There are many symptoms that may indicate you are having a panic attack. Some of these symptoms include but are not limited to:
3. shortness of breath or hyperventilating
6. ringing in your ears
7. chest pain
8. tingling in your extremities
A panic attack occurs when your body goes into the flight or fight mode. When this happens, your body tries to take in more oxygen. This causes you to breathe quicker, release adrenaline, which in turn causes your heart to beat faster and your muscles tense up. A panic attack can be caused by many factors, such as stress, physical exercise, anxiety, excessive caffeine intake, or a sudden change in your environment. However, these are not the only causes of panic attacks.
Anxiety, stress, and panic attacks can often be connected to one another. It is important to note that panic attacks are a sign of anxiety, not stress. However, stress can cause anxiety. Therefore, the three are all connected in a circle where they affect each other.
There are a variety of ways in which someone can cope with panic attacks. Below are 5 suggestions:
1. Psychotherapy, more specifically cognitive behavioral therapy
3. Reminding yourself that while it is uncomfortable, it is temporary and will pass. The panic attack can be scary but is not life threatening.
4. Focus your energy on something outside your body. For example, count back from 100, sing the lyrics to your favorite song, or feel the grass in your fingers.
5. Engage in mediation and deep breathing to calm your body.
You should consult with a doctor when the panic attacks are negatively affecting your ability to function. It would be time to see a doctor if you cannot go to work, if you cannot leave your house, or if you cannot perform your daily functions without extreme panic and fear.
As society continues to evolve and as lives change, more people are experiencing mental health crises. Amid the pandemic, remote working, loss of loved ones, and increased cost of living, the life we once knew is gone and in the past. Therefore, the question many of us may ask ourselves is, “what can we do to make it better?” A very simple answer would be adding the love of an animal to your home. Animals have a superhuman way of making life better. Below, you will find 5 of the ways in which animals can enrich your life and strengthen your mental health:
1. Pets can reduce a sense of loneliness. The companionship of having someone to sit next to and talk to can increase feelings of happiness, calmness, and overall positive thinking.
2. Having a pet has been proven to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Specifically, owning a pet can also increase your serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine levels, which can be connected to both anxious and depressive feelings.
3. Pets give you a reason to be active. This can be demonstrated by walking your dog, playing with your cat, or chasing after your bunny. Pets need activity and can bring those active actions out of us at the same time.
4. Science suggests pet ownership can reduce blood pressure and lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels. When one is physically healthy, they will feel better mentally too!
5. Pets help you to be more present in the moment. They are unable to focus on the past or worry about the future. All an animal can focus on is what is happening at that moment in time. This can teach you to be more mindful and live in the here and now.
Exercise influences the brain’s development and function, leading to better memory and learning. As a result, regular physical activity lowers the risk of developing cognitive impairment, such as dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, exercise has been found to improve mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and improving self-esteem and cognitive function.
Exercise has been found to improve our mental health. Benefits of exercise include improved sleep, better endurance, stress relief, improvement in mood, increased energy, and weight reduction. Each of these benefits has an impact on our daily mental health.
Exercise modulates the secretion of major neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which are linked with treating depression. When you exercise, your body releases these chemicals (dopamine and other endorphins) in your brain that make you feel happy. Exercise also rids of stressful and anxiety-producing chemicals. Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep and reduces stress and anxiety.
Exercising increases heart rate, supplying blood flow to the brain. Increased heart rate increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients supplied to our blood and brain.
Ways to get started with exercise:
Find a workout you enjoy - a workout that is best for someone else may not be best for you! Workouts can be done anywhere, at any time, and in many ways. Common workouts include dancing, bike riding, running, swimming, and walking. When you enjoy what you are doing, it is not a burden! It would help if you looked forward to your daily exercise as it relaxes your mind and body.
Change up your workout! It is easy to give up at the start if you don’t like a workout right away, but it is important to stay motivated to try new things. Keep yourself on your toes and change your routine, so you do not lose interest in maintaining a healthy lifestyle! Go outside, stay inside, try a class, or work out on your own!
Make time for exercise! Prioritize your workout and set a plan for yourself based on what your body wants and needs.
Take your time! Gradually add more exercise to your lifestyle and weed out what you like and dislike. You do not need to dive into a 7-day-a-week exercise routine. Instead, stray from stress and burnout by slowly increasing your workouts.
Set goals! Stay motivated by encouraging yourself to continue this new lifestyle. Set both short-term and long-term goals to remain excited about your target achievements. This also helps us to be accountable for our exercise habits.
Ask a friend to join you! This can help with accountability and add fun to your exercise routine.
