Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Overcoming winter blues (including panic attacks or anxiety disorder)

I understand it can be especially tough during winter time because usually people would feel more isolated than usual during this season. It may seem as if the world out there is a cold world where most people appear to be cold and unfriendly and ignoring others, and it can be depressing to think that those who have lots of friends and family members seem to be having fun while the rest of us are suffering alone here. It is not easy to choose to live a solitary life where we are not dependent on belonging to any kind of group or organisation or institution, but it takes courage. 

Propranolol - anxiety relief

Perhaps to help relieve anxiety, I suggest getting propranolol from a pharmacy or GP, because I find it helpful for myself to slow down rapid heartbeats. It has no side effects except lowering blood pressure temporarily, and you need only take a tablet when necessary.

Here's sharing this testimony I read about propranolol which I thought may be helpful to you. Other kinds of anti-anxiety drugs such as Xanax tend to have side effects and cause withdrawal symptoms. In my own experience, propranolol is relatively safe in that it doesn't have addictive or withdrawal effects. The only side effect it had on me is that my blood pressure was lowered if I were to take a regular dose of 1 tablet every morning and every night, which may cause dizziness in the long run. Eventually I stopped taking it regularly as the palpitation episodes became fewer and far between in 2009.

As mentioned, you need only take it when you are experiencing palpitations, and if you take only once every few days (when necessary), then I think it won't result in dizziness. You could try asking the medical doctor or pharmacist for propranolol and the recommended dosage as I believe this may be the most suitable drug to prevent/minimise anxiety attacks (besides other measures such as diet, rest, deep breathing and so on).
I know of the stress you speak of and am on Propranolol myself and for the same reason. The classification of propranolol is a beta adrenergic blocker. It simply blocks the effects of adrenaline which causes "the fight or flight" response felt when we feel in danger, like a near miss car accident or a lion chasing you. It occurs when one is stressed to the max about anything. Adrenaline causes a lot of immediate responses in your body when released from your adrenal glands, the increased heart rate and blood pressure, palpitations and a bunch of other things.
This class of medications lowers your heart rate and blood pressure and usually stops palpitations (the feeling of your heart skipping a beat). It's been around for a long time, is very safe when taken as directed. I take mine three times a day, but I flip out about everything, and it helps in preventing my migraine headaches. So, just a bit more information.
Relieving/Preventing anxiety attacks through diet
Chamomile tea eases tension and anxiety
As mentioned earlier, besides taking propranolol when needed to reduce/alleviate heart palpitations, diet is another way to relieve or prevent anxiety attacks. This article shares some herbs for dealing with seasonal affective disorder (aka winter blues).
"(3) Chamomile tea can take the edge off "cabin fever." It smooths out tension and anxiety that externally enforced confinement tends to promote. It's best to use the flowers for making the tea. You'll enjoy its mild taste and soothing quality. Perfect for relaxing before bedtime or anytime."
Mushrooms contain Vitamin D
Also, I have read that Vitamin D is essential for fighting against winter blues. Since the cold weather may make it difficult to go out during the day to get the necessary sunlight exposure at times, this article recommended taking mushrooms since they naturally contain Vitamin D.
Part of the "winter blues" includes extremely limited exposure to natural sunlight. Sunlight has been shown not only to make people happier, but it also triggers the human body to produce vitamin D, a necessary component of good health ( And mushrooms are loaded with vitamin D, being the only item in the produce aisle that contains it.
Learn more:
Other natural remedies to avoid depression/anxiety attacks
Here's sharing another article you might find useful as it recommends some natural remedies to avoid depression (or anxiety attacks) during winter without using medical drugs (except for propranolol as mentioned earlier for dealing with heart palpitations). While you are probably already familiar with some of these suggestions, but it is always good to remind ourselves from time to time because we may sometimes forget to take care of ourselves in some areas especially when going through challenges.
"A depression which recurs annually during the winter, as well as feelings of depression which deepen during this period, are related to lack of vitamin D, which is delivered in its most powerful form through sunshine. Vitamin D increases brain levels of serotonin, which has been called the "happiness hormone." Vitamin D also plays an important role in the body's production of dopamine, a mood-lifting transmitter. One excellent source of vitamin D is fermented cod liver oil; just one teaspoon a day delivers a potent dose of this vitamin. Dietary sources include salmon, sardines and mackerel as well as organ meats and eggs (choose organic sources for maximum health benefit, of course). You may also want to try a vitamin D supplement to ensure that you get your daily dose."
Learn more:
Cod liver oil (orange flavour)
As suggested above, you could try cod liver oil (which contains Vitamin D, which in turn helps the body to produce dopamine, a mood-lifting transmitter) - it is available in pharmaceutical stores. I have taken cod liver oil before, usually one tablespoon every day. I kinda like the taste, and I find that it helps build immune system in the long run too. There is a version of cod liver oil with orange flavour, if you don't like the original flavour.

Natural vitamin D from the sun
This article suggests getting some sunlight outdoors (whenever weather permits). I agree it is important too as our mood usually lifts naturally when we are outside the building, and it is always good to be away from the internet for some time too.
"Get as much sunlight on your face and body as is available

Facing the sun for 10 minutes, with your eyes open or closed is an excellent way to absorb the energy of the sun. Take your dose of Vitamin D3 at the same time in order magnify the body's production of Vitamin D. This will boost and protect immunity."
Learn more:
I agree with this part of the first article too.
"Also, take some time to perform emotional self-care. Express your feelings rather than suppressing them, whether by visiting a therapist, writing in a journal or talking with a trusted friend. Re-connect frequently with feelings of happiness, whether watching a funny movie or listening to music that lifts your spirit."
Learn more:
Yes, it is good to express your feelings by blogging and sharing about it. At the same time, it is also important to not allow your emotions to affect your health too much, or else it would be counterproductive. Expressing feelings is always good for relieving stress and anxiety in the long run, so long as you can find a balance and not be overwhelmed by them (as mentioned in the article below). Please remember that in spite of all the hurts and pains you may have experienced in the past, you are always greater than your sorrows, disappointments and challenges. The Christ in you, or the Divine in you, or the Buddha nature in you, is far above the storms in your life.
"Learning to meditate can help provide a balanced path between those two extremes and enable you to feel that you are not at the mercy of your emotions."
Learn more:
Deep breathing exercises can keep us in touch with our inner peace
Yes, meditation and deep breathing can bring you to a place of inner peace where you are safe from being buffeted by the waves, even if they come back and remind you of the past.

Related links

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Transform Your Life – Overcome Your Abused Childhood Trauma
How to Deal with Childhood Trauma as an Adult
What are the Christmas Blues?
Getting Rid of Those Holiday "Blues": Ryerson University Expert

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