Maybe It’s Not All in Your Head

People with anxiety problems are usually split into two camps: One side is convinced that they’re nuts; the other thinks that they have major medical problems that will attack their brain, heart, or some other organ they can’t live without.

And you know what? The second camp might be on to something. But don’t freak out. Although there are medical problems that do in fact cause anxiety, they’re not all incurable nightmares.

For instance…

Thyroid Problems

Most anxious people like to think big in terms of what might be ailing them. You hear anxious people talk a lot about heart attacks, brain cancer, even multiple sclerosis gets tossed around as a possible cause of their anxiety. But there are other, less dramatic, explanations.

A more likely medical cause of anxiety, fatigue, stomach problems, and irritability is hyperthyroidism. The thyroid is a gland in the neck that produces Thyroxine and thyridodine (T4 and T3). Long story short, the thyroid is important because it keeps your body in homeostasis (“balanced” or “stable”).

If the thyroid produces too much (or not enough) hormone then all hell breaks loose. Thyroid problems can lead to many medical issues, including severe anxiety.

So, if you’re the kind of person that has popped pills, seen a shrink, taken up running or gardening, and still feel anxious then you might want to get your thyroid checked by a medical doctor. A simple blood test will tell you if your anxiety problem is really just a hormonal issue.

Not everyone with chronic anxiety has a thyroid problem, but still it’s something to consider getting checked. You might be scared to see a doctor. I get that. You might be too scared to have a check up because of what could be found. I get that too.

But it’s always better to know what is truly going on with you versus playing perpetual head games with yourself.

This is exactly why if you have severe anxiety you need to start whatever treatment plan you have with one single step: A check up. Once you’ve seen a doctor and have been screened for medical problems then you can start working on your real issues.

If you’ve already been screened for “everything” and still can’t find a reason for your anxiety then maybe it’s time to develop a different plan of action . But that’s for another time.

 

 

 

Is It Multiple Sclerosis or Anxiety?

You can find reasons to be anxious about almost anything. You can even become anxious about a disease that affects roughly 300,000 people in the United States. To give you some perspective, that’s less than 1% of the population. Not exactly an epidemic right?

Nonetheless, the fear of developing a serious disease is a common fear for many anxious people. A fear that I think, and deep down you know, isn’t reasonable.

So today I want to explain why your fears are likely overblown when it comes to one disease in particular. That one is multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects the spine and brain. Symptoms of MS include:

multiple scelerosis☀ Tingling

☀ Numbness

☀ Loss of balance

☀ Weakness in limbs

☀ Fatigue

☀ Dizziness

☀ Tremors

☀ Memory loss

Given these symptoms it’s easy to understand why someone experiencing abnormal anxiety could think that they have MS. The fact is that abnormal anxiety and MS do share a lot of the same symptoms. OK, but is that significant? I would argue that it’s not.

How many conditions cause fatigue, memory loss, weakness, dizziness, etc? I don’t know the exact number, but let’s assume it’s in the hundreds.

The truth is that the body only has so many ways of telling you that something is wrong. Whether that’s through pain, numbness, or coughing, the pathways through which your body responds to disease or injury are limited.

As a result, there will be times when you experience symptoms that overlap with other, perhaps lethal, conditions that are scary. Being afraid of scary conditions is normal. Assuming that all symptoms lead to serious illness is not.

Doesn’t having such a strong reaction to all your symptoms get old? It’s exhausting to think that you’re always dying or on the road to serious disability. Let me make a few suggestions so you can avoid this never-ending pattern of worry.

1. First, and most importantly, try not to rely on the internet for answers. The internet is awesome, but it’s a terrible way to determine if you have “something.” You and I don’t have the medical training needed to differentiate between conditions, or the tools needed to confirm your suspicions.

2. When you experience new symptoms wait a little. Most anxiety symptoms disappear within hours, some times a few days, but they come and go rather quickly. The only exception to this would be new or severe chest pain, which should be addressed immediately.

3. If the symptoms don’t go away within a day or two then go to your doctor. Try not to waste time asking everyone you know if you’re going to be alright, or read about obscure medical conditions. Instead, see a doctor and tell them your concerns.

If you truly had MS it’s likely that the symptoms would not just come and go. The “attacks” associated with MS are debilitating. The symptoms can linger and get in the way of normal functioning. In fact, I pulled a quote off the web from a person suffering from MS. They said the following:

“If you had MS you would not get better. You would get worse by the day until you would have no option but to see a doctor. You wouldn’t be able to sit and question if you had it.” — emclane

That’s powerful stuff. Seems to me that there would be no maybe about it. I think that’s true of most serious conditions. If you had MS it would likely impact your life in a significant way. It would also develop into a problem over time. Anxiety symptoms on the other hand are lighting fast.

