Perfectionists IBS link

Researchers from Southampton university have found a link between stress and IBS.

For a long time many people who suffer from IBS (and many self-styled nutritionists) have suspected that the symptoms are caused, exacerbated, or lead to stress.

The study found that those people who were anxious about their symptoms or who were generally stressed in terms of pushing themselves at work were more likely to suffer from IBS.

There could well be 3 million people in the UK with IBS, many of whom contracted it after a gut infection.

The type of person who does suffer from IBS is likely to be “driven”, carrying on regardless until they were forced to rest.


Dr Rona Moss-Morris commented that “These people were not hypochondriacs. But they did have a negative attitude towards their symptoms.”

She added: “These are people who have high expectations of always doing the right thing – and going off work goes against their beliefs.”

It is thought that CBT might help bring anxious and perfectionist thinking under control.

Professor Robin Spiller gave two possibilities:

“It might be that stress and anxiety affects the immune system. “But it could also be that if you don’t rest, it might do you more harm.”


The important things are to get checked out, rest until you completely recover from gut infections, and learn to relax and let go.

Depression and Suicide in Girls

A recent report has highlighted the level of depression and suicide in girls. 6000 young people called Childline last year, some of them were as young as five.

This shows that there is a real problem of childhood depression in the UK. Organizations like Childline can provide immediate support and help, especially in emergencies, but what children really need is access to proper mental health care, and of course community or familial support.

In recent years the concept of “the family” has more or less fallen by the wayside. And I don’t say that in the same way as the Christian right. I don’t mean that children need married middle class parents for everything to be fine. I just mean children need parenting. And good parenting can come from a single parent, a divorced parent, a married couple, a co-habiting couple, a mixed race couple or a homosexual couple. There is no demographic that can be 100% ruled out of good parenting.

Good parenting means caring, and at the moment too few parents really care about their kids on a day to day basis, that is why we are seeing a high prevalence of anorexia, bulimia, childhood depression, and childhood suicide.

 

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Simulator helps to conquers post traumatic-stress after quake

Post traumatic stress affects millions each year after disasters such as the Asian Tsunami and the War on Iraq. In recent years there have been many treatments, including EMDR and Drug Therapy. Now, virtual reality technology is being used to allow people to relive traumas after the event in controlled circumstances.

It is hypothesized that post traumatic stress arises when the brain is unable to process the horrors that it is seeing at the time, and that these traumatic images resurface as anxiety, depression, aggression or delusion at some point in the future when the trauma has passed. (Contrast this with the more immediate but temporary Acute Stress Reaction)

As the sufferer relives the trauma they can have the time and support available to process the sounds and images correctly, so that although the memory is intact, it is no longer so intrusive into their lives.

Overall, modern treatments are often successful and the prognosis for Post Traumatic stress disorder is good. The tragedy is that millions of people who need help for PTSD never get it. And without treatment it can really ruin a life by leading to deep depression, violence and suicide in some cases. Often treatment is hard to come by in the most traumatic parts of the world, like war torn areas of Africa. Also governments are often reluctant to provide decent therapy to soldiers who have been traumatized in conflicts. If you are someone you know might have PTSD then contact a medical professional ASAP and seek help.

Related Articles:

Here is the BBC article on the topic.

Phobias Cured by Virtual Reality

Celexa and Nightmares/strange dreams

Just a little extra personal experienced of celexa (citalopram) that came my way. It was reported that after slowly dropping from a standard 20mg dose to a 10mg dose strange things happened during sleep. These consisted of:

  • Very vivid and frightening nightmares of the type that leave you in a strange mood all day
  • Very vivid dreams which are odd but not necessarily unpleasant
  • Feeling very sleepy even after a long nights sleep
  • Difficulty getting to sleep despite being too tired to do anything else
  • Needing stimulants like coffee to keep you going in the day

All of these tend to effect each other as a vicious circle.

Like all side effects of Citalopram however, sleep disturbances are temporary (It should always be remembered that in a tiny amount of cases people suffer long term effects of SSRI medication).

I think it’s always best to taper slowly!

Other Interesting Articles:

Mental Health Bill Defeated

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has suffered a humiliating defeat over his plans to detain people with “mental illnesses” indefinitely.

Many amendments were made to the bill which many campaigners considered to be draconian, and lacking in forethought. It was indeed likely that the new rules would have deterred people from seeking help, thus making the public less safe.

This whole debacle has been one big vote winning exercise where the actual needs of society and patients have taken a back row. At Anxiety 2 Calm we welcome today’s events.

Here is the BBC article on the matter:

Ministers lose mental health vote

The government has suffered three defeats in the House of Lords over plans to detain mental health patients who have not committed an offence.

The Mental Health Bill would allow people with severe personality disorders to be confined if judged a threat to themselves or others.

Peers voted that treatment could only be given if it is likely to help.

They also voted to remove some grounds for diagnosis and ensure more frequent examinations of detained patients.

‘Protects public’

Critics argue the bill is draconian and could prevent some people from coming forward to seek treatment.

But ministers say it will protect the public and patients from harm.

Conservative, Lib Dem and non-aligned peers have jointly tabled a series of amendments to the plans.

In the first government defeat, the Lords voted to rule out using sexuality, criminality and cultural or religious beliefs as grounds for diagnosing a mental disorder.

The second inserts an amendment that treatment can only be given if it is likely to alleviate the condition or prevent it getting any worse.

The third says that patients’ detentions can only be renewed after they are examined by a medical practitioner.

Tory Earl Howe told peers: “It [the bill] allows individuals who have committed no crime to be detained and committed under compulsion and subjected to treatments that are highly invasive.”

He added it was essential to “set the parameters of acceptable behaviour on the part of health professionals”.

Patients who were coerced felt “dreadful trauma and deep humiliation”, Earl Howe said.

Lib Dem Baroness Barker said a “clear statement of principles” on how the law and mental health workers’ code of practice worked together was needed, to avoid “continued confusion”.

The slimmed-down Mental Health Bill is the latest in a series of attempts by the government since 1998 to change the laws.

Community treatment

At the moment people cannot be detained against their will – even if they are a danger to themselves or others – if that detention and treatment cannot be shown to benefit their condition.

The government wants to change those rules so people can be detained and treated if medical treatment, which is appropriate to the patient’s mental disorder “and all other circumstances of their case”, is available.

Also controversial is the plan to bring in supervised community treatment, which aims to ensure patients comply with their treatment once they are discharged from hospital.

Michael Stone’s 1998 conviction for the murders of Lin and Megan Russell first prompted the government to propose new laws. Stone was regarded as a dangerous psychopath but, because his condition was untreatable, he could not be held under mental health powers.

The bill comes after previous attempts to change the existing Mental Health Act 1983 were abandoned in the face of opposition from mental health campaigners and some doctors.

They object, among other issues, to the bill being too occupied with public safety rather than the needs of the people who might require help.

The peers say they do not want the bill dropped, but want their amendments accepted by the government.

The changes would affect an estimated 14,000 of the 600,000 people who use mental health services each year.

Other Interesting articles:

Mental Illness – Does it exist?

Locked Up in a Mental Home! New UK laws.

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Just say "No"!

Oftentimes, it is thought, anxiety and stress can in part be due to a lack of control. Anxiety and panicky feelings often tend to appear when life runs away with us.

Most people like things there own way. Some people are more pushy about it than others. I, for one, generally sense what others want and therefore don’t push them into doing things with me or for me that they don’t want to do. Not everyone is like that. Many people are so narrow minded and focused on their own lives that don’t notice what other people want, and assume that everyone one wants the same as them.

Another group of people just want everyone else to do what they want them to do. They will sense when people are not very good at saying no and use that to their advantage.

All of this takes control away from us.

Getting control back.

Everyone has their own problems and I would urge people not to judge those who are self-centred, narrow minded, or who use friends to their own ends. I don’t think there is much to be gained by screaming and shouting at them, and telling them how horrible they are unless there is really no other way. That said, when you realise someone is using you it might be best to lose them as a friend, unless you are really getting something from it.  

