Author Topic: Dealing With Stress and Anxiety  (Read 2669 times)

Offline Mark Austin

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Dealing With Stress and Anxiety
« on: February 09, 2011, 07:05:57 PM »
Dealing With Stress and Anxiety

What Is Anxiety

Anxiety is a perfectly normal human response to a stressful situation that each of us will experience many times throughout our lives.  There are times when we worry about many different things:  how much money we do or don’t have, is our family safe, is our job secure, will I pass that test… 

When we go to do something new, or that we are concerned about doing like a test or exam, we experience anxiety in its most simple form.

When we are put in a situation that causes us to feel uneasy, our body will actually secrete a hormone called adrenaline.  This is a hangover from our caveman days when we needed to fight or run from the tigers and mammoths.  The adrenalin pumps through our body and is what is responsible for many of the uncomfortable feelings that we experience when confronted with something different or unusual.

There are two ways that we will experience anxiety:
 
1) We will have a psychological response:

•   Worrying or feeling uneasy most of the time ,
•   Problems sleeping,
•   Moody and irritable,
•   Quick tempered,
•   Feeling out of control with your life
•   A sense of doom.

2) We will have a physical response:

•   Rapid heart rate,
•   Rapid Breathing,
•   Feeling your heart beat in your chest,
•   Nausea ,
•   Pains in the chest,

Most of us are more familiar with mild anxiety, that vague feeling of unease and discomfort when faced with a challenging situation.  More serious episodes of anxiety can, and often do, interfere with a person’s everyday management of their life.

Incidents of severe anxiety that occur on a daily basis for 6 months can be classified as an Anxiety Disorder.  There are several conditions classified under the banner of an Anxiety Disorder.  These include phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attacks and a few others.

It is important to recognize if anxiety is taking control of your life.  Anxiety and the associated conditions related to it, can impact on your life and reduce your involvement in schooling, socializing and your workplace.  Your anxiety levels may be making it difficult for you to live a normal life.

There are many things that you can do to take back control of your life.  Some of them are simple ideas that will make a difference in how comfortable you feel on a day to day basis.  Don’t hesitate, do something about your situation now.

Symptoms Of Anxiety

People have often commented that when they are having an anxiety attack, it feels like they are going to die. While this seems like the case, and may seem extremely serious, anxiety attack symptoms are not harmful by themselves.

Many of the symptoms of anxiety are similar to symptoms of other medical  conditions.  Because of this it is important to discuss your symptoms with your health care provider.  They will be able to reassure you that what you are experiencing is stress and anxiety and not something more sinister.

It is also important to understand that symptoms of an anxiety attack are not an indication that you have a more serious medical condition.  The symptoms you experience are, quite simply, a rather dramatic response within your body to being afraid.

When you feel afraid, your body produces a range of hormones.  These hormones are designed to get the body ready for action, to run or to fight, thus it is called the “fight or flight” response.  The hormones react on our body in a way that causes various “symptoms” to develop.  To put it simply, anxiety attack symptoms are simply a physical reaction of your body to a hormonal release within your body. The elevation of these hormones within your body are not harmful. The physical symptoms are simply your body's way of letting you know that the stress hormones within your body are getting high.

Some of the more common anxiety attack symptoms include:

•   A feeling of wanting to run, escape or get out of the way of danger.
•   Confusion
•   Blotches on your skin, blushing
•   Going pale, turning white
•   Cold and hot chills
•   Tightness in your head
•   Dizziness
•   Feeling apart from yourself, as if it is all happening to someone else
•   Feeling sick in the stomach
•   Sweating
•   Pins and needles in fingers and toes
•   Racing heart beat
•   Being able to feel your heart in your chest
•   Need to go to the toilet frequently

This list is certainly not the whole list of symptoms, they are many and varied.  Each of us will respond differently as we each have a different chemical makeup.  Symptoms will vary from person to person.  Just because your body's response is not on the list above, doesn’t mean that you are not suffering from anxiety.  It simply means your body is responding slightly differently to the type and amount of hormone being produced in your body.

