Tuesday, October 13, 2015

# Anxiety is a Liar-Kill it Before it Destroys Your Life.

Anxiety does strange things to people.A hitherto well-functioning individual begins to feel powerless at the mercy of his thoughts.He has misgivings about his health,or his ability to succeed at upcoming events like an exam,an interview,a meeting,or even to efficiently conduct his day to day activities.Or he may fret endlessly about the health and safety of his loved ones.Whatever be the subject of his misgivings,they are mostly baseless  or  at least disproportionate to reality.

But they cause real damage--to both mental and physical health.If not checked at the beginning,this kind of negative thinking becomes a habit--with the brain.The more we think along these lines the more entrenched it becomes,so that anything and everything can give us jitters.

The roller-coaster of anxiety goes through four stages.
1-Thoughts
2-Emotions
3-Sensations
4-Reactions.
                               Emotions
It is a well known fact that thoughts cause emotions.A preponderance of ominous thoughts gives rise to fears.There is a pervasive feeling of impending doom-as if something terrible is going to happen.Then,there are mammoth self doubts.We doubt if we will be able to drive a car,purchase groceries,attend to our official duties or even interact with friends.Each day begins with dubiety about our proficiency and the night starts with fears of not getting enough sleep.

Naturally,this is very upsetting.We realize that our fears are groundless,our personality is deteriorating, but we are unable to stem the slide.We are jealous of those we see gadding about,free of any hassle.A feeling of inferiority and incompetence takes hold of our mind.Happiness is a distant dream.We remain miserable most of the time and pay scant attention to anything else but our own worries.
                                Sensations
When the mind is tense and apprehensive,it has an adverse effect on the body too.An anxious person experiences many physical symptoms.According to:-
http://patient.info/health/psychosomatic-disorders
This is how mind affects physical diseases:--

"It is well known that a turmulous mind can cause physical symptoms.For example,when we are afraid or anxious we may develop:
  • A fast heart rate
  • A thumping heart
  • Feeling sick (nauseated)
  • Shaking (tremor)
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • A knot in the stomach
  • Fast breathing
These physical symptoms are due to increased activity of nervous impulses sent from the brain to various parts of the body and to the release of adrenaline (epinephrine) into the bloodstream when we are anxious."
                               Reactions
The cumulative effect of our emotions plus these sensations impels us to take counteractive measures.If we are scared of being killed in a road accident we will stop driving a car,crossing the road,or even stirring out of the house.A fear of tripping and falling could force us to give up all physical activity.And if we are chagrined because of a marked deterioration in our looks and personality,we may avoid going out and meeting people.Fears about our loved ones may compel us to enjoin upon them unreasonable controls and regulations.

No doubt all these measures are intended to curb anxiety but they have the opposite effect.The result is a stilted,inactive,asocial lifestyle which adversely affects our sleep,appetite,diet,weight and a general feeling of well-being.The worst part is that it isolates us from others,which itself is a common cause of depression.

In this way our reactions intensify our anxiety and the whole cycle of thoughts>emotions>sensations>reactions rolls out once again-but at a higher pitch.Anxiety is self perpetuating and treacherous.

What makes matters worse is that catastrophic thoughts deplete feel-good chemicals like serotonin,dopamine,oxytocin and endorphins while they boost stress hormones--adrenalin and     cortisol--which make us tense and nervy.We feel physically and mentally exhausted.The physical symptoms are interpreted as signs of a horrible disease.The end result of all this   is that we feel helpless and hopeless in the  face of mounting anxiety.

If you feel that your anxiety is getting out of hand,if it has brought all your activities to a halt;it means that your own efforts to curb anxiety are insufficient and you need professional help.In such cases it is best to consult a psychiatrist.Psychiatric medicines will grant you a good night's sleep so that the next day you will wake up fresh.Your anxiety levels will decline due to the release of more happy hormones.As your thoughts improve your emotions too,will follow suit.Many of the irksome sensations will subside.You will be able to take up some of the daily tasks which you had shunned till now.

Once your mood stabilizes and you are sure that you can now carry forward this improvement through your own counteractive measures;you can phase out those medicines with your doctor's help.Sudden stoppage of psychiatric medicine can cause withdrawal symptoms.No doubt these medicines help to tide over the worst but it is essential  to remember that they can also have damaging ill-effects.On the other hand if anxiety is allowed to persist for long,it can degenerate into GAD,panic attacks,hypochondria,OCD or depression.Taking this decision--of whether to continue taking medicines or stop them-- is like walking on razor's edge.

