Post-traumatic stress disorder. This disorder leads to long-lasting symptoms that ... they take fast, shallow breaths that can trigger a rapid heartbeat, ...
Anxiety: Beyond Butterflies
Everybody feels a little nervous now and then. Maybe you've got a big test, a first date, or a championship game. Your palms may get sweaty, you may turn red, your heart may pound, or you may have butterflies in your stomach. This is perfectly normal. Anxiety disorders, on the other hand, are different from ordinary nervousness. People with anxiety disorders are afraid, worried, or uneasy for no reason. Yet the feelings can last so long and be so intense that they make it hard to get on with everyday life
Do teenagers get anxiety disorders?Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders in the United States. All told, more than 19 million Americans are affected. These disorders are also widespread in children and teens, striking as many as 1 in 10 young people. Among teens, more girls than boys have an anxiety disorder. About half of all young people with one of these disorders also have a second anxiety disorder or another mental or behavioral problem, such as depression.
What causes anxiety disorders?
If someone in your family has an anxiety disorder, you may be more likely to have it too. The combination of certain people's genes and their life experiences may make them more prone to developing such problems. Brain chemistry may also play a part in anxiety disorders because the symptoms of these disorders are often relieved by medications that change the levels of certain brain chemicals.Personality may have an effect as well. For example, if you are very shy and fearful in new situations, you may have a higher than usual risk of developing an anxiety disorder. People with low self-esteem and poor coping skills may also be at higher risk. In addition, life experiences, such as being poor or being around violence or abuse over a long period of time, may make it more likely that people will develop anxiety problems.
What are the different types?
There are several types of anxiety disorders:
Generalized anxiety disorder. This disorder leads to constant, intense worry and stress over everyday events for a period of at least six months. People with this disorder always expect the worst, even when there is no reason for doing so. They also have physical problems, such as tiredness, trembling, muscle tension, headache, an upset stomach, diarrhea
Panic disorder. This disorder causes repeated attacks of intense fear that strike often for no obvious reason. Along with the fear, people may have physical symptoms such as chest pain, a pounding heart, sweating, dizziness, an upset stomach, or a feeling that they are about to die. This can be so unpleasant that people live in fear of the next panic attack and go to great lengths to avoid it.
Phobias This disorder causes intense, unrealistic fears. Even just thinking about the object of fear, such as heights, social situations, or spiders, can cause the person to panic.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder This disorder causes people to become trapped in a pattern of repeated, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or behaviors (compulsions). For example, people may wash their hands repeatedly, count things over and over, or keep arranging and rearranging objects. Although such thoughts or behaviors may be senseless and upsetting, they are very hard for people with the disorder to stop.
Post-traumatic stress disorderThis disorder leads to long-lasting symptoms that develop after people have gone through a very stressful event, such as rape, violence, natural disasters, or car crashes. People with the disorder may relive the event again and again in strong memories or nightmares
What problems do anxiety disorders cause?
If anxiety disorders are not treated, people may take extreme measures to avoid the situations or objects that trigger their fears. For example, they may refuse to leave the house. This can wind up greatly limiting their lives. Teens with untreated anxiety disorders often develop these problems:
frequent absences from school
poor relationships with others
that low self-esteem
Can anxiety disorders be treated?The main treatments for anxiety disorders are psychotherapy , medication, or both. Two types of psychotherapy have been shown to work well for anxiety. Behavioral therapy helps people change specific, unwanted behaviors. For example, some people hyperventilate when they get anxious; that is, they take fast, shallow breaths that can trigger a rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and other unpleasant symptoms. Behavioral therapy may teach them to take slow, deep breaths.Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps people learn to understand and change their thinking patterns so that they can react more calmly to situations physically, mentally, and spiritually. Yoga is perhaps the oldest physical exercise routine, stretching cause them anxiety. For example, some people may get scared and think "I'm going to die" when they get dizzy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy may teach them to replace that thought with a more appropriate one, such as "It's just a little dizziness. I can handle it." Psychotherapy may be done one-on-one with the therapist or within a small group of patients. For young people, it often involves members of the family.Support groups are also helpful for some people. In addition, a number of medications for treating anxiety are available. If one of these drugs doesn't work for a person, there are others to try. The right medication, especially when combined with psychotherapy, can calm and relax a person. If you think you may have an anxiety problem, talk with your health care provider. He or she may refer you to a professional who specializes in mental disorders.