Symptoms of an anxiety attack may range from very mild and manageable to severe and quite debilitating, and any combination in between.

The good news is that anxiety attacks are fully manageable.  You are able to  learn how to control your body’s response to anxiety.  Once you have been reassured that you are actually suffering from symptoms of anxiety, there are many self help resources to assist you to manage your condition.

While anxiety attacks can feel like you are losing control of your life, and even feel threatening to you, they are generally not harmful and the symptoms pass when your body calms down.  Learning to manage your symptoms and how your body reacts in different situations will help you reduce the amount of anxiety attacks you will experience in your life.

Anxiety Test

There are many websites, books and magazines that offer to do an Anxiety Test to assess what your current levels of anxiety are.  Perhaps one of the main benefits of doing a test for anxiety is to see how much you are allowing anxiety to impact on your life.  It is often only by stepping back and looking at ourselves that we can get a true picture of how we are performing in life. A little like not seeing the forest for the trees.
 
Perhaps the easiest place to find Anxiety Tests is on the internet. Many websites offer an interactive, click a box, style of questionnaire that allows you to get the results instantly, all in the comfort of your own home.
 
Some of the types of questions you may be asked is to say how many times you have experienced particular events in any given day.  I won’t go into to much detail here; I don’t want to spoil the testing process for you. Suffice to say, the questions are to the point and are designed to help you understand what is happening in your life.

Be aware that the site that you are doing the questionnaire through will, most probably, be able to offer you some solutions to whatever issues are exposed by your test.  Choose your testing place wisely, perhaps the more comprehensive the test is, the more relevant your results will be to your situation.  Be honest with yourself while doing the test.  It would be pointless and a waste of your time if you are not going to answer truthfully.

As with anything in our lives, knowledge is power. The more we know and understand ourselves, the easier it is to control our environment.  Anxiety is something that we all deal with at different times in our lives.  It is important to recognise quickly if anxiety is becoming a problem to us.  This is where the testing comes in.  We can even do the test on a monthly basis to keep in touch with our emotional response to life.  If things are getting out of control for us, we would be able to recognise that, and intervene quickly.

If you actually do one of the tests, and discover that you have high levels of anxiety in your life, don’t despair.  There are some amazing self help tools available to you that can help you manage better and get some control back in your life. I suggest that you do the test and move forward with your life.

Anxiety Symptoms In Women

Women in today’s society are often juggling many roles in their life.  They are mother, partner, lover, chef, teacher, sister… The list goes on.  The pressure of keeping all of these roles under control, and committing enough time to each area of their lives, causes a lot of stress and worry in their life. If the stress and worry continues for a long time without a break, women can, and do, start to experience anxiety on a regular basis. This puts them at risk of developing one of the Anxiety Disorders.
 
During an episode of anxiety your body secretes a hormone called adrenalin.  This prepares you to either stand and fight, or run away.  Fairly primitive isn’t it?   It is one of the areas of our body that hasn’t evolved very much at all. Women tend to have a more volatile hormone mix in their bodies at any given time than what men do.  Women are not only dealing with the adrenalin, but a whole cocktail of stuff depending on what stage of their life or menstrual cycle they are in.   Other things that can impact on the secretion and management of adrenaline are things such as caffeine, alcohol, and other drugs. 

The brain secretes a hormone called serotonin.  Serotonin another important hormone that is responsible for the feeling of being calm and relaxed.  Sometimes the body does not produce enough serotonin to keep everything in balance. When this happens, people are more prone to feeling anxious.

The symptoms of anxiety in women and men are very similar and can be broken down into two main areas.

Physical Symptoms

•   Tightness in chest and perhaps chest pain
•   Indigestion and stomach pain
•   Tingling in hands and feet
•   Feeling cold in hands and feet
•   Uncontrollable tremors
•   Elevated blood pressure
•   Dizziness
•   Muscle cramps
•   Sweaty
•   Cold sweat
•   Changes in appetite
•   Changed sleeping patterns
•   General tiredness.

