My babysitter doesn't show up. On her first day. When I need her most. I hired her because of an anxiety relapse. I need help with the kids and with everything while I work on my recovery. She sends me a text that she has a prior scheduling conflict. A meeting at 7 a.m. Who has a meeting at 7 a.m.? She'll later text me that she's not up for the job. That it's just too much for her to handle.
Tell me about it.
I have no choice but to get my kids ready on my own despite my debilitating anxiety. I am weak and drained from a week of panic attacks and panic hangovers. Every little task is daunting. But there's no other way. Life must goes on. I need to get them to school. I need to go to work.
I try to stay calm as my heart starts to race and my legs begin to shake.
I'm an hour late for work. I turn on my computer. It's hard to focus on the screen. My muscles are tight. I can't focus or concentrate.
I decide to have some soup.
My head starts spinning.
Oh no, here it comes.
I try to stay calm as my heart starts to race and my legs begin to shake. I feel nauseous and I might throw up. It's happening. Right here, right now, at work. A panic attack. My first one happened in my mid-20s. Thought I was dying. It runs in my family. My father has anxiety and panic disorder. Shoot. What am I going to do? My mind starts racing. Maybe this isn't anxiety. Maybe I am actually dying. I should go to the hospital.
The paramedics show up. At work. They take my blood pressure. I bust the cuff off. Why is this lasting so long? My boss is concerned.
I'm no stranger to the ER. Anxiety attacks have seen me here many times. This attack lasts three hours.
Finally, my name is called.
I follow the nurse, speed walking ahead of me to a small room. I'm a little wobbly on my feet and if I turn my head from side to side I get vertigo. I sit on the bed. The doctor comes in.
I tell her my symptoms and she orders up a bunch of tests. She's particularly concerned about my chest tightness and wants to make sure my heart hasn't been damaged or worse. I try to keep calm.
I keep googling my symptoms. Maybe it is anxiety. Again.
Time for some tests.
The nurse takes my blood pressure lying down, sitting up and standing up. I lie back down and raise my shirt. She sticks nodes all over my chest for an electrocardiogram. Next she draws blood and tells me the results will be in an hour.
A short time later an older lady walks in and introduces herself as a crisis worker. (Note to medical staff: A nicer title might be helpful.) We go through my history of anxiety and what I'm feeling right now. She tells me about a day program with a support group for street drug users.
I'm not a street drug user.
"Can I see a therapist?" I ask.
"We don't have any at the hospital," she says. "You'll have to search one online."
"Can I stay the night?"
"All the beds are taken," she replies.
An hour later, the doctor arrives.
"All your tests came back normal," she says. "It's anxiety. You can go home."
I will go on a waiting list for therapy and try to get through these difficult days on my own.
I am discharged and my neighbour picks me up. She did the same for another neighbour of ours who also went to the ER for a panic attack just a few months ago. All the moms on my street are on meds for anxiety and depression.
"It's just anxiety," I say to my husband as I walk through the front door.
He gives me a hug. He and I both know what this means -- a period of recovery that might last a couple weeks to a couple months. I won't be able to work or look after the kids and he will have to pick up the slack.
I'll see my family doctor and try to get on the right meds to help me through and beyond this relapse. I will go on a waiting list for therapy and try to get through these difficult days on my own.
There aren't enough mental health hospital beds or mental health therapists. Child care or home care isn't available for people with mental health disorders. Hopefully I won't lose my job. I'm already in major debt from having to hire a private home care worker and not being able to work the past couple of years due to my previous relapse. I tried applying for the disability tax credit during that time but was denied. We lost our house and had to move.
Thankfully, I managed to recover and find a great, new job but five months in, I've relapsed again. I can only hope my current employer understands and takes me back once my medication begins to work. I promise him I will do all I can to prevent another relapse from happening again. As if it's up to me.
What other choice do I have?
Just another day in the life of an anxiety disorder.
Wish we had more help.
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A British study published this year in the American Journal of Psychiatry looked at pairs of adult twins, both fraternal and identical, to see how genetics might influence anxiety. The researchers hypothesized that a child with an identical twin for a father would have the same amount of anxiety as their father (or his twin) if the trait is only genetic— he or she would share the same amount of DNA with either of those adults. But they found that when it came to anxiety, children had more in common with their own parents than than they did with their parent’s twin, indicating that the relationship between the parents and children was an important factor in predicting future anxiety. If you’re suffering from anxiety, seeking treatment won’t just help you but it may benefit your children in the short and long term as well.
If you have a beloved pet, you know that it’s good for your quality of life. It’s just nice to have your dog greet you when you get home from work, or your cat cuddle at your feet when you go to bed. But research shows that a pet can be helpful for your mental health too. One recent study found that pets can help lower social anxiety in children with autism, for example. Researchers at Purdue University measured reductions in stress levels for children aged five to 12 and with autism when they were exposed to companion animals including cats, dogs, and guinea pigs.
Untreated anxiety and depression can have negative effects on your physical health as well as your mental health, which is one more reason why access to psychiatric care is so important. For example, research from the University of Edinburgh released this month found that people with anxiety or depression may have a higher risk of dying from liver disease. The connection is not yet clear and more research is needed on the biological links between liver disease and psychological distress, but the findings are considered the first to find a potential link between the two.
Air pollution has already been linked to serious health problems like asthma and heart attacks, and one new study found that particulate air pollution could also be linked to our mental health. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University found that exposure to fine particulate matter air pollution could cause or intensify anxiety as it causes increased oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. It’s also possible that air pollution could increase anxiety by aggravating chronic health conditions.
Research released in May found that 4.3 Americans with full-time jobs — or 3.7 per cent of adult workers--experienced an anxiety disorder over the previous year. The rate was even higher for those who didn’t have full-time employment: the rate of anxiety disorders in the past 12 months was 5.6 per cent for part-time workers, 6.9 per cent for the unemployed, and 8.9 per cent for those out of the workforce. And anxiety disorders themselves can make it hard to gain or maintain adequate employment.
Nobody knows a child better than his or her parents, but even attentive parents may be missing signs of anxiety in their kids. One study done by Yahoo Parenting and Silver Hill Hospital found that some parents are in denial that their children may be suffering from anxiety or depression. The researchers found that while almost two thirds of the parents they surveyed think their teen child is suffering from anxiety or depression, and nearly half of those teens have talked to their parents about their mental-health issues, only 18 per cent of those teens have received a diagnosis. The good news is that most parents notice their children’s struggles, and many teens feel comfortable talking to their parents about their mental health. It’s important to follow through if you suspect your own child is struggling, because quality care is available and can help.
A new survey from the University of California (UC) indicates that post-secondary students are increasingly dealing with mental-health issues, including anxiety disorders. The UC survey found that incoming college students in 2014 had the lowest self-rated emotional health in the nearly 50 years of the survey’s history. Their worries include anxiety about their ability to find gainful employment after graduation, years in the future.
It’s no surprise that bullying can cause anxiety in children who experience it, but new findings indicate that it can affect mental health even into adulthood.The study also notes the effect is stronger for children who are bullied by peers. A study published this year in Lancet Psychiatry found that children bullied by their peers are at a higher risk for the development of mental-health problems in early adulthood when compared to those who are bullied or emotionally abused by an adult. The findings make it clear that bullying is a serious issue that can have long-term health effects, even when it’s among children.
Research done in the U.K. and published this year in BMJ Open found that men who self-reported abusive behaviours towards their romantic partners were three to five times more likely to report symptoms of anxiety than non-perpetrators. The findings are consistent with past research that has found that men who either have experienced or perpetrated domestic abuse are more likely to experience mental-health issues like anxiety. Studies like these show that doctors treating men for anxiety disorders would be wise to ask about domestic abuse, the researchers said.
Bruxism — more commonly known as tooth grinding — can lead to a host of dental issues, including headaches, jaw pain, loss of tooth enamel, tooth decay, and even tooth loss. And people suffering from social anxiety often experience bruxism, even if the bouts of anxiety are short term. More than 40 per cent of the study participants with a diagnosed social phobia showed moderate to severe dental wear, compared to just over one quarter of the subject without a phobia. And 43 per cent of the group with social anxiety reported experiencing bruxism while awake, compared to only three per cent of those in the control group. People who grind their teeth while awake are sometimes unaware they’re doing it at all, since it tends to be quieter than bruxism that occurs during sleep.
Are you sleeping six or eight hours? Or are you tossing and turning every night with worry? If your sleep is accompanied by respiratory problems like snoring, difficulty breathing, muscle weakness or daytime sleepiness, talk to your doctor about anxiety, says Dr. Prakash Masand, a psychiatrist and president of Global Medical Education based in New York City.
If you're constantly feeling stressed out about your work life, family life or personal life, it may be a symptom of anxiety. Experts say if your stress is long-term, it could leave you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.
Not only are you stressed out, but your body also feels like it is burning out and shutting down. Masand says if you feel overworked and it is continuously getting in the way of your day-to-day functioning, it could be anxiety.
If you're constantly and unexpectedly worried, scared or frightened by something with an uncertain result, it could be a sign of anxiety, Masand says. Worrying can be reduced by observing your thoughts and feelings and learning how to take control and accept your current situation — as opposed to being fearful of it, according to PsychCentral.
If you experience stomach knots or upset stomachs that are sudden, it could be another symptom of anxiety. Masand says if your stomach difficulties are also followed by diarrhea, severe constipation, nausea or vomiting, speak to your doctor to rule out other medical conditions.
Masand says you should also be mindful of chest tightening and other symptoms related to breathing and your heart. This may include shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, pressure or fullness in the centre of the chest and/or a radiating chest, arms or back pain. If you have these associated symptoms, you need to seek emergency care immediately.
You may get a headache from time to time depending on your workflow or sleep routine, but Masand says if your headaches are common and also include weakness, dizziness or loss of sensation, talk to your doctor about getting diagnosed.
Along with chest tightness, palpitations and irregular heartbeats are also common signs of anxiety. For some, palpitations can be common — you may feel a sensation of fluttering, throbbing, flip-flopping, or pounding in your heart, according to Harvard's Family Health Guide.
Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder where people experience unexpected and repeated panic attacks from time to time, according to Anxiety BC. Masand says this psychological symptom can also include being worried, scared or irritable.
Besides blurred vision, if your sight is shaky and you have a hard time keeping your train of thought together, Masand says it may be a sign of anxiety. You may feel shakiness in your arms, legs, fingers, toes or your whole body at once.
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