If you decide to tackle this ogre on your own,there is a wide range of measures to choose from.Those which are in tandem with your temperament,inclinations and beliefs are more likely to succeed.If you tell a sporty person to paint or solve puzzles it is not likely to click with him.He is more likely to benefit from vigorous physical activities like running,swimming,gardening or washing his car.An intellectual type will benefit from knowing more about his disease,searching self-help measures,journaling or playing brain games.Artistic individuals can find relief through sketching,painting and craft work.Apart from this there are many other options to choose from--like meditation,yoga,exercise,massage,dance,music,watching comedy shows,indoor/outdoor games or juggling balls . 

Anxiety can be very stubborn.Sometimes it will not respond to any of these measures.In such cases it is very likely symptomatic of a deep underlying emotional conflict which the person is unable to share with anyone.It could be the memory of an abuse or guilt about something the person did or failed to do.Whatever it is,the only way to find peace is to process that turmoil.If not with kith or kin;such feelings can be discussed with a mental health professional,a priest or a guru.But the main thing is that this conflict needs to be talked about.Only then can the feelings of guilt or victimhood be resolved.

The early stirrings of anxiety should not be ignored.Nip it in the bud before it gobbles up your health and happiness.Choose the weapon you like but stick to it till you are tension-free and can look back upon those angst-ridden days with a smile on your face.Kill anxiety before it destroys your life. 


27 comments :

  1. Thank God that I have had little of this issue. I have always been the sort to see the difference between being concerned about things which can be sorted out by some action on my part and worrying, where you only keep spiraling in thoughts of all the negative things that may happen but where you cannot do a thing since it has not happened yet! I have always felt that it was time enough to get concerned when they do happen and either sort out the problems or endure them, as the case may be.

    For me, any time I feel out of sorts, music is the mood uplifter. In fact, it is precisely on the days when I have not had my dose of music that I do feel depressed!

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    1. Your philosophy is the best one Suresh-cross your bridges when you come to them.You will like this quote too'My life has been full of terrible misfortunes,most of which never happened'
      Yes music is a great pacifier.

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  2. I know that feeling - clammy hands, shivering, increased hearbeat but then after a while its just a memory.

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    1. It happens--but only for a while.Thank god!

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  3. It all starts with an incident. For those which we start thinking and worrying more, we sometimes end up in tension and anxiety. If we can learn how to control our thoughts(tough for most humans though), it would be very helpful. As time at the end of the day teaches us to ignore/avoid/understand the situation to live with our past and if possible learn for future.

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    1. You said it in a nutshell cynosure.
      Meditation is very effective for controlling thoughts.

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  4. Very thoughtful. I like when you said, "Hitherto" it made me smile :-)

    Rico just posted, At San Francisco General Hospital

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    1. Ramiro welcome to jeeteraho.
      Am I happy I made you smile?Yesssssssssss
      About hitherto--we all have ups and downs in life-it does not denigrate us in any way.

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  5. This is very interesting Indu. You have a deep understanding of anxiety. I have had times in my life where anxiety has been more pronounced and times when it has hardly been there. I also find that there are a couple of people around whom my anxiety is very easily triggered. It almost takes nothing, I have to fight internally very hard to not physically show the anxiety I feel. I am a social person and at ease with others so for me, these people who trigger these extreme reactions in me...well, I don't know why I react so strongly I guess. Thank you for this post and have a wonderful day Indu.

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    1. Like you Colleen I too am at ease with most,but if a person irritates me i cut ties--don't want to be psyched because of that person.
      Don't hide your anxiety so well.It is good to let the other person know how s/he impinges upon you.Maybe s/he will amend her/his behavior and be more considerate in future.
      Thank you Colleen

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    2. That is good advice. Thank you!

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  6. Very interesting break down of the process. diversion tactics with meditation might help perhaps?

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    1. Thank you ilakshee :-)
      Yes you are right,meditation can control our thoughts.

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  7. It took some time for me to realize that anxiety was not just an emotion but a disease too! That's why I decided I would control my mind and not allow the mind to make decisions for me. That's why I know the power and the value of a smile. REally thanks for putting all these down so clearly, specially the diversionary tactics!

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    1. You are welcome Ashwini.You were wise to control it in the very beginning.

      Have a nice day.

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  8. Good post,Indu. One that will help readers understand and fight the anxiety demon

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  9. I always believe in accepting the things you cant change..no point worrying..

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  10. loved this article and i think anxiety weakens one's confidence and ruins life, literally. nice post!

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    1. Ankita thanks for reading.I am glad our thoughts resonate.
      Love n hugs.

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  11. In Hindi there is a saying, 'Chinta , Chita saman hai!' which aptly sums what you mentioned in this lovelyt post!

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    1. Thanks for this effusive comment Rahul.
      Feeling fit now ?

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Thanks for reading my post.I hope you liked it :).