You can ask for help from friends, neighbors, your therapist in helping you to think of possible solutions. When you're brainstorming, write down every idea, even if you doubt that it will work out for you.
1. I need to have enough money. I guess I either need to make more money or reduce my needs. I can always work more than one job. People have offered to pay me for my knitted sweaters. I could knit sweaters. I could ask my old boss to take me back. I could move in with my parents.
2. I need to be able to afford the house payment. I guess I could sell the house. I could give the house back to the bank and walk away. I could take in a roommate. I could offer the house to my husband. I could camp outdoors all summer. I could look for a small apartment to rent.
3. I need to find a good job. I have many talents. Perhaps I can create my own job. I can always clean for others. I could take care of an elderly person in exchange for room and board.
PREPARE TO MAKE SACRIFICES
This, of course, is the difficult part. Sometimes we need to sacrifice some comforts as life steers us in a different path. Rather than kicking and screaming against change, sometimes it just feels better to accept the change, let go of the past, and move on. Here's what my client finally decided:
1. I am staying in my low-stress, low-paying job. I can even knit while answering the phone at my job. Since knitting is fun for me, I will experiment selling sweaters and scarves on a website as well. Maybe it will work out; maybe it won't.
2. I am putting the house up for sale. If it hasn't sold in three months, I will rent it out or take in a roommate.
3. I may look for another job when I'm feeling less stressed and more confident. Now is not the time to be looking for a better job.
PRACTICE RELAXATION SKILLS
Relaxation skills are important, especially when you're stressed. Now is the time to practice yoga, breathwork, hypnosis, guided imagery, and other proven techniques to help you to relax.
Research has proven that aerobic exercise will help diminish anxiety and depression. Try it!
Good luck, and call a therapist if you need an appointment.
“Fear is like fire. If you can master it, it can heat your house, cook your food. But if it gets the best of you, it can burn you. You control it or it controls you.” –Alex in the HBO series, “In Treatment.”
The gift of fear
Several years ago I read Gavin deBecker’s book, “The Gift of Fear." The title refers to the intuitive ability of human beings that allows them to detect danger quickly, without conscious, logical thought. The evolutionary purpose of this fear, he explains, is to energize and motivate us to repel or flee an imminent attack by a predator. Fight or flight. The book encourages us to develop and listen to our intuition. Fear can be a friend, an important signal that something is wrong.
The broken fear barometer
That’s all well and good. But what about the person who’s fear barometer is broken? I’m referring to those unfortunate individuals who have unrelenting anxiety. Anxiety is fear, after all. For them, the fear is excessive and operates inappropriately. Their anxiety sounds an alarm in the absence of danger. It’s a false alarm, a trick of the brain. For people with anxiety, the alarm comes to be treated as the danger itself, rather than as a signal of danger.
The worst part of anxiety...
The worst part of having an anxiety disorder is not the anxiety. It’s trying NOT to be anxious. This anxiety comes to be seen as a threat. It motivates excessive self-protection. People with anxiety learn to avoid situations that may cause more anxiety.
How do you treat an anxiety disorder?
· Not be protecting yourself from unrealistic threats. You'll need to learn to stop reacting to unrealistic threats.
· Not by avoiding the anxiety. Anxiety, you see, won't really hurt you. When you learn to accept it and face it, it tends to diminish in intensity and power.
· By learning to do the exact opposite of what you have been doing.
What do you fear?
· Panic Disorder—you fear a breakdown in functioning, a permanent loss of control brought on by your inability to cope.
· Generalized Anxiety Disorder—you fear that unlikely events could actually happen! (And you worry about endless possibilities.)
· Phobias—The feared object or situation will do something to you or you will panic in response to that object.
· Social Phobia—you fear you will disgrace yourself in front of other, never have their respect or trust, and be less able to interact.
· Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder—you fear that some error, omission, or awful act of yours will lead to incalculable harm.
· Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder—you fear that you’ll be overcome by horrific memories of terrible events.
But, it’s a trick!
All of these anxiety disorders have something in common: they all trick you by giving you false signals. The fears do not provide accurate signals of danger. It's more like a scary movie. You experience discomfort, even though you know it's not real. I used to run out of scary movies as a child because I believed that I was actually in danger. As an adult, I know that I'm not in danger. It's just a movie. Still, I may not like the discomfort of a scary movie. I can either walk out or "talk myself down." The anxiety disorders fail their evolutionary purpose of preparing you for real danger. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you’ll start to get better.
And the trick makes you think it’s real.
To complicate the matter further, your creative brain provides you with a false explanation. You either think that you are weak and defective, incapable of solving your problem OR you think that the problem just can’t be solved. Others are just taking a lot of foolish risks. Both of these views are obstacles to recovery. When you're tricked into reacting inappropriately, your anxiety gains power. You have less and less control.
Give therapy a chance.
Do yourself a favor. Get into therapy and learn to eliminate anxiety. Learn to talk yourself down from anxiety. Anxiety is very treatable. Won't it be nice to not have to experience this trick ever again?
All of us have the ability to create our own negative moods. We often feel that it's a negative event, something that happens outside of our control usually, that causes depression or anxiety. But it's what we tell ourselves about that event that leads to feeling bad. Negative thoughts lead to anxiety and depression. But the good news is that you can learn techniques to free yourself of these patterns and feel better. Here are some examples of distorted thinking.
- Catastrophizing--taking an event you are concerned about and blowing it out of proportion to the point of becoming fearful. Example: believing that if you fail a quiz then the teacher will completely lose respect for you, that you will not graduate from college, that you will therefore never get a well-paying job, and will ultimately end up unhappy and dissatisfied with life.
- Jumping to Conclusions: making a judgment with no supporting information. Example: believing that someone does not like you without any actual information to support that belief.
- Personalization: when a person attributes an external event to himself when there is actually no causal relationship. Example: If a checkout clerk is rude to you and you believe that you must have done something to cause it, when you may not have done anything at all.
- Filter: when a person makes a judgment based on some information but disregards other information. Example: Someone attends a party and afterward focuses on the one awkward look directed her way and ignores the hours of smiles.
- Overgeneralization: making a broad rule based on a few limited occurrences. Example: believing that if one public speaking event went badly that all of them will.
- Black and White Thinking: categorizing things into one of two extremes. Example: Believing that people are either excellent in social situations or terrible, without recognizing the large gray area in-between.
- Labeling: attaching a label to yourself after a negative experience Example: Feeling awkward at a party leads to the conclusion: “I’m an awkward person."
- Emotional Reasoning: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.
- Should Statements: You try to motivate yourself with shoulds and shouldn’ts, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. “Musts” and “oughts” are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.
- Disqualifying the positive: You dismiss positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
So, what do you do?
- Know the patterns. Familiarize yourself with the these distorted thinking patterns. Look at them often. Memorize them.
- Recognize distorted thought patterns. Once you know the patterns, you can start to recognize thought patterns that may not be serving you well. Whenever you are feeling depressed or anxious, examine how you got yourself there.
- Challenge your own thinking. After you have learned to recognize your thought patterns that aren't serving you well, learn to challenge those ways of thinking. Ask yourself if you could look at a situation differently. This is even more effective if you have a loved one help you to identify and challenge your distorted thinking patterns.
Beck, J.S. (1995). Cognitive Therapy: Basics and Beyond. Guilford Press.
Burns, M.D. David (1980, 2000). Feeling Good
Burns, M.D., David (1999). The Feeling Good Handbook
I was looking at my list of things to do yesterday wondering how I was going to get everything done. Sometimes I do more than what I can reasonably handle. And I know I'm not alone in feeling the stresses and pressures of daily life. Every day in counseling I see people who are stressed, anxious, nervous, pressured, and burned out. Life can certainly be stressful for all of us.
