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Monday, March 19, 2018

Anxiety: It's All in Your Head (Or Is it?)

I wrote this as an article for a newspaper and got so much great feedback that I decided to share it on my blog. I would love to get your feedback, too!

AnxietyIt's All in Your Head (Or Is it?)   

Your heart is pounding, your chest feels tight and it's hard to breatheMaybe you're sick. No, that's not it. Are you having a heart attackIt certainly seems feasible. But that's not it either.  Feeling nauseous and dizzy are soon to follow. You feel as though the world is closing in on you.  You try to remain calm and peaceful on the outside, but inside you feel unstable and shaken.  
       So, what's causing all these changes to happen to your body and mind? It's that dreaded word that sometimes is even hard to say because just thinking about it, can bring it on.                  
                      That word seems to take on a life of its own, which can be scary to think about. 
But talking about it is helpful!

What are some symptoms of anxiety? 

    • Nausea 
    • Tension in the body 
    • Rapid Breathing 
    • Chest tightness 
    • Tics 
    • Stomach Upset                               
    • Headaches 
    • Fear of Impending Doom 
     According to the National Institute of Mental Health(NIMH), anxiety can affect everyone from children to adults at some point in their lives. Some people develop a more serious form of anxiety, which can be classified as an anxiety disorder. It is also a normal reaction to stress and can be beneficial in some situations. However, anxiety can become excessive.

 While the person suffering may realize it is excessive, they may have difficulty controlling it and it may negatively affect their day-to-day living. 

An anxiety disorder is a condition in which you experience frequent, powerful bouts of anxiety that interfere with your life. This type of anxiety can get in the way of family, career, and social obligations. 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. Some people with an anxiety disorder may also suffer from depression.  
 Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder 

      Trouble sleeping or concentrating 
  • Fear of leaving the house  
  • Social withdrawal 
  • Depression 
  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Disorientation 
  • Gastrointestinal disorders 
  • Headaches 
  • Chronic illness 
  • Anger

The above are several of the signs or symptoms of an anxiety disorder, among others. Keep in mind that not everyone with an anxiety disorder shows all of these symptoms. 

There are also different types of anxiety disorders, including: 

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder 
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder 
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 
  • Phobias 
  • Panic Disorders 

         For a full list, visit www.nami.org or www.nimh.nih.gov. 

What causes anxiety or an anxiety disorder? 

Too little serotonin has been linked through research to depressed mood as well as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more,” said Michelle Nicopolis, a licensed psychologist at Cuyahoga Community College. “It’s a delicate balance in our brains to biochemically produce serotonin and then hope it gets released and reabsorbed at proper rates to achieve a balanced mood and other functioning. 
Many researchers agree that serotonin, one of the brains happy chemicalsplays a huge role in anxiety and mood. (NIMH)
Genetics and the environment also play an integral role, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness. 

Other research suggests that the amygdala in our brains may not be receiving the correct amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine.  The amygdala is in charge of our body's fight or flight response. When you think of your amygdala, think of the word fear. Its the reason we may be afraid of certain things or situations, and it controls our survival instincts. 

How can we alleviate anxiety? 

  • Stay organized  
  • Take deep breaths 
  • Plan ahead  
  • Avoid rushing around at the last minute; this can worsen anxiety. 
  • Limit consumption of caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine 
  • Drink more water 
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet 
  • The gut-brain connection is real. Troubled intestines can send signals to your brain and vice versa. 
  • Foods to avoid: Dairy (when eaten in excess, it can increase the body’s adrenaline levels and contribute to anxiety), refined sugar (eating too much can increase anxiety). 
  • ⇼Get plenty of sleep 
  • ⇼Exercise 
  • When exercising, our body releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers. 
  • Learn relaxation techniques 
  • ⇼Practice mindfulness 
  • Be aware of whats going on around you. Don’t get overwhelmed by what’s in your head. 
  • When done correctly, this can actually change the function of your brain to make it work better. 
  • Take Vitamins 
  • When you are stressed and anxious, your body depletes some B vitamins, as well as vitamin C. So, taking those vitamins will be beneficial. 
  • Vitamin C is also good for helping your body manufacture the enzyme DAO (diamine oxidase), which breaks down histamine. For some, too much histamine = anxiety.  Magnesium is also helpful! ( the spray oil or lotion for immediate absorption.**Check out my blog on vitamin supplementation and how I know that it actually works! **
  • Talk to your doctor to find out which supplements may be right for you. 
If you have tried these tips and don’t feel better, talk to someone. Don't feel embarrassed or ashamed about needing help. Drop the stereotypes and focus on yourself. There are over 40 million adults in the United States who suffer from anxiety. Don’t be afraid to let those around you know what’s going on and get the help you need. 

Is anxiety all in your head? Somehow, that sounds like an implication that it’s not real and you've made it up, or you’re just exaggerating. I believe the statement is true, but the implication is not. Anxiety “is in our heads” because it takes over our brains. The brain is so important for many reasons, one being that it makeus and our bodies move. We need our brains and bodies to work together to feel healthy.

                                          You can be happy again!   
If you or someone you know is suffering, there is help available. 
                     Don’t Stand Alone. You Are Not Alone. 

If you or someone you know has overcome a mental illness, let me know! I’d love to 
inspire others with your story. Send me a message at:  info@iambeingme.com

Article Reference
www.nami.org and https://www.nimh.nih.gov/  

Please visit them for more information on mental health and anxiety. 

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