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A Comprehensive, Holistic Guide to the Conventional Medical and Self-Care Treatments for Anxiety Disorders In a world that values excess, the pressure to succeed never ends. As a result of our fast-paced and high-stakes society, anxiety can take over our lives. For approximately 20 million American adults a year, anxiety symptoms such as dizziness, stammering, heart palpitations, trembling, and shaking can be extremely debilitating. Unlike other books on anxiety, this book offers a holistic program that includes ...
A Comprehensive, Holistic Guide to the Conventional Medical and Self-Care Treatments for Anxiety Disorders In a world that values excess, the pressure to succeed never ends. As a result of our fast-paced and high-stakes society, anxiety can take over our lives. For approximately 20 million American adults a year, anxiety symptoms such as dizziness, stammering, heart palpitations, trembling, and shaking can be extremely debilitating. Unlike other books on anxiety, this book offers a holistic program that includes not only conventional psychiatric and psychological treatments, but also provides nutrition, fitness, environmental, herbal, stress reduction/healing, and relationship self-care approaches. Living Well with Anxiety contains helpful advice for a wide range of anxiety disorders: social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and various phobias. With a comprehensive resource section that contains relevant websites and e-mail addresses, audiocassettes and CDs for relaxation, and descriptions of related books, this book provides vital help for anyone experiencing anxiety.
Anxiety is frequently confused with other feelings, especially fear. You may call anxiety "nerves" or "nervousness," but that may be the only information you have about the condition.
What Is Anxiety?
The word anxiety has been used since the 1500s and comes from the Latin word anxius, which means worry of an unknown event. Worry then leads to a state of apprehension and uncertainty, which results in both physical and psychological effects.
Although you may not know the difference between anxiety and fear, the two terms refer to entirely different feelings. Fear is usually directed at an external danger. The event you fear is identifiable. You may fear stepping off a curb when a car is speeding by at sixty miles an hour, or when a neighbor's dog suddenly jumps out at you.
Anxiety has no such easily recognizable source and is often called an unexplained discomfort. You may have a sense of danger when experiencing anxiety, but the feeling is vague, and if asked, you may say your feeling is related to "something bad happening," or "losing control."
Anxiety has physical, emotional, mental,and even spiritual effects. Physical effects include shortness of breath, heart palpitations, trembling or shaking, sweating, choking, nausea or abdominal distress, hot flashes or chills, dizziness or unsteadiness. Because anxiety is so uncomfortable, you may convert your anxiety into anger or other feelings. Emotional effects include feelings such as worry, anger, panic, and terror. Mental effects include thinking you're going to die, or that you're going crazy or are out of control. Spiritual effects include alienation and feeling detached and out of touch with yourself and others.
What Causes Anxiety?
Everyone experiences anxiety. It is what makes us more human than otherwise, to paraphrase Dr. Harry Stack Sullivan. This psychoanalyst created the Theory of Interpersonal Relations and taught that much mental suffering is a result of communication that is interfered with by anxiety. According to Sullivan, anxiety is a normal reaction to unmet needs and other stresses, such as disapproval (first from parents and then from oneself or others). Anxiety can also be viewed as a protective mechanism that keeps you safe from situations believed to be threatening.
Whether or not anxiety develops into a chronic condition that interferes with your life depends on your genes, your early family experiences, your ongoing stress (which can affect brain activity), medical conditions, toxins you encounter, and drugs and stimulants you take. Let's examine these in a little more detail.
1. Your genes can contribute to anxiety conditions if you are born a volatile, excitable, reactive type of person who is easily set off by a threat. In this case, you may be especially prone to panic attacks, which are really just your body overreacting by pouring adrenaline out of your adrenal glands and into your bloodstream. This leads to a racing heart, shallow breathing, profuse sweating, trembling and shaking, and cold hands and feet as your body readies itself to either fight or flee. Since there is no real threat, you are left with the chemical reactions flooding your body. Luckily, the adrenaline released during panic tends to be reabsorbed by the liver and kidneys within a few minutes, and the attack subsides.
2. Childhood experiences can contribute to anxiety conditions if you had parents who were overly cautious or critical, if you were neglected, rejected, abandoned, incurred physical or sexual abuse, grew up in a family where one or both parents were alcoholic, or had parents who suppressed your expression of feelings and self-assertiveness.