Let's face it. Daily stress can wear you down. Whether it's studying for a math test, helping a friend who's in trouble, or keeping up with weekly chores at home, life is not always easy. It can drain your energy and make you feel physically and emotionally exhausted. To help get through the tough days and enjoy the easy days more, millions of Americans, including celebrities like Madonna, have taken up yoga. What is yoga?Yoga got its name from the word yug, which means union. It's a union of your body, mind, and spirit that helps you bring balance to your whole self back to 3000 BC. When practiced regularly, yoga lets you step away from who you are on a day-to-day basis and helps you recognize and pay attention to the whole person inside.Combining breathing, meditation, and physical poses, yoga helps release physical tension in your muscles and joints while releasing emotions that may be bottled up inside you. It does this by using movement, breath, posture, relaxation, and meditation to create a healthier, happier approach to living. How can yoga help me feel less stressed?Yoga has both mental and physical benefits. It combines controlled breathing , physical poses, and meditation in ways that help improve your overall health. Controlled breathing helps boost your brain power, improve your metabolism and digestion, calm your nerves, and make you feel sharper and better able to concentrate. Meditation relaxes you, reduces headaches, lowers your blood pressure, and helps you feel less anxious. Physical postures strengthen and tone your muscles, improve flexibility and circulation, and improve coordination. Together, breathing, meditation, and poses can help improve your overall health.You may find yoga particularly helpful if you have a problem with certain conditions that get worse when you're feeling stressed. These can include acne What kind of yoga is best to get rid of stress?Think about what it feels like to be stressed out: Your heart races, your breathing gets fast and shallow, and your muscles tighten up. There are many styles of yoga, and all of them can help make these stress symptoms go away.The style of yoga most people practice in the United States is hatha yoga, which focuses on physical well-being. With a serious focus on breathing, hatha yoga postures—such as downward dog and corpse work to balance different energy flows within your body. Hatha yoga is especially good for beginners, and because it focuses on breathing deeply and relaxing the muscles, it can help loosen those stress knots.There are many other forms of yoga too, with names like Iyengar, Kripalu, Raja, and Kundalini. All of them can help you beat stress. Do I have to be flexible to try yoga?Despite what many people think, yoga does not mean tying yourself up like a pretzel. Yoga generates motion without causing strain to your body. While not very aerobic it involves almost every muscle in your body and challenges them to work in a different way. In some cases, yoga uses muscles you may not have known you had. You may find that your muscles ache, especially after your first few classes. This is normal, and discomfort will go away as you continue to practice. If you suffer from any medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or neck injury, talk with your health care provider before beginning a regular yoga routine. How often should I practice yoga?Yoga has more benefits when it is practiced regularly. Whether you practice yoga every morning, do some brief yoga poses at your desk during the day, or join a weekly yoga class, you will notice benefits if you stick to some form of regular yoga routine. Many people find it easier to stick to a routine when they do yoga with a friend. Having someone else to practice with can help you make time for yoga when you feel you're too busy or too tired. And once you take time for yoga, you may find that it gives you the concentration and energy you need to get through even the toughest of days.If you are new to yoga, it's great to get started with a class. That way, you'll learn how to do the poses correctly, and the instructor can help you along. Many community centers, adult education centers, and hospitals offer inexpensive yoga classes
The Relaxing BreathThis reliable relaxation technique comes from yoga. It's great to do anytime you're feeling anxious, angry, upset, or stressed, or even when you're feeling physical discomfort and pain. Some people find that doing the Relaxing Breath (also called the 4-7-8 Breath) when they wake up in the middle of the night helps them fall back to sleep easily. Like all breathing exercises, the Relaxing Breath becomes more powerful the more you practice it.
Sit or lie comfortably with your back straight, and place your tongue in what's called the yogic position: Touch the tip of your tongue to the back of your upper front teeth and slide it up until it rests on the ridge of tissue between your teeth and the roof of your mouth. Keep your tongue there for the entire exercise.
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound. You may need to purse your lips to do this comfortably.
Close your mouth lightly. Inhale through your nose quietly to the count of 4.
Hold your breath for the count of 7.
Exhale through your mouth to the count of 8, making a whoosh sound.
Repeat steps 3 through 5 three more times, for a total of four cycles. Then breathe normally and see how your body feels.