Slow down and relax for a moment.
We are all seeking solutions to problems in life. But it's important to take the time to recognize stress and the body’s need to relax, even if the pace in your life is not slowing down. Guided meditations and breathing techniques can help give you simple ways to relax, even if for just a few quick minutes in the middle of a busy day.
Count your breaths.
The easiest way to start off when practicing guided relaxation is to count your breaths as you inhale and exhale. You don't need to do a lot. Start with five. After all, our lives are busy. Breathwork that involves inhaling through your nose as deeply as you can, will help your body start to relax. Hold this breath and then let it out slowly through your nose. Your heart rate will start to slow down and your muscles will start to relax. When learning relaxation meditation, remember to have a focus for the meditation, such as on your breathing.
Recognize and dismiss thoughts.
During relaxation meditation, all kinds of thoughts will come to mind. As you learn to recognize these thoughts and then dismiss them, your meditation will go deeper. This is one of the main reasons why you will want to choose a quiet place for meditation where you will not be interrupted by the normal sounds of your life when you are teaching yourself how to to do this. Meditation for beginners can be frustrating when you can’t seem to get it right the first time. Just hang in there.
Stay focused on your breathing.
The key is to stay focused on meditating and to focus on your breathing techniques. The thoughts of frustration are ones that can take over and ruin relaxation methods for you. One great practice in meditation for beginners learning how to relax is to concentrate on the parts of the body. Start with your toes and focus on them as you feel them relax. Then move upward concentrating for a few minutes on each body part and how it relaxes. As you get to your head, your body will be completely relaxed. Ahhhhhh. It feels so good.
If meditation is not for you, don't worry.
The reason I like using The Wild Divine, a biofeedback tool designed to aid in the learning of relaxation and meditation, is because it's easy to sit at the computer and watch "a video game." (It's really not a video game, but it looks like one.) I find The Wild Divine works well with beginners, children, and people who suffer from anxiety. So, if the breathing and meditation techniques aren't helpful for you, use The Wild Divine instead. Biofeedback is a simple, but powerful tool that helps you to communicate with your body. You'll wear finger cuffs which measure your skin temperature and allows you to move through levels of the games. You can watch the demo below and see what I mean. Be well.
For the parents who mourn their children's choices, you will have to learn to re-direct your thoughts. Whether your kid is lost in addictions or has had self-destructive habits, you need to learn to lift yourself out of depression and anxiety.
Do you remember dreaming about your kid—even before birth? Wondering what he or she would be like? You faithfully went through all the stages of growing up with your child, tolerating tantrums, dirty diapers, spider collections, and heartaches. You did everything possible to be a good parent, attending school plays, parent-teacher conferences, play dates, and soccer matches. You spent lots of money on hobbies, activities, violin or karate lessons, the latest clothes, everything. You fell in love with this remarkable little human, knowing full well that your job one day would be to help him or her to grow wings and fly away from you.
When your child became a teen, the thought of your child going away one day didn’t seem quite so terrible. Perhaps this stage helps us to let go as our darling becomes more and more willful. I know it helped me to let go. So, what do you do when your child breaks your heart?
1. Don’t take it personally.
It’s not about you. Your child made choices, just as you did. Perhaps your child blames you, perhaps not. At any rate, you really need to remind yourself that your child made his or her own choices.
2. Connect with your spirituality.
Do you have a belief in a bigger picture? Some people connect through their religious practices. Spirituality for other is volunteerism, connecting with nature, or helping humankind in any way that they can. You get to define it. Talk to spiritual leaders or spiritual practitioners that you respect.
3. What you’re feeling is normal.
You’re grieving. People typically move through stages of grieving as they heal. So whatever emotions you’re feeling—anger, frustration, sadness, depression, guilt—it’s all normal and it’s all part of the process.