The onset of anxiety symptoms can often be measured in nanoseconds. The take away lesson from that fact is that if the symptom comes in a hurry, and leaves just as fast, anxiety is a credible suspect. Even if that’s not the case though, stop and think.

Is this symptom(s) worth talking to a doctor about? If not, then it’s not worth spending hours and hours on the web searching for something you won’t find, namely, peace of mind.

I recommend that you spend your time trying to find ways to reduce your stress and anxiety. Although there isn’t a one size fits all solution to abnormal anxiety, there are effective treatment options. That may mean medication in the short-term, therapy, exercise, educating yourself, or all of the above.

Don’t fall victim to this endless abyss. You really don’t need this to get out of hand. Make a plan to get better today, take it one day at a time, and try to be patient as you start your journey toward recovery.

 

Can You File a Disability Claim for Stress or Anxiety?

stress, anxietyIf you’ve ever had a job you hate, supervisors or coworkers that love making your life hell, or if you’ve ever spent Saturday AND Sunday thinking about how bad you didn’t want to go back to work on Monday because of stress and anxiety, then you’ll want to read this entire article.

Before I go on I just want to tell you why I’m even writing about this. I had a reader contact me recently about this issue and she had some concerns about losing work due to severe anxiety.

Over her short working career she’s lost as many as 15 jobs, has been denied disability benefits multiple times and feels like there isn’t anyone advocating for the little guy.

Then it dawned on me that if she has this problem, then it has to be that there are others with the same problem.

I mean, it’s not like I’ve never sat in my cubicle Monday morning watching Microsoft windows load and had a quick day dream about walking out of the office never to be seen again, at least not by those guys anyway.

So, I’m going to tell you what your options are for filing disability because of stress and or anxiety, what to expect, pros and cons, and some other morsels of information.

To kick this off I think we should start by talking a little bit about what qualifies you for disability. And although there are many different kinds of disability coverage, I will cover only a few in this article, since the basics are the same across the board.

Now, since I live in California, I’ll be using my home state as a template, so let me quote part of the California Unemployment Insurance Code that defines what a disability is.

Section 2626 of the California UI code says, in a nutshell, that “Disability is defined as ANY mental or physical illness or injury which prevents you from performing your regular or customary work.”

Moreover, the US National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety defines job stress as, “the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker.”

So under these two definitions stress and anxiety are acknowledged as work related issues, and as such they count as “illnesses” that could qualify someone for disability benefits.

How much they count as a basis for not working is a more complex issue. You have to take into account what state you live in, your work history, medical history, and so on.

In other words, just because you think your job is making your anxiety worse, don’t think for a second that you’ll be watching Jerry Springer anytime soon.

The reality is that in most cases it is hard to get disability benefits because of stress or anxiety. The powers that be have no problem with you breaking some bones and calling out for awhile, but when you try to pull the whole, “I’m too anxious to work thing,” you’ll find more closed doors than welcome mats for sure.

Actually, let me explore this idea with you for a second. I think the reason it’s so hard to get disability for stress, anxiety, depression or any other psych disorder, boils down to two things, and those are the potential for abuse and the puritan work ethic that underpins our entire culture.

With respect to the former, I think that stress and anxiety are conveniently seen as just part of life, so in most cases they want you to just “get over it.” And “they” want it this way not always on moral grounds, but also for practical reasons.

Let’s be honest, a lot of people cheat the system.

The more unscrupulous among us go to a doctor, open up the tear faucet, and get put on disability, many times at taxpayer expense. So, to some degree, they drop the hammer on people looking to get off work due to stress and anxiety because of the semi-subjective nature of emotions like anxiety, the degree to which it can truly immobilize you, and the difficulty of gauging all that.

The bottom-line is that it’s just kinda of hard to tell if someone is faking it, so the hurdles put up to stop you can get tall and numerous. Although I concede that there are people that fake back injuries too, but I digress.

The other thing is that our whole system in America is based on the Puritan work ethic. This ethic is the one that values hard work to an almost lunatic degree. It’s the belief that work is more than work, it is in fact, your moral duty.

This is why America is obsessed with work to the point that when strangers meet they’ll almost always ask, so what do you do? As in, what is your contribution? Dare I say, what is your worth?

