Free-Floating Anxiety and a good relaxation technique.

Anxiety is often classed as "free floating", that is to say it has no recognisable cause or trigger. Often this kind of anxiety, especially when it has been present for some time, is more irritating than worrying. It seems to be almost in the background, a little niggle that stops you from relaxing fully, perhaps a slight difficulty breathing or a tightness in the neck, throat or other muscles. Sometimes this free floating anxiety can manifest as fidgeting, a chronic cough or other physical symptoms or other things like insomnia.

Of course free floating anxiety is not always just an irritant, it can for some people be a deeply worrying and disabling occurrence, leading to panic attacks or sever bouts of anxiety and stress.

Either way, you can not avoid this kind of anxiety because it is either always there or creeps up on you suddenly and without warning and this is perhaps what leads some people to self-medicate alcohol or non-prescription and illegal (recreational) drugs. This is not a good idea because nearly all such substances, including alcohol, have to unfortunate qualities. They are habit-forming so you can get addicted to them, and the body becomes accustomed to them so you need more. They can be a slippery slope and one that is worth avoiding!

More Info on Overcoming Anxiety – click here

So what can you do about free-floating anxiety? Well, there is always the possibility of prescription medication such as the SSRI’s Citalopram / Celexa . There are pros and cons to this approach but it can be effective. Follow the previous links for more info. Also of course the numerous kinds of counselling, therapy and alternative approaches that are often suggested for anxiety can have their place – they are all discussed elsewhere on this site.

But what can you do for yourself? There are two great things that are free and easy. The first is to relax. I know it’s annoying when people tell anxiety sufferer’s to relax, but bear with me. Formal relaxation means taking ten minutes a day to sit down and relax, using either a meditation technique (there are thousands and they are not difficult, regardless of the stereotype) or just doing some breathing. One straight-forward breathing technique is just to sit down or lie comfortably, place your attention on your breath and start counting seconds. Then, slow your out-breath so it takes longer than your in breath, try to make it a few seconds longer. If you run out of puff, rest a few seconds in the "fully breathed out" position instead. You will of course find this easier with practise. But do practise, every day for ten minutes. 

Try this for a week, I guarantee you will feel a bit better and find yourself doing min relaxations while waiting for traffic lights to change or during other natural pauses in your day.

Celexa – more anxiety info

Citalopram / Celexa  is one of the topics that I consistently get emails about. Not surprising as it is one of the most commonly prescribed SSRI’s for anxiety and depression in both Europe and the USA. I can speak both personally and for many other people when I say that Celexa is a drug that has helped many people and can really help turn a life around. It is also of course not a cure-all and not a drug which everyone gets on with.

Many of the people who email me comment about weight gain issues associated with Celexa (follow the previous link for my article on that). One new question I had recently was this:

"Can Celexa actually change your metabolic rate"?

The writer went on to say that it seemed that weight-loss had become all but impossible and her appetite had gone through the roof, even though she had been off the medication for some time.

The official answer to that question is a firm "no". The manufacturers and the licensing authorities do not list permanent metabolic changes as a potential side effect. The unofficial answer is that it is unlikely and impossible to prove that such metabolic change occurred because of Celexa. I have certainly never heard of such a thing happening.

What is quite common, however, is that weight gained while on Celexa does not disappear quickly of its own accord. When you taper of the drug your metabolic rate should increase. But the differentiation in metabolic rate that we are talking about in the use of SSRI’s is generally not great. You probably put that weight on over several months and even years of using Celexa, and gradually you will lose it all else being equal. But often all is not equal and you will have to work it off or diet it off.

More Info on Overcoming Anxiety – click here

I recommend speaking to your doctor about starting a progressive exercise regime (which is in itself great for both anxiety and depression).

I would also try to fill up on healthy food and avoid as much bad food as you can. But try to do this as small lifestyle changes that you intend to be permanent, not big diet plans that are impossible to stick to. Crash diets have a habit of lowering your metabolic rate and working against you anyway.

There are other ways of raising your metabolism that might be worth a look. Eating spicy food and turning the heating down are two common ones. Also eating little and often.

The bottom line is that the extra weight you got from Celexa will come off, but only if you work at it. If you are working and it hasn’t started to come off, see if anything you are doing is actually working against you by lowering your metabolism. Crash dieting and over-training are two common culprits! If you are convinced you are doing everything right but are still not getting results, speak to a doctor about it – maybe there is some other reason beyond anxiety and SSRI’s.

Related Articles

Feelings of Unreality – more

One of the most commented upon and emailed posts on this entire blog is one from 2006 called Anxiety and feelings of Unreality. It seems that all over the place people are suffering from something which is actually quite hard to put into words.

Some people call it depersonalisation, some people call it feeling unreal, some call it feeling odd, strange, detached. Often people say that they feel that nothing is real and that they could just disappear suddenly.

As I said in that original post, there are a few possible medical causes for this so a visit to a doctor for a full check-up is a must. That said, for most people reading this blog it will be the fact that these feelings of unreality seem to stem from anxiety disorders which will be most salient.

The fact of the matter is that because of the way anxiety effects the chemical balance of our brains, sometimes (or indeed often and regularly) odd feelings can manifest. I am no doctor but I am lead to believe that this is particularly due to levels of Dopamine and can also be closely linked to blood sugar.

More Info on Overcoming Anxiety – click here

The more important question is not what causes it but how do you deal with it. Well, the best advice I’ve ever heard from the subject came from the wise mind of Claire Weekes, the Australian who published and broadcast a great deal about anxiety and panic several decades ago. Her advice for feelings of unreality (as well as all other anxiety symptoms)was to give the symptoms permission to be there, to float through them and be with them, to accept them.  It’s hard to do, but like everything else it gets easier and more effective with practice. And like everything else to do with anxiety and panic, it won’t kill you.

I would add to that that it is worth experimenting with blood sugar issues. Try to snack on some complex carbohydrates and see if that makes a difference. It did for me, as did avoiding simple carbohydrates and sugary snacks. Also, avoid hunger and do what you can to keep your blood sugar levels constant. It is part of the paradox of trying to do what you can to stop it, and yet accepting it’s presence and letting it be there. Easy to say, and not so hard to do with practice.

Health Anxiety

Our health is something that can cause us the most anxiety of all. While some people drift through life ignoring health concerns such as obesity, smoking and alcoholism, people with anxiety tend to move to the other extreme by worrying too much.

Let’s look at an example. You discover one day that you have a mouth ulcer, not a particularly painful one, but none the less an annoying one. You have had mouth ulcers before but this one persists, let’s say for more than a month. Perhaps, building up in the back of your mind is an anxious thought maybe it is something more serious than a mouth ulcer…maybe it’s cancer!

Of course then the first stop is Google. And if you enter mouth cancer you get a very general list of symptoms, including persistent mouth ulcers! Then, straight away black and white thinking kicks in. Suddenly you have got a deadly disease, your anxiety levels rise, the adrenalin flows and the thoughts spiral out of control. You start to Google treatment only to find that it includes painful radiotherapy and surgery that might leave you so disfigured you need reconstructive surgery to put you back together again afterwards! Then you can’t get it off your mind. It is always invading your thoughts and hampering your mood until the symptoms disappear. But because it is on your mind you keep poking it and prodding it, and the ulcer gets worse or starts to bleed. More symptoms of cancer.

If those process goes unchecked, health worries can develop into full blown hypochondria or have other negative effects on your life, such as sleep loss.

As is so often the case with anxiety, it is a feeling of a loss of control which is at or near the root of the problem. The answer to this lack of control is painfully simple. Go and see the doctor or visit a nurse (depending on your medical problem). This is often what the anxiety sufferer wants to do least – because it’s better not to know, or because a trip to the doctor has inherent fears. But Google can not diagnose problems, all it can do is list, in very simple terms, symptoms which could be caused by a multitude of factors and provide photos of those signs and symptoms. A medical professional can normally quickly tell one of three things:

  • 1 anxiety over, it’s nothing to worry about.
  • 2 Don’t know need a second opinion.
  • 3 This is a problem and we need to start treatment.

Number one is the most common. Like many things that cause us anxiety, health concerns are often baseless. Number two is also positive, because a specialist will know more and can really put your mind at rest. If it’s number three, and you need treatment then thank god you went to a doctor, there is not a disease on this earth that is not treated more efficiently and with a greater chance of recovery for being caught early. Let’s not mince our words, the cancer sufferers with the best chance of survival are the ones that are caught early.

So take control and seek help! And if you are worried that your health anxiety equals hypochondria don’t! Your doctor can be the one to judge that!