In our current society, there are many factors that can cause or contribute to anxiety and depression. Certainly, money and work problems, relationship and family issues, as well as illness and loss of loved ones are major contributors to anxiety and depression. Also, how we feel about ourselves and treat ourselves contribute greatly to how we feel. Even in the worst of times, if we are treating ourselves with compassion instead of self-judgment, we may be able to manage big challenges without anxiety or depression. In addition, being able to turn to an inner source of spiritual guidance and comfort is vital to weathering the hard times.
Food is another major factor that greatly affects how we feel. Most people don’t really notice that what they put into their bodies affects how they feel. They might know that if they “sugar out” they may crash emotionally, or if they drink too much they will feel hungover, but they are often unaware of how other foods may be creating anxiety and depression.
In the over 35 years that I’ve been a counsellor, I have frequently encountered individuals whose anxiety and depression completely cleared up by tuning in to how the food was affecting them.
For example, Marnie discovered that dairy, wheat and sugar kept her up at night. She would wake up at around 3:00 in the morning with intense anxiety, and would be tired and depressed the next day. By experimenting around and cutting out different foods, she discovered that she slept fine when she stopped eating dairy, wheat and sugar. All her nighttime anxiety vanished and she was no longer tired and depressed.
Joel discovered that his sleeplessness and resulting depression was a direct result of caffeine from coffee, tea, chocolate and soft drinks. He had not realized how much caffeine he was actually consuming until I suggested that he cut out all caffeine and see what happened to his sleep. After a week of headaches from caffeine withdrawal, he was sleeping soundly for the first time in years and no longer felt depressed.
Adrienne discovered that her feelings of anxiety and depression, that had been with her most of her life, disappeared after she started eating only organic foods. Her system was so sensitive to the pesticides and food additives in non-organic food that she could not eat them without feeling anxious and depressed.
Alex, who periodically struggled with depression, inadvertently discovered that drinking raw milk from an organic dairy had a completely different effect on him than pasteurized milk. He was visiting Los Angeles and went into a health food store where he discovered that he could buy raw dairy products (which are outlawed in most other states). He found that raw milk gave him more energy and elevated his mood. He also found that, while he was lactose intolerant with pasteurized milk, he had no problems with raw milk. Now he has his raw milk, cheese, and butter shipped frozen to Wyoming and no longer struggles with depression.
Over and over again my clients, who have chosen to tune into how the food was affecting them, have discovered how much their feelings were being affected by food. Many of my clients have learned that even a little sugar brings them down. Sugar consumes so many vital nutrients as the body attempts to process it that it can actually be considered a poison. How many people really take “Sugar Blues” seriously?
A hundred years ago, when people naturally ate non-processed and organically grown food, they were getting all the nutrients they needed. Now, most fruits, vegetables and grains are being grown on devitalized soil and over-processed on top of it. Cows and sheep that were once grass-fed are being fed pesticide-sprayed grains and given hormones to fatten them up. As a result, much of our food not only contains little nutrients but has many toxins as well. Without the vitamins, minerals, and many other factors that natural, organic and grass-fed food contains, many people suffer deficiencies that can cause anxiety and depression, as well as many other illnesses.
I recently found out that the fat of raw organic dairy products, especially butter, contains natural anti-inflammatory nutrients. I wonder if the huge rise in arthritis and other inflammatory conditions is related to the pasteurizing of milk. Any inflammatory condition can certainly contribute to anxiety and depression.
Food is certainly a major factor in the rise of anxiety, depression and illness. Only you can do something about this by learning how you are being affected by the foods you eat.
Anxiety is a bit of a common phenomenon in today’s stress-filled world. Most people have already experienced the sudden palpitations, the sweaty palms, and that overwhelming sense of dread. People inherently understand the power that fear holds over them and can sometimes even recognize when fear becomes too much for them. Fear is often said to trigger sudden battles with anxiety in even the toughest and most hardened minds. This is because fear grips everyone and is as clearly defined and universal as the concept of death. However, what most people don’t seem to understand is that fear is not the sole trigger of an attack, although it always plays a role. There are disorders out there, mostly of the psychological variety, that can also trigger an attack.
