Mental Health

Mental Health Hygiene

Mental health

This article look talk at ways you may be able to help yourself, as an individual with mental illness to contribute to your stability.

Here is an acronym that will help explain:

R = Reach Out

E = Exercise

D = Diet

H = Humor

O = Optimism

T = Talk to Self

 

T = Take Charge

I = Insight

P = Psychological Journaling

S = Self Help Groups

Reaching Out

Bipolar Disorder is a challenge…one that doesn’t have to be dealt with by oneself. Reaching out to others often helps put things in perspective and helps make problems easier to deal with.

Reaching out to help others is another important part of wellness. Social isolation has been proven to detract from stability and wellness. For personal growth, self-esteem and wellness reaching out is a key ingredient.

Exercise and Diet

Physical fitness goes a long way to promoting good mental health. Care in eating good nutritional foods at the right times is essential to a feeling of well-being as well as well as to good mental health. Caffeine and alcohol should be used in great moderation, if at all.

Exercise has been proven to be good not only for the body but for the mind. We can talk about endorphins and scientific research but the fact is that exercise (especially walking and jogging) makes you feel good! It also helps you shed those annoying unwanted weight gain side effects from psychiatric medications.

A body cared for in these two ways is a body with strength and resilience to handle the bad times when they come.

Humour

It was King Solomon who said thousands of years ago… “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dried the bones”

Cultivate humor to help you express fears and negative feelings. This is another hallmark of mental health and may indeed enhance physical health as well.

Laughing with others helps us forge strong, supportive links and bonds.

Optimism

The dictionary defines optimism as “an inclination to anticipate the best possible outcome”

Sadly, many of us with bipolar disorder have lost this ability due to prior episodes, depressions, medications and non-acceptance. None of us were born an optimist or a pessimist and we can choose to change our viewpoint. If a pessimist were to take his negative thoughts and immediately change them to positive ones like, changing the automatic self-criticisms fears and doubts to those of self-worth it becomes a learned behavior simply because it feels so good.

Talking to Ourselves

The important thing to remember is if you “hear” negative thoughts fight back with positive ones! If you’re beating yourself up about situations or things that you can change plan positive changes. If you’re going on about things in the past…plan how you might manage the same situation better if it happened again and if you are beating yourself up think of all the positive steps you have taken in the past week or month and other things that you can do!

Take Charge

Take charge of yourself and of your illness. You know you better than anyone else possibly could. Let your voice be heard!

Insight

Learn all you can about Bipolar Disorder and develop insight as to how it is affecting you. It will help you identify problem areas and predict possible mood swings or problems.

Psychological Jouranling

Keep a daily journal to identify trends in your illness and in your thought patterns. Find out if certain things…the weather…your mother-in-law coming to visit etc. always exacerbates a mood change. Be ready for it.

Self Help Groups

Self-help groups are available for individuals with Bipolar Disorder in many different areas. A self-help group can give you much of the sociability, education and support you may be looking for.

All of the above will help you in your everyday life as a person with Bipolar Disorder. They will also help you greatly to cope when an unavoidable mood swings interrupts your life.

The Facts and Fiction of ADHD

waht are the facts and what are fiction

ADD has been misunderstood and misrepresented for many years. Myths still persist in the minds of teachers, parents and even physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists. Let’s get to the bottom of some of these myths and see what the truth really is. I’ve listed 7 of the more common myths associated with ADHD.

Most Common Myths Associated with ADHD

1. Everyone with ADHD is hyperactive. There are three types of ADHD. The first is Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity, the second, ADD—Inattentive, the third, ADD—combined (both hyperactive and inattentive). Not everyone with ADD is bouncing off walls, but it does make it easier to diagnose!

2. ADHD is a learning disability. You’ll find many physicians, entrepreneurs, scientists and entertainers with ADHD. Some people with ADHD also have learning disorders, but ADHD is not in and of itself a learning disorder. Per Dr. Paul Eliot, those with ADHD tend to have higher IQs than the general population.

3. A child will outgrow ADHD.This was probably due to the hyperactivity portion of ADHD becoming less pronounced as the child grew into an adult. Many physicians would discontinue prescribing medication when the child reached adulthood. We now know that medication can help those with ADHD throughout adulthood.

