Coping With Anxiety

Tip: Change What You Can, Accept the Rest

Divorce, layoffs, threat of terrorism -- there's plenty of anxiety around for everyone these days. And very often, the source is something we can't change. How do you know when it's time to get help dealing with your anxieties?

To better understand the underpinnings of anxiety -- and how to better cope -- WebMD turned to two anxiety experts: Jerilyn Ross, MA, LICSW, director of The Ross Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, Inc., and Linda Andrews, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Normal vs. Harmful Anxiety

The cold sweat of anxiety is that "fight or flight" response that kept our early relatives safe from grizzly bears and other scary characters, says Andrews. "That adrenaline rush still serves us well under certain circumstances. Anxiety is a natural reaction to those very real stresses."

In today's world, "that reaction helps motivate us, prepares us for things we have to face, and sometimes give us energy to take action when we need to," adds Ross.

Big job interview is coming up, and it's got you in knots. So "you spend a little more time getting dressed or rehearsing what you're going to say," Ross says. "You've got an appointment with the divorce lawyer, so you do more homework. That kind of anxiety can motivate you to do better. It helps you protect yourself."

But as we know too well, sometimes it doesn't take a specific threat -- only the possibility of crisis -- to send humans into anxiety mode. "The difficulty comes in learning to tone down that automatic response -- to think, 'How serious is the danger? How likely is the threat?' "says Andrews.

"The thing about anxiety is, it can take on a life of its own," she adds. "Everything becomes a potential crisis. The unthinkable has happened. So around every corner, there's the next possible disaster."

The Anxiety Toll

When anxiety is taking a toll, your body knows it. You have trouble sleeping, eating, and concentrating. You get headaches; your stomach is upset. You might even have a panic attack -- the pounding heart, a feeling of lightheadedness.

Anxiety may also feel like depression. "The two sometimes overlap," Ross says.

When anxiety becomes so overwhelming that it interferes with day-to-day activities -- when it keeps you from going places, from doing things you need to do -- that's when you need help, says Ross.

Generalized anxiety disorder is a bigger syndrome -- "like a worry machine in your head," Ross says. "If it's not one thing, it's another. You're procrastinating to the point that you're almost afraid to take a step. You're so nervous about going to your child's school to talk to the teacher, you just don't go -- you miss the appointment."

In the case of such overwhelming anxiety, "people are not making good decisions," says Ross. "They're avoiding things, or they're unable to rise to the occasion because the anxiety is too much. They're procrastinating because they can't concentrate, can't stay focused. It's really interfering with their day-to-day life. At that point, they may have a more serious anxiety problem and need professional help."

 How Do You Cope?

To cope with plain-vanilla anxiety, "get real," as they say. "Separate out the real risks and dangers that a situation presents and those your imagination is making worse," advises Ross. It's a twist on the old adage: "Take control of the things you can, and accept those you can't change."

"Ask yourself: Where can you take control of a situation? Where can you make changes? Then do what needs to be done," she says. "What things do you simply have to accept? That's very important."

Very often, it's possible to get past an anxiety cycle with the help of friends or family -- someone who can help you sort out your problems. But when anxiety becomes overwhelming, it's time for a therapist, or perhaps medication.

Here are two strategies that therapists use to help us conquer anxiety:

Challenge negative thoughts

Ask yourself: Is this a productive thought? Is it helping me get closer to my goal? If it's just a negative thought you're rehashing, then you must be able to say to that thought: 'Stop.' "That's difficult to do, but it's very important," Ross says.

Rather than becoming paralyzed with anxiety, here's another message you can send yourself: "I may have to take a job I don't like as much, may have to travel further than I want, but I'll do what I have to do now. At least I will have the security of income in the short term. Then I can look for something better later."

The most important thing: "to realize when you've done everything you can, that you need to move forward," Ross says.

Learn to relax.

You may even need "breathing retraining," Ross adds. "When people get anxious, they tend to hold their breath. We teach people a special diaphragmatic breathing -- it calms your system. Do yoga, meditation, or get some exercise. Exercise is a terrific outlet for anxiety."