This is also why we work, work, and work in America. It’s in the blood. With a culture obsessed with work, imagine for a second what happens when you stop working, or in this case try to stop working?

The music stops and you’re left without a chair for sure.

Ultimately, it’s hard to get disability because of the potential for cheaters to cheat and because it’s generally frowned upon in our culture to not work. The mission isn’t impossible though, so let’s take a look at your options.

Qualifying for benefits

In order to qualify for any type of disability benefits you’ll have to do more than have difficulty doing your job because of stress or anxiety. Here are a few of the basics.

  • You must be unable to do your regular work for a certain amount of consecutive days. In California it is 8 straight days.
  • You must provide written proof by a medical doctor (which includes psychiatrists), or other health care professional like a psychologist, for example, that you are not fit to work.
  • Allow access to your medical records.
  • Must be undergoing treatment for anxiety, stress, depression or whatever you’re claiming. This includes things like taking medication and undergoing therapy.
  • There may be wage and employment requirements.
  • You have to submit a disability claim application. This stuff isn’t automatic!
  • You’ll have to be open to a medical evaluation by the entity you’re trying to get benefits from.
  • You may be subject to an investigation, which may involve the interviewing of family, friends, and co-workers.

Types of Coverage

Not all disability coverage’s are created equal. This is because the type of coverage you have will dictate how much time off you get, how much money you are paid and other particulars of that nature.

State plans - The majority of workers fall under this plan in California. This coverage is paid by deductions from your paycheck. Not sure if you pay into this? Take a look at your pay stub.

In California it would say CASDI, which stands for California State Disability Insurance. Obviously this will vary from state to state, but most working Americans are eligible for this type of coverage.

Voluntary plans – This is a private plan that employers and employee groups can use with approval through your state’s disability office. You can inquire about this coverage through your employer.

Elective coverage – Employers and self-employed people can elect coverage by directly contacting their state disability office.

Short term disability – In this case your employers or your own policy will dictate your coverage. This coverage, like all others, pays a portion of your salary if you become disabled.

You can get it through private insurance companies like Metlife or Aflac by way of your employer. See your human resources department at work for more information. You can also get it through the social security office as well.

FMLA – The Family & Medical Leave Act allows eligible workers to take off up to 12 weeks in any one 12 month period for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a family member, or because of a health issue.

This coverage doesn’t all have to be used all at once either, it can be broken up over time and can even be used to allow for part time work on a temporary basis.

Workers Comp – This is insurance that your employer pays for in the event that you are injured on the job. Workers comp will pay for medical bills, disability payments and retraining benefits.

In most cases it will be difficult to obtain workers comp benefits for stress or anxiety. The state of California for example is notorious for investigating these types of claims vigorously and denying them with just as much gusto.

They could argue with you about whether or not it is your job that is making you panic and so on. Is it the kids? Your spouse?

They will dig, believe me. Actually, in the state of Virginia they laugh at stress or anxiety claims. But in Michigan they do pay on such claims, so you’ve go to do your homework.

SSISupplemental Security Income disability is a federal program that can be used to pay disability benefits due to stress or anxiety. This program is perhaps one of the most hoop intensive programs.

From what I understand, when it comes to workers comp, or SSI, it isn’t unusual for people to acquire the services of an attorney because things can get nasty. In fact, the denial rate for SSI is super high. You may have to try multiple times, and even end up in court to get your benefits.

Appeals

The appeals process is something you have to be aware of because of the high rate of denial for “stress claims.” In most cases, from the date of denial, you’ll be given a set amount of days to submit an appeal.

This should have your case reopened for reexamination.

The bottom-line here is: know your rights!  Just because someone says no the first time means nothing.

Maybe you got a grumpy examiner the first time around, it happens. Also remember that if you win your appeal you could be entitled to retroactive payments.

Pros

The up side to getting disability payments for stress or anxiety is huge. This will give you the time to regroup and recharge your batteries. It will also give you time to get the help that you need.

After all, being on disability is not about watching day time t.v. or shuffling around WalMart when everyone else is at work. It is about making a plan to get better and trying to fulfill that plan to the best of your ability.

Mental stress is a real problem that needs to be addressed. By addressing this problem you can avoid getting sick on a physical level, and avoid all the problems that come with that, like gigantic medical bills. So the break down of perks looks like this if you can make it across all the red tape.

  • More time to let your mind and body recover from the effects of stress.
  • More time to seek help and make a plan of action to maintain your long term health.
  • More time to reevaluate your situation, like your job, unhealthy habits, relationship problems, and lots more.