4. If you can focus your attention at all, you don’t have ADHD. So, you don’t think your child has ADHD because he can play a video game for hours, huh? He couldn’t possibly focus on something that long, right? Wrong. Most ADDers hyperfocus on tasks periodically. And, by the way, have you ever seen how much action goes on in those video games? Nothing stays the same for very long – perfect for the ADDer.

5. There is no such thing as ADHD. Although researchers are still working on the exact cause(s) of ADHD, we do know that it is a biochemical disorder in the brain. Most researchers and physicians think that it has its origin in the frontal lobe of the brain. ADHD is real.

6. Medication for ADHD is addictive. It is true that stimulant medication is used in the treatment of ADHD, and stimulants can become addictive. However, the dosages used in the treatment for ADHD are not large enough for addiction to become a problem. It is actually more likely for someone with untreated ADHD to become addicted to more dangerous drugs in an attempt to medicate themselves.

7. Medication is the only way to treat ADHD. For many, medication is best for those with ADHD, but behavior modification, herbal remedies, and even a change in diet is said to help some. Many ADDers need a combination counseling and medication to keep them in line with the rest of the world.

Myths such as these will persist until we educate each other about the reality of ADHD and it’s effect on us. ADHD isn’t something to be ashamed of. If you have ADHD, you’re special and gifted in ways that those without can only dream about. Help others understand ADHD so that others can see ADHD not as a disorder, but as a difference.

Romance and ADHD having a change

I’ve been thinking about how Valentine’s Day is the season for love and romance and all things lovely, but when you have ADD, sometimes romance is easier said than done! With ADDers having a divorce much higher than that of non-ADDers, chances are you’re a little concerned about your romantic interest. I wanted to explore some ways to make your love life linger longer, so here’s some practical advice for those with romantic notions today!

*Be forgiving. We ADDers seem to take things very personally. I tend to think that people who are whispering are talking about me, and that people who are laughing are laughing at me. Because we can be hypersensitive, we need to be aware that others don’t see things the same way. We may get upset or be concerned about an issue that doesn’t even exist – we’ve let our thoughts run amok – we need to remember to give our romantic partners the benefit of the doubt and forgive for things both real and imagined by our creative ADD minds. The other side of this is to forgive yourself. We come to many relationships with our own ADD hang-ups – low self-esteem is common because we believe we’ve failed – at other relationships, at work, at school. Don’t burden a new relationship with old baggage. You can forgive yourself of the past and go on to the future.

*Improve your communication. Face it, it’s hard to have a relationship with someone when you never listen to one another. ADDers have a hard time with this one. People talk so slowly, they won’t go ahead and say what they want to say and be done with it. While they’re thinking of what to say next, our minds have wandered to 12 other subjects and we can’t remember what it was we were talking about with our partner in the first place. This is a difficult problem to master, but you can improve how you listen to your loved ones. You’ll need to enlist their help and get them to periodically reel you back in every five minutes or so. It will be difficult at first, but making yourself pay attention to your loved one will improve your relationship dramatically.

*Create excitement in your love life. We ADDers are a thrill-seeking bunch. You’ll get bored in your relationship if you don’t create some excitement. Do something different – be intimate in the kitchen or den instead of the bedroom or wear sexy underthings and surprise your mate. Come on, you’re creative, you have ADD, you get the picture! Spice up your love life instead of trading your mate in when it gets a little boring for you.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

What is Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that causes unpredictable ‘switches’ of behaviour. It is sometimes refereed to as manic-depressive illness, this being because it is by it’s nature, ‘manic’ and unpredictable.

Can Bipolar be treated?

Bipolar, like most mental health problems, is difficult to treat. Usually a combination of mood stabilising medication and psychotherapy are used in order to reduce the effects of bipolar. The extent of effectiveness of these treatments is fairly unclear, but for the most, they seem to at least help the individual.

What is it like having Bipolar?

The cliche of bipolar is that it makes you either extremely happy or extremely sad. Although this is true, bipolar can have effects on people’s energy, activity levels and productiveness. It is hard for those with bipolar because there is no consistency in their lives, and with no basic rules on what makes them change their behaviour, it becomes very frustrating for them. Which basically means it can effect absolutely everything in the individuals life at any given time.