Most of all, try not to compound your problems, adds Andrews. "When things are bad, there is a legitimate reason to feel bad," she says. "But if you don't deal with it, you're going to lose more than just a job -- you'll lose relationships, your self confidence, you could even lose technical abilities if you stay dormant in your profession. Try not to compound one stress by adding another."

Often your ability to work through anxiety -- get past it -- varies depending on the type of crisis you faced. "The more severe, the more surprising it was, the longer it's going to take to get over it," says Andrews. "You may be on autopilot for several weeks. If you're depressed, that can complicate things. In the case of divorce, it may take months to years to really get back to yourself."

But take heart. "If you're doing well in one aspect of your life -- in your work or your relationships -- you're probably on your way," she says. "Fear and anxiety are no longer running your life."

Medication for Anxiety Disorders

Medication will not cure an anxiety disorder, but it will help keep it under control. If anxiety becomes severe enough to require medication, there are a few options.

Antidepressants, particularly the SSRIs, may be effective in treating many types of anxiety disorders.

Other treatment includes benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Ativan, and Xanax alone or in combination with SSRI medication. These drugs do carry a risk of addiction so they are not as desirable for long-term use. Other possible side effects include drowsiness, poor concentration, and irritability.

Beta-blockers can prevent the physical symptoms that accompany certain anxiety disorders, particularly social phobia.

By: Jeanie Lerche Davis
Original Article: http://www.webmd.com/jeanie-lerche-davis

 

 

More Emotional Health...

Tip: Change What You Can, Accept the Rest

Divorce, layoffs, threat of terrorism -- there's plenty of anxiety around for everyone these days. And very often, the source is something we can't change. How do you know when it's time to get help dealing with your anxieties?

To better understand the underpinnings of anxiety -- and how to better cope -- WebMD turned to two anxiety experts: Jerilyn Ross, MA, LICSW, director of The Ross Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, Inc., and Linda Andrews, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Normal vs. Harmful Anxiety

The cold sweat of anxiety is that "fight or flight" response that kept our early relatives safe from grizzly bears and other scary characters, says Andrews. "That adrenaline rush still serves us well under certain circumstances. Anxiety is a natural reaction to those very real stresses."

In today's world, "that reaction helps motivate us, prepares us for things we have to face, and sometimes give us energy to take action when we need to," adds Ross.

Big job interview is coming up, and it's got you in knots. So "you spend a little more time getting dressed or rehearsing what you're going to say," Ross says. "You've got an appointment with the divorce lawyer, so you do more homework. That kind of anxiety can motivate you to do better. It helps you protect yourself."

But as we know too well, sometimes it doesn't take a specific threat -- only the possibility of crisis -- to send humans into anxiety mode. "The difficulty comes in learning to tone down that automatic response -- to think, 'How serious is the danger? How likely is the threat?' "says Andrews.

"The thing about anxiety is, it can take on a life of its own," she adds. "Everything becomes a potential crisis. The unthinkable has happened. So around every corner, there's the next possible disaster."

The Anxiety Toll

When anxiety is taking a toll, your body knows it. You have trouble sleeping, eating, and concentrating. You get headaches; your stomach is upset. You might even have a panic attack -- the pounding heart, a feeling of lightheadedness.

Anxiety may also feel like depression. "The two sometimes overlap," Ross says.

When anxiety becomes so overwhelming that it interferes with day-to-day activities -- when it keeps you from going places, from doing things you need to do -- that's when you need help, says Ross.

Generalized anxiety disorder is a bigger syndrome -- "like a worry machine in your head," Ross says. "If it's not one thing, it's another. You're procrastinating to the point that you're almost afraid to take a step. You're so nervous about going to your child's school to talk to the teacher, you just don't go -- you miss the appointment."

In the case of such overwhelming anxiety, "people are not making good decisions," says Ross. "They're avoiding things, or they're unable to rise to the occasion because the anxiety is too much. They're procrastinating because they can't concentrate, can't stay focused. It's really interfering with their day-to-day life. At that point, they may have a more serious anxiety problem and need professional help."

