Friday, January 22, 2010

Tips For Parents on Discovering Children's Depression

Depression can be found among children of any age, from preschool through young adulthood. Experts agree that the rates of depression in young have skyrocketed. A recent study among college students at Kansas State University found the percentage of depressed students doubled over a 13 year period.

The rates of depression in children are likely under reported because parents and professionals often fail to recognize the problem. Children rarely spontaneously report depression to others. Instead, they more typically remain unaware of their feelings, which manifest themselves through changes in their behavior, appetite and sleep.

This is the story:

Angeline's mom surprises her by bringing cupcakes to school on her eighth birthday. The teacher leads the class in singing "Happy Birthday", but Angeline barely smiles. After quickly devouring the two overloaded trays of cupcakes, the kids all race out to the playground for recess. Angeline trails behind.

Angeline's teacher approaches her mother, "I am concerned about Angeline. She seems quiet and less interested in her schoolwork. I often see her alone on the playground. She does not raise her hand in class like she used to, either. Is something wrong?"

Patterns of behavior in Depressed Children

When children are depressed, they lose interest in activities that they previously enjoyed. If you ask them if they are sad, they may not be able to connect their feelings with words. However, they will show various signs of depression, such as low energy, sleep problems, appetite changes, irritability and low self-esteem.

Watch children at play for subtle signs of depression. Depressed children may weave themes of death or loss into their play. All childrens play includes such themes on occasion, but dark topics show up more often in kids who are depressed. You may need to observe kids over a period of time because their moods change. They may not look as continuously depressed as adults with depression. Their moods may fluctuate throughout the day. Consult a professional if you have any doubts.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Overcoming Panic Attacks - 3 Cures to Help Overcome Panic Fast

Here are three cures for overcoming panic attacks that work-and that you can remember in a pinch. Any one or all of these three cure will help you regain control over your emotions and over your situation.

Cure #1. Blow your trouble away.

To overcome an attack, do long exhalations from the bottom of your lungs. Take deep breaths in, but don't hold them. Take at least twice as long to breathe out as you take to breathe in. It helps to practice this technique for overcoming panic attacks when you are relaxed.

In an anxiety attack, the autonomic nervous system, the part of the central nervous system that regulates the acuity of our senses, our digestion, perspiration, and breathing, gets out of balance. When breathing becomes fast and shallow, carbon dioxide can build up and the ability of the brain to deal with the situation is subtly altered. Taking a long breath out expels carbon dioxide. Your lungs will reflexively ensure you get enough oxygen.

Taking care to breathe out during a panic attack can:

• Decrease blood pressure
• Decrease heart rate
• Decrease metabolism
• Decrease muscle pain
• Increase circulation

When you blow out "used" air, you will experience less shortness of breath, dizziness, feeling of pins and needles, racing heart, and pains in the hands and feet. Simply regulating your breathing can completely cure an attack. You get better results the more often you practice the technique.

Cure #2. Stand up (or at least sit up) straight and face your panic attack.

If you experience panic attacks while working at your desk-and the workplace is the number one location for panic attacks-simply correcting your posture can cure the attack.

You already have to deal with poor quality recycled air or air conditioning, a lack of fresh air, mold, too much coffee drinking, long hours, and probably an impatient boss. If you slouch in front of your computer all day, you interfere with your body's defenses against these stresses and increase the risk of panic attack.

The purpose of sitting up straight and standing up straight is the same as the purpose for taking long exhalations above. You exhale carbon dioxide-laden air out and you breathe oxygenated air in. The subtle change in the availability of oxygen calms your autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for panic attacks.

Cure #3. Employ diversionary tactics.

One you have taken control over breathing and posture, and you are not dealing with a genuine emergency, interrupt the autonomic cycles that cause panic. A great way to do this is to splash your face with cold water. This replaces the "startle reflex" that gets stuck during a panic attack with a "dive reflex" that conserves oxygen for the brain.

One other practice will also go a long way toward curing an anxiety attack. In the modern era, most of us have been told that it is a good thing to discuss our feelings. If you have panic attacks, it actually isn't.