Now we look further in-depth on the effects of Bipolar disorder. If  for whatever reason the text below doesn’t help you, then try visiting the NHS Website for further help.

Antidepressants for Bipolars

Antidepressants for Bipolars

Antidepressant drugs are a second group of medicines widely used in the treatment of episodes of major depression associated with Bipolar Affective Disorder. Great care must be taken in the use of these agents in bipolar disorder because of the possibility of their pushing a bipolar into a manic phase or speeding up their cycling. To avoid this, psychiatrists usually prescribe lithium or another mood stabilizer before beginning an antidepressant. Sometimes the mood stabilizer alone proves to be adequate; if not, an antidepressant is added later.

As with the discovery of lithium, serendipity led to the discovery of the first antidepressants in the 1950s. First researchers were trying to develop a new anti-psychotic agent and discovered imipramine, then a new anti-tuberculosis medication isoniazid was found to make patients so ebullient that some danced in the hallways. This was the forerunner to the monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors.

From then on, researchers continued to discover new and effective medications for the treatment of major depression. A question often asked is how do they work? It was long believed that all antidepressants work by increasing or decreasing levels of various neurotransmitters involved in depression, such as serotonin and norepinephrine. It is now known the therapeutic effects of these drugs have more to do with cellular function and the transmission of impulses via receptors than with the neurotransmitter levels themselves.

Generations of Antidepressants

Antidepressant medications have been divided into generations per time of discovery and chemical structure:

First Generation Antidepressants the tricyclics (tofranil, elavil, sinequan, asendin etc and the MAO Inhibitors (Nardil, Parnate)

Second Generation Antidepressants include Wellbutrin and Desyrel, both atypical antidepressants that are chemically different than the other classes of antidepressants.

Third Generation Antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. Included in this generation are prozac, luvox, paxil and zoloft.

Fourth Generation Antidepressants were released by the FDA and include serzone and effexor.

Psychiatric Drugs and Weight Gain

Psychiatric Drugs and Weight Gain

Psychiatric Drugs and Weight Control one unfortunate side effect of many of the medications used in the treatment of bipolar affective disorder is weight gain. Reports of people gaining 5 to 50 pounds and more are not uncommon after they begin these medications. Many become so frustrated with the seemingly uncontrollable weight gain that they stop taking their medicine, putting their mental health, and perhaps even their lives at stake.

Most physicians and psychiatrists when prescribing these medications are vague about the weight gain side effect or make no mention of it all. They know intuitively that many of their patients would flatly refuse a medicine with “blimp” properties. By the time the patient finds out the damage has been done.

The following list includes many medications commonly prescribed for bipolar affective disorder. This list is not all inclusive and is for comparison purposes. Beside each class of drug there is a code indicating the likelihood of that drug producing weight gain.

Key

Frequently more than 10 Pounds = ++++
Often between 6-10 Pounds = +++
Sometimes up to 6 Pounds = ++
Rarely, basically negligible = +

The List

The following are stabilizers and were rated Lithium (++++), Tegretol (++), Depakene (+++) and Neurontin (++).

The following are anti-depressants and were rated MAOI’s (+++), Tricyclics (++++), SSRI’s* (+++) and Prozac* (+).

*Some people have reported weight loss when using SSRI’s and Prozac.

All antipsychotics (major tranquilizers) were rated ++++.

All sedatives and hypnotics were rated ++.

All antianxiety meds were rated ++.

The Weight Gain – What to do for bipolars

The Weight Gain – What to do for bipolars

Weight gain is a frustrating topic for anyone. So it is hard to contemplate what this must be like for someone with bipolar disorder. Here we explain how to fight weight gain and counteract the side effects of taking bipolar medication.

Stopping the medication is not the answer. Each time you stop taking these drugs your body builds a type of immunity, and the next time (or the time after that) they eventually become less efficient and possibly stop working for you at all.

The best answer of course is prevention as mentioned last time. When you are aware of the propensity of the drugs for causing weight gain you can take immediate steps to prevent it by either reducing your food intake a bit or increasing your exercise or a combination of the two.

The approach is basic. Increase exercise and decrease food (calories). No charts, calorie counters, involved menus or measuring foods are required. Here is an account of someone’s battle with weight gain and how they helped fight it.