The key to doing this exercise is to keep to the ratio of 4-7-8, which ensures that your exhales will be twice as long as your inhales. It doesn't matter how fast or slow you count; your pace will be determined by how long you can comfortably hold your breath.Practice this exercise at least twice a day, perhaps right after you wake up and just before you go to sleep. After a month of practicing, you can try increasing the number of breath cycles from four to eight. The Stimulating BreathWhen you need a quick pick-me-up—like when you feel that mid-afternoon slump—here's a yogic exercise that works faster than a cup of coffee. It's also known as the Bellows Breath.
Sit with your back straight and put your tongue in the yogic position. (For instructions on how to do this, see the Relaxing Breath.) Hold your tongue there for the entire exercise.
Breathe in and out very rapidly through your nose, keeping your mouth lightly closed. Your inhales and exhales should be of equal length and as short as possible (as many as three breath cycles per second, if you can do that comfortably). You should feel the effort in your muscles at the base of your neck and just above your collarbone. Put your hands on these spots to get a sense of movement. The action of your chest should be rapid and mechanical, like a bellows pumping air.
The first time you do this exercise, keep it up for no longer than 5 or 10 seconds, then breathe normally. Each time you do it, increase the duration by 5 seconds, if you can, until you work up to a full minute.This is real exercise, and you can expect to feel some tiredness in the muscles you are using at first. At the same time, you should feel a greater sense of alertness and less mental tiredness, an effect that will increase with practice. Try practicing this exercise once a day when you first wake up. Caution!Remember, if you feel lightheaded or sick while doing these exercises, stop and rest. It can take time to work up to doing these exercises regularly if you're not used to breathing this way.
What is it used for?Many people use progressive relaxation at night to help them fall asleep more easily or to lull them back to dreamland after waking up. Others use it to help ease chronic (long-term) pain. Progressive relaxation exercises can also be done during the day from a sitting or lying position to help relieve stress. How do I do it?There are many variations on the basic theme, but here's one standard technique that you can do while lying down. When practicing it, it's a good idea to find a quiet place where you won't be distracted. Wear loose, comfortable clothes.Of course, you may have to read through the following steps a few times and go back and forth to your instructions before you can remember how to do this exercise on your own. One good way to learn the technique is to have a friend read the instructions to you while you practice the steps. Then you can switch places.
Close your eyes and take a deep, slow breath in that goes all the way down to your abdomen. As you breathe out, imagine that you're letting out as much inner tension as you possibly can. Imagine at the same time that all your muscles feel heavy and your body is pleasantly sinking into the bed or whatever surface you're lying on. Repeat this a few times before beginning the exercise.
Focus your mind on your feet and calves. Pull your toes up toward the ceiling and tense your feet and calves as much as possible (but not so that it hurts). Hold that position for a few seconds. Now release and relax all those muscles. Notice how nice it feels to let go of the tension.
Focus your mind on your thighs and bottom. Clench all the muscles in those areas (it helps if you press your heels down at the same time). Hold for a few seconds. Then relax. Notice that those muscles are now so relaxed that your thighs and bottom want to sink into the surface you're lying on.
Focus your mind on your abdomen and chest. Tense all the muscles in those areas. Chances are, you'll be holding your breath automatically as you do this. Hold it there for a bit, then relax. You'll naturally want to take a deep breath to relieve the sense of tension in your chest. So do that—take a slow, deep breath in that you can feel all the way to your abdomen. As you exhale, imagine that you're releasing even more tension from your entire body.
Focus your mind on your hands and arms. Stretch your fingers out straight and tense all the muscles from your shoulders to your fingertips. Hold for a few seconds. Now relax. Imagine that tension is flowing out through the end of your fingertips as the circulation flows back into your arms.
Focus your mind on your shoulders and neck. This is where many people store a lot of stress and tension. Press your shoulder blades together and tighten all the muscles in your shoulders and neck. Hold briefly. Now let go and relax completely. Imagine that your shoulders and neck are totally loose and flowing with warmth and energy.
Focus your mind on your face and head. Tense your forehead, squint your eyes, wrinkle your nose, clench your teeth, and pull back the corners of your mouth. Nice picture, huh? Hold for a second or two. Now relax all those muscles. Let your jaw become totally slack and your mouth open naturally.
Now that you're totally relaxed, enjoy it! Take another deep breath, feeling it all the way to your abdomen. Imagine your whole body sinking into the surface you're lying on. Notice that your body feels pleasantly heavy and warm, and your mind feels peaceful. If you're doing this exercise during the day to relieve stress, take three more slow breaths, open your eyes, and return to the day's activities with a fresh new focus. On the other hand, if you're doing this exercise to fall asleep . . . sweet dreams