4. Detach with love.
Detaching doesn’t mean that you stop caring about your child. It means that you focus more on moving on with your life. Letting go of hopes, dreams, and expectations is painful. Yet, it's very necessary....for all of us.
5. Find peace and joy every day.
As you move on with your life, learn how to make yourself happy. Begin by appreciating the thing that bring you even a small degree of happiness each day. What made you happy in the past? Reconnect with those things.
6. Look for the positives.
One famous therapy assignment is called, “The Five Best Things About….” So, clients learn to focus on the five best things about having cancer, the five best things about having a son who is a drug addict, the five best things about having a daughter who is a lesbian, etc. It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? People often give me an astonished look when I give them this writing assignment. Yet, it really does work. There are glimpses of sunshine in every storm. Learn to look for those glimpses.
Oh, and talk with a therapist if you get stuck. We're here to help, you know!
Transcendental meditation is a relatively new form of meditating in comparison with Yoga and Buddhist meditation. It was developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1957 as a way of developing the mind so that a person can rise above, or “transcend”, beyond the noise and stress of daily life. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was a student of the famous Hindu Guru, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati. From 1958 onwards, he travelled the world teaching his spiritual regeneration and enlightenment.
Transcendental meditation had its beginnings in the Far East and then spread to the western world. After three years of travelling and teaching, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi realized that he needed to train his followers so that they could spread this form of meditation even further.
The first international training course was held in Rishikesh, India in 1961. As more and more people all over the world realized the benefits of this form of meditation, scientists began researching it and by 1970 the first scientific papers were published espousing the technique. Since then there have been hundreds of such documents published, all of which show that transcendental meditation:
• helps to reduce the stress levels in the body leading to overall good health
• helps to reduce anxiety
• helps to increase a person’s creativity
• helps to heighten the intelligence level of the meditator
• brings about self-realization
• could actually help you to live longer
Transcendental meditation does not have any religious affiliation, but it did have a political association in the Natural Law Party. This political party was formed in 1992 with the goal of using the principles of the meditation as a way of finding ways to solve the problems of society – crime, injustice, economics and environmental issues.
A basic transcendental meditation courses are generally expensive and in spite of the high cost, an estimated five million people all over the world have taken these courses. There are also advanced courses available for extra costs. This process of meditation is relatively easy to learn in the seven-step procedure used in the four days of the course. Each day begins with a two hour lecture and the instruction starts with a ceremony performed by the instructor after which the students learn the technique and start practicing.
The principle behind the technique of transcendental meditation is that the source of all thoughts is the deepest level of the subconscious and is far beyond what the normal senses can experience. In this meditation, the practitioner takes one thought or sound and focuses on this so that it can be experienced in the deepest possible way.
The Maharishi compared it to a bubble of water that starts deep in the water and is only visible when it reaches the surface. He said that our thoughts are the same way – they start in the subconscious and rise to the conscious level of the mind.
In January, 2008, the Maharishi retired as the chairman of the transcendental meditation organization. He passed away the following month in Vlodrop, Netherlands, where he had lived for almost 20 years, coordinating his centers of teaching through an organization known as the Global Country of World Peace.
There are many different types of anxiety disorders, each of which requires a specific anxiety treatment. Some of the different types that commonly affect a large number of people include:
• panic disorder
• obsessive-compulsive disorder
• generalized anxiety disorder
• social anxiety
• phobias of different items, situations, and locations
There is no one anxiety treatment that works for all of these types, which is why a health care professional has to assess the client to determine the type of anxiety he/she is suffering from. While the symptoms of anxiety may be the same, this does not mean that the same treatment will be effective for different individuals. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and it is possible that no treatment is needed.
It is quite common for people to become worried or anxious about a specific situation. When they know what they are worried about, do not worry excessively, and recognize the symptoms of anxiety for what they are, they are able to deal with their feelings and symptoms without needing any anxiety treatment from a professional. It is when the anxiety develops into something more serious that has an effect on the client’s quality of life that a person has to seek treatment.