Stress and anxiety may have a similar physical effect on the body, but the causes and triggers vary in many ways.
Comparatively, anxiety stems from fear of something bad that may occur in the future. You may experience feelings in the moment, such as fear, dread, or nervousness as if the perceived threat is occurring or will occur.
One of the main differences is that stress is often caused by an external trigger, while anxiety does not go away even when the triggers are gone. Though physical and emotional reactions may be similar, their root causes differ. Anxiety can be a person's response to a stressful event. Once the event has passed, the stress will have gone away, but the person's feelings of dread and worry may remain.
Common Stress Triggers:
· Job issues
· Lack of time
· Chronic illness
· Emotional problems
· Traumatic events
· Lack of communication
· Busyness in daily life
Not-So-Common Stress Triggers:
· Memory problems
o It can be hard to focus when you are stressed as the brain moves every day and present stressors and hormones to the front of the line.
· Skin conditions
o Stress can lead to major breakouts in our skin in the form of acne, hives, rashes, and more. This can cause insecurity about the skin and, therefore, even more stress.
o Stress can make it more difficult to get pregnant. This can be due to a man's or a woman's stress response.
o Stress can cause an increase in the amount of stomach acid you produce, leading to stomach pain and digestive issues.
o Your body may take longer to relax, leading to a decrease in the amount of sleep one gets.
Common Anxiety Triggers:
· Lack of sleep
· Unbalanced diet
· Health issues
· Social gatherings
· Life transitions
· Financial issues
· Work environment
Not-So-Common Anxiety Triggers
o Whether temporary or chronic, anxiety can lead to stomach pain, diarrhea, heartburn, and burping.
· Physical numbness
o One may feel a tingling or even vibration in their body. This has also been described as a loss of sensation or feeling in a part of the body.
· Excessive yawning
o Frequent yawning can stem from a lack of oxygen in panic situations when hyperventilation occurs.
o Tremors can come in the form of shaking, cramping, trembling, and more. Anxiety can cause tremors in many situations.
· Disconnect from reality
o Anxiety can cause a distorted reality in which individuals lack a sense of time, space, and things going on around them.
· Eye issues
o Anxiety can lead to distorted vision, watery eyes, and floating shapes.
· Cold feet
o Anxiety can decrease circulation in our bodies, creating a cold sensation in our hands and feet.
Common Ways to Cope with Stress:
· Developing proper sleep hygiene by ensuring you get in bed early enough so that you can get a full night's rest, washing your face and brushing your teeth, not having caffeine after 3pm, and reducing screen time before you are laying down.
· Finding a form of exercise that you enjoy, such as bike riding, dancing, walking, or yoga, and set aside time every day or a few times a week to engage in this activity which has been proven to reduce stress and aid in strengthening your mental health.
· Starting a daily journal and using this journal to vent about your day, talk about your innermost thoughts and feelings, and express your emotions. You can also write down affirmations in this journal, reminding you of something motivational and inspirational each time you open it.
· Setting boundaries in both your personal and professional life since boundaries are an important way of allowing yourself space to deal with your feelings and to avoid being overwhelmed. Set boundaries at work by not working beyond your hours and expressing when you are overwhelmed with an assignment and need help. Set boundaries in your personal life by telling your family members, partner, or friends what is okay and what is not okay.
· Setting limits on daily social media intake because it can become toxic when consumed in large quantities. Many people express their opinions on social media, leading to anxiety, stress, and depression. Set a specific amount of time you should spend on social media daily, and try your best to stick to this.
Not-So-Common Ways to Cope with Stress:
· Painting your nails
o This requires some time and attention. Self-care is important, and not everyone takes the time they should to do it!
· Wearing a rubber band around your wrist
o Some people snap a rubber band when feeling stressed to associate a slight pinch with stress.
· Drinking orange juice
o Orange juice is a great source of Vitamin C and can lower cortisol levels.
· Chewing gum
· Doing some art
o Creative therapy can relax and clear the mind.
· Having sex
o Sex releases endorphins and can leave you with a better attitude than before.
· Blowing up a balloon
o This forces you to work on your deep breathing when stressed.
Common Ways to Cope with Anxiety:
· Closing your eyes and controlling your breathing.
· Splashing some cold water on your face or holding an ice cube in your hand to change your body temperature and redirect your attention away from the mental feeling and towards the physical.
· Going for a walk outside and getting fresh air.
· Thinking about what you would tell a friend if they were feeling anxious.
· Reminding yourself that your fears are just fears and not reality.
· Thinking of the last time this happened and how it passed.
· Putting on a television show, favorite song, or movie to distract yourself as the anxiety passes.
