Wright Words: Bigfoot, unicorns and anxiety disorders aren't all imaginary

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  • kattawn ,
    Sept. 26, 2013 1:18 p.m.

    Maybe now people will stop saying "oh, stop worrying" because it's not that easy. Thank you Jason.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    Sept. 25, 2013 12:40 p.m.

    Anxiety hits any time in life.

    My wife once drove across country without a second thought. After pregnancy, however, my wife started having anxiety driving. It got so bad she could not drive further than the local supermarket. At first I was less than sympathetic. It was confusing: something she used to do easily she could not do.

    Nowadays she drives all over, especially on side streets and she still hates driving on highways, though she will do it when she has to.

    I'm very proud of her facing her fears in those instances, but am willing to drive if she needs me. Much of the "Just get over it" idea is actually true--and you'll find that it is a legitimate form of therapy, but it must be voluntary and come internally from the one experiencing the anxiety. You cannot fix anxiety by telling them that, but they may. I've found my wife is most willing to face her fears when I love her unconditionally. In a way one learns to rewire their mind by leaning on your support and slowing down enough to think logically about the fears.

  • USAlover Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 25, 2013 9:36 a.m.

    A Doctor's Perspective Part 2

    Step 1: Get a physical, blood test and share your symptoms with a trusted Family doctor or internist. Don't let your fear of medicine stop you from taking a mild SSRI/Benzo for up to a year or beyond. It's okay...you won't become addicted. That's your anxiety talking.
    Step 2. Midwest Center's program "Attacking Anxiety and Depression".
    Step 3. Exercise, yoga, meditation
    Step 4. Study Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), the third and newest wave of therapy for anxiety. Related materials are "The Mindful Way Through Anxiety" by Orsillo/Roemer and Tara Brach's website and podcasts.
    Step 5. THE MOST IMPORTANT: Learn to practice patience and self compassion. Allowing yourself to feel anxiety, without judging, condemning or catastrophizing. Just be...
    Step 6. Open your heart to spirituality in whatever form that resonates with you.

    Anxiety can be overcome. Once bedridden and afraid to leave your house, you will want to fly to Hawaii and learn to surf. Two years ago, I was crippled and defeated. This summer I am my old self except a little more wise, more grateful and a better person. Anxiety can be your best teacher.

  • USAlover Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 25, 2013 9:24 a.m.

    A Doctor's Perspective Part 1

    Anxiety takes many shapes but the main cause is not diet, environmental toxins, past experiences or places/people. Anxiety is a sneaky self-inflicted habit of worry. After suffering three MAJOR bouts of clinical anxiety over the last 25 years I have come to heal and learn from each event. I'm a practicing physician, father, husband, and church leader. Anxiety sufferers are some of the most successful high achievers in our society: Presidents, CEOs, Doctors, Professional Athletes, Movie Stars, Politicians, Scientists, and Stake Presidents/Bishops. I believe Anxiety does NOT need to be a chronic illness for ANYONE who is capable of practicing awareness and using a couple programs that I felt were critical in my healing. Clearly, genetics play a significant role, as some people are more likely to suffer Anxiety. But even genetics do not doom you to a life of dread, panic, obsession and fear. BUT HEALING TAKES TIME. How long? My favorite line is "it takes the time it takes". For me, my three bouts lasted in diminishing power for over a year each time. Improvement is gradual almost imperceptible, but you find yourself living freer.

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 4:13 p.m.

    I saw an interesting cartoon the other day that focused on if we treated physical ailments the same way we treat mental ailments. How many of us would dare tell someone with cancer to just get over it? Or tell the guy with the broken leg it is all in his head? Would we tell someone on dialysis that they need to buck up and stop missing work?

    Why is it more honorable to lose an arm or a leg in combat than it is to lose one's mind?

    Mental health problems are real and should be treated as such.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 2:03 p.m.