Talking about panic reinforces the underlying anxiety. Doing something about panic interrupts the autonomic responses that perpetuate the attack. This does not mean you should never discuss your concerns with a friend, a family member, or a counselor. It only means that you shouldn't talk about panic while you are still panicking. Cure it instead.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tips For Panic Attacks - Distinguishing Between Fact and Fiction

Trying to find tips for panic attacks can be a very frustrating task. There is so much information out there about managing these episodes that it becomes difficult to discern between fact and fiction. Most of these methods promise relief, but how can you be certain which technique will work for you?

Unfortunately the answer to that question is: You Can't. Panic disorder affects people in different ways, and so too does treatment. What works for John Doe may not work for Jane and vice versa, making treatment of these attacks very difficult to address.

A Quick Warning about Medication

Many people are quick to turn to medication at a physician's suggestion. This is not necessarily a bad idea, but it does have its drawbacks. Medications, such as the SSRI antidepressants, are occasionally effective at treating the symptoms of a panic attack, but they are not a cure. Eventually you will need to work on the underlying cause of the panic attacks you experience. Moreover, with medication there are side effects. Ranging from dizziness to hypertension, from intestinal problems to impotence, the effects of these drugs can become more troubling than the condition you are trying to treat. And finally there is the notion of dependence. Continued use of these drugs can quickly become habitual, and eventually, with long-term use, you can become dependent upon them.

Tips for Panic Attacks

The best tips for panic attacks are the ones that involve your participation. You don't necessarily have to relinquish all control to pills or doctors to cope with the effects.

During a panic attack it can feel like you are losing control. You may become convinced that you are dying, having a coronary event or going insane. Rest easy, you are not. Your body and mind are simply on a high state of alert when they shouldn't be, and it is this suddenness that you are probably reacting to. Instead of letting your mind jump to catastrophic conclusions, follow some of the tips below to help bring your thoughts back under control.

Repeat a comforting, reassuring mantra as a distraction. "I'm perfectly normal," or "I am under control." Anything that will focus your attention on something more positive.
Take deep, measured breaths. During a panic attack most people complain about shortness of breath or a rapid heartbeat. The reason for this is hyperventilation-and it may be caused by breathing only with the mouth. Take deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and feeling the breath fill up your body. You can even count quietly as you are inhaling. By focusing on your breathing you can usually bring the respiratory symptoms under control.
Talk to somebody. All too often, sufferers of panic attacks isolate themselves, feeling that no one will understand. This can be very damaging to your relationships, and the stress you internalize over this tension can worsen your condition. Confide to your loved ones, even if you feel they cannot understand what you are going through. You are not alone and sometimes just talking can do a world of good.
Meditation. Panic sufferers are regularly worrying about the future or regretting the past. This can cause a great deal of stress and intensify both the frequency and severity of your attacks. Meditation techniques are designed to teach you to live only in the present, bringing all your attention to what is happening right now, both physically and mentally. It is a great technique to employ not only during an attack but as a way to prevent future occurrences as well.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Relaxation Techniques For Panic Attacks - 3 Natural Ways of Getting Over Panic Attacks

One of the most effective ways of getting over panic attacks is natural techniques. Whenever possible, you should try your best to find alternatives to drugs and medication treatment. Drugs and medication are not the best solutions because they are not long-term cures; they only mask your panic and anxiety temporarily. What we need to do is get to the root cause, and treat the root cause of your panic.

There are many relaxation techniques for panic attacks that will reduce your panic and anxiety and the actual intensity of the attacks.

I will now share with you, 3 natural ways to getting over panic attacks:

1. Deep Breathing - This is one of the simplest and best things you can do for not only your panic disorder, but for your overall well-being and health. For a few minutes each day, lie down in a comfortable spot, and take deep slow breaths in through your nose, all the way to the stomach, then exhale slowly. Breathing this way gives your body the maximum amount of oxygen possible, and it will revitalize the body and relax you. Practice this daily, and then you can do this technique if a panic attacks should strike.

2. Meditation - This leads nicely on from deep breathing. By sitting quietly, eyes closed for 5 minutes daily, relaxed and focussed on your breathing, you will be able to take your focus away from panic and anxiety. This will take practice, but stick with it because if you ever experience an attacks coming along, you will find it easier with your breathing and ability to shift your thoughts away from the attack, reducing its intensity by a huge margin.