Psychological Symptoms

•   She may withdraw from friends and family
•   She might become aggressive and moody
•   There may be a fear of her own death
•   She may feel a sense that something bad is going to happen
•   Worry and tension may cause her to lose her ability to concentrate
•   She may feel cut of and alienated from the rest of  society

It is common for most women to be operating in a state of low-grade anxiety most of the time.  Being aware of where their anxiety levels are at any given time, and being prepared to take action to get their anxiety under control, is an important part of any women’s health management strategy.  It is an unfortunate fact that women can become so busy with their lives that they become out of touch with their own feelings and sense of wellbeing.  Their heightened state of anxiety becomes “normal” as they push on with their lives.

If this is what you are doing, at some stage something will break for you.   Make sure you look at your situation before you get to that point.  There are many different methods that you can use to regain control of your life.

Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

When an anxiety attack becomes more frequent and starts to impact negatively in our lives, it can be often classed as an Anxiety Disorder.  It is important to understand that the term “anxiety disorder” is not, in itself, a disease or illness.
 
There are six main categories that fall under the banner of Anxiety disorders there are symptoms that are common to each of the Anxiety Disorders, and symptoms that are unique to each type of disorder.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

People who suffer from GAD will constantly worry about anything and everything in their lives. Interestingly, they can be quite good a “hiding” their worry from others.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms:

•   Feeling of fatigue
•   Sleep problems
•   Moodiness and irritability
•   Nausea
•   Sweating
•   Frightens easily
•   Startles easily
•   Problems concentrating
•   headaches

Often people who are  suffering from GAD also have problems with phobias, panic attacks and sometime Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is made up of two parts: the obsession - the disturbing thoughts and pictures that play constantly in the mind of the suffer; and the compulsion - the things that the suffer has to do over and over to alleviate the tension of the compulsion.

Most Common Obsessions:

•   fear of germs
•   thinking of causing harm to others
•   fear of doing something wrong
•   not fitting in with society
•   a desire to have everything perfect
•   fear of being watched
•   fear of losing a loved one
•   religious or sexual thoughts

An example of a compulsion would be to constantly have to wash their hands in order to free of any germs.  The compulsions are often repetitive or even ritualized in their action.  Trying to stop the action causes great distress and anxiety.

Panic Attack

Panic attacks are perhaps one of the most frightening of the Anxiety Disorders.  People suffering from Panic Attacks can often feel like they are going to die.

Physical symptoms of Panic Attacks:

•   confusion
•   breathlessness
•   numbness in hands and feet
•   dry mouth
•   muscular tension
•   poor concentration
•   chest pain
•   feel heart in chest
•   rapid heart rate

The symptoms are thought to be a classic response to the body’s “fight or flight” hormone release mechanism.

Phobia

Phobias are probably the most common, and the most familiar to us, of the Anxiety Disorders.  A phobia is an intense, irrational and persistant fear of specific situations, things, animals and activities.  The physical response is the same as in intense fear.

Social Anxiety

A person suffering from social anxiety has an intense irrational fear of social situations.   They have a feeling of being judged or watched by others.  Symptoms are similar to those exhibited in a panic attack

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

When a person experiences intense and unreasonable fear in any social situation, it is referred to as social anxiety disorder or social phobia.  This particular phobia is classed as one of the anxiety disorders. 

The underlying key to SAD, or Social Anxiety Disorder,  is the person feeling that they are being watched and judged by others.  They have an intense fear of being embarrassed or humiliated by their own actions.  This fear can be so intense that it interferes with their everyday life.  Their work, school and leisure time is disrupted to a point where they are no longer able to function fully in society.

As with most of the anxiety disorders, the person is aware of thier fear. They understand that their fear is often groundless and excessive.  However, they are unable to control their feelings.

