Omega Oil and Anxiety

The use of Omega 3/6/9 oils to combat mental health problems such as anxiety and depression have been well documented of late. But unfortunately there is still some confusion with many people not getting the benefits they are hoping for. It is thought that depression, anxiety and panic could all be lessened by the use of omega oils.

In order to get relief from anxiety through taking omega oils several factors are needed.

 

Firstly, the right dose is important. Secondly the ratio of the oils is important, and thirdly the length of treatment.

It is a minefield trying to work out how much omega oils to take. There are numerous studies which discuss this and the results can be confusing, but basically it seems that omega 3 is normally the oil which is lacking from the diet and that this can be addressed through dietary changes and supplementation. The two key ingredients of omega 3 are EPA and DHA. EPA seems to be the more important and about 1 gram per day of EPA is considered to be the right amount. It is also clear that more isn’t necessarily better.one study found that those on 1 gram did better than those on 4 grams (in an experiment tackling depression), so there is no point or benefit in overdosing. Labels on omega 3 containing supplements are highly misleading, with manufacturers often proclaiming their products to be “high strength”. This is often rubbish. It is important to seek out the few products on the market that offer reasonable doses of EPA and take enough to get 1 gram a day. This is almost impossible when a supermarket brand might contain say only 35mg of EPA (you would need to take almost thirty doses at once!). So check the label before you buy! I would also take the oil twice a day with meals.it is apparently better absorbed over two doses.


 

The ration of Omega 3 to 6 in your diet is important. Again, there is not an agreed figure but a ration of 2:1 omega 6 to omega 3 is probably fine. A omega 6:3 ration of 20:1 is not uncommon but totally unhealthy (omega 6 is far too available in modern diets compared to omega 3). You can buy supplements which have this ratio built in, and this makes life easier.

 


Length of treatment is hard to define, but if anxiety or depression have been major factors in your life then you can well expect three to six months to pass before you feel results, which will creep up on you slowly. Some people claim to have seen results in just a few weeks, everyone is different after all. The brain is using these oils to rebuild and replenish, which is a slow task! However much research seems very promising!

Support Anxiety UK

Hi! Just a quick note for readers in the UK. Anxiety UK, previously known as The National Phobics Society, has had funding withdrawn by the UK government. This will have a major effect on the services that the organisation is able to offer people in very real need. During the current economic difficulties the number of people seeking help has increased and the services of Anxiety UK are much needed.

You can do something to help.

 

Why not visit the site and do all you can to help save it! It also has lots of great info!

 

Anxiety, Acupuncture and New Evidence

There have been a few interesting stories this week that although not directly related, have implications of the treatment of anxiety . Firstly the BBC reported on an interesting study on the benefits of acupuncture. The study was not aimed at acupuncture used to treat anxiety but more at preventing headaches and migraines. There is something of a link here as many people believe migraines are stress related. The study was basically a meta-analysis of thirty-three other studies and found interestingly that acupuncture worked. More interestingly still they found that so-called sham acupuncture worked just as well, that is to say that it doesn’t seem to matter whether you stick the needles in the centuries old Chinese positions, or just do it randomly. This suggests one of two things. Either the whole phenomenon is just the placebo effect and there is really no therapeutic benefit, or there is something about stimulating parts of the body which does actually promote health.

There have been some studies, albeit not enough to draw firm conclusions, that say that meridian tapping therapies such as EFT and TFT work for the treatment of anxiety, phobias and depression. It seems to me that the principle behind this success (if indeed it is real) is likely to be similar to the acupuncture. Indeed it has been said in at least one study that tapping the body randomly works as well as tapping the points listed in the algorithms specified by the therapy founders.

Whether this is a case of the placebo effect or not doesn’t really matter. What matters is there being sufficient efficacy in the treatment for people to have some kind of faith in it, for the treatment to be safe, and for it to produce long lasting results. Many acupuncturists advertise the treatment of anxiety and stress but I am skeptical given the lack of specific evidence. That said, most of us have met someone who swears by acupuncture. There is nothing wrong of course with the placebo effect! If it works for you then great!

Stillness – Meditation and Anxiety

I have blogged before about meditation and its beneficial effects on the treatment and control of anxiety. In these posts I have mainly concentrated on Mindfulness Meditation, which is very powerful and still the single thing I would recommend to all anxiety sufferers.

Recently I came across "Stillness Meditation" which looks very interesting.  There is a book, which is sadly out of print, called "In Stillness Conquer Fear". It is about a woman’s (the author) struggle to overcome agoraphobia and her eventual release (cure!) through a disciplined meditation practice.

This meditation practice, to which I believe the author of the aforementioned book, Pauline Mckinnon, gave the name "Stillness Meditation", is very simple. Although I should say that despite the fact that it is simple you still, paradoxically, need to practice regularly in order to achieve stillness. Like all things, you improve with practice.

So how do you do it? Basically you find a posture which is comfortable but not too comfortable. It is actually said to be good training for the mind to have slight discomfort. A straight-backed chair is perfect. You then sit and allow the tension in your body to leave. You may pass your mind’s eye over your body to see if you can find tension. Tension in the face is especially important. Then you allow thoughts to come and go, without giving them your attention, just let them go and your mind will find stillness and moments of emptiness.

Pauline Mckinnon said that a daily practice of this basically cured her agoraphobia over a two year period, with great advances made in just eight weeks! Certainly deep mental and physical relaxation is only really glossed over by the normal CBT model for anxiety and agoraphobia treatment.

I don’t want to promise cures, but I know that meditation, when practiced consistently, can make an amazing positive change on your life. And through really relaxing the mind can allow healing. I don’t yet have conclusive proof that stillness meditation works on its own as a cure, but I know that those people who persevere with it will benefit.

Life is very strange – a cause of anxiety?

Hi.

Recently I have been thinking a lot about existential anxiety and life is rather odd! Here we are on this planet, spinning in the vastness of the solar system, who knows what is beyond the furthest reaches of our telescopes. There are many theories and belief systems that tell us why we are here, but non of them is provable. If they were provable then they could provide a great deal of comfort, they could tell us more about why we are here and what is actually important to achieve in this life. For those who believe, with devotion, these belief systems there is a great deal of benefit: a feeling of worth and reason to live, something to aim for. These motivators should not be underrated as they provide a purpose to people who otherwise might think too much.

And thinking too much is arguably the biggest problem here. Many people live their lives with no focus or purpose, enjoying themselves and stocking up on consumer goods. They don’t worry about where they came from. In a way they are the happiest people, on the surface at least, yet they are blissfully ignorant and their lives are all the poorer for it.

But let’s go back to us, I mean those of us who have no faith or whose faith is not strong enough to give us meaning. For us we see the world going about it’s business, wars are fought, people cross time zones, get married and divorced and act in ways we find bizarre. We can understand none of this and often crave removing ourselves from it, by forming subcultures, retreats and the like.

We are guilty of thinking too much. But we can not make ourselves less intelligent or our brains less enquiring. So we turn instead to dealing with how we think and making it more positive, more happy for us in this bizarre world. Each individual is different and how they achieve that varies between people. That said finding purpose can be explained in several broad groups. It can be through a personal love, a cherished activity or hobby that you can, literally, give you heart and soul to. It can be humanitarian: by doing something real you help yourself become more attached to the world around you and benefit it. If that does not help you understand existence that doesn’t matter as you assimilate with the machinery of life and have a positive effect on it, whatever it is. Meditation is also helpful in calming the most anxious thoughts and feelings. Being in the moment and not lost in dark thoughts promotes clarity and positive action.

Life is strange for us, but we can enjoy it still.

Existential Anxiety – Links

Hi and a very Happy New Year! Let’s hope for a peaceful, calm and happy 2009!

It won’t be a long post today, but I have spent part of my new year’s day reading a few interesting articles on Existential Anxiety. I know from my inbox that this has been a hot topic with many readers and relevant to those who suffer from nameless dread, free-floating anxiety and a constant, gnawing background anxious depression that is hard to shift.

Here are the links….enjoy reading them!

1) Existential Anxiety and Existential Joy – Long but well-worth reading.

2) Existential Anxiety: a 3-page cyber-sermon – As the title suggests, lots of info and worth taking your time over.

 

Thank you for reading, and once more happy 2009!

Winter / Christmas not the worst time for depression

It has long been thought that mental health suffered during the winter months, especially around Christmas time, and that the season brought a peak in the suicide rate. As it turns out, this is in fact an urban myth.

It was hypothesised that the dark, gray winters and and the lack of vitamin D from the sun caused SAD (Seasonally Affected Disorder) and some of this may be true. But the fact of the matter is, suicide is more common in the warmer months, probably peaking in May.

Which doesn’t mean to say you can afford to be complacent about depression in winter either with yourself or the those around you. Some people certainly do feel worse in winter and this is worrying.

So what can be done to banish the winter blues?

Firstly, don’t worry about mild low mood. Clinical depression should be diagnosed and treated under the eyes of professionals, but worrying about feeling low can just lead you into a cycle of anxious depression.

Doing something tends to make you feel better. And if that something is active then it will probably work even better. If you can spend time outside in the countryside, especially in the brightness of the middle of the day then that will also do wonders for your mood.

Spending time with people or losing yourself in books, crosswords and sudoku are also great mood lifters. But why not use those days for something more constructive. If there are aspects of your life that are making you feel low, maybe now is the time to start addressing them.

If what you want to achieve feels to grand, and that is part of why you are feeling low, there is a simple remedy to get you going and motivated. Take a pen and paper and start planning. Get into minutiae detail about what it is you want to do, what problems you might face and most importantly how you might overcome those problems. The key is in the detail.

When you have planned in great detail what you want and how you intend to get it, the doing part will seem much easier and achievable, and this will help lift your mood. Remember, happiness is not having what we want, it’s being on the way to that achievement.

If you ever feel very depressed or suicidal, contact a health professional, tell people around you or speak to the Samaritans or a similar organisation.

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Venlafaxine and Mirtazapine and Weight Gain

On this blog I have often talked about my experiences of weight gain when using the drug Citalopram / Celexa. It has been pointed out to me that these are not the only drugs that can have this side effect. Mirtazapine, which is a NaSSA (noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressant) and Venlafaxine, which is a SNRI (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) have both been known, according to readers of this blog, to cause weight gain. In the case of Mirtazapine weight gain is listed as a common side effect, whereas with Venlafaxine it is listed as a rare side-effect. Interestingly, Venlafaxine also causes weight loss in some patients.

More Info on Overcoming Anxiety – click here

Weight issues with anti-depressants can and do happen, and it is worth talking to you doctor about them if you are worried. In my case, after sometime I was able to reduce my dose and then exercise more to lose the excess weight. It did take some time. I would also like to add that doctors should be wary of prescribing the worst wight-gain antidepressants to people for whom weight is an issue, including those with Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

Do not stop taking medication because of what you have read here or anywhere else on the Internet. Antidepressants, whether they are SSRI’s, SNRI, NaSSA or something else, can have side effects but can also do you the world of good. There is a lot of negative publicity but that is partly because few people go on the Internet to talk about what is good, many more prefer to complain!

I welcome feedback on antidepressant use and am always on the look out for any news that would be of interest to readers of this blog. Email me on info@anxiety2calm.

Also Read:

  • Celexa – Tapering off and weight loss / gain

  • Celexa questions answered

  • Celexa and Nightmares/strange dreams

  • Celexa, citalopram – a personal experience

  • Celexa and weight gain.

  • Slow withdrawal from Citalopram (Cipramil / Celexa …

  • Existential Anxiety – more

    Over eighteen months ago I wrote a post on this blog about Existential Anxiety and, although it was only short, I got many emails in response. I think there is so little information out there about existential anxiety because it is not really taken seriously as a psychological problem. More often, it is considered to be something people suffer from when perhaps they are looking for a path in their life; something worthwhile to do. This is of course true, however existential anxiety where symptoms amount to more than just a nagging urge that there is something else can make this a much more serious problem.