The doctor, health care professional, or therapist discusses the symptoms with the patient and may even interview the family of the patient to get further information. Identifying the cause of the anxiety may help determine the most effective method of treatment. Clients who experience episodes of panic disorder are not typically able to pinpoint anything in particular that triggers these episodes that strike without warning.
Choosing the method of anxiety treatment for such a client is usually done with a consultation between the counselor and the client. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe medication which is used as a short term treatment and the client is reassessed at regular intervals. Clients with OCD--obsessive compulsive disorder (having an uncontrollable need to repeat an action over and over) often need medication. Antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed medications for this type of anxiety.
Clients with OCD also have disturbing thoughts, which are called obsessions. Medication is often prescribed to help the client feel better about different situations and to help control the thoughts. However, the most effective anxiety treatment for this disorder has been cognitive behavior therapy. This treatment helps to retrain the brain to respond in a different manner so that the person no longer feels compelled to repeat certain actions.
Anxiety treatment for generalized anxiety disorder involves teaching the patients techniques of self-help in which they can recognize the symptoms of panic and anxiety and calm themselves, thus reducing the symptoms. The treatment can consist of practicing daily relaxation techniques, making changes to one’s lifestyle and practicing meditation. There are also three types of medication prescribed for this type of anxiety, which include anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants.
Psychological counseling is also used as anxiety treatment for those suffering from social anxiety. At times, depending on how debilitating the disorder is in a patient, antidepressants may be prescribed to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Phobias are usually treated with exposure therapy in which the client is exposed to the source of the fear with increasing frequency until the client is able to cope when presented with the object, situation, or location.
Guest post by Leo Babauta, author of The Power of Less: The 6 Essential Productivity Principals That Will Change Your Life.
Omit Needless Things.
While minimalist aesthetics and products and the minimalist lifestyle appeals to a lot of people, they find it easier to like it than to live it.
Minimalism is something people might strive for, but they don’t know where to start.
I’d start with the advice of William Strunk Jr. in his classic minimalist treatise on writing (quoted above), but apply it to life in general, and everything you do: “Omit needless things.”
I could (and probably should) stop writing there, because that’s really all the advice you need. However, the idea needs a little expanding. Strunk, for example, wrote:
“A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.”
This is the addition to “Omit needless things” that is necessary: not that you have as little as humanly possible, but that every thing you do have counts.
Let’s apply this to various areas of life:
- Possessions: Look around you, at work and home. Is everything you own important? Can you get rid of things, and keep only the things that really matter? Edit vigorously, until you’ve whittled it down to the minimum for the life you want to lead.
- Buying: It’s a waste of time to reduce your possessions if you just buy a bunch more. What’s important is being content with life, and not stuff, and thereby reducing your needs. If you don’t use buying to fulfill your needs, you’ll only really buy what you need. Or maybe you’ll be able to go without money.
- Eating: How much do you really need to eat? Do you need the big plate of chili cheese fries? The fully loaded nachos? All those slices of cakes? All those cream-filled sugary coffees? Often the answer is no. Omit needless food, and make everything you eat count — by making your food nutrient-dense, fiber-dense, healthy and filling.
- Doing: Make everything you do count. Look at your to-do list and see what’s really important. In fact, examine your work life in general and see whether you’re really making every day count. Omit needless activity.
- Goals: Do we really need 101 goals? Can we do with just a few, or even one? By focusing on less, you can really pour yourself into it.
- What you produce: If you produce something, whether it’s writing or music or software or clothing, see if you can simplify and keep it more focused. If you create a website, can you give it one single purpose, with one call to action? Can you do that with your writing or music? Figure out what that purpose is, and edit ruthlessly so that everything that remains counts.
- The rest of life: In anything you do, see if you can apply these principles. There’s no need to get obsessive about it, of course, but it’s always useful to examine what we do, how we do it, and whether we really need to do it. By Leo Babauta, creator of www.zenhabits.com
Purging feels great.
