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Mental Health Explained: The What, Where and Why of Anxiety
Mental Health Explained: The What, Where and Why of Anxiety
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Article Author : csatchell (March 29, 2013)

Anxiety seems like a drain on your mental wellness, but it can actually save your life. The adaptive and life-saving function of anxiety serves as a warning of threats to your wellbeing, but anxiety damages your mental health when it overwhelms you to the point where you cannot function. This is known as an anxiety disorder, which potentially stems from abnormal neurotransmitter functioning or psychological causes.

The common types of anxiety disorders are social phobia, simple phobia, panic disorder, generalised anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. When you have had an especially traumatic experience, this can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. However, the causes of other common phobias are more difficult to discern, and often arise out of a combination of factors.

There are biological causes of anxiety disorders, (genetic, neurophysiological and neuroanatomical changes), and cognitive ones, involving the way you learn to perceive yourself and threats in the environment. How you cope with unconscious fears and conflicts, or psychodynamic causes, can lead to anxiety disorders, and there are also developmental causes which involve the way you build secure relationships to protect against threats.

So that’s what they are, where they come from and why they occur, but how can anxiety disorders be treated? The way your anxiety disorder is treated will depend on your particular circumstances, such as who your therapist is, who you are as a person and what the presenting situation is. Generally, you will often be treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two. It is not something you can just ‘snap out of’ and those who tell you that you should just increase your feelings of guilt and helplessness.

In terms of completely overcoming the condition, 55-65% of those who are given medication or cognitive-behavioural therapy to treat their anxiety disorders respond to the treatment. The results vary depending on the type of medication used, concomitant therapy and the population studied. According to certain studies, a combination of medication and cognitive-behavioural therapy is the best way to prevent relapses in the long-term. If you think your mental wellness may be affected by an anxiety disorder, don’t suffer in silence but consult your doctor and look online for more information and resources to help you.

Better Sex

What Do Women Want: New Book Explores Female ...
Sex has a bit of a reputation for messing with your emotional health, especially when you’re just not getting what you want. While male sexuality is a little more straightforward, as a woman your sexual wellness is seemingly tied up in a myriad of complexities and secret solutions – so what’s a girl gotta do to get laid around here? In walks sex-pert Daniel Bergner, who aims to tackle the mystery that is female sexuality in his new book What do Women Want?   In the book, Bergner explains that there are far more nuances to your sexual wellbeing than to your male counterparts’. One researcher describes it as flicking a single switch in a man, while women have a series of buttons, and no man is quite sure which does what. You’d think in this day and age that wellness experts would have this all figured out, but there’s actually limited research on female sexuality thanks, in part to a field historically dominated by men. Scientists are still arguing over whether the G-spot even exists for crying out loud.   Still, according the Bergner there is plenty of research in the works that indicate that our previously held assumptions about female sexuality are wrong. Notably, new studies suggest that monogamy may be more challenging for women than it is for men. Berger cites the work of Emory University's Yerkes National Primate Research Centre, who have found that female rhesus monkeys initiate sex, and then find a new partner when the old one gets tired. Study leader Kim Wallen, a psychologist and neuroendocrinologist, says he wonders whether women feel this drive but, due to social constraints, ‘don't act on or even recognize the intensity of motivation that monkeys do.’ In fact, he answers his own question, ‘I feel confident that this is true.’   Bergner’s book displays several examples to support this theory. For example, Meredith Chivers, an assistant professor of psychology at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, found that women's perceptions of arousal did not match their actual arousal. She showed women images of straight sex, lesbian sex, gay sex and sex between bonobo monkeys, and even though some women only claimed to be turned on by heterosexual images, they were, in varying degrees, aroused by all of these types of sex. Incidentally, both gay and straight men were accurate in their perceptions, and the bonobo boom boom did nothing for them.   Another finding by Chivers was that even though women claimed to feel more enticed by the idea of sex with a long-time partner, they actually became most aroused by stories about sex with strangers. Bergner takes a good look at the issue of low libido in women as a result of long-term relationships, pointing out that the problem is easily solved with a new partner. Canadian psychologist Lori Brotto, who supervised the section on female desire in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, says, ‘Sometimes I wonder whether it isn't so much about libido as it is about boredom.’ While Brotto’s treatments can help you to restore your libido, craving your partner again is one step too far. Bergner writes, ‘She couldn't provide that, not without a semi-miracle or someone new in the patient's bed.’   However, Bergner holds hope that open communication can hold the key to reigniting the passion in your relationship. He comments that plenty of long-term couples have approached him and said that the strength of their relationship depends on free-flowing communication about sex and desire. Bergner says, ‘despite the feeling of fear, of trepidation, of feeling threatened’ of communicating about your sexual needs, he advises readers to follow suit.
Great Ways to Keep the Sexual Chemistry Alive...