It is possibler for social anxiety to be limited to just one situation such as public speaking, or it can extend across the whole network of social and family interactions.
 
Generally their symptoms can include:

•   Confusion
•   Blotches on their skin, blushing
•   Going pale, turning white
•   Cold and hot chills
•   Tightness in their head
•   Dizziness
•   Feeling apart from themselves, as if it is all happening to someone else
•   Feeling sick in the stomach
•   Sweating
•   Pins and needles in fingers and toes
•   Racing heart beat
•   Being able to feel their heart in their chest
•   Need to go to the toilet frequently

Often it is the symptoms that are being experienced by the person themselves that play a contributing factor in the level of anxiety they are feeling.  People experiencing SAD do not want to make an “exhibition” of themselves in public.  Some of the symptoms that are exhibited in an attack are quite visual and disruptive to the person experiencing the attack. It is the fear associated with their symptoms being able to be seen by others that can often be a problem.

It is interesting to note that Social Anxiety Disorder is one of the few anxiety related conditions that affect both men and women equally. It is believed that about 7% of the population is affected at any given time and it usually begins in childhood or early adolescence.

Often when a person is suffering from Social Anxiety, they have other issues with anxiety such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder.

As with all of the anxiety disorders, treatment is available.  It is important not to suffer any longer.  There are  excellent self-help methods and therapies  available to assist you to make a full recovery and take charge of your life again.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Anxiety is a feeling that we are all familiar with, and have experienced at different times throughout our lives.  Those of us who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder experience intense feelings of anxiety on a daily basis.  The anxiety fills up their lives. Their anxiety becomes classed as chronic; they are constantly worrying about things that the rest of the population do not even consider to be a problem.

People who suffer from GAD are living in a world of doom, disaster and worst possible case scenarios.  If it is possible to worry about it, they will.  Health, family, work, money the environment, world peace all become the focus of their thoughts. They will often wake up in the morning feeling anxious on how to cope for the rest of the day.

Interestingly, people suffering from generalized anxiety disorder are often aware that the situation they are worrying about is not that serious.  In spite of this they are unable to prevent themselves from worrying constantly about it.
 
GAD is present in about 6% of the population; it is more frequent in women than men.  It is often present with other disorders such as depression and substance abuse.  It is generally people who have been suffering from incessant worry for at least 6 months who are diagnosed with GAD.

The symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:

•   Muscle tension
•   Chronic fatigue
•   Headaches
•   Sometimes debilitating pain
•   Hot and cold flushes
•   Sweating for  no reason
•   Dizziness
•   General aches and pains
•   Acute or chronic fatigue
•   Uncontrollable twitching

The anxiety state that most of us experience as a fight or flight response is constantly turned on in a person with GAD.  They feel that they always have to be on high alert for danger.  It has become a situation where worrying about something is their protection against the world.  They have a higher startle reflex than most and have difficulty concentrating on everyday tasks.  There is often a sense of frustration, depression and joylessness in their lives.  Their sleep patterns are often easily disrupted, which gives another reason for them to experience worry and concern.
 
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is often hidden from family and friends.  The person experiencing GAD is able to continue with their everyday lives, often appearing calm and relaxed.  Many would think that they would be the last person to be having problems with anxiety. It is their thoughts and belief systems that are in constant conflict with the world in which they live.
 
The good news is that GAD can be successfully treated with the right help, information and support.  You do not need to suffer alone.  There are many ways that you are able to take control back in your life.  It is possible, with work, to overcome Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

What Is Stress?

Stress can be classified as a pattern of emotional, behavioural, physiological, and cognitive reactions to real or imagined threats in our lives which are thought to be blocking a goal or threatening our wellbeing. Stress is not a direct product of the modern era, although the amount of stimuli that we have to contend with today certainly impacts on our overall stressors.  Stress can be looked on as a behavioural mechanism that our ancestors learnt when confronted with wild animals or enemies in times gone by.  In our current lives, stress still helps us confront or escape from threatening situations.