The Diet

Learn the art of substitution. Low-fat foods are better for you, and as you decrease the fat you will be able to eat more healthy fruits, vegetables and low calorie snacks. I was amazed at the number of food I could substitute…from whole milk, to 2%, to 1% and now to skim milk, without losing any of the nutritional value or flavor. Low fat margarine eventually replaced butter. I learned there was virtually no difference between low fat and regular cheese. I reduced red meat to two to three times a week, choosing less fat chicken, turkey and fish instead. I ate everything I had eaten before except for the most part I avoided highly sugared empty valued snacks, candy, potato chips and the like. I learned to enjoy diet soda, and am unable to drink the heavily syruped ones even yet). I even ate occasionally at the fast food restaurants (French fries and all), but mostly chose a Chinese buffet where I could make my own choices when I ate out. I did a lot of reading about nutrition to learn from which foods I could gain the best fuel for my body.

Reducing the amount I ate helped as well. I love salad and most every night make a large one to have with my meal. I find it very satisfying to crunch and chew my way through salad and am content with smaller portions of hot foods.

Basically, that’s it – the diet in a nutshell. Read labels, learn to make your own substitutions, rely on fruits and vegetables for snacks and eat healthy. There really isn’t one of us who doesn’t know which foods would be classified as “not healthy” or “empty calorie” foods.

Visit our diet tips on Top 10 Supplement Reviews for further assistance with your diet.

Exercise

When the doctor mentioned the word exercise to me I thought “oh yah, right…here it comes” There was no way I was getting down on the floor making an a** of myself trying to do sit ups or touch my toes.

I was totally shocked when he told me all he wanted me to do was a few short stretching exercises, then walk. In the beginning, he was not concerned with speed or distance…and assigned a recreation therapist to take me out each day for a walk. The first day I made it about 200 yards I think, was breathing heavy and it was all I could do to get back to the hospital. On the second and subsequent days, I went a bit farther, and soon noticed I could get there and back without becoming winded. In time I was walking around the perimeter of the hospital, then on the grounds. About this time I began to notice I was enjoying the walks and the fresh air. I had already lost close to twenty pounds and was feeling good about myself.

That is the exercise. Oh, there are others…but walking is the ultimate, requires no special clothing, costs nothing and can be done at any time.

On my return from the hospital I kept the principles I had learned in practice and went on to lose many more pounds.

Read our exercise tips here if you would like to know more.

How these steps can help someone with Bipolar Disorder

Although weight gain is predominantly thought to be associated with physical activities and exercise, it is actually mostly a mental battle. If routines like the one above are followed by anyone it should help them lose weight. Having said that some are unsuccessful because they give up and are inconsistent.  For those with bipolar it is obvious why they would struggle to keep consistent.

Ultimately, it is important that those with bipolar try to shred pounds the same as in the account above. However they must focus on therapy and medication in order to make sure that they’re best prepared for the battle ahead. Therefore it is important to try treat the bipolar as much as possible before starting the battle with weight.

These steps are almost vital if medication starts to cause weight gain. Don’t stop taking your medication!

Consider a supplement to help you lose the weight

They are loads of supplements that can assist you with weight loss and here on Top 10 Supplement Reviews, we help you make the choice with our impartial reviews. For example you may want to buy Hydroxycut Hardcore Next Gen as it is a fantastic fat burner. However it has a few ingredients that may leave you sceptical. Read our top 10 fat burner reviews here to make the choice. Remember to always check the ingredients.

Bipolar Disorder in the Workplace

Bipolar Disorder in the Workplace

There is presently no cure for Bipolar Affective Disorder. However, many people who have been diagnosed with this mental illness can live normal, functional and fulfilling lives. Many are able to continue to live, work, laugh and love thanks to various treatment options available today. Some adjustments and accommodations may be required, and some hurdles may have to be faced but in many cases working can be the option to chronic and complete disability.
Individuals with Bipolar Disorder can be found working in all career categories from clerks to lawyers, from authors to doctors and in any and every field earning a substantial living. Due to the “creativity” feature of this illness a fair number are artists, poets, writers, pianists, composers theatrics or anywhere in the arts.