Getting rid of stuff is the best feeling. I've emptied a storage shed this past month and donated several thousand dollars worth of "stuff" to friends, family, and strangers. It has felt like Christmas morning to me. It has taken me a full year of paying to have my stuff stored to realize that I really don't need or want it any more. Is it valuable? Sure. But, it's more valuable to me if someone is actually enjoying it. And it's silly for me to pay each month for stuff that doesn't fit in our place. I've come to some conclusions about simplifying.
Less is more.
Most of us go through a phase in life when we want stuff. More stuff. Bigger stuff. Lots of stuff. Bingeing on the abundance of life. With more stuff comes more responsibility. More paperwork, more commitments, more emails, more anxiety, more appointments, more paperwork. The good life isn't as attractive when your stuff owns you. And who's in charge of your life now?
Having less stuff means that you have more time. It relaxes and calms you to be in a simple environment, free of clutter. Having less means having fewer obligations, fewer commitments, fewer responsibilities to clutter your life.
Simplifying gives you more time.
What would you do if you had more time? Would you visit with friends and family? Pursue your hobbies? Work on a project? The gift of less is that it gives you more time to pursue the things that you want to pursue. And I love that. --Kathie Keeler
Anxiety attacks can range from mild to debilitating and demonstrate themselves in numerous symptoms. For the most part, an anxiety or panic attack brings on an intense feeling of anxiety of worry that causes feelings of fear, physical illness, and discomfort. In some cases there is an event that triggers such an attack, but it is also possible that the trigger is unknown. The episodes can be random and come on instantly.
During the attack the body produces extra hormones to prepare the body for its "fight or flight" action, which is what causes the symptoms to become more profound. A person who suffers from anxiety attacks will tell you that he/she feels like they are having a heart attack or cannot breathe, thus giving them the feeling that they are going to die. It may cause them to try to flee from the area in order to try to escape the feelings of anxiety or panic.
The most common symptoms of such an attack include increased blood pressure and heart rate, which often causes flushing of the skin, chest tightness or pain, profuse sweating, a feeling that you are sick to your stomach or that you may throw up, and a feeling of lightheadedness. In the majority of sufferers, the feeling of chest tightness precipitates an attack, which leads them to think they need to call emergency services.
There are different triggers and causes of anxiety attacks. Heredity plays a part in this and studies have found that panic attacks tend to run in families. At the same time, people with no family history also develop such attacks, so the cause cannot be based on heredity alone. Many panic attacks have been attributed to deficiencies in the diet, such as a deficiency in Vitamin B. Phobias result from anxiety attacks when a person is exposed to a real threat over a long period of time.
The use of caffeine can lead to such attacks, especially during the withdrawal process. Doctors have also found that thyroid problems and anemia lead to feelings of anxiety that can develop into full blown attacks the longer the condition goes undiagnosed and untreated. There are many people who perceive a threat in their everyday life and can actually talk themselves into an anxiety attack when they worry excessively about what might happen if an event occurs.
Traumatic experiences in one’s life can also be a trigger for such an attack. Although those who suffer from anxiety attacks feel as if they are going to die, these feelings are the body’s ways of preventing this from happening. When a trigger occurs, the body starts producing extra adrenaline to prepare it for strenuous physical activity, such as running, which may be needed to ward off the threat. This, in turn, increases the heart rate and breathing rate and increases the amount of perspiration.
When no physical activity occurs or is needed, then these increases in the body cause hyperventilation as the levels of carbon dioxide increase in the heart and lungs. This increase in carbon dioxide is the cause of the feelings of dizziness, nausea, and sensations of numbness in the limbs. Breathing into a paper bag can help alleviate anxiety attacks, although many experts say it can be dangerous. Taking deep breaths from the abdomen helps to slow down the heart rate and bring the blood pressure back to acceptable levels, thus reducing the intensity of the attack.