Working day in and day out can be a grind, a big metallic grinder with shiny blades, in fact. Getting away from such a thing temporarily is not a bad thing.

Cons

Here it is, the bad part. You didn’t think that this would be all easy street right? Well, for starters, if you file for disability it is possible that your life will become an open book.

So you have to ask yourself if you’re ready for that. I mean, if they’re interviewing co-workers about this, it’ll be more than just a cat coming out of a bag… it’ll be more like a tiger. Office gossip, trash talkers, you name it, they will all come out of the woodwork.

You’ll turn into topic numero uno, and possibly be labeled as the office “crazy person.”

Then there is the stigma put on you by management. After months or even years of loyal service, you could become the object of anger or even neglect. Backlash is a real possibility.

And lastly, although in many instances it is illegal, you could lose your job. I’ve personally encountered several people who went on disability only to come back to work to be told that there is a “lack of work,” and voila, no more j.o.b.

Even women that go on maternity leave have to face this sometimes, imagine what they will do to someone who is “just” stressed out. So if you go on disability you can expect:

  • Office rumors and gossip about you
  • Managerial backlash
  • Layoffs
  • Social stigmatization

This isn’t to discourage you, it is just to give you a realistic picture of what it could be like once you get on disability. You have to know that the going won’t always be easy.

Alternatives

When stress and anxiety jump up and bite you, you don’t always have to fold your tent up and go home. You do have a few options that you can explore to avoid disability altogether.

EAP – This stands for Employee Assistance Program, which are programs designed to help employees with personal problems like drug abuse, emotional distress, major life events, financial troubles and work relationships.

This type of program can be linked to your health care plan and may provide counseling services as well. Unfortunately, EAP’s are normally only found at large companies, but if you work at a big company don’t ignore this resource. Talk to someone in your human resources department for more information.

Vacation & Sick Leave – Got some time off coming? Instead of the typical vacation you could try to design a getaway or even a home based self-help program to get back to basics for a few weeks, or if you haven’t already, you can visit your doctor about starting medication and explore other treatment options, all in private.

The truth is that typical vacations can be stressful, and may not even be necessary, considering that maybe all you need is a few days to collect your thoughts and indulge in some R&R. You could also use some of this time with short notice if your employer allows it.

You’d be surprised what taking Thursday, Friday and the weekend off can do to your spirits, good things indeed. I also know that not all of us are lucky enough to have paid time off, but if you have it then use it, and use it wisely.

Conclusion

I believe that mental stress and severe anxiety are debilitating conditions, even if you’re not on the floor convulsing from fear.

It is both wrong and unfair that those of us that suffer from anxiety aren’t given more compassion and patience in the workplace. But in our workaholic culture there is little compassion or patience for those that succumb to the pressures of work.

You may even be called lazy, worthless, and so on if you do, but this is all nonsense. And although this is the state of things, remember that you have every right to use your benefits if the situation calls for it.

With that being said, the system isn’t geared against you. As I’ve outlined above, there are many different ways to escape the pressures of work for awhile if that’s what you need to calm down a little.

It’s true that depending on the coverage you’re trying to use things can get challenging, but it’s not impossible. Also, don’t forget that in some cases you can acquire the services of an attorney and not go it alone, but if you go this route keep the cost in mind.

There is no way that I can make this an exhaustive enough article to even begin to do it justice. My goal was to give you a cursory overview of what disability is, and how it works. I want to leave you with one last tip.

When it comes to ANY claim, but especially disability claims, document EVERYTHING. Medical cost, lost wages, or whatever you can think of related to your claim, save it and make copies.

Now, I know some of you have experience with this. So, join me in helping the AG community with this issue by commenting below.

Resources:

U.S. Department of Labor

Social Security

EDD – California Disability

DAD – Texas Disability

Depart of Health – New York

DDD – Florida Disability

Illinois Health Care

Pennsylvania Department of Labor

Legal Assistance

Disability.gov

Side-note: I couldn’t list all the offices for all 50 states, but you can Google “Your state disability” and find listings that way.

Crisis Care Plan

Please HelpIn my previous post we talked about creating a self care plan and some of the benefits (and importance) of having one.  I hope you were able to come up with a couple of things and plan on actually doing them!  Your self care plan should help bring some joy into your life and give you some tools to deal with panic attacks and anxiety in general.

Today, though, I want to tackle a more difficult subject.  I want to share some info on how to create a crisis care plan and talk a bit about why it’s important to have one, some things that should be in it and provide you with some resources to get one started.