Because of the cyclical nature and variable severity of Bipolar Disorder questions arise regularly about this subject. This article is intended to answer some of them.

ADA – American Disabilities Act / EEOC

So what rights do bipolar sufferers have in terms of employment? Well, employers are not required to hire an employee who is not qualified to do the tasks in the job description. They are not required to lower standards of performance or change the qualifications needed to obtain employment. If a prospective employee does not meet the standards required for the position the employer is not required to offer any opportunity.

Under both the ADA and EEOC laws employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to an employee who needs them. Reasonable accommodations, including such things as flexible schedules, time off for medical appointments, good Office Equipment  or changes in communication, feedback or supervision may make the difference between a fully functional and barely functional employee.

Both the ADA and EEOC are specific about other questions regarding the law and psychiatric disabilities. Covered in the act are topics such as:

  1. How to Determine whether a condition is covered under ADA.
  2. Disclosure of psychiatric Disability – Should I? When, where and how?
  3. Requesting reasonable accommodations – when, how?
  4. When an employer can and can’t discipline a worker for conduct resulting from a psychiatric disability.
  5. Direct Threat – How to Handle.
  6. Professional Licensing

If you are facing inability to obtain a job, problems within the workplace or disciplinary actions that you feel are related to your bipolar disorder the information within these pages will inform and educate you about options available to you.

Included in the list of pages are such subjects as;

  1. How does mental illness affect the way I work
  2. Working in Professional and Managerial Jobs
  3. What are Reasonable Accommodations
  4. Disclosing your disability to an Employer
  5. Dealing with a Difficult Boss
  6. Filing Complaints About Discrimination in the Workplace
  7. What Laws Protect someone with a psychiatric disability

And much more. High quality links are provided for further information and reading material.

Conclusion

If you feel that you are being wrongfully treated in the workplace due to your diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder there are laws to protect you. Being informed and educated about the illness itself and how it affects you may sometimes not be enough. Know your rights as well!

Students and Bipolar Disorder

Students and Bipolar Disorder

Sandy’s Case

Sandy was a bright vivacious 21 year old young lady who had just entered her second year of college. To Sandy the good things in life seemed to come naturally…she was pretty and had natural gold hair that sparkled in the sun. Her family doted on her and supported her in every way…her many friends loved to be with her. Sandy’s grades at school were excellent and it seemed she attained them without effort. She was the life of the party and the friend to be turned to for tutoring when the going got rough. Sandy was a very popular and appreciated friend.

Sandy looked forward to going back to school for the Fall semester. She had missed her friends and the campus life…she had missed her classes and was ready for the school routine, but Sandy soon realized something was wrong. Instead of her normal enthusiasm for school and life in general Sandy began to withdraw and spend more time alone in her dorm room. She couldn’t explain the feeling “It was like the world darkened” and over a period of three or four weeks more signs that something was wrong began to show. She became very tired all the time, was not eating, and was sleeping all the time. At first, she forced herself to go to school then was not able to face even that. Unable to concentrate to do anything Sandy began sleeping almost all the time. She refused to see friends and when she finally did talk to a couple of close friends they were appalled at the changes in Sandy. She had lost weight and was unbathed, her golden hair framing her wan face in strings. When Sandy mentioned thoughts of suicide her friends took matters in their own hands and took her to hospital.

Sandy was severely depressed. Family history showed that Sandy’s father had been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, a mood disorder including severe depression and hypomania/mania years earlier.

Sandy was eventually diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.

Rick’s Case

Rick was 24 years old…a tall, thin dark haired young man in his first year of post-graduate work in the computer field he had chosen. Rick had always been a quiet, studious sort of guy. Though he was quite personable he kept pretty much to himself as he pursued his educational and career dream. Rick’s family was very proud of him. He was the only one in his family who had gone much beyond high school and his sights were set on a doctoral degree.

Rick was home for dinner one Sunday night and his family noticed that he was talking more than usual. Nothing else seemed out of place and they assumed he was excited about a project he was working on. However, when Rick returned to school his speech became more frequent, rapid and intensified in volume, disturbing the professors and other students. More symptoms began to show…Rick wasn’t sleeping more than two hours a night and declared he felt fine! The girls at school began complaining about his sexual innuendos and advances. Several times he burst out in angry tirades when his ideas were crossed. The credit cards he had always carried unused were now all to the limit!