The most important thing to do is to say “No”. It is the most liberating word in the English Language. The option to drawback, not participate and decline is a fundamental human right, and when it is removed we feel awful.

Practise saying no to something whenever you get a chance. Here are some tips:

  • Start small Don’t take on the really evil control freaks until you have a bit of practice under your belt.
  • Be polite, It’s better to say no thank you in a mild-mannered, relaxed way.
  • Be immediate. Don’t dither. Once you have said “yes” or “maybe” the battle is much harder to win. When you want to decline make “no” the first word of the sentence.
  • Be tenacious. Keep going, keep saying no. The more they whine, the more control freak they are and the more you need to resist.
  • Give a reason. Don’t feel that you have to make an excuse, but if there is a good reason not to do something then say so. It is absolutely fine to say “I just don’t feel like it.” or “I need some space for myself”.
  • Ignore sad eyes. Control freaks are great at saying “go on, do it for me” or “I thought you were my friend”. True friends don’t try and make you do things you don’t want to do (unless it’s a dire emergency).

The more proficient you become at choosing how you spend your time, the better you will feel. And the less people will make unfair demands on you.

Other Interesting Articles

  1. Self Esteem
  2. Kick-Start your Self Esteem

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Celebrities with Anxiety Disorders

I came across a story which I thought might interest readers. Often anxiety sufferers look for evidence that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Too much of the medical establishment views anxiety as a condition akin to something like diabetes which is with you all your life. It is easy to get stuck in one of the negative thought cycles which so often define anxiety disorders.

There is no cure for anxiety, I will never get over it

This thought is not true, but it is completely understandable. Anxiety is eminently treatable, and although no therapies, drugs, anti-anxiety programmes or techniques work for everyone, something will work for you. Just as a little encouragement I wanted to tell you about a writer called Stef Penney. If you are not big on literature it is understandable that you haven’t heard of her as she is relatively early on in what looks like becoming an illustrious literary career. She has just won the prestigious Costa award in the UK. She used to be agoraphobic. As an article about her in the Scotsman shows, she has battled her condition for years and been frustrated by various therapies. But she has won, succeeded, traveled by plane and achieved a lot in her professional career.

What is more is that she is nothing special. She is flesh and blood like you and me. If she can do it so can you. It took her twenty years, it might take you only twenty days, who knows. The important thing is that therapy and medicine have never been so advanced, there has never been so much insight, and there has never been such a range of alternative therapies as there is right now. So, being wary of gimmicks, get out there and do it.

Mental Illness – Does it exist?

That’s a very daring question. But I think it is a pertinent one. Read on.

I always respect celebrities and media figures who are brave enough to talk about their mental health issues. Only the seriously naive believe that the lives of the rich and famous are as perfect and easy as they look.

In fact, the kind of driven personality that “makes it” in the backstabbing world of media are quite possibly more prone to depression and anxiety than the rest of us. Research (to which I can’t find the link at the moment, sorry) found that people with  “go-getter” personalities like politicians, entrepreneurs, successful media figures and large-scale criminals share a similar personality type. A much higher than average number of people with this personality type had a harsh childhood often including the death of a parent.

What are the causes of “Mental Illness”?

Recently a BBC story brought us the story of Paul Abbott, a successful screenwriter in the UK (his works include Shameless and Clocking off). He has Bipolar Disorder and reportedly thinks about suicide on a daily basis.

Let me just say that it was very brave of him to speak out like this. I am sure it gives inspiration to other sufferers who may need convincing that they can lead productive fulfilling lives, especially those who have only recently been diagnosed and are at that point where they are horrified and bemused by their diagnosis and what it implies.

What really struck me about the BBC article though was this line:

The dramatist said his life began to unravel after his mother left home and, at the age of 11, he suffered a “brutal” rape.

Let us move away from this particular case about which we don’t have sufficient details. (Also, it’s none of my business!)

Speaking generally:

Can a traumatic childhood cause Bipolar Depression?

Can traumatic events actually cause mental illness? Does an illness have to have a physical or chemical basis? I would argue that trauma can be overcome, even after years have passed, at least to some extent. I would father argue that trauma does not cause mental illness, it has certain symptoms which occur as a perfectly natural response.

That set my mind in motion. It strikes me that a lot of people who are diagnosed with mental illnesses had very difficult upbringings. I must stress, this is not scientific analysis but it seems that again and again I hear of “Schizophrenia” or “Manic Depressives” or people with “Chronic Fatigue” that have head emotionally tough childhoods. I have seldom heard of people from fully functional, “normal”, backgrounds that have gone on to suffer from “mental illness”. To touch once more on the example from the BBC, the loss of a parent and a serious sexual assault strike me as being enough to start anyone off on a spiral of low self-confidence, helplessness, depression, anger and rage.

This is not “illness”. This is a totally understandable and natural reaction to horrendous occurrences. The reaction is in itself awful beyond what most of us can imagine. I don’t want to belittle these problems and these people’s suffering, quite the opposite. I want society to re-assess how we look at and behave towards people who are suffering with non-physically-explainable problems.

I am not suggesting that those who have been diagnosed with the likes of Bipolar Disorder have nothing wrong with them. I am definitely not saying they should just “pull themselves together”. I am just saying that if we see this kind of problem as the result of a troubled childhood rather than as an illness or worse still a permanent condition, maybe we can improve the lot of those who suffer, remove the stigma, and ultimately improve quality of life (dare we use the word “cure”? Certainly “get over”).  

Do these labels serve us or keep us back?

I think labels like “Bipolar” actually keep people down. I think they become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think we need to start to ignore these labels and look at each person on a case by case basis. Remember diagnosis is made purely from an assessment of symptoms. It does not follow that those who have the same symptoms have the same condition.

Let’s stop using daft labels. They might help psychiatrists but they don’t help patients much. Mental Illness doesn’t really exist. Natural human reactions exist and we can learn to change and deal with them through various sorts of therapy, drugs.

 

Anxiety and over-the-counter impotence medication

In the UK from Valentine’s day Boots the Chemist Plc will be selling Viagra over the counter. I just wanted to address the problem of sexual dysfunction in people with anxiety disorders.

Most people in their lives will experience some kind of sexual dysfunction, often during a period of hardship or stress. It is not something you need to worry about unless it becomes persistent. For most people a good holiday is all they need.

Nowadays doctors tend to state the most sexual dysfunction is part physical and part psychological. But for those with anxiety the news that they may have something physical wrong with them can come as a nasty shock, resulting in more stress.

Fear not. While having a physical check over is a great idea, it is more than likely that if you suffer from stress and anxiety that your sexual dysfunction is purely down to that. Indeed it is a well-known symptom of stress and mood disorders, including depression. The good news is that it will probably clear up as you deal with your anxiety, depression etc.

The bad news is people out there are trying to sell you cures. Medical cures treat medical problems, not psychological ones. Boots PLC are offering this Viagra at £50 for four tablets, which is a lot of money for something which is not normally prescribed for patients with anxiety induced sexual dysfunction.

The best thing for performance anxiety is probably relaxation, thought stopping, and a commitment to partake in therapy to deal with the underlying cause of the anxiety.

Just to add: SSRI medication like Celexa and Prozac might help with your mood levels and anxiety symptoms, but can also have lack of libido or sexual dysfunction as a side effect.

 

 

New Sleeping Techniques

Just to let you know that I have added to the new insomnia section with a page containing a valuable sleeping technique that I learnt a long time ago.

It is a cross I suppose between a meditation and visualization, but for relaxing the mind for sleep it seems better than both.

I will in the future look at other ways of getting a good night’s sleep, because I am convinced that it is an important part of getting over anxiety, depression, panic and stress. Don’t forget to look at the aforementioned CBT method of overcoming insomnia, because much of that is invaluable.

Sorry it’s a brief post today! More tomorrow!

 

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