· Talking to someone nearby or calling them on the phone— someone who can distract you or make you laugh.
· Taking a warm bath with essential oils.
· Petting an animal or a furry blanket/pillow.
· Finding your safe space. This can be a bedroom, bathroom, patio, or even your car. Going to the place you feel safe and secure.
· Crying! When you let it out, you can feel a sense of relief, releasing happy chemicals called endorphins that make you feel good.
· Carrying around a small notepad with motivational and inspirational quotes. Reading one of these quotes can reassure you that it will be okay in times of true fear.
Not-So-Common Ways to Cope with Anxiety:
· Listening to music
o Music is another form of creative therapy that keeps the mind in tune with enjoyable sounds.
· Blowing up a balloon
o This can work for anxiety too!
· Recognizing false alarms and trying to be present in the moment.
Summer depression is also known as Summer-onset Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or reverse SAD. Summer SAD affects individuals and creates depressive feelings and depression symptoms, specifically during the late spring and summertime.
Summer depression has been noted to be more common than winter SAD in locations near the equator due to the weather. Areas with recurring seasons are likely to experience summer SAD because of the change in weather, schedules, and lifestyle during the summer season.
SAD can occur during any season. Characteristics that may describe spring SAD as opposed to summer SAD often include but are not limited to environmental factors causing allergies, longer days, and warmer weather.
Some main signs and symptoms of summer depression include irritability, anxiety, disrupted sleep, and body image issues. These symptoms usually pop up during the late spring or early summer and fade as summer comes to an end. However, seasonal depression is year-round, and although summer may end, fall SAD may have an effect on individuals.
One potential cause of summer depression includes exposure to too much sunlight, which causes changes in one’s body’s circadian rhythm. When our circadian rhythms become dysregulated, our sleep is thrown off, and it can play an integral role in aspects of our physical and mental health. Another possibility is the disrupted schedules of summer that change up our routine. This can cause anxiety and stress due to the lack of structure and unplanned schedule for each day. A final cause of summer depression is the lesser amount of clothing worn, which could lead to body image issues and a decrease in self-esteem in social situations.
The diagnosis of summer depression requires present symptoms for a two-year period and full criteria for depression during the summer season. Summer depression can be diagnosed by medical professionals, including a healthcare provider, a psychologist, and a psychiatrist.
Recurring symptoms must be experienced for at least two years to get a formal diagnosis.
Treatments for summer depression include:
Seeking professional help such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be effective in treating SAD. Having a therapy session with a Mental Health Professional can provide individuals with a place to talk openly and help encourage positive emotions. Additionally, meeting with a Psychiatrist or Medication Management Specialist can allow individuals to evaluate the medications available to reduce or mitigate symptoms of SAD.
Plan ahead: When spring rolls around, think about what is difficult for you during the summer and have plans in place to challenge these forces. Make time to have self-care days, plan fun events and activities that are worth your money, and create a new summertime routine.
Sleep: Try your best to keep up with your regular sleep schedule during the summer.
Keep up with exercise: Find ways to exercise that benefit you, even if that means working out inside or early in the morning. Try whatever it takes to remain motivated during the summer months.
Take a vacation: Vacations can be far away or at home. Plan a time and place that will feel relaxing, not like you took the day off to take on more responsibilities.
Signs of inadequate or poor sleep hygiene include: low energy, lack of motivation, daytime sleepiness, inability to concentrate, mood swings, poor decisions, difficulty falling asleep, and sleep disturbances.
Poor sleep hygiene can have a negative effect on your overall quality of life. Without sleep you can experience multiple symptoms including constant tiredness that further impacts your life on a daily basis.
Some ways to practice proper sleep hygiene include:
1. Reading an hour before bed can allow the mind to relax and decompress from daily stressors.
2. Reduce your screen time to at least 1.5 hours before you go to bed because staring at the screen can keep your mind racing and your eyes stimulated.
3. Wash your face, brush your teeth, and get comfortable in a good position in bed a half hour before you go to sleep.
4. Develop a consistent routine so your body knows what to expect each night.
5. Exercise regularly but be sure to not do this at least 2-3 hours before you are ready to go to sleep.
Results can vary based on consistency and amount of effort put into following proper sleep hygiene steps. Additionally, if not other caused by another medical condition, you may experience better sleep as soon as 1-2 days after practicing sleep hygiene.
Do not have caffeine after 3pm since caffeine is a stimulant which can keep you awake or interrupt your sleep.
Try to wake at the same time every day, even if you have off from work.
Avoid large meals and alcohol later in the day. If your stomach is full, you will not be able to rest comfortably.