The stressors, or events, that we have to deal with in our modern world include ones that may be classed as catastrophic- floods and bushfires – or they may be classed as trivial like not being able to find a car park when you are late. Stressors are not always bad.  Some such as athletic events and exams can have a positive effect on our behaviour.  Generally when a stress is experienced for a long period of time, it can then have a negative effect on both the person’s psychological health and physical health.

Stress is probably the most common cause of general illness and disorders in the world today.  Stress has become such a part of our lives that many of us ignore the symptoms and continue on regardless.

Stress will affect everyone at some stage of their life.  For many of us, it will become an integral part of our lives.  Chronic or long term stress can be so serious that it causes ongoing illnesses, affecting our work performance and reducing life expectancy.  The general affects of prolonged everyday stress have been linked to many types of psychological problems and mental health disorders including depression, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and eating disorders.  Chronic Stress has also been linked to poor academic performance, insomnia, nightmares, sexual difficulties, alcohol abuse, and general unhappiness. Of course stress is only one of the many factors contributing to these psychological problems and disorders.  It certainly is worth thinking about the link between stress and long term illness.

Stress, both chronic and acute, is a serious and common problem which seems to catch up with all of us at some time. It is the direct result of either external or internal conflict or pressure.   Irrespective of what causes stress in our lives, stress is an increasing part of our lives.  Once you have recognised that you are suffering from stress overload, there are skills that you can learn to address the problem

Symptoms Of Stress

Stress and anxiety have been with us since the dawn of time.  With the increase in pressures of modern day living, more and more of us are suffering from the negative effects of stress in our day to day life.

When discussing stress it is important to remember that some level of stress is necessary for us to function in our everyday lives.  It helps to motivate us, and we all need motivation to survive and prosper in life.  It is important, however, to develop and maintain a happy balance between too much and too little stress.  Interestingly enough, people who are underperforming and bored with their routine are just as vulnerable to the effects of negative stress as are people in high stress situations.

Generally speaking,  symptoms of stress can be broken down into three categories – Psychological symptoms, Physical symptoms and Emotional Symptoms.  These symptoms are an indication of the exsistance of moderate to severe stress.  The presence of stress would be indicated by a combination of a few symptoms, rather than just one of the symptoms.

Psychological Symptoms of stress include:

Confused thinking, poor decisions, poor attention, disorientation, slowed thinking, memory lapses, forgetfulness, undue daydreaming.

Physical symptoms of stress include:

Tension headaches, dizziness, palpitations, choking sensations, churning in the stomach, vomiting, hand tremor, sweating, rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, nervous diarrhoea, frequency of passing urine and pins and needles in hands.

Emotional Symptoms include:

Undue anxiety, mood swings, low self-esteem, sudden anger, feeling alone, feeling guilty, wanting to hide, easily startled, easily upset, undue concerns.

Stress is one of the most common causes of general illness and disorders in the world today.  It has become that much a part of our everyday life that many of us have learnt to ignore many of the above symptoms and continue on with our lives.  Stress does, however, seem to sneak up on us without warning, often leaving in its wake long term effects on both our physical and emotional wellbeing.

Because we all have different personalities and different life experiences, life events will affect each of us differently, even at different stages in our lives.  It is important to be aware of, and monitor for yourself, how you are feeling at any given time in your life.  It is sometimes very difficult to distinguish between feelings of stress which may be moderate to severe, and depression.  It is often worthwhile visiting your local medical practitioner to discuss appropriate treatment methods with them.

One thing that we can be absolutely sure of, stress has the potential to dramatically affect our emotional wellbeing.  Stress is one condition that does not discriminate against age, race, gender or financial background.  We are all equally susceptible at any stage in our lives.

Communication And Stress

Communication is probably one of the most common activities that we engage in on a daily basis, and yet it is the one which we pay the least attention to.   Misunderstandings between us and our family, friends and work colleagues is probably the most common cause of stress in our lives. These often simple misunderstanding can result in mistrust, confusion and hostility, all of which may have been avoided by clearly communicating with others.