Interestingly, statistics show that acne is a powerful trigger for anxiety, particularly among teenagers and young adults. In fact, it is cited as being among the most common sources of anxiety in the US and certain European countries. The causes for this reaction are readily obvious to the teenagers themselves, but can sometimes be elusive to adults. The teen years are an age where social development and peer acceptance tend to play prominent roles in people’s psychology. Acne and other skin infections can become a hindrance to achieving the above goals, putting them in a precarious position along the social ladder. This is considered to be among the most prevalent problems that cause teen anxiety. aside from situations involving immediate family.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has also been known to trigger anxiety, among other potential side effects. This is particularly true if the object of the obsession involves either harming others or being harmed personally. Being obsessed with avoiding physical harm can often make someone extremely anxious about being placed in any environment that they perceive to be potentially hazardous. It should be painfully clear just how dangerous a person who is obsessed with inflicting pain upon other people would be in any society, even though it usually causes conflicts with the cultural mores that the person has been raised with. In this case, the anxiety often stems from the fact that the desire to inflict pain exists, acting as a subtle difference between these people and actual sadists.
Weight disorders generally stem from unfounded fear and anxiety and are often capable of generating enough of the latter on their own to keep the cycle going. However, in most cases, fear is the root of the disorder, along with peer pressure and poor self-perception, but not necessarily one of the potential psychological complications.
Phobias can also cause someone to feel anxious and overly worried, particularly when around the object of the phobia or threatened with it. According to some studies, some specific phobias are more effective at this than others, particularly if the object of the phobia is a commonplace occurrence, person, or item. Cases, where the phobia stemmed from a traumatic experience during the formative years, are also very powerful at causing a person to develop anxious feelings, even in the long-term. Agoraphobia and claustrophobia are known to have this sort of effect on certain individuals.
Not everyone can comfortably speak or perform in front of a lot of people. Some may find it quite a frightening experience that they want to avoid at all costs. Performance anxiety, also known as stage fright, is characterized by intense anxiety and paranoia that occurs before, during, and after a performance.
Performance anxiety affects even the most seasoned professional speaker or performer. You can just imagine what goes on inside a person’s head prior and during a job interview, a public speaking engagement, a class or job presentation, a musical performance, or any situation or activity that would put you in front of an audience.
While some people have the ability and presence of mind to remain cool and composed, most of us are geniuses as far as coming up with all the negative thoughts that may happen before and/or during a performance.
This debilitating fear may depend on the context of the performance. A presenter’s level of anxiety may vary with respect to the size and status of the audience, the novelty of the situation, whether it is an individual performance, or as part of the group, the cultural context of the situation, and on the importance of the evaluation. The larger the number of people watching you, the more nervous you may become. A person may be less nervous speaking or performing in front of a group of students than a gathering of important officials. In the same way, during interviews, the interviewee tends to get more nervous with the general manager than the secretary. Speaking in front of a small church congregation you belong may not elicit intense anxiety as in a business conference presentation.
It is important to distinguish at least three major ways in which people can experience performance anxiety since each may actually require different types of “remedies.”
1. Commonly experienced by most people is an intense, but transient anxious, fluttery sensations, that typically precede a performance but disappear shortly after the performance begins. Indicates a readiness to perform, and becomes a source of energy that improves the performance.
2.“Reactive anxiety” occurs as a result of insufficient preparation, lack of performance skills or experience on the part of the presenter. Usually best resolved through practice, preparation, and the repeated exposure to the experience of public speaking/performance.
3. The hallmark of performance anxiety is usually associated with signs of physical and emotional discomfort such as sweating, shaking, voice quivering, rapid heart beating, feelings of fear, and panic. These intense sensations come in waves before and during a performance, subsiding, but reappearing again, being appraised as debilitating to the speaker or performer. A common thread that usually runs through these experiences is a fear of negative evaluation by the speaker. What causes the speaker’s anxiety is the belief that he or she is being negatively evaluated.
To help control the anxiety this belief must be altered. Typically this is done by asking the performer to:
Accept the fear
Focus and relate to the audience
Identify and challenge your fearful thoughts
Remember to breathe
Be passionate about your topic/performance and share it with others
Be clear that your talk/performance matters to you
You may discover that fear still remains, but you notice that you can handle it, as you are beginning to get the sense of enjoyment from your performance and from connecting with others.