If you want to take your sex life to the next level for a closer and more intimate relationship, foreplay is the best way to do it. But finding the time between busy work schedules, dropping the kids off at school and trying to maintain a social life can be difficult. The passion that you crave can be easily be reignited through making more an effort with your sex life, and this comes down to foreplay - there are many ways that you can make foreplay a more integral part of your sex life, rather than a prequel to the upcoming events.  Here are some ways you can integrate foreplay into your relationship for spark that passion and excitement you’re looking for.

Many men enjoy anal play, so your partner may have already tried massaging his own prostate when he’s been masturbating. It can be a fun addition to your sex life though, so why not give it a go? You can try doing a manual massage by lubricating your fingers and inserting them into his anus as he breathes and pushes out. Curve your finger towards his belly button until you feel a ridge, which you can stroke. If you’d rather, you can also use a sex toy designed for anal play. There are many on the market now and they can make your sex life all the more exciting. Remember those exciting first months of your relationship, when you were still getting to know each other? Re-visit those days by picking each other up at a bar and flirting with each other as though you are strangers. Act like you don’t know each other and begin flirting with each other - it can be a great turn on and a thrilling way to start the foreplay before you’ve even got home.

Blindfold add to the thrill of sex with your partner and add another dimension of electricity. The anticipation and imagination of a touch you can’t see is incredibly exciting, and you may be surprised by how much you both enjoy it. Use a blindfold and begin with like strokes and touches, building up the frequency and pressure so you can build up to a strong climax. You can even use rose petals or feathers on your partner, rather than just your hands, so as to keep them guessing. Make sure that it’s done in a safe and trusting environment, and that you’ve set out the rules of the game before you begin so you both feel secure.

Why not practice saying no, instead of yes, to really spice things up? Trick your partner into thinking sex is off limits, and then tease them - do a strip tease, wear some sexy lingerie and show them what they’re missing, without letting them actually touch you. It will drive them crazy and really build the tension between you. Learn something new together to build the romance and intimacy between you both. It can be anything from a dance class to cooking, just spending some time together can be great for your sex life. And if your new skill lends itself well to your sex life, then so much the better! Why don’t you rekindle the romance by writing your partner a love letter? Be bold about how you feel about them, what you love about your relationship and the things you’d like to do to them. It can be as creative as you want - this is your time to say the things you may not feel confident saying in person.

Confidence

Should Women Leave Body Hair to Grow Naturall...
    Every few years a female celebrity hits the headlines for being pictured with underarm hair. But why does the media find this so shocking? Body hair is completely natural and yet in a survey conducted by Soft Paris only 1% of women surveyed said they would grow their underarm hair. So should women leave body hair to grow naturally?   Yes – Bridget I find it very strange that millions of women are spending time, money and often subjecting themselves to pain, all in the pursuit of being hair free. Body hair is completely natural and so we should embrace it – not hide it. The reason that a lack of hair is so fashionable is purely down to marketing. Beauty companies make millions of pounds selling lotions and devices that remove body hair and so they promote an image of a smooth hairless woman and tell us that’s what we should aspire to. Sadly, lots of women buy into this and throw their money at the companies that are creating insecurities and profiting from them. I often get told that having body hair is unattractive but I think the opposite is true. It’s a sign of being a mature woman and if you’re confident enough to keep your body hair then I think that confidence can be very sexy. The argument that body hair is unhygienic is also ridiculous. There is absolutely no reason why body hair should be unhygienic. In fact, removing hair can cause its own problems – there’s certainly nothing sexy about a shaving rash, stubble or in-growing hairs. Why should any woman be made to feel strange or unclean for choosing to keep her body hair? We need to fight back against the marketing that’s gone too far.     No – Fiona I don’t believe anyone can truly believe that body hair on women is attractive. There’s certainly nothing sexy about hairy armpits and I’m very happy to remove my excess body hair. There are so many ways to deal with body hair that there really is no excuse for letting it grow. I prefer waxing but if you’re worried about pain, then you can shave or use creams – there really is something for everyone. I’m all for personal choice but I do believe that personal hygiene affects other people. I live in London and when I travel on the tube, I don’t want to be offended by smelly, hairy armpits! Being clean shaven makes it much easier for women to stay clean and free from sweat. I’ve never met a man who would prefer a woman to let her body hair grow naturally and I think anyone who says it is attractive is just trying to get a reaction. From time to time you hear about a female celebrity who has been photographed with underarm hair but they are not letting it grow because it’s attractive – they are doing it just to get attention. People might say women should let their hair grow in order to support the feminist movement but I think there are much more important issues to address such as equal pay for women. Saying that a woman has to let her body hair grow in order to be a feminist is ridiculous.  
Baring All for Body Confidence: The Benefits ...
  You might not think stripping off and performing downward-facing dog is beneficial to your mental health, but many people tout the benefits of naked yoga. Don’t know much about it? Wellness writer Alice Oglethorpe went along to a naked yoga class to see how it might benefit her wellbeing.   ‘I like to make decisions based on what my 80-year-old self would want me to do,’ Oglethorpe notes. ‘Stay out dancing in Florence until the sun comes up? Absolutely! Volunteer to model white jeans on the Today show? Of course! But recently I forced myself to see just how deep that conviction went. At 32, getting naked in a room full of strangers wasn't high on my bucket list, but this was a chance to see how far I would go to put my belief to the test. I ran the idea by a few friends and concluded that 90 minutes of red-faced stretching was worth a lifetime of bragging rights. I found a class, and signed up. I'm no adrenaline junkie (my idea of living large is a vacation with a fancy hotel room and a beach chair to lounge in), but I think it's good to do things every so often that push your limits and scare you.’   Oglethorpe recalls, ‘My plan was to take cover in the back corner of the room – until I learned that everyone would form a circle and face each other. Now there was nowhere to hide! I put my mat down between a cute young guy, who was there with his girlfriend, and an Australian man in his forties and started stretching. And then things got real. "Take off your clothes in whatever way feels most comfortable," instructor Cindee announced, as she proceeded to lose her Lycra. Unable to think of a single way to undress that felt "comfortable," I stripped as fast as possible. The most nerve-wracking part: removing my underwear. Until then I could pretend I was in a bikini. I saw boxers and briefs hit the guys' mats beside me as I dropped my panties. And just like that, I was standing in a class with a bunch of naked strangers. I could feel my future 80-year-old self turning bright red. I was waiting for the ogling to begin, but the conversations around me turned to...the weather.’   ‘Cindee started us off with a seated position,’ Oglethorpe details. ‘A cross-legged seated position! She asked us to go around the room introducing ourselves and say why we had come here. I think I said something about wanting to embrace my flaws, but the whole time I was praying I would sink through my yoga mat and disappear. Thank goodness Cindee took over from there. She was so professional that it eased a lot of my embarrassment, the way a good doctor does in an exam room. Meanwhile I tried not to look below anybody's neck, which helped keep their bodies out of focus. But within minutes, things went from weird to...not. As we moved through the typical yoga poses – warrior II, downward dog, spinal twists – the initial shock of all that nudity faded. In fact, being naked was a great equalizer. I could see how everyone there had belly rolls when they bent forward, even the skinny guys. I had spent so many yoga classes thinking I was the only one concealing mine.’   Oglethorpe adds, ‘By the time the class wound down, I no longer flinched during seated twists, even though I knew that the guy on my left was getting a not-so-flattering view of my backside, and that the one on the right, a straight shot of my boobs. After we said Namaste, I didn't rush to put my clothes back on but made small talk with my classmates before slowly getting dressed. As I walked out onto the street, I noticed how I was standing tall in a way that seemed different from the good posture you get post-yoga. Those body flaws I had always fixated on? At the start of class, I had been paying lip service to overcoming them, and yet I had actually shrugged them off. And I had a feeling that the next time I was in my birthday suit, they would bother me a lot less than usual. I felt beautiful and brave, and that confidence has stuck with me since.’

Depression

How To Cope With Depression And Anxiety After...
  We all face challenges in life, but how do you recover when a debilitating injury has left you unable to enjoy life the way you once did? After a major injury, you may experience feelings like sadness, anger, denial, worry, and fear. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help yourself recover and get back to the life you once enjoyed.

Acknowledge Your Emotions

Acknowledging that it is normal for you to feel sad, helpless, or anxious, can go a long way in helping you recover. Try not to hold these feelings back. Surround yourself with supportive people who will listen to you and help you work through these feelings without judgment. Allow yourself time to accept what has happened, and do not try to rush the recovery process.

Don't Push Yourself Too Much

It's natural to want to do the same things as before the accident as quickly as possible, but it's important to understand that it won't happen soon, and things may never be the same. Don't be afraid to say “no” to things you could have easily done before. Don't push yourself physically or emotionally to avoid more stress.

Talk to a Counselor

Counseling can be a very effective tool in helping you
deal with your emotions after the injury. However, many people feel uncomfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings with a complete stranger. Remember, talking to a third party can help you get an objective look at your situation and show you what steps to take to improve your condition. Your counselor can also advise you of any beneficial support groups you can attend.

Stay Active & Healthy

Staying active has proven to help the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Talk to your doctor about what kind of physical activities would be beneficial for you to enjoy while recovering from your injury. Also, make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet and avoid the use of alcohol or drugs. It can also be beneficial to engage in some of the hobbies you enjoyed before the injury such as painting or reading.

Consider Speaking to a Lawyer

After an injury, the last thing you may want to endure is a long legal battle. However, if the injury is no fault to your own, you deserve a chance to rectify the wrongdoing. There are lawyers in your area who are committed to helping their clients cope with life after the accident and receive any compensation they may be entitled to.   Depression and anxiety after a major injury can cause normally productive, socially active, independent people to withdraw into a world of emotional pain that is often far greater than the physical pain they are experiencing. However, by following a few of the suggestions above, it is possible to find yourself enjoying life again free of your psychological handicaps.   Informational credit to Howard Yegendorf & Associate.  
Could Depression be Linked to Disease Resista...
Diseases such as cancer are thought to be best treated using both the body and the mind, in order to boost the immune system in every way. Our immune systems do far more than simply fend off the common cold. Social support, for example, can significantly improve a person’s condition and extend the life of a cancer patient. In studies looking at victims of cancer, researchers found that women who attended support groups lived twice as long as those who didn’t, on average. A study in Los Angeles at the University of California found that patients who had survived cancer for a minimum of five years and attended group therapy lived three times as long as those who didn’t attend any therapy sessions. It seems that relying on others to boost our mood when we’re ill could help us fight conditions and diseases far more effectively. When people are grieving, their T-cells and the natural killer cells in the body, both of which are important for defending the immune system, function far less effectively. By being supported and comforted by friends and family members, this aspect of the immune system may well be bolstered. However, people who are depressed and anxious may suffer the opposite effect.    

In a study involving 4825 healthy individuals, 146 of them were depressed. In those who had been depressed for a minimum of six years, the chances of developing cancer were far higher. This is thought to be because of the fact that this condition kills of the natural ‘killer’ cells, so the body doesn’t fight off diseases. This isn’t to say that depression can cause cancer, but it does signify that depression and related issues such as anxiety can lower one’s immunity to the disease. This makes it not only a risk for cancer, but also other diseases. There are however other theories that suggest that cancer may cause depression, with a study discovering that in 43 liver tumour patients there was a direct link between clinical depression and an immune modulator. The chemical which is released when our immune system fights cancer is the same substance that may trigger depression biologically. Although this may seem like bad news, it is actually the opposite. It provides researchers with new tools for treating cancer - it also highlights the link between the mind and other diseases. Taking the time to meditate and de-stress is important in order to strengthen the immune system, so that we can better fight off illnesses.

Leading a stress-free lifestyle as best you can is one of the best ways to fight off anxiety and depression. This means doing plenty of exercise, which can boost your mood and release endorphins to keep you happy, as well as eating a balanced diet that’s rich in brain-healthy foods. Oily fish, plenty of fruit and vegetables, and omega-rich nuts and seeds will ensure that you’re happy through your food. Take time to meditate and relax at least a few times a week, so that you don’t overload your mind with worries and stress - this can be anything from some alone time each week to spending time with friends and loved ones. Lowering your stress levels and ensuring you lead a healthy lifestyle will not only help to reduce the risk of depression but it will also stave off other health concerns such as heart disease, stroke and certain cancers. If you think you’re at risk of developing depression, or think you’re displaying signs of cancer, speak to your GP as soon as possible for advice on the situation.