Jeff, a kindergarten teacher, was sexually abused by his uncle, a pet store owner. Jeff didn't seem to have any anxiety problems until he turned nineteen, when he developed phobias about animals and heights. He stayed away from high places and animals and was able to complete college and start teaching. Gradually he became unable to leave his house or even his bedroom. He found a therapist who worked with him until he was able to leave his bedroom and eventually his house. He has returned to teaching but continues to see his therapist monthly as a preventive measure.
3. Cumulative stress over many years has also been implicated in the development of anxiety conditions, and a stressful lifestyle that avoids exercise, healthy nutrition, daily relaxation, social support, and self-nurturing activities can put you at increased risk. Years of heavy smoking often precede anxiety disorders, especially agoraphobia, generalized anxiety, and panic disorder. The connection appears to be impaired breathing ability. Your serotonin level may be involved, especially if you develop obsessive-compulsive traits. There is also a theory that reduced levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) can contribute to generalized anxiety.
There are numerous medical conditions that can lead to increased anxiety or panic attacks. Hyperventilation syndrome is a condition in which you breathe in the upper part of your chest. This results in symptoms very much like panic attacks, including light-headedness, shortness of breath, dizziness, trembling, and/or tingling in your hands. Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar level, also mimics the symptoms of panic. Hyperthyroidism (excess secretion of thyroid hormone) can lead to heart palpitations, insomnia, anxiety, and sweating that can add to your normal anxiety. Mitral valve prolapse (a harmless defect in the valve separating the upper and lower chambers of the heart that may cause the heart to beat out of rhythm) occurs more frequently in people who have panic attacks. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can worsen panic attacks. Inner ear disturbances can lead to dizziness, light-headedness, and unsteadiness, any of which can add to your anxiety.
Other situations that can set off or worsen anxiety or panic include taking stimulants (cocaine, amphetamines, caffeine, aspartame), high blood pressure, exposure to environmental toxins (pesticides, food additives, lead, chlorine, fluoride, or cadmium, for example), heart failure or irregular heart beats, clot in the lung, emphysema, deficiencies in vitamins or minerals, concussion, epilepsy, parathyroid disease, Cushing's syndrome, thyrotoxicosis, and withdrawal from drugs (especially tranquilizers, sedatives, and alcohol).
Excerpted from Living Well with Anxiety by Carolyn Clark Copyright ©2006 by Carolyn Clark. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted June 14, 2006
Many people will find Carolyn Chambers Clark¿s book to be an indispensable support. If you¿ve been accumulating a shelf of books on the subject, Living Well with Anxiety is the keeper it¿s a comprehensive guide to every angle of approach. The book is in part a tool for exploring cause and effect Clark writes that some lucky individuals, for instance, may find their symptoms alleviated by addressing environmental factors that may not have occurred to them. Clark discusses the connection between muscle tension and heartbeat, adrenaline and exercise, relaxation and breathing. She cautions against looking for a miracle in a pill bottle, but holds out the hope that it is possible to discover the source of any condition and, armed with that knowledge, to create a treatment program based on what the sufferer knows, or comes to know, to be true about himself. Whether you¿re reading on your own account, or on someone else¿s behalf, you¿ll find Clark¿s optimism contagious the author, with full knowledge of the realities involved, promises that in time you CAN learn to control your anxiety you can even make your sensitivity work FOR you. With fifteen pages of further resources at the back of the book, this is the volume to get you started, keep you motivated, and help you get there.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 18, 2006
Clark's latest book is the best book on anxiety I've read. Whether you suffer from test anxiety, performance anxiety, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, or phobias---this book can help. It helps you identify what you're eating and drinking that may affect your anxiety, how to arrange your environment to reduce your anxiety, how to use herbs and breathing and even affirmations to stay calm. Also, if you have well-meaning family or friends who only add to your anxiety---this book can help. It's the first book on anxiety I've seen that also talks about the spiritual aspects of anxiety and how to overcome feeling detached, without purpose and lost. If any of this connects with you---GET THIS BOOK!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 30, 2006
Dr. (EDD) Clark gives a nice overview for those who want to know a little bit more about living with chronic anxiety. She brings a helpful holistic point of view and advice to those who might be suffering and need information. Some of this is very basic and some more sophisticated with new or different information, such as on unusual herbs or color therapy. This is definitely a useful book and I'd suggest it for those who are unsure what to do about chronic anxiety. Everyone dealing with anxiety will get some ideas here.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.