The top reasons for psychological consultations to doctors and medical experts today. Causes or factors contributing to this condition vary according to the nature or type of anxiety disorder. For one to understand the many causes of anxiety, it is important to know that each type of anxiety disorder differs in noted factors or causes and the causes may also vary in a case to case basis.
There are instances when a person who is suffering from an extreme case of anxiety is not aware of his condition. He tends to have sudden agitation and nervousness attacks. When this happens, he will eventually lose concentration in what he is doing, thus, resulting in less productivity and control of life.
Although cases of anxiety disorders differ from one person to another, the root patterns of each patient are somewhat alike, particularly in anxiety-prone families. Studies show that the majority of people with anxiety disorders also have one or two family members who also suffer from anxiety.
Anxiety indeed has numerous causes or roots, and each patient’s condition is notably unique. With this, it is best to know what causes anxiety in order for one to treat it properly. This will ready the sufferers on how to manage anxiety attacks next time they trigger.
Factors and causes of anxiety
Psychological disorders associated with anxiety have a number of factors that are known to contribute to the intensity and degree of these conditions. There is really no single factor that can trigger anxiety. The factors contributing to the development of anxiety cases often impact or complement one another.
The following are the must-know causes or factors of anxiety disorders:
1. Personality traits
Individuals who are diagnosed to have anxiety disorders always alienate themselves to other people as they regard society as a threatening place. Majority of those with serious cases of anxiety have low coping skills and poor self-esteem.
Least known to many, the environment also contributes to the development of anxiety conditions. Certain painful and trying events in a person’s life can definitely trigger chronic anxiety. These events can be a separation from loved ones, money problems, and other personal issues involving family life or work.
3. Brain complexity
Studies claim that certain imbalances and abnormalities in a person’s brain chemistry make a person more susceptible to acquire anxiety disorders. With this, the majority of prescribed medications for anxiety aim to remedy such chemical imbalances in the brain.
4. Traumatic experiences
Anxiety is also known to develop due to a person’s traumatic life experiences. Examples of traumatic life events are marital separation, abuse, and death. Traumatic experiences can be very damaging and depressing for an individual, thus, resulting in the development of anxiety disorders.
Studies claim that anxiety disorders are hereditary. Those who are diagnosed with extreme anxiety conditions oftentimes have history cases of mood disorders, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders. People who are also innately vulnerable to stress are the ones known to have anxiety disorders.
Being lonely is a normal part of our everyday lives. We get sad when we fail in our exams, when we’re rejected by the person we love, or when someone very close to us passes away. Depression, however, could be more fatal than just plain loneliness. It could render life-long consequences that could ruin your self-esteem, health, and well-being.
Here are some superb tips to conquer the melancholy mood and get the most bliss out of your daily activities.
1) Get Enough Light and Sunshine.
Lack of exposure to sunlight is responsible for the secretion of the hormone melatonin, which could trigger a dispirited mood and a lethargic condition.
Melatonin is only produced in the dark. It lowers body temperature and makes you feel sluggish. If you are always cooped up in your room (with the curtains closed), it would be difficult to restrain yourself from staying in bed.
This is the reason why many people are suffering from depression much more often in winter than in the other seasons. It’s because the nights are longer.
If you can’t afford to get some sunshine, you can always lighten up your room with brighter lights. Have lunch outside the office. Take frequent walks instead of driving your car over short distances.
2) Get Busy. Get Inspired.
You’ll be more likely to overcome any feeling of depression if you are too busy to notice it. Live a life full of inspired activities.
Do the things you love. If you’re a little short on cash, you could engage in simple stuff like taking a leisurely stroll in the park, playing sports, reading books, or engaging in any activity that you have passion for and would love to pursue.
Set a goal – a meaningful purpose in life. No matter how difficult or discouraging life can be, remain firm and have an unshakable belief that you are capable of doing anything you desire. With this kind of positive attitude, you will attain a cheerful disposition to beat the blues.
3) Take a Break.
I mean it.
Listen to soothing music. Soak in a nice warm bath. Ask one of your close friends to massage you. Take a break from your stressful workload and spend the day just goofing around. In other words, have fun.
4) Eat Right and Stay Fit.