He presented his mentor and professor with a wild scheme that would change the future course of computers forever. When his professor tried to rationalize with him he left in a fury. Friday night when the university was closed Rick broke into the computer lab. Working feverishly and with unbearable anxiety he tried to make the changes. When they didn’t work as he expected Rick lost it. The security guard found him smashing computers and equipment to the floor. The police called an ambulance and Rick was taken to hospital. Rick was severely manic. Three weeks later he was depressed.

Rick was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.

After Diagnosis

Both Sandy and Rick needed time to recover. Their doctors stabilized the disorder with appropriate medications and formed a treatment plan for them. Both of them talked with a therapist in an attempt to understand what had happened to them, expressing their guilt over things they had said and done while ill. They learned that Bipolar Disorder is a life-long illness, but one that many people are able to live and work with for many years. Sandy and Rick both decided to return to school.

Can a School Refuse Admission?

A school cannot refuse you admission on the basis of having Bipolar Disorder, assuming that you meet the school’s admission requirements. Both Sandy and Rick were concerned about this question, and both returned to school.

Due to their illness, both had some areas where they may need the school to grant them reasonable accommodations to continue to work effectively toward their goals.

The first step in this is to document your disability. In Bipolar Disorder one or more of the following must substantially limit one or more “major life activities”

  • Learning
  • Thinking
  • Concentrating
  • Interacting with Others
  • Caring for Yourself
  • Speaking
  • Performing Manual Tasks
  • Working
  • Sleeping

What is Agoraphobia?

What is Agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder revolving around feelings of being unsafe in certain environments. Anxiety disorders in general are awful for the sufferer. They deal with a constant worry that sticks with them even when the causing stimulus isn’t present . For example, Agoraphobia causes some people to feel that they can’t go outside because they are concerned that they will not be safe. This causes them to stay in their homes, which of course isn’t healthy and can definitely interfere with everyday life.

Being Housebound- An Agoraphobic Experience

I had suffered from panic disorder for six years before I became agoraphobic to the degree where I couldn’t leave the house. In this article I just want to explain what being housebound and agoraphobic was like to me. Firstly, to hopefully make others in the same situation feel less alone, but also to help those who have trouble understanding why, and what it is like to be severely agoraphobic.

I became housebound initially after going through a tough time in my life. Strangely just previously to it my anxiety levels were about the best they had been since my anxiety disorder began. I remember clearly the panic experience that brought me to start avoiding more and more. I think part of the immense fear and avoidance that occurred afterwards stemmed from the fact the attack came after being almost panic free for months. It was also a scary situation as I was about an hour from home at the time and during the drive back I was panicking. From here my anxiety and my avoidance of things spiraled. It didn’t take me long before I couldn’t go further than 10 minutes from my house, in my car, without experiencing panic. From here, that ten minutes became five minutes and the area in which I felt safe within and non-anxious became smaller and smaller. Until eventually I couldn’t drive around the block. When I look back now, if I had treated that panic attack in a different way I don’t think I would have become housebound. I couldn’t see that it was just a small setback. That perhaps it was a one off. Instead I brought more panic and more anxiety all stemming from something I had been through a thousand times previously and survived.

Being agoraphobic and housebound, to me, was a situation that brought with it many catches and many struggles. From getting myself food, to loss of social contact and self-esteem, it literally affected nearly every area of my life. I became a professional at excuses and on most days, it was even hard just to work out how I would get food for my dinner let alone how I was going to conquer this anxiety and regain my life. Every time I stepped outside the door I would feel as though the entire world would swallow me up. I felt faint and couldn’t feel my legs. The whole world would look somewhat unreal to me. I would panic.