    Often anxiety is related to a feeling of being out of control and our existence on this spinning planet, in this universe, here for reasons we don’t fully understand is something that really is way out of our control. The great thing about that is that we can’t really avoid it, which is the danger with a lot of anxiety disorders: you avoid triggers and end up with phobias like agoraphobia or travel phobia. Thanks for small mercies!

    So what can we do? In my previous post on this subject I recommended mindfulness meditation and I stand by that as a great aid to all sorts of anxiety conditions, indeed all stresses in life!

    More Info on Overcoming Anxiety – click here

    Also it can be useful to find faith. It’s not something I’ve had much luck with myself, but I have been told that it’s helpful as you start to form in your mind a reason for being here, a concept of how we got here and an idea of where we go next. If you can get into a religion (hopefully not a cult!) then that is great.

    I would also, tentatively, suggest you investigate the idea of Paradoxical Intention, which for those of you who have never come across the concept before is where you try and make your symptoms worse and not better. It is a slightly tricky area, and I suggest doing some more research on it (start by clicking here to search this site for the term). By using paradoxical intention you can take away some of the fragility of the world, it’s as if you are testing it’s resilience and finding that, no matter what you think, life will continue regardless of what you do.

    It also goes without saying that other common anxiety treatments like SSRI’s and CBT can help.

    I would be grateful to hear from anyone else with tips for overcoming existential anxiety.

     

    A healthy lifestyle and anxiety

    There are three areas of life where we need to be healthy to help us overcome anxiety . They are diet, exercise, mental health.

    Firstly diet. I have several tips for a lower anxiety diet:

    • Keep your blood sugar levels more constant as insulin spikes and low blood sugar can lead to anxiety, panic and worse.
    1. Don’t over do the sugar, satisfy sweet cravings with fruit and a bit of dried fruit.
    2. Don’t use artificial sweeteners too much, they are confusing to the body and have a dubious health record.
    3. Don’t eat too many simple carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, pasta, pizza), they act like sugars.
    4. Instead snack on nuts and wholemeal foods (fruit can be a great alternative to wheat based products if they disagree with you.)
    • Avoid caffeine as this aggravates (sometimes even causes) anxiety and panic, disrupts sleep, and affects blood sugar.
    1. Drink Decaf coffee
    2. If you need a hot drink to replace tea go for roibush, herb or fruit. 
    3. Cola’s should be avoided full stop – why not replace them with heavily diluted fruit juice.
    4. Eating little and often helps to keep your blood sugar stable and stops you getting that over-full or bloated feeling that is linked to anxiety.
    5. Try to snack on something healthy every three hours of your waking day. 

    More Info on Overcoming Anxiety – click here

    Exercise is unpopular more often than not but the simple fact is that a healthy body is linked to a healthy mind. You will lessen your anxiety by being in better shape, I almost promise that.

    • Walk of your stress and excess weight.
    1. A brisk walk is excellent exercise but you have to do it often.
    2. If your doctor says you are fit enough try briskly walking for 30-60 minutes four times a week.
    3. Alternatively, by a pedometer and measure how much you walk during an average day (take measurements over a few days). Then try to increase that amount by ten percent.
    • Other stress-busting anxiety relieving exercises.
    1. Running
    2. Swimming
    3. Rowing
    4. Cycling
    • And four your self esteem, get a better looking body. The best ways are:
    1. Weight training
    2. Circuit training
    3. Palates
    4. Gymnastics
    5. All of the above should be embarked on only after a medical

    Focusing on your mental health and well-being means offering your mind some of the things that we all need, such as space and a time to switch off.

    • Your mental health can be greatly increased through relaxation!
    1. Learn mindfulness meditation
    2. Progressive muscle relaxation
    3. Deep Breathing
    4. Butyeko Breathing