 How Do You Cope?

To cope with plain-vanilla anxiety, "get real," as they say. "Separate out the real risks and dangers that a situation presents and those your imagination is making worse," advises Ross. It's a twist on the old adage: "Take control of the things you can, and accept those you can't change."

"Ask yourself: Where can you take control of a situation? Where can you make changes? Then do what needs to be done," she says. "What things do you simply have to accept? That's very important."

Very often, it's possible to get past an anxiety cycle with the help of friends or family -- someone who can help you sort out your problems. But when anxiety becomes overwhelming, it's time for a therapist, or perhaps medication.

Here are two strategies that therapists use to help us conquer anxiety:

Challenge negative thoughts

Ask yourself: Is this a productive thought? Is it helping me get closer to my goal? If it's just a negative thought you're rehashing, then you must be able to say to that thought: 'Stop.' "That's difficult to do, but it's very important," Ross says.

Rather than becoming paralyzed with anxiety, here's another message you can send yourself: "I may have to take a job I don't like as much, may have to travel further than I want, but I'll do what I have to do now. At least I will have the security of income in the short term. Then I can look for something better later."

The most important thing: "to realize when you've done everything you can, that you need to move forward," Ross says.

Learn to relax.

You may even need "breathing retraining," Ross adds. "When people get anxious, they tend to hold their breath. We teach people a special diaphragmatic breathing -- it calms your system. Do yoga, meditation, or get some exercise. Exercise is a terrific outlet for anxiety."

Most of all, try not to compound your problems, adds Andrews. "When things are bad, there is a legitimate reason to feel bad," she says. "But if you don't deal with it, you're going to lose more than just a job -- you'll lose relationships, your self confidence, you could even lose technical abilities if you stay dormant in your profession. Try not to compound one stress by adding another."

Often your ability to work through anxiety -- get past it -- varies depending on the type of crisis you faced. "The more severe, the more surprising it was, the longer it's going to take to get over it," says Andrews. "You may be on autopilot for several weeks. If you're depressed, that can complicate things. In the case of divorce, it may take months to years to really get back to yourself."

But take heart. "If you're doing well in one aspect of your life -- in your work or your relationships -- you're probably on your way," she says. "Fear and anxiety are no longer running your life."

Medication for Anxiety Disorders

Medication will not cure an anxiety disorder, but it will help keep it under control. If anxiety becomes severe enough to require medication, there are a few options.

Antidepressants, particularly the SSRIs, may be effective in treating many types of anxiety disorders.

Other treatment includes benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Ativan, and Xanax alone or in combination with SSRI medication. These drugs do carry a risk of addiction so they are not as desirable for long-term use. Other possible side effects include drowsiness, poor concentration, and irritability.

Beta-blockers can prevent the physical symptoms that accompany certain anxiety disorders, particularly social phobia.

By: Jeanie Lerche Davis
Original Article: http://www.webmd.com/jeanie-lerche-davis

 

 

The Smart Way to Snack - Custom-fit your snacks to your needs and schedule.

When you start fishing in your pocket for change for the evil vending machine, stop! Most people feel the need of a "little something" now and then during a busy day, but taking a second to "snack smart" will save you time, calories, and even money.

"Food is so available," Laurie A. Higgins, MS, RD, a pediatric nutrition educator at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, tells WebMD, "people don't take any with them and end up grabbing the fast, easy thing." This may be the worst, greasiest, sugariest, empty-calorie abomination on the face of the earth (OK, doughnut).

You know yourself, Higgins says, you know your age, weight, disease status (diabetes, low blood sugar), food allergies, whether you are pregnant or not. It's up to you to select the snack that fits both your individual needs and the occasion at hand. One size (and gooshy or crunchy mouth feel) does not fit all.

Snack With a Purpose

If you are a between-meals eater, look at your eating pattern, Roberta Larson Duyff, MS, RD, author of the American Dietetic Association's Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, tells WebMD. "It may be a snack -- for you -- is a fourth meal or a good way to get a nutrient you missed. Think of it that way."

What are some common snacking moments, and what might you use to fill them (and yourself)?

When you need a wake-up or energy jolt. It's smart to eat a small breakfast of carbs and protein (cereal, egg, milk), says Duyff. It's even OK for most people to have a sensible amount of coffee, she says. "Have a latte with milk; that way you get a protein hit," she says (a candy bar will not give you the boost you want, she notes). Higgins also advises having milk or protein foods such as peanuts or cottage cheese.

Before leaving the office for a meeting. If you don't know when lunch is coming and need to be on top of your game, a piece of fruit or chunk of cheese is good. "Some people, especially young people, eat lunch early, so morning snacks may not even be needed, Higgins says.

Before working out. "The term 'carbo loading' refers to hours before an athletic event," Audrey T. Cross, PhD, professor of nutrition at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, tells WebMD. "But right before -- especially after a day of work -- you might want to prime the pump with a piece of fruit and a big glass of water."

After school or work. Depending on when dinner is scheduled, many people need a little nourishment when they get at home. Pediatric nutrition specialist Higgins recommends adolescents who are eating dinner late or running back out to athletic events eat a small meal consisting of a sandwich and a glass of milk -- regardless of whether they are diabetic or not. "Otherwise, young people come home and eat all the way until dinner, a cookie, a cracker, a soda; they are never satisfied. A sandwich is better."

Smart Snacks on a Diet

When you are cutting calories. Even adolescents can read labels, Higgins says. Popcorn, pretzels, or baked chips can be a good snack -- in moderation. Put the rest away on a high shelf. Cut-up veggies also make you work hard to chew and are satisfying. Cross recommends rice cakes with a little wake-up of peanut butter or cheese. "You are less likely to be hungry an hour later," she says.

During TV time. "I am not in favor of eating while watching TV," Cross says. "Have you ever watched someone eat while the TV is on? They are not tasting anything. They just need an activity to do while staring, and eating has become popular."

When out with friends. Sometimes it's also popular to "go for dessert" or grab a snack with your buddies. Cross recommends splitting a dessert. "If you get ice cream or To Die for Chocolate Torte, get one scoop or divide it," she says. "The real reason for going out is to be with your date or friends -- not the food."

At the movies. The movies are an example of an activity tied to food rather than time of day. "Why is this?" Duyff asks. "When we sit at the computer, we need a beverage. When we go to the movies, we need popcorn. We need to change our mindset."

Before partying. "It's an urban myth that you can coat your stomach with milk before drinking," laughs Duyff. "If there is going to be a lot of food, she adds, you may concentrate on eating rather than being with your friends and socializing. In that case, it might be better to have a snack beforehand to take the edge off. A cracker and cheese or those little carrots are good choices." (Remember, Duyff says, half a bottle of wine can contain up to 500 calories. In fact, Cross recommends drinking an equal amount of water after every drink.)

On the airplane. Call ahead and see if food is being provided, Cross advises. If not, bring a sandwich on board. Nothing salty or your feet might swell. "Coffee or another diuretic may mean more trips to the bathroom," Cross adds. "Water is good. And make it a juicy sandwich, with tomatoes."

Before bed. People who eat dinner early may get hungry at bed time. Milk contains tryptophan, which makes some people sleepy. On the flip side, Duyff says, chocolate ice cream may be a little buzzy and keep you awake. Chai tea can be soothing, Cross says. Eating too much and lying down causes heartburn in some people, so beware.

When traveling. Wise travelers bring packaged peanut butter crackers or other familiar little noshes, such as self-opening cans of tuna, in case restaurants are closed (forget those mini-bars).

If you want to plan ahead and remove temptation, Higgins says, check out some regular snack options online. You can go to the McDonald's web site (search on "nutrition"), for instance, and scope out the calorie and carb counts on the new offerings. She does this with her diabetic clients.

Although it's hard to "snackify," it's relaxing and softens stress.

But what about snacking against boredom? "Boredom or stress," Duyff says, "should not signal 'time to eat.' How about walking the dog or dancing around to a CD? Today it might be a celery stick, but tomorrow a whole bowl of something.

"A bowl of ice cream or a juicy peach should be enjoyed," Duyff adds. "That means every bite."

By: Star Lawrence, a medical journalist based in the Phoenix area.

Original Article: http://www.webmd.com/diet/fight-fatigue-energy-foods-6/smart-snacking

 

 

 

Need to find some calm in your chaotic life? Learn how to manage stress in easy, quick ways. Learn 4 easy tips to make this possible

  1. Get Active! Any form of physical activity can be a great stress reliever. Exercising releases feel-good endorphins and can help to enhance your sense of well-being. Try adding in a quick walk, jog, bike, swim, or anything else into your daily routine.
  2. Laugh More! Laughing can cause positive physical changes in your body. Laughing fires up and then cools your stress response.
  3.  Connect with others! To get over stress don’t got it alone! Reach out to friends and family to get through the hard times. Having social contact can give you a distraction, provide support, and help overcome ups and downs. Get lunch with a friend, call a family member, or go volunteer!
  4. Assert Yourself! Don’t try to do it all…. All that will do is cause more stress! Learn to say “no” or to manage all your tasks by delegating and making lists.

To learn more on how to manage stress, visit http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relievers/art-20047257

Devising a depression treatment plan to get you up and out every morning can make dealing with work a lot easier.

Has daily gloom become part of your daily grind? Of the nearly 19 million American adults with a depressive disorder, almost 90 percent of them say that their illness has affected their ability to do their job.

That’s because when you have depression, it can be challenging to just get out of bed in the morning, much less go to work.

"There are different levels of depression," says Julie Walther Scheibel, MEd, a counselor at Concordia Seminary Counseling and Resource Center in St. Louis. "Some people are so depressed that they quit work."

With the right treatment plan, you probably will be able to manage working while undergoing depression treatment, and maybe even look forward to it.

Depression: Symptoms That Could Affect Work

Depression symptoms can affect every aspect of your life, and symptoms that are more likely to cause difficulty at work include:

  • Crying frequently
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Irritable mood
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Pessimism or lack of caring
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions

Depression: Making Work Easier

When your depression makes getting up and going to work difficult, you might want to enlist a friend or family member who can help motivate you.

"You need to have a spouse or someone else check in with you periodically to make sure you get going during the day," says Walther Scheibel.

While you are at work, it is important to:

  • Take regular breaks. Stepping back from work and doing something that relaxes you, like meditating or listening to music, can help you cope with stress.
  • Stay in touch. Make regular phone calls during the day to friends and family, since staying in contact with someone you trust can give you perspective on what really matters and keep you focused on getting better.
  • Take baby steps. When you are working on a project that seems overwhelming, break it into multiple steps, and complete them one at a time.
  • Stick with your depression treatment. Take your medications and attend your counseling sessions to ease the depression symptoms that are making it difficult for you to function.

Walther Scheibel also recommends finding things to do outside of work that relax you and bring you pleasure, such as regularly exercising, practicing relaxation techniques like yoga, journaling, playing an instrument, or taking an art class — "things that soothe the mind," as she calls them.

She also recommends getting involved in activities that make you feel productive outside of work, such as volunteering, helping family members or friends, or taking classes to develop new skills.

Depression: Telling Co-Workers

Whether to tell co-workers about your depression is your decision. But if you need to take time off to focus on your depression treatment or if you need special accommodations at work, you’ll probably have to tell your supervisor or human resources department about your illness.

And it is an illness: There is no reason to be ashamed of your depression. When talking to a supervisor, focus on the positive aspects of your discussion, such as how the special accommodations will make you more productive.

Keep in mind that the most important thing is to take care of you. When you are putting yourself first, your ability to work will improve, too.

Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH

Original article: http://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/managing/bad-days-at-the-office.aspx