I had trouble seeing a doctor, as I literally couldn’t get to one. I had tried many times and had called doctors trying to get them to visit me, be seeing at that stage I didn’t have a family doctor they refused, as I wasn’t an existing patient. I needed help but couldn’t find it. Every time I got into the car and started the engine I would become so dizzy with fear it would feel as though the earth from under me had dropped away. I remember trying to make myself go for walks outside each day, but always as I would get as far as next door the panic would hit. I would turn around and come home in defeat. Every time I turned around I was reinforcing my fear to myself. I was reinforcing the fact that I couldn’t do it. Each morning I would wake up and be in somewhat disbelief at the situation I had found myself in. I had the sense that this wasn’t me. I would look back on the time in which I had freedom. Where I could spend time outside of the house, where I could visit friends and even just go for a drive. Things that I had taken for granted and that were previously very simple now felt as though it was a life or death situation. Being severely agoraphobic can be somewhat of a catch 22. I wasn’t eating well, if I was eating at all. This in turn would make me feel generally dizzy, which in turn didn’t help my anxiety. Exercise helps people with anxiety, and yet I couldn’t even walk around the block. To seek help I needed to be able to get to a doctor, to practice driving while anxious, I needed to go further first and get petrol. Everything that would help me to get better involved, what felt to me, doing the impossible first. Soon I became very depressed and at times towards the end suicidal. Being housebound was an intensely scary, overwhelming and lonely stage in my life.

To be agoraphobic is to suffer from a real condition with real symptoms, physical symptoms as well as emotional ones, which are not only terrifying but also overwhelming. To someone who has never experienced this degree of anxiety out of the blue it is very hard to understand. I lost many friends during this time, and even at times the patience of my family.

Medication and Agoraphobia

Medication and Agoraphobia

The decision to take medications is a purely personal one. Everyone is different. Some take them freely, others have a fear of side effects or complications from medication and others just don’t take them at all. There is no right or wrong way when it comes to medications. Each choice is personal and everyone makes their own decision based on how they feel about it and what the circumstances are. In this article I would like to talk about the different types of medications, and give some suggestions on talking to your doctor and how to become more informed.

The most two common types of medications prescribed to people with agoraphobia are –

Benzodiazepine Tranquilizers

These include medications such as Xanax, Ativan, Valium, Serax, Klonopin, Tranxene. Also in the benzodiazepine sedatives group are Dalmane, and Temazepam. These medications are usually fast acting and work by suppressing the activity of the central nervous system. While these drugs tend to be efficient in reducing anxiety there can also be a danger of addiction and tolerance.

Antidepressants

There are few groups of these:

  1. MAO- inhibitor Antidepressants. Such as Nardil, Marplan and Parnate. These are not used anymore and when taking these one must watch their diet (certain foods may cause large rises in blood pressure) and also certain over the counter medications.
  2. Cyclic Antidepressants. Such as Trofranil, Anafranil and Elavil. These medications seem to reduce both the intensity and the frequency of panic attacks. They can also be effective in reducing depression.
  3. SSRI (Selective Seretonin Reuptake Inhibitor.) Such as Paxil, celexa and zoloft. These can be used to treat panic disorder, agoraphobia, depression and ocd. These are some of the most commonly prescribed medications with and after the tranqilizers.

Make the most of your Doctor

Many of the treatments for agoraphobia, work for one individual, but they don’t work for another. Sometimes a variety of medications are tried before the one that is suitable is found. It is very important that you feel comfortable with your doctor who prescribes you medication. This way you can talk to them honestly and freely about your concerns and any issues that arise. When first discussing the option of medication with your doctor use that time to ask them as many questions, as you need. Some common and helpful questions that you might to ask are;

What side effects are common with this medication? – Are there any foods, vitamins or other substances that I should abstain from while taking these medications? – Can I drink alcohol with this medication, -Is this medication a temporary or more permanent measure? – How long should it be before I start to feel any benefits? – Is this medication addictive?

Usually your doctor will inform you of many of these issues regardless, but there is nothing worse then getting home and having questions or worries. Don’t be afraid to also either call, or re-visit your doctor if you have anymore. Sometimes a pharmacist can also answer many of these questions. It is common and understandable for people with agoraphobia to worry about the effects that a new medication will have. Hopefully, through talking to a professional these concerns will be resolved.

It is most important with medications to understand that it is a personal choice. It is common to feel weak, or like a failure if you do go on them. Remind yourself that people pop pills daily for headaches, let alone not being able to leave the house, or go to supermarkets or be alone. It is a valid choice and medications can be very useful to help people regain independence and confidence, even if it is just a temporary measure.