3. Visualization - This again leads nicely on from meditation. While you meditate, try to picture a pleasant memory, or a pleasant future even you would like to experience. This will get you into a positive state of mind, and then, every time a panic attack may occur, you just need to remember this picture. This alone will put you if a very positive state of mind, thus reducing the chances and intensity of panic disorder.

You can use each of these techniques individually, or pick which one resonates with you best. For best results, start on the deep breathing, slowly integrate meditation, and then introduce visualization. If you do this daily, not only will you be improving your health, you will be reducing the chances of a panic attack striking, and even if one does strike, you will have the tools to stop it there and then.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Panic Attacks - Controlling Panic Attacks by Breaking the Stress-Distress Cycle

Everyone experiences some stress and anxiety in their everyday lives and we are all plagued by our fair share of fears and worries. These feelings are a perfectly normal reaction to stressful or threatening situations, and in some circumstances are vital to our survival, allowing us to cope with dangerous situations when they arise.

It is only when these responses are either experienced or greatly magnified in situations out of context that a problem occurs. Anyone who suffers from panic attacks will recognise these symptoms - sweating, butterflies in the stomach, pounding heart and muscle tension.

A normal stress response prepares us to cope with difficulties or danger by triggering the release of adrenaline and other body chemicals that set into motion mental and physical changes in our bodies. Our breathing rate increases, as does our blood pressure and heart rate. Our digestive system is also affected and we tend to perspire more and our muscles tense up.

This is called the "fight or flight" response and has its origins in our ancestors, when they had to face dangers to their survival from predators. These physiological changes prime our bodies to be able to react quickly by either fighting or running. In other words, they evolved to help us deal with short-term stress - once the stressful situation passes, the body returns to normal.

Today, we no longer face threats from wild animals but have other more "modern" stresses instead, such as pressure at work, domestic issues, deadlines etc. Unfortunately for many people, these turn out to be long-term rather than short-term stresses.

With the "fight or flight" response, problems arise when the stressful situation continues and the body is kept in this heightened state of alert for a long time. We begin to experience unpleasant physical symptoms such as muscular pain, constant headaches and digestive problems.

Mentally, we begin to suffer from negative moods and emotions, causing our attitude towards other people to change, often for the worse. Eventually, high blood pressure and other stress-related ailments can leave us feeling anxious and fearful for our health, causing us to feel distress. This distress then causes us to become more stressed and so a "stress-distress" cycle is started.

In this situation a full blown panic attack can easily be triggered. Such triggers are many and varied - what triggers a panic attack in one person, for instance, may not trigger one in someone else.

Suffering a panic attack for the first time is a terrifying ordeal for anyone. It is not uncommon for the sufferer to believe they are dying or going insane. What is important to remember is that after this first attack, the fear of suffering another panic attack can itself set the "stress-distress" cycle in motion, thereby increasing the likelihood of further attacks.

Breaking the stress-distress cycle is therefore the key to controlling panic attacks. This can be achieved in a variety of different ways including:

• Progressive muscle relaxation techniques.

• Breathing control techniques.

• Cognitive behavioural therapies.

It is also vital that anyone suffering from stress, anxiety and panic attacks should seek help from their doctor as soon as possible, in order to prevent the condition from becoming chronic and thus more difficult to treat.

Don't let panic attacks control your life.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Controlling Panic Attacks and Anxiety

If you are reading this then I can make a fairly safe assumption that I don't need to explain what a panic attack is, or just how real the symptoms are. The good news is that controlling panic attacks is something that can be done by any anxiety sufferer. I suffered for many years with this disorder and throughout those years I learnt something very important, the ability to recognise the varying levels of anxiety that lead to the eventual panic attack. Understanding this allowed me to put to use a few techniques that will prevent a full blown attack.

You have probably heard the idea of breathing into a paper bag. You may have tried this and found it didn't work for you, or if it did work, it wasn't long before you were back into panic mode. State of mind plays a massive part here, if we could allow our minds to forget all about the fear of panic then we simply wouldn't have panic attacks. Unfortunately this is much easier said than done. Recognising the various stages of anxiety is the key to controlling them.