    As one who is a lifetime sufferer from anxiety I appreciate the growing understanding of this malady. I think mine stems from my childhood when my mother nearly died from a lung infection. I also think environmental stress is a factor. Let's hear more of this.

  • Kjirstin Youngberg Mapleton, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 1:58 p.m.

    Not to be an alarmist here, but diet and nutrition do play a role in mental (better put: brain and neurological) illness as much as in physical illnesses. Many people have allergies to substances others can tolerate. (Peanuts, for example.) While people continue to weigh in on the use of genetically modified (GMO) products, I'm paying closer attention. Rapeseed oil (called Canola Oil, and touted as being better for us than just about any other variety due to lower saturated fats) but many, particularly children, have had adverse reactions to the oil. Anxiety disorders were reported. Even after discontinuing use of every product containing it (very difficult to do now) can take several years to remove from our systems. Evidence is mostly anecdotal, but until studies are consistant, I'm going back to olive oil for my family. Cholesterol levels that should be going down due to Canola oil use have actually gone up, and that's not a good thing. Oil is only one example. I'd look at her diet and perhaps start a fasting test to see what helps or hurts. Just googled "Anxiety Diet" and lots of things popped up. Good Luck!

  • Susan in VA Alexandria, VA
    Sept. 24, 2013 11:02 a.m.

    Thank you Jason for this article... we have a long way to go before people accept the fact that some of us have an anxiety disorder. I pushed my way through even when I wanted to quit. I had to work as I held the Health Insurance for out entire family. The money I made was but a tiny bit of what we needed.... so I worked basically so we'd have health insurance.I have learned to recognize the Panic attacks for what they are... close my eyes and let them pass through me, but it took lots of work. I hope for the best for your sweet daughter and hopefully she can get to the point where she can do the same. Hugs and love to your entire family.

  • Moontan Roanoke, VA
    Sept. 24, 2013 10:51 a.m.

    Ditto all the supportive comments on this thread.

    And I'd like to add my view that this young lady's Mom deserves a Mother of the Decade award!

    And quite a few Bravo's to the Dad, too.

    All the best ...

  • Mayfair City, Ut
    Sept. 24, 2013 10:44 a.m.

    Tyler D--

    Perhaps Anonyme felt your response about diet as a cause/cure for anxiety and other mental issues was the same as suggesting a change of diet to treat a hemorrhage or a fractured pelvis.

    Anyone with anxiety or any mental illness will tell you problems with any part of the body are looked upon with much more empathy, willingness to treat and acceptance than those of the mental/emotional variety of illness....

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Sept. 24, 2013 10:05 a.m.


    Why the confrontational tone?

    And a 200 word comment is hardly space to provide an adequate overview of the research, but isn’t that what Google is for? There are well established links between a whole range of medical/psychological issues and everything from food additives (e.g., red coloring) to food allergies to lack of proper nutrition to chemical exposure… the list is quite long.

    And yes, based on years of personal & family experience I do in fact know what the average MD recommends – and 9 times out of 10 it is drugs. Sadly, the financial incentives here tend to drive the medicine. That said, there are good MD’s out there, but they are hard to find within a healthcare industry model built around churning out as many 10 minute appointments as possible.

    And sure, if the drugs work, fine. But if the answer is a simple diet change why would anyone want to spend the rest of their lives (not to mention money) taking a drug?

    Sorry if my comment touched a nerve…

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 9:45 a.m.

    It is a sad fact that so many people suffer from some form of mental disorder and an even sadder fact that so few of us all are able to understand and/or sympathize.

    I know that most of my understanding and sympathy came far too late in my life and, regretfully, only after some tragic experience with friends and relatives who took their own lives in what they believed to be their only relief from the pain.

    It is a very difficult issue and I am still at a loss to know what I (and the entire mental health industry) can do to substantially help someone actually overcome most of the many forms of mental disorder. But, I have arrived at a place where I recognize the condition as something very often beyond their control and do all I can to help them cope while assuring them of my love and concern. If nothing else, perhaps my sense of helplessness gives me some measure of empathy with theirs.

  • Firefly123 Mapleton, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 9:40 a.m.

    Part 3-End-

    That was about six years ago, and the anxiety is gone like it was never there. At first I had to work the steps to make things go away, but now it's just gone. Not wanting anyone to suffer as I had, I started a support group myself, and used the CD's to help others. I've decided to donate the whole program to the Provo Public Library as soon as the people who have checked out CD's have returned them. You may also ask your local public libraries to order the series. Like anything, I'm sure it won't work for everyone, but for those it does help, we feel blessed and want to share.

    Since it didn't really do much to stop my depression, I continued seeking help through natural sources. (I'd given the drug companies a chance, and they failed.) Essential oils and various roots, leaves, twigs and tonics. Finally started taking a nutritional supplement called SAM-e that has completely changed my life. The depression is now gone, too!

    I've learned that every "body" is different, but something will work for you. Never give up.

  • Anonyme Orem, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 9:38 a.m.

    Tyler D: "I would strongly recommend investigating diet and environmental causes to this condition. There is more and more research coming out every year supporting the connections."

    Can you share some of that research with us?

    Can you provide any proof for your claim that "your average MD . . . mostly looks to drug therapy to alleviate symptoms"? Do you know what treatments the average MD recommends? And if a particular drug does alleviate symptoms and its benefits outweigh the risks, what would be the problem with that?

  • Firefly123 Mapleton, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 9:26 a.m.

    Part 2

    As strong members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was taught my faith could overcome anything, and each time I prepared for and received a priesthood blessing by a worthy priesthood holder, I knew I would be healed. I was not. I don't think I uttered a prayer my entire childhood that didn't plead, "Please, my Heavenly Father, please make me not be afraid of x, y or z ," as my fears waxed and waned over different perceived threats over the years.

    By my late 50's I'd learned to live with it, keeping everything to myself because nobody wanted to hear about it. I was an empty shell, going through the motions of life.

    I heard a radio show about The Midwest Center and Attacking Anxiety & Depression. The program, on CD's, could be purchased for some $300+ but it wasn't on our insurance plan, and we couldn't afford it. After begging my husband to try it, figuring we'd pay that in co-pays for the year anyway, I ordered it, and faithfully did the work. It took care of the anxiety almost from the first or second CD.

  • Firefly123 Mapleton, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 9:13 a.m.

    Part 1

    I would have written this comment under my real name, but my husband suggested if I do, I may never get another job. He's right, there is a HUGE stigma against mental illness, and in my freelance work, I need no more strikes against myself in a very competitive field.

    From puberty I suffered from anxiety and suicidal depression. My phobias started even younger-probably with a black widow spider bite when I was four or five. No superpowers as a result, sadly-just a scar I carry to this day. I tried to count all the psychiatrists and doctors I've seen over the years, and lost count at 43. I know there were more. Mountains of medication took care of the depression for a year or two, but it always came back, and they'd either have to boost the dosage or switch to another antidepressant. None of my siblings had issues, and the depressed parent kept it well-hidden until they drove off a cliff and nearly died when I was in high school. There does seem to be a genetic factor.

  • GeoMan SALEM, OR
    Sept. 24, 2013 8:46 a.m.

    I am so happy to hear that your daughter is both coping and improving. To build on what cornhusker posted, the unfortunate thing about many health disorders is that they are very difficult to diagnose and sometimes have no effective treatment. This is true of health issues that we put under the label of "mental" as well as the ones we put under the less stigmatized label of physical (as if the brain was less an organ than the liver).

    Just as we have no cure for polo, we likewise have no cure for a plethora of maladies of all the various parts of the body. If effective treatment is available, then a person should pursue it. It effective treatment is not available, then all we can do is love and support. Oