Do Panic Attacks Really “Come Out of the Blue?”

Many panic attack sufferers report that panic hits them with no warning at all; others do have a sense of building panic leading up to a full-blown attack.

According to a recent study reported at Science Daily (www.sciencedaily.com), there appears to measurable physiological changes occurring for at least an hour preceding a panic attack.  This would suggest that attacks do not “come out of the blue,” but that sufferers are not aware of the internal changes taking place prior to a panic attack.

From the article:

“A study based on 24-hour monitoring of panic sufferers while they went about their daily activities captured panic attacks as they happened and discovered waves of significant physiological instability for at least 60 minutes before patients’ awareness of the panic attacks, said psychologist Alicia E. Meuret at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.”

To read more, you can follow this link:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110727122651.htm

Bibliotherapy for Anxiety Disorders

Hello, everyone!

I must confess, I’m a “bookaholic!”  I have loved to read all of my life.  LOVE it!

Have you heard the term “bibliotherapy?”  It actually has a few slightly different meanings, but I find it to be a fantastic form of therapy, no matter how defined.

Which is why you’ll see a lot of book recommendations from me (thus the Amazon widgets and book marketplace you’ll notice on this site).  I’ll mention specific books or helpful products from time to time.  (Note: Your purchases do help us maintain our site, so many thanks to you if you should ever buy from these links.)

Having had panic disorder/anxiety, I found–as many do–that reading and re-reading those things that assist us in our healing process can be a godsend.  It is sometimes like having a personal therapist in your hands.  I know I’ve had a lot of “Aha!” moments, while reading, as I gained a better understanding of my experience. So many amazing insights arise….

Additionally, as a publisher of a newsletter on this subject, I was sent gobs of review copies of books in the field of anxiety disorders.  It was great to read each one, and often write about them in the newsletter.

Of course, reading is not enough.  Acting upon that newfound knowledge is what it really takes to see progress.  That knowledge truly is power when put to use.

I should add:  Don’t let seemingly conflicting information confuse and paralyze you!  Just take what feels right to you, and discard the rest—-or even save that other info for a time in the future. There will always be differences in opinions, but only you know what is best for you at any given moment.   Your own discernment is all that is needed.

Be Encouraged!
Pat

Our Genes, Our Chemistry, Our Thoughts …

Over the many years of keeping up with treatment trends and scientific discoveries in the field of anxiety disorders, I’ve found it especially interesting to see all the “newer” attention on the brain.

Initially, when people were told that emotional and/or mental issues were “all in the head,” it was inferred that we could or SHOULD think or feel differently;  there was little basis to assume that physiology or biochemistry was at fault.  There was shame and blame felt.

SO, when science started pointing a finger at faulty chemistry in the brain, many were downright relieved.  ”Aha! See?  It is not my fault!  It’s just like DIABETES!”

Is it that simple?

I don’t think so.  A chunk of info has been left out:  Every thought we think affects our brain chemistry!

We DO have some “control” or some responsibility for what is seen going on in our brains.

Of course, that is oversimplified.  A brain injury, for example, isn’t changed with a simple thought, per se.

However, mood and emotion, and choice in response, is still the mandate of the conscious mind.

I won’t go into more detail here, except to say that I bring this up to point out a new way to think about our situations with anxiety.  We are more than our brain chemistry, and pharmaceuticals are simply NOT the ONLY route to affecting change in it.   Perhaps I can find some interesting links to share in the future, that better explain just how brain chemistry is modulated by our thinking and actions (as opposed to simply assuming pharmaceuticals are the only way).  Just think about a sucking on a lemon slice for a while, and you’ll soon see how your brain just sent a message to your salivary glands to turn on, even though you have no lemon at all….

Of course, medication can be helpful.  I know because I take some myself!

But, in my humble opinion, I must continue to oversee and witness my thoughts and to take great responsibility for my reactions, decisions and even mood.  I can take responsibility for my brain health, too, with proper exercise and very specific nutritional choices. I can make a huge difference in my brain’s activity AND I can override any genetic predisposition.  Genetic expression is not a given.

In any case, what good is shame or blame?  There isn’t a person on the planet who will not come face to face with challenges, insecurities or “issues.”  We are on equal footing, and there is no shame in being anxious, any more than there is shame in having diabetes.

And, to me, it isn’t because of supposed faulty biochemistry that I am off the hook.  It is because I am a human being, experiencing a chance to grow and better myself—–just like everybody else.

Be Encouraged!
Pat

Waiting and Procrastinating?

With so many years behind me now, of being in touch with the community of people experiencing anxiety disorders, I can say with some certainty that most of us prefer an easy route.  So we wait to find one…

And who wouldn’t?

You have every right to decide when, where and how you will approach your dealings with anxiety.

Yet I would humbly suggest:  Don’t wait endlessly, in fear, for the perfect answer or a magic pill.

So many of us have complained that this or that program didn’t “cure” us.

Or we procrastinate, fearing to try ANYTHING!  I understand. It’s scary!

But every step we take–no matter how tiny, no matter how imperfect–brings us closer to healing.

And do we have to be “perfectly cured, perfectly normal” to have a worthwhile life?  After much contemplation, I believe it’s simply not the only goal. You can live a valued life no matter what.

We have to start somewhere.  There are all SORTS of competing products, competing ideas, and possibly confusing data.  It can feel overwhelming and paralyzing.  But I urge you:  START SOMEWHERE!

If money is an issue, then choose wisely.  For example, there are great books and workbooks that can get us going in a wonderful direction (if we are willing to DO the exercises and so forth).  These books, of course, are very cost-effective compared to weekly therapy.

No matter how much money you have to spend, though, remember that you are making an important and worthwhile investment–in YOU.

Give something a try.  Fail, if that should happen.  It’s all learning. Be willing to make mistakes.  Be willing to make progress.  Simply be willing.  Keep trying new things until you find what feels right to you!

Moving forward, if only an inch, feels better than standing still, frozen in fear.  What shall we wait for?

Be Encouraged!
Pat

“I Truly Admire My Dog!”

With him, there are no good nor bad days, there are just “right now” days. Whatever that “right now” is, he’s fully in it. One can view him as simplistic, but life is quite simple, it’s us humans who complicate things. For instance, he is not overly optimistic, nor daft, he just has no clue he is incapable of flying. Evidence of this, each and every single time he spies an evil squirrel up a tree, he will try and fly up that tree. Dogs don’t climb trees. He’s such a toad. He’s being silly right? Except that time he defied gravity, pulled a Keanu move straight from the Matrix, and by goddess, flew up that impossible, no lower branched tree. The tail less squirrel, as we now refer to it, is still a bit peeved bite into more joy. Pun absolutely intended.

Well there missus, we are not dogs so what does this have to do with the price of panicky potatoes? Panic attacks make me believe I cannot fly. They slow me down, they make me stop trying, they never ever live in the present moment. They are running days, weeks, months ahead and focussing on every possible negative scenario from the past. Even positive, wonderful moments from my memory will be portrayed as awful dramas unworthy of even the worst soap opera award.

My dog doesn’t identify with painful memories, nor lack of wings, nor does he worry one whit what tomorrow will bring. He sees things quite clearly. I am here, I am in the now, I am love. Ta da!

In fact he doesn’t identify with egoic thoughts such as: “What if that squirrel comes back next week? What if we run out of treats? You know, I really ought to stop jumping like that, I might break a toe, I remember that time I hurt my paw, I had to spend days in the crate and visited the Poke and Stick doctor…” Nope, none of that.  With him, It’s 1-2-3 FLING in the air. 1-2-3 FLING even higher. Fail? Try again. Fun! Ouch! Get back up. Yay! Unbridled enthusiasm lesson 101.

Short of mastering the Art of Zen Whippetry, I practice taming the present moment, for it is, in fact, all I have. Past is gone, future doesn’t exist, it’s been said a million times, but we don’t adhere to it or else we could easily chuck the panic suit no problem. And, an ugly sweaty orange lycra spandex suit, no less. Identifying with a panic filled thought, making it mine, and adding its repertoire to my inner being, is, quite frankly, fraudulent. It doesn’t belong there, it is not who I am. It lies.

It is not who you are. Repeat it after me. Panic is not who I am.

Yes, I truly admire my dog. He knows who he is, where he is and what he wants. He has wings, he can fly, never a bad hair day and he never ever wears a suit. A cape, perhaps, but never a suit.

Carry on,
Kate

Kate is a guest blogger and proud whippet mom.