There are a number of ways that we can communicate with each other.  Our communication style can be honest, open, based on trust and well meaning, or it can be manipulative, deceptive and confusing.  The way we communicate is influenced by our own personal needs in any given situation, and our overall perception of the situation we are in.  We often misinterpret and misunderstand what we are hearing because we have our own thoughts happening during the conversation

Sometimes it will be a simple matter of changing the way we interact with others that will cause a significant reduction in the stress levels of both parties.  It is certainly worth looking at ways that you can improve your own communication with others. 

Some simple tips for improving your communication:

•   Listen carefully to people, be interested in what they have to say
•   Look at people when they speak to you, be mindful of your own and their cultural beliefs on eye contact
•   Speak in short clear sentences
•   Allow them, and yourself time for thought
•   Choose the right time and place for what you are wanting to say to them
•   Communicate at a time that they can be receptive to your conversation i.e. avoid discussions when they are tired or preoccupied.
•   Say things the way they are, with respect to their situation

If you are able to follow these basic communication guidelines, you will surely notice a dramatic improvement in the way you perceive others and the way they perceive you.  Practicing the guidelines will help you not only reduce your own stress levels; people around you will feel more confident and comfortable with you as well.

Start practicing some of the tips and see if there is an improvement in the way that you feel over the coming weeks.  They are very simple things to introduce into your everyday life, buy once you start to incorporate them, your life at home and work will become much smoother.  Communication with others is something that we are unable to avoid in our everyday life, it will be better for all if we learn to communicate well with each other.

4 Bodily Reactions To Stress

We often talk about stress and our body’s reactions to it.  Do we really understand what is going on when we experience a stressor in our lives?  Do we know what our body’s response to a stressor is and, more importantly, why it is responding that way?  To start to be able to answer these questions, we need to look at, and hopefully understand, what our four bodily reactions are to stress.
 
Whenever we experience a stressor, or event, our body goes through a whole series of chemical reactions.  Our physical response to a stressor is governed by the autonomic nervous system, which is, in turn controlled by the hypothalamus.  What a lot of us do not understand is that stress is a physical response that is experienced as an emotion.  The form that the physical response takes varies on the nature of the event. This means that in some situations, we may feel frightened and overwhelmed, while in others we feel inspired and exhilarated.

When we experience a stressor our hypothalamus sends a signal to the autonomic nervous system and the pituitary gland, both of these respond by stimulating our bodies organs to change their normal activities in the following way:

1.    Heart rate raises, blood pressure rises, your blood vessels constrict, blood sugar levels rise and blood flow is directed away from your extremities.

2.   Your breathing becomes deeper and faster and air passages dilate, this allows more air to enter your lungs.

3.   Your digestion process stops and you sweat more

4.   Your adrenal glands will secrete adrenaline which in turn stimulates your heart and other organs.

When all of these events take place in our body it means that our body is prepared to deal with the stressor.  When viewed all together, these responses produce a heightened mental and physical state of alertness and readiness for action.  This is often referred to as the “fight or flight” response.

It is interesting to note that whether we choose to confront a stressor or run away from it, our biological response is going to be the same.  This biological response is also the same regardless of the nature of the stressor, whether you are confronted by a man in a dark alley with a gun or going for your driving exam, you body will respond to the stressor the same way by stimulating your body to respond to the stressor.

Panic Attack Disorder

Everyone experiences short periods of anxiety at some stage of their lives. Anxiety is a normal part of our everyday lives. We would not be human if we didn’t experience it. Generally these episodes of anxiety are caused by a stressful or fearful event in our lives.  A sound in the night that we can’t immediately identify, a blare of a horn in traffic, the feeling of forgetting where we put our bag or wallet, all are fairly normal events that we can experience on a daily basis that don’t impact on us for longer than a couple of minutes.