So, before we even get into what a crisis plan is or how you create one we should define what a crisis is.  Simply put, crisis occurs when someone is confronted by events which they don’t have the resources to cope with.

At one time or another you may need more help – from yourself or from others.  Even if you’re not sure what help there is, when to use it, or struggle to accept help from others, knowing that it’s there and how to access it will make it easier for you to accept that help if and when you do need it. That’s where your crisis plan comes in.  A crisis plan is to provide you with even more resources when you need them so you can stabilize and get out of crisis safely when it happens.

One of the more frequent questions about crisis plans are when to use it.  That’s a very individual question with personal answers.  If you wait until your in a state of deep despair you may not recognize the signs of crisis.  The ability to think clearly enough to recognize when you’re on your darkest moment may not come quickly enough for some of us if at all.  That’s because during crisis you’re in a state of mental and emotional despair where judgment becomes impaired.

So rather than relying on noticing how you’re feeling at any given moment to tell you when you’re in crisis there are sure signs that should be red flags and prompt you to use your crisis plan.  Most important of these are thoughts about hurting yourself or others and suicidal ideas with or without a plan.  If you are experiencing any of these types of thoughts or feelings now and you’re not talking to someone about them then you need to get help immediately.  You can call your local suicide prevention line or distress centre, 911, or go to your hospital emergency triage.  Don’t wait, and don’t suffer in silence.

Last year when I went to the hospital I had been having intrusive suicidal thoughts for many months.  Although I didn’t have any plans this should have been my warning that I needed more help and that I should have been talking to someone about them. I dangerously put off going for those several weeks and suffered needlessly in danger of harming myself because I didn’t have a good plan and didn’t recognize the signs of crisis sooner.

Aside from thoughts of harming yourself there are other signs to be aware of.  If it’s been a long time since you experienced any joy or calm relaxation, don’t have a support network to fall back on, or you are doing very little or nothing in your self care plan you may be in crisis.  Sometimes, you may just know or feel that you are in crisis, but don’t wait for this to prompt you.  We are all vulnerable to crisis.  Don’t wait until you are in a state hopeless despair before getting more help.

This is a difficult subject for some.  I know there are some of you out there that stubbornly struggle in silence on their own and refuse to seek help, especially from other people, and even more especially from total strangers.  I myself have long been guilty of this so I know exactly what that’s all about.  But there’s only so much banging your head against a brick wall you can do before things get so out of hand you become a danger to yourself or others.  Everyone has limits to their own suffering and if you’ve ever been there it’s time to build your safety net.  That’s what your crisis plan is all about.

Resources

In Person
Family doctor
Urgent care clinic
Hospital emergency
Government (US, Canada, International) and community not for profit based walk-in clinics and programs

Telephone
International Listings

Email
Samaritans

Was this helpful or have an opinion on this post?  Leave a comment and let me know how I’m doing or make a suggestion for a future post.  If you just want to vent or share something interesting go to our forum here on AnxietyGuru.net and let us know how you’re coping and anything else anxiety related you want to talk about.

 

Exercise Induced Anxiety

In response to my call for help I received a great topic idea from one of my readers. The topic is exercise induced anxiety and whether or not lightheadedness and dizziness are caused by anxiety while exercising or is there something else going on?

If you have spent any time reading this blog or any other online resource about anxiety disorders then you know one of the most common bits of advice given to anxiety sufferers is that they exercise. Sometimes though even something as positive and good for you as exercise can cause problems.

So you walk into the gym with your brand new exercise gear and take a look around. You see that someone has just gotten off the stair master machine so you race over so someone else doesn’t beat you there. You climb on and begin the not so fun process of exercising – so far so good.

After you climb off the stair master you notice something just isn’t right. You’re out of breath, dizzy, lightheaded and the room may even be moving around just a tad. Is this anxiety or is it exercise related?

Let’s look at the connection between exercise and lightheadedness first. Can exercise cause you to feel dizzy and lightheaded? Yes it can.

You don’t have to have an anxiety disorder to feel off balance or dizzy after physically exerting yourself. The process by which this occurs is normal and not anxiety related.

The What, How, and Why

When we physically exert ourselves, a.k.a exercise, there is a lot happening in the body. First things first – your heart muscle will begin to beat faster so it can send blood to the muscles doing all the work. This in turn increases blood flow and causes your blood vessels to expand. This makes it easier for the body to send the needed blood to those hard working muscles.

When you stop exercising the blood circulation slows down because those hard working muscles are not asking for as much oxygen/energy. Although your circulation has been slowed the blood vessels in the body remain expanded and this can cause your blood pressure to fall which may cause dizziness.

Prevention

Although feeling dizzy after a good work out is not unheard of you should take steps to avoid it or at least decrease its prevalence.

There are a few things you can do to lower the occurrence of dizziness after exercising. For starters you need to eat right and keep hydrated. When we work out we are using a great deal of energy and we need to make sure that our bodies are prepared for the job ahead.

This doesn’t mean that you have to eat a huge meal before working out but you definitely want to make sure you eat at least a small snack and drink water before and during your workout.

In addition, make sure that you breathe. When people workout, especially with weights, they tend to hold their breath without knowing it. This is obviously not a good idea because your body needs all the oxygen it can get. You should think of oxygen as your fuel.

How you breathe I don’t think is as important as the pace of your breathing. Whether you breathe through your nose, mouth, or both just make sure it is steady and constant. Remember the idea is to intake oxygen not to get fancy or complicated with your breathing.

Another very important preventative measure is warming up and cooling down. Like I mentioned before when you suddenly stop exercising your blood circulation slows down but your blood vessels are still expanded. If you take the time to warm up and cool down then you give your body a chance to ‘catch up’ with your heart rate. This will allow your body to be more in sync with your heart.

In order to warm up and cool down effectively stretch before and after your workouts.  When you decide that your workout is coming to a close don’t just stop. You have to come to a gradual stop. If your running slow down to a slow jog and then a brisk walk.

If you are on a stair master simply slow the pace down gradually until you feel relaxed and not laboring to breathe. The key is to gradually stop whatever you’re doing over several minutes.

Even if you are planning only a light workout make sure to keep it steady and be certain to keep your comfort level reasonable. Working out does not have to be a punishing experience.

Lastly, be patient. Sometimes we don’t workout for months or even years. It is unrealistic to not exercise on a regular basis and then think that you can jump back into the saddle and workout very hard.

Take your time and build up your bodies stamina. There is no need to rush because your body will do what you want it to do, but you have to give it time to build the necessary strength.

The Anxiety Connection

Now can exercise bring on an anxiety attack or startled nerves? Yes it can. This is because working out causes the body to undergo a lot of the phyiscal changes that occur during a bout of anxiety.

Profuse sweating, uncontrolled breathing, increased heart rate, dizziness, sound familiar? This is especially true if you are new to exercising vigorously. You may feel a little out of control and off balance. This can cause uneasiness and anxiety. But remember over the long term exercise is good for you!

It is normal to feel uneasy when you physically exert yourself. Your memory is tied into your phyiscal symptoms so much that the very fact that your heart rate is at 150 bpm can scare you. You may be making an unconscious connection between how you feel during or after a workout and your past experiences with anxiety – very normal.

As anxiety sufferers we are simply tuned into our bodies much more than the average person. So if anything feels off it becomes a great concern. We have to train ourselves to understand that not every bump is fatal.

Concerns

Being dizzy and lightheaded after a workout is not normal. It may happen from time to time but is should not be a regular occurrence. If you ever feel like you’re about to pass out sit down or lie down. This will balance blood flow and let your body correct itself.

In addition if you ever feel dizzy or lightheaded during a workout this could be a sign of a serious problem. In this case go see your doctor right away.

Remember that if you start to feel discomfort with respect to your balance and orientation to slow down. Scale back what you are doing or cut your workout short for the day.

Moreover if you tend to workout outside be sure to avoid intense heat or cold as these weather conditions can also cause problems.

Conclusion

The reader who asked that this topic be brought up did so because he is a healthy male in his 20’s with this very problem. He could not figure out why this was happening. Like many of us do when concerned about our health he went to his doctor and was given a stress test and found to be in good health.

I also had the exact same experience. I had a couple of workouts that caused me to feel dizzy and uneasy. I was tested for this and that and the doctor simply told me to breathe while I worked out and to not push myself too hard.

In other words, this is all very common. If you have this problem than going to your doctor is a safe bet. In fact if you are experiencing this problem and are afraid or if this problem is stopping you from exercising go and get checked up.

Once the test are run and you are cleared than you can feel confident about exercising safely. Be sure to follow the tips laid out in this post and don’t be afraid to burn off your excess adrenaline.

Fear comes so easily to us but at the same time we have to find a way to accept it. Accept that you’re sometimes fearful, uneasy, and anxious. But don’t accept any limitations on where you can go or what you can do. We can all be brave when we need to be.

ANY_CHARACTER_HERE

Clearance Sale

Stress Busting Food And Activities

To view the diagram used in this screencast in more detail click here .

After having chronic anxiety for sometime you’ll start to notice changes in your health. This is because anxiety creates stress and stress in big doses can effect the functioning of our bodies.

Stress can change our ability to digest food properly, it creates increased stomach acid which leads to GERD and heartburn, blood pressure may be temporarily elevated, your immune system becomes depressed so that you get sick more often and for longer periods of time, it can even increase cholesterol levels.

And there’s more – but I’m sure you get the point. Although anxiety disorders create mental anguish and fear anxiety can also take a toll on your general health. Being aware of this fact is critical since we all need to reduce the effects of this "silent killer".

We all have stress in our lives, but when you have too much stress things can get out of control in a hurry. So you should not only be aware of what stress is and what it can do to you – you should also do things to combat it.

Adding stress reducing foods to our diet is a good start. Here is a short list of foods filled with vitamins and minerals known to reduce stress. Things like zinc, iron, B vitamins, folic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin E can go a long way in toning down your nerves.

Asparagus

Beef

Almonds

Blueberries

Tuna

Fruit

In addition to eating right you also have to act right. Meaning taking part in activities that will lower your mental and physical stress levels. Try some of these activities to help you cope with your daily angst.

Breathing exercises

Yoga

Listening to Music

Exercise

Visualization

Meditation

Sex

There are many ways that you can choose to relief stress but the important thing is not how you do it but that you make an effort. We all have a tendency to put things off until tomorrow or next week. Next thing you know you’ve been telling yourself that you were going to start running this coming weekend for the past year.

Being a procrastinator is no excuse. Modern life is busy, hectic and sometimes crazy but if you really tried you could find sometime during the week to lower your stress levels. This will lower your anxiety levels and make coping with your anxiety manageable.

I have talked about this issue in the past but I don’t see myself dropping this issue any time soon. Even with anxiety at high levels I know people still become complacent and just put up with their condition. Well you can do better than you are doing but it requires work.

Work is not fun and sometimes just plain boring but nonetheless you should not allow a little (or a lot) of work to get in the way of you feeling better.

A word on procrastination by our favorite A Team member Mr. T.

Neurontin Linked to Depression and Suicide

As you search for the magic anti-anxiety elixir you should always take careful note of what you are ingesting. In most cases a so called anxiety busting drug may be of interest to you for obvious reasons but you should always consider the side effects.

One of the fastest ways to get into trouble with anxiety drugs is by using drugs that were not designed to treat anxiety in the first place. This type of drug use is sometimes called “off label ” drug use. In other words you find a drug that was designed to treat kidney infections but you take it because it might help your nerves (so you heard) but this could lead to problems.

One of the best examples of an off label drug is Neurontin . Neurontin (Gabapentin) is a drug that was initially designed to combat seizures in epileptic patients and is also used to treat pain associated with shingles (herpes zoster). At some point however someone figured that Neurontin was also helping their anxiety.

However the Food and Drug Administration or FDA has only approved Neurontin for the treatment of seizures. To date there is no study or series of studies to suggest that it is effective or safe in the treatment of anxiety. Neurontin is an anti-convulsant and not an anxiety medication.

This distinction matters since taking Neurontin can create side effects – side effects which may worsen your anxiety. Now although Neurontin has been used to treat anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression and even restless leg syndrome this doesn’t mean that taking this stuff is a good idea. Why?

There are two core reasons why it’s not advisable or prudent to take Neurontin to treat anxiety. The primary reason for not taking this drug to treat anxiety is related to a Food and Drug Administration report released in January 2008. The report states that people taking Neurontin or other anti epileptic drug have a 50% higher chance of committing or thinking about suicide.

Secondly, Neurontin may increase feelings of depression and increase anxious feelings and thoughts. According to the report “all patients who take anti-epileptic drugs should be closely monitored… for the emergence or worsening of suicidal thoughts or depression”.

Those, I think, are very good reasons not to use this drug for the treatment of anxiety disorder. But just in case you think that suicide and depression can be handled Neurontin may also cause these side effects:

  • paranoia
  • memory loss
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • Viral infections

Treatment induced Neurontin depression can also be problematic for an anxiety sufferer because many times anxiety is also accompanied by depression. So exposing yourself to a drug that could in fact worsen your depression can become dangerous.

The FDA is currently thinking about adding a warning label for suicidal thoughts and behavior on the drugs packaging. All things being equal the FDA alert should be just that – an alert, a warning.

We all sometimes get desperate for relief and seek a silver bullet to help us be our old selves. However that doesn’t mean that we should not do our due diligence when thinking about using a new medication to treat our anxiety.

In addition the off label use of drugs to treat anxiety is also of concern because these drugs are being prescribed for ailments outside the scope of their original purpose. Just because someone is willing to prescribe a drug outside it’s original purpose doesn’t always mean that it is a safe bet.

And although I don’t use drugs to treat my anxiety I also understand that many of you do. You know the generic, brand and scientific names for these drugs. You know the different dosages and retailers, etc. Drug use is just a fact of life for some, but just because you are comfortable with using drugs to treat your anxiety  doesn’t mean that you should put yourself at risk.

Always talk to your doctor about what drugs you are or might want to take and do some homework. Then and only then should you take a chance on a drug that wasn’t meant to heal your nerves.

Does Anxiety Cause High blood Pressure?

When it comes to anxiety and its affect on your health there is more assumption and myth than you could imagine. Some of these myths are based in fact, but of course they’re not entirely accurate. And, although there is a connection between anxiety and blood pressure, that connection has been overblown somewhat.

See, anxiety can increase your blood pressure but it doesn’t do so over long periods of time. In other words, when you feel stressed and anxious your blood pressure does go up as your bloodstream is injected with stress hormones which make your heart work harder at rest.

However, despite the fact that you may have a spike in blood pressure during a panic attack or stressful situation – this doesn’t mean that you’ll have chronically elevated blood pressure because of anxiety alone.

An anxiety attack, or any other stressful event, only has a limited ability to increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Your bodies systems go back to their normal state relatively quickly after the stress has gone away.

If you have chronic high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, it’s likely due to other causes. Things like inactivity, poor diet, family history and even your race can be contributing factors.

But always keep in mind that anxiety can spike your blood pressure in the short-term. For example, in the past when I’d go to my doctor I used to get nervous. My assumption of course was that every time I went there the staff was going to give me some kind of dire diagnosis. For this reason when the nurse took my blood pressure it would sky-rocket to 150/90.

The nurse would wait about five minutes and take the reading again and when she did my blood pressure would come back down to around 125/80 – 120/80 is considered optimal.

So does anxiety increase blood pressure? Yes it does, but on a temporary basis. Does it cause long-term elevation in blood pressure? No it doesn’t.

If you have issues with high blood pressure be sure to speak with your doctor as this condition can lead to serious health problems. This is just another reason why we all need to learn how to relax more and give our bodies a break from the chronic stress we often experience.

To read more about this issue read this related article by Dr. Craig Weber.

Anxiety And Weight Gain

Does Anxiety make you fat? Or a better question might be does the stress related with having chronic anxiety make one gain weight? Well like most things there are at least two schools of thought on the issue and I agree with both.

When researching anything I always suggest looking for various viewpoints. If you go in looking for an answer chances are you’ll find something to reinforce what you thought was the right answer.

Well after looking for two viewpoints on this issue I found them; so let’s review them a little. On the one hand you have those that believe that stress can in fact cause you to gain weight. Primarily this viewpoint holds that stress and anxiety can increase stress hormones in the body, such as cortisol.

Exactly how the cortisol does this remains unexplained – read more about this here. What does make sense about this viewpoint is that stress can lead to eating “comfort foods” like ice cream, donuts, and well you get the picture. In addition it has been said that excessive stress effects fat storage because stress promotes belly fat. Those are two main points of that view, the opposing view would agree with one big exception.

According to another perspective cortisol does not effect weight at all. Stress does effect weight but not on a hormonal level. What stress does do is alter thought patterns and eating habits. Stress than effects our emotions and makes us tired and run down.

This in turn makes us not want to exercise or be active even on a minimal level. That’s not all, we have way too many food options to help us become fat nowadays. Fast food and too much going on makes a good recipe for unhealthy eating and bigger bellies.

Over the past 3 years I have gained 30 pounds and although I know nothing about my stress hormone levels I can say that I am always stressed, short on time, and constantly fatigued. Lately I have been trying to exercise more and eat better but I could improve on both counts.

Of course there are other reasons why we gain weight – genetics and even prescription anti-anxiety drugs come to mind. However the bottom line is that stress can cause weight gain but it’s probably related more to our emotional state and not cortisol. To read more about cortisol and its non effect on your belly click here.

Ultimately we all have a pretty clear notion of what is causing us to gain unwanted weight. Luckily we also have a good idea of what we should do to not gain weight. Exercise, proper diet, relaxation. Very simple but of course hard to do.