Anxiety, Alcohol Use, and 13 Ways to Cope With Panic (Besides Drinking)

Monday, February 09, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Anxiety

Social anxiety is strongly linked to higher levels of alcohol abuse1, possibly due to the way alcohol lubricates vocal chords and actually allows nervous folks to speak in public. A little social helper to get you through meeting new friends, right? 

But anxiety is more strongly connected to alcohol dependence than alcohol abuse so those with anxiety may have a predisposition to end up addicted2. Either that or people mistake the withdrawal symptoms for anxiety which skews the data. Either way, over time, alcohol triggers worsening anxiety issues, leading to more need for more alcohol to reduce ever climbing emotional symptoms. 

Uhoh. 

There are ways to cope without the alcohol, and we’ll get to all that in a minute. But you need to understand what you’re up against....  continue reading

Am I A Control Freak? Panic, Responsibility One Man's Journey Towards Healing

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Anxiety

It’s all about panic this week, and I am a huge believer in both providing you with the research as well as the human experience. We all acquire anxiety issues a little differently. We all get through things a little differently as well. 

Today my guest poster takes you on his journey of self discovery, from where his panic originated through his use of cognitive behavioral skills to cope, including humor techniques, deep breathing, thought replacement, self compassion, mindfulness and vocalized defensiveness (which will be discussed further on Friday). 

Panic attacks, scary thoughts and anxiety affect more than you would guess. Don’t be afraid to talk about it....  continue reading

Am I Having A Nervous Breakdown? One Woman's Experience With Panic Attacks

Friday, October 17, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Anxiety

Panic attacks (discussed here and here) can show up with postpartum depression, anxiety disorders, depressive disorders or as their own issue. 

Panic Disorder is characterized by:     

  • Frequent, unexpected panic attacks that aren’t tied to a specific situation
  • Worry or preoccupation with having another panic attack
  • Differences in behavior because of the attacks, like avoiding places where you’ve had an attack in the past

Many experience anxiety, but panic attacks and panic disorder are discussed less frequently because people often fear that something is really wrong with them beyond the scope of nervousness. In fact, some of the most common scary thoughts are, “I am having  a nervous breakdown,” and, “I am having a heart attack.” (For more on this, check out Lies Your Brain Tells You: Why We Have Scary Thoughts.) During these panic episodes some imagine that they will wind up curled into a ball, thumb in their mouth, babbling incoherently, which, incidentally, is how I look if someone makes me watch Fox & Friends. But if you are lucid enough to have the thought, “I’m losing my mind,” trust me, you probably aren’t. 

In an effort to normalize this process, I invited a guest to write about her experience with panic attacks. Because knowing what these attacks feel like might well help someone else to identify this issue in themselves and get assistance, whether they have panic disorder on its own or panic attacks related to another condition. 

You’re not alone. You’re not losing your mind. It’s the panic....  continue reading

The Great Fight or Flight Hoax: Why What You Know About Panic Might Be Wrong

Friday, March 28, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Anxiety

Fight, flee, then find yourself a girlfriend. Because nothing is more effective than female to female support.

The fight or flight response is what people generally refer to when discussing high anxiety or panic. This reaction, mediated by the central nervous system, is what motivates self-defensive behavior through physical changes. It alters breathing, heart rate and emotional response, a combo which can lead to scary thoughts.

 However, in women, this response may more accurately labeled "tend and befriend". According to research published in "Current Directions in Psychological Science", the panic response is an evolutionary imperative that drives us to attach with those around us as much as fight or flee1

Get by with a little help from our friends? If by "get by" you mean don't freakin' die, then yes....  continue reading

The Double-Edged Sword: Forethought, Reasoning and Worry

Friday, March 21, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Anxiety

   

Ever wonder why we stay up all night worrying about a big project or the first day of school? How could just thinking about something make us so anxious? 

Turns out that instead of starting from scratch, Mother Nature tends to use spare parts when developing new systems.The evolution of our brain is no different.

Reduce, reuse, recycle, people. Mother Nature says it's "In"....  continue reading

Playing Dead: A Physical Response to Stress Besides Fight or Flight

Monday, February 24, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Anxiety

I occasionally come across cases of misdiagnosis due to a misunderstanding of anxiety responses. Some are convinced that they have a seizure disorder, others believe they have a nerve issue that causes paralysis.

But, anxiety is not all about running from a tiger or beating the crap out of an alligator. Humans have another trick up their collective sleeve: the freeze response. This is caused when something tells the brain that the threat is too big to run from or fight off, essentially that there is no hope except to play dead.  ...  continue reading