On the other hand, Panic Attacks are episodes of anxiety which are recurring, get worse as time goes on and usually impact on the suffers lifestyle by restricting their activities. It is believed that this disorder affects about 3% of the world’s adult population.

Panic attacks are also referred to as anxiety attacks.

When you are experiencing a panic attack you will often feel an intense episode of fear and impending doom. This feeling is usually experienced along with a desperate need to get away, to escape or to get out of your current situation.

Some of the physical symptoms of a panic attack include:

•   Shortness of breath.
•   Chest pain,
•   Tightness in chest,
•   Feeling smothered,
•   Light headed,
•   Dizzy,
•   Nauseous,
•   Sweating,
•   Heart palpitations,
•   Pins and needles or tingling sensations in your body.

Panic Attack Disorder often starts with one unexplained, random attack of panic or anxiety.  This can often lead to a fear of losing control.  This lack of control over any given situation is seen as a betrayal by your body. It is possible to develop a persistent fear as to why the attack occurred, how you lost control and what it then means for the rest of your life. The attacks start to happen more frequently, and before you know it, you are living a limited restricted lifestyle.
 
It is fortunate that if you suffer from panic attack disorder you do not have to suffer for the rest of your life.  It is possible to treat this condition and anyone is able to beat panic attacks with the right information, help and support.

Perhaps the worst thing that you can do is to not do anything.  It is very rare for a Panic Attack Disorder to go away by itself.  It is a condition that the longer you leave doing something about it, the harder it will be to treat it in the long therm. There are ways that you can regain control of your life.  It is possible to regain control naturally and without medication.  You just need to know where to look.

Phobias

A phobia is an extreme, persistent fear that doesn’t have a rational basis.  Generally it is related to harmless objects or situations.  Ironically, most people who have these phobias understand how unrealistic their fear is.  This understanding only makes them feel more foolish and ashamed and contributes further to their emotional distress. They know logically that there is no reason to have such extreme levels of fear; they simply can’t remove the fear from their lives.

The list of things that people have phobias of is almost endless.  Everything from heights, to spaces, tunnels, dogs, snakes, flying, public speaking, doctors, needles, I could fill a whole page with examples.  Any object, place or thing can be cause for intense anxiety or even a panic attack in some people. If you do a Google search you will find hundreds things that people can have a phobia of.  From Ablutophobia- Fear of washing or bathing to Zoophobia- Fear of animals, and everything in between.

Often phobias make no sense to the people who do not suffer from the phobias at all.  Someone may be frightened of heights, but they are able to skydive.  They have a fear of the dark, but no fear of snakes.  There is no rationality involved in people’s fears and anxieties.

Worldwide it is estimated that around 6% of the population are affected by phobias.  Females are twice as likely to develop a phobia as men. Phobias generally develop during childhood and adolescence. They can develop by being “observed” meaning if someone you are close to has a phobia, you are more likely to develop the same phobia.  Sometimes it can be from a life event, such as falling into a pond or being bitten by a dog.  Often there is no logical explanation at all.

When the fear is easily avoided, people will often not seek treatment. They simply stay away from situations where the feared object may be.  The problem with this approach is that it can often impact negatively on live decisions when they are being made.

When we are discussing phobias we are mostly refering to clinical phobias.  They can be divided into three main categories:

1) Social phobias – a person fears interacting with people and avoids social situation.
2) Specific Phobias – there is an actual trigger to the phobia i.e snakes, spiders, heights, water.
3) Agoraphobia – where a person fears leaving a safe area or the comfort and familiarity of home.

Fortunately there have been some amazing advances in the treatment and control of phobias.  It is entirely possible, with the help of therapists and self help methods, to make the changes in your life that will allow you to live your life to the full.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD

It often seems like our lives are full of trauma.  Watch the news for a few minutes on any given night and you will most probably feel overwhelmed and anxious about what is going on in our world.  The world has become so well linked via technology that we can, and often do, witness catastrophic events as they happen.  The downside to these advances in technology are that we are seeing more and more cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder develop from witnessing these events live on our televisions, computers or Smartphone’s.
 