Avoid foods with lots of sugar, caffeine, or alcohol. Sugar and caffeine may give you a brief moment of energy; but they would later bring about anxiety, tension, and internal problems. Alcohol is a depressant. Many people would drink alcohol to “forget their problems.” They’re just aggravating their conditions in the process.
Exercising regularly is a vital depression buster because it allows your body to produce more endorphins than usual. Endorphins are sometimes called “the happy chemicals” because of their stress-reducing and happiness-inducing properties.
5) Get a Social Life.
No man is an island. Your circle of friends are there to give you moral support. Spending time and engaging in worthwhile activities with them could give you a very satisfying feeling. Nothing feels better than having group support.
Never underestimate the power of touch. Doesn’t it feel so good when someone pats you on the back and gives you words of encouragement during your most challenging times? Hug or embrace someone today. You’ll never know when you have saved another life.
Get intimate. Establish close ties with your family and friends. The love and care expressed by others could tremendously boost your immune system and fend off illnesses. Best of all, you’ll live a more secure and happy life.
Most of us, if not all of us have felt nervous at one time or another in our lives. Public speaking is something that makes most of us nervous. All those eyes are staring straight at us. That’s a lot of attention thrust our way. We feel the butterflies take flight, and they usually don’t land until we’re done with our speech. Aren’t we glad we’re done! Nerves and other feelings like feeling scared are natural and very necessary. Ever wonder how you’d react or what would happen to you if you didn’t respond to a dog running at you? How about beginning to crossing the road only to hear the roar of a car’s engine in your left ear. Run! Definitely run!
For some of us, these feelings are all too familiar and often they occur more frequently and triggered by situations that are less fear-provoking than those, and others like it, mentioned above. I’ve felt that rush of adrenaline pumping through my heart as I turned into the street the underground station is on and the view of it made my heart beat a thousand to every second. I’d be gripped by the thought of seeing my desk, or my boss, which I knew was coming sooner than I wanted. They’d find out soon enough: I’m just average. Nothing special here. I’d spend the entire journey on the underground screaming inside myself. Looking at the other passengers, silently screaming ‘Have you all gone crazy!?’. Entirely and utterly unable to understand why anyone would not see it my way. This is my anxiety. What’s yours?
Irrational fear is the right way of describing it. Admittedly, I was in the middle of a breakdown that eventually pressed the Pause button on my life for a few years after. But this a good example of anxiety. Irrational fear that gets in the way of leading a healthy life: that’s anxiety.
I learnt a lot about anxiety in the months that followed. It was all new to me. The education, indeed not the feelings and symptoms. Often, it left me speechless and bewildered. All those symptoms and I didn’t have a clue. But what are those symptoms? Well, thinking that everything will result in the worst possible outcome is the most upsetting symptom (for myself at least). You are mentally consumed with it. It breaks your concentration, erases your short-term memory and strips your patience down to almost nothing. It can stop you from falling asleep. Sleep anxiety was something I didn’t recognise. I simply thought I had developed insomnia on top of all my other problems. The more, the merrier? Not quite. I had become severely depressed and obsessional — two more symptoms associated with anxiety.
All these mental or cognitive symptoms affect our body function. I’d feel like I was losing my breath, no matter how hard I tried to relax or perform deep-breathing exercises. If I thought about it, which of course I did, my heart would start to race, and the adrenaline would flow through me. You can completely lose your appetite, feel the need to urinate, develop headaches more often and for me consistently, the dizziness was unbearable. I thought I had low blood pressure. My doctor thought I might have a problem with my heart. Going for an ECG will scare the life out of you if nothing else. Pins and needles are also symptoms of anxiety. I used to get them in my upper arms which would scream ‘Heart Attack!’ to me, but somehow I would push that thought away.’
We don’t all develop the same symptoms, and it is quite rare that someone would present with all the symptoms as a textbook case. Some of the symptoms I didn’t develop were muscle aches and tremors, excessive thirst and stomach upsets. Women can extend painful periods or even none at all. We can all lose response to sexual stimulation too.
If you think you suffer from anxiety and feel it is getting in the way of you leading a healthy life from day to day, please consult your doctor or another physician. Help is at hand, and good Cognitive Behaviour Therapy can be very useful in relieving the mental stresses that take over our minds when anxiety strikes.