It is time to reach out to a professional if you are constantly having trouble sleeping over a period of time and can see it affecting your everyday life. A physician can help by offering medication to help with sleeping better or sleep clinics can help diagnose and narrow down specific sleeping disorders and other sleep issues. A therapist can help treat other psychological underlying issues that may get in the way of experiencing a good night’s rest.
Some misconceptions about sleep hygiene include: your body gets used to getting fewer hours of sleep, you need less sleep as you get older, it doesn't matter when you sleep, your brain shuts down when you are asleep, and if you cannot sleep you should stay in bed.
1. You don’t feel comfortable sharing most things with your therapist.
2. You often feel judged by your therapist.
3. You have to constantly remind your therapist why you are there.
4. The therapist is not specialized in what you may need.
5. You have feelings for your therapist.
6. You do not see any improvement from when you started.
7. Your therapist often forgets the things you share with her, and you have to repeat yourself.
8. The therapist often talks about herself during session.
9. You dread going to therapy.
10. Your therapist is often distracted during your scheduled time.
11. Your therapist is always showing up late and canceling.
12. Your therapist tells you what to do and acts like a parent.
Practicing mindfulness while in the office can be done in many ways. Commuting could be used as a period of time to relax and unwind at the beginning and end of each workday. Instead of using technology during the commute, you can look around at your surroundings and take in reality. While in the office, it is helpful to focus on your breathing. Taking a moment to focus on a deep inhale and exhale can help relieve some tension. These breathing exercises can also be done during regular breaks. Hard work should come with a reward, whether it is a shorter or longer break, this period is effective and will allow your body to refresh and re-energize. You can schedule these breaks as mindful reminders on your phone, so you do not forget! Another tip is to make sure you are actively listening to your coworkers. Being mindful at work and being fully present in conversation can help you learn and build relationships while blocking out the little noises inside in your head. Finally, while at work, it may seem hard to juggle all the tasks that need to be done. However, focusing on one task at a time is more beneficial.
Mindfulness can also be practiced before and after work. You can sit in a quiet and open space for about 5 to 10-minutes. During this time, you can experience your senses and acknowledge what is around you. It is important to feel the slow inhalation and exhalation your body is creating during this time. You can also focus on where your mind travels to and bring it back to the present moment.
A variety of factors can cause back-to-school stress and anxiety. These include but are not limited to:
-A change in routine
-Being separated from family
-The fear of the unknown (What will my teacher be like? Who will be in my classes? Will I be able to learn the material?)
-Transitioning from one school to another (whether that is due to moving towns or just moving up from elementary school to middle school or middle school to high school)
-A change in support system- new teachers and new friends
-An increase in homework in classes
-Making sure one gets good grades this year
The fear of the unknown can cause anxiety, and the start of something new typically can exacerbate those feelings.
Anxiety can appear through a multitude of symptoms such as:
-Avoidance- not wanting to get up in the morning, not wanting to say bye at drop-off, avoiding doing schoolwork/homework
-Changes in behavior
-Withdrawing from friends and family
-Loss of appetite
-Frequent bathroom trips
To help a child who is worried about school, you can always ask how they are feeling. This open-ended question encourages a child to be more open and allows you to be able to connect with them. You will want to find out what they are nervous about and why they feel they cannot handle going to school. Listening to your child is always important so that you can understand what they are worried about. This leads to validating the child's feelings so you can best help them. Together you can come up with ways to reduce their back-to-school anxieties.
A few techniques to ease this anxiety would be:
-Trying test runs at the new school/classroom/drop off
-Meeting the teacher before the first day
-Arranging for a hand-off with a teacher or friend
-Grounding techniques by naming things around the room, such as 5 things I see, 4 things I can touch, 3 things I can hear, 2 things I can smell, 1 thing I can taste
-teach them mantras such as:
-"I have been in school before, the first few days might be nerve-wracking, and I've always been able to get through them."
-"Mom/dad/guardian will be there to pick me up at dismissal.”
High functioning anxiety is not recognized as an anxiety disorder but is otherwise known as someone who is able to function well day-to-day, while still experiencing some symptoms of anxiety. It can be hard for others to spot someone with high functioning anxiety in day-to-day life as it has a large internal effect with less obvious signs. However, many symptoms that can be seen are similar to those of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and include irritability, under-eating or over-eating, the inability to sleep, and excessive worry or fear.
High functioning depression is described as the ability to function, not necessarily to the fullest extent, while still experiencing signs and symptoms of depression for an extended period of time. Signs and symptoms are closely related to those of Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) and can include a decreased appetite, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. High functioning depression does not always impact an individual’s day-to-day life, but that does not mean one should not get help for when the symptoms are present.