So when does witnessing these everyday events turn into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

To understand the answer to that question, we firstly need to understand a little about PTSD and its causes.
 
PTSD can happen to anyone, at any age and stage of their life.  It is a condition that can develop after a terrifying event in a person’s life.  After someone has experienced a traumatic event it is quite normal to feel frightened, sad, anxious and distant from the event. For most of us, as time passes, the feelings of being upset, frightened and overwhelmed start to fade and we are able to feel joy in our lives again.

For some, the experience is so overwhelming that they are unable to move on from the event.  They have problems sleeping, are easily startled, they replay the event over and over in their mind.  They can often lose interest in things they used to enjoy, become more irritated with others, aggressive and sometimes even have episodes of violence.   Some people may have recurrent nightmares, dreams and disturbing memories of the event throughout the day.

What sort of events can contribute to someone experiencing PTSD?
 
There is almost an unlimited amount of things that can trigger the development of  a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Things like violent attacks, rape, terrorism, child abuse, serious accidents and natural disasters.  It is important to note that not everyone experiences things the same way.  What is traumatic for one person, may not be for others.  It is very much an individual response and there is no right or wrong. PTSD can also develop if something has threatened the person (either real or imagined) life or the life of someone they love.

It is normal for us to feel frightened, sad, anxious and overwhelmed when faced with a traumatic event.  That is an essential part of who we are as people.  PTSD is generally diagnosed only when your symptoms last for more than a month.  The symptoms generally start to appear within 3 months of the trauma.  It is possible that symptoms may not show up for years after the original event.

There are some excellent self help resources for people experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It is well worth looking around and finding something that fits with what you are comfortable with.  You do not have to suffer any longer.  Help is available.

10 Ways To Relieve Stress

We are all familiar with stress.  Stress is a normal response to everyday life events.  It is certainly believed that a level of stress is necessary to not only function in our day to day life, but that we also need stress to reach our greatest potential.  The most important first step in stress management is being aware of when our stress levels have become unhealthy to us.

Once you have recognised that there is a stress overload in your life you will be able to take appropriate action to introduce stress management strategies.

There are as many ways of reducing stress as there are ways of feeling stressed.  Each of us has a different personality and different physical make up.  Each of us responds to stress differently. Most of us have been able to find what helps us reduce our stress levels and manage our life stresses fairly quickly.  For some it might be a walk along the beach, a motorbike ride or sitting reading a book.  Managing stress can include everything from a full on physical activity to sitting quietly reading or listening to music.

Here is a list of 10 ways to help you reduce your stress levels:

1.   Positive self talk – helps you tap into your inner strengths.

2.   Relaxation – maybe reading, dancing, fishing, give yourself permission to do something you really enjoy every day.

3.   Meditation – you can go to classes, learn from a book or cd  or learn with a friend

4.   Aromatherapy – use the time proven gift of scents to help you unwind and relax

5.   Exercise – some people find that exercising burns off the excess stress hormones.

6.   A balanced lifestyle – look at your work/life balance and make the necessary changes

7.   Dealing with anger – anger management is  a big thing in stress management.  Learn how to control those feelings of anger, and your life will be much smoother.

8.   Manage your drug and alcohol intake – using drugs and alcohol will not change the cause of the stress, it often just creates more stress in your life.

9.   Yoga – is a combination of both meditation and exercise which puts you in tune with your body.

10.   Reflexology - for hundreds of years people have been using massage of specific areas of the feet in many combinations to help with physical and emotional issues.

One of the most important things to remember is to do what works for you.  You are the only one who knows exactly how you are feeling and coping with any given situation.  Understand your own management strategies, use them and know when to get help if your strategies are not working.  You do not have to suffer or feel alone. 


(Note: This is a report that I purchased rights to - it was requested by a forum member)


“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that,
but the really great makes you feel that you, too, can become great.”
~ Mark Twain