Mild anxiety is something that probably everybody has experienced at some time and would have no trouble recognising it. Maybe a slight tightening of the chest combined with feelings of deep worry. If this progresses into severe anxiety then the feelings intensify, the chest can tighten up more, you might find your breathing is very rapid and you get short of breath among various other symptoms. This is the point when a panic attack can emerge, the heart will race, you might have pains and numbness, palpitations and dizziness feeling like you may pass out. The fight or flight response kicks in and you are now into a full blown panic attack.

The worst symptoms of an attack are caused by breathing too much oxygen and not retaining enough carbon dioxide. This is the opposite of what many sufferers believe and the shortness of breath makes them attempt to breath in harder and faster to intake more oxygen, making the whole thing worse. What the paper bag trick does is allows us to breath back the carbon dioxide we have just breathed out, thus resetting the balance. So if it's that straightforward then why doesn't it always work for every sufferer?

The main reason is because balancing the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels will indeed calm the symptoms of a panic attack reasonably quickly but it won't so immediately calm the feelings associated with severe anxiety, i.e., the level of anxiety that comes just before the onset of a panic attack. Why not? Because at this level of anxiety the symptoms are caused by the release of too much adrenalin, which are very similar to the symptoms associated with a panic attack.

This is what makes it so difficult for many anxiety sufferers to control their panic attacks. It is very difficult to recognise them as different things when logical thinking is always telling you they are one and the same. To reiterate the paper bag example, a few breaths into it will balance out your carbon dioxide levels which in turn will prevent the effects of full blown panic. However, because you are still in a state of quite bad anxiety you immediately feel like it hasn't helped, your breathing may remain heavy or rapid and as a result, you enter into a perpetual cycle.

Once you understand the way anxiety progresses through these different stages you can train yourself to prevent a panic attack by monitoring your breathing (without the need for a paper bag). The fear of a panic attack is what brings on the attack in the first place, when you realise this you will stop fearing them. This will have the added benefit of calming the effects of severe anxiety and aid your recovery. Different methods are required to cure anxiety itself but this is much easier to live with than panic disorder. Curing panic disorder is the first stage to full recovery from anxiety, which at it's worst is nothing more than an unpleasant feeling that does not debilitate you. This is something you must continuously remind yourself. You can do it!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sleep Panic Attacks

Sleep panic attacks are a common occurrence; however they are less common than panic attacks that strike during the daylight hours. When someone suffers from these attacks they are generally overcome with overwhelming feelings that are similar to those suffered by those who have heart attacks. Having an attack can feel like a heart attack when it comes to various symptoms. It can make the sufferer feel as though they will surely die while suffering from an attack of panic disorder.

Some of the most common fears and anxiety disorder symptoms may include such sensations as:

- Chills
- Nausea
- Dizziness
- Hot Flashes
- Fear of Dieing
- Stomach upsets
- Feelings of Terror
- Lightheadedness
- Breathing difficulties
- The need to Escape
- Increase in heart rate
- Pounding chest pains
- Fear of Losing Control
- Fear of Embarrassment
- Claustrophobic feelings
- Numbness or Tingling hands

Although, studies do not show any conclusive evidence of any particular cause of panic attacks there are findings that tend towards there being various factors involved that cause these attacks. Yet, these causes and symptoms can and will vary from one individual to the next. Most often the attacks are suffered during the waking hours and these attacks can be debilitating and distressful. However, sleep attacks do occur for some individuals and these can be just as uncomfortable and distressing as those suffered during the day.

It is a serious health condition that effects about three million Americans, who have suffered from such attacks at some point in their lifetime. Most experience their first attack at about fifteen to nineteen years old, however it is not uncommon for children of younger ages to suffer from these attacks. Generally, the attacks only last for a few moments; however, since the symptoms are so similar to those of a heart attack many sufferers actually fear having another attack worse than anything else. Generally, forty to seventy percent of the people who suffer from these attacks will also suffer from nocturnal attacks or sleep attacks. Although these types of attacks may last for up to ten minutes, it is the time it takes to calm down that generally takes the longest time.

Unfortunately, many sufferers never seek the aid of relief they need. However, help is available with an assortment of treatments and medication available today. There is no need to suffer in silence or fear, no reason to try to deal with it all by yourself, especially when you are not sure about what is happening inside your own body. Consider consulting with your personal physician to learn more about panic attack disorders and the type of medication or treatments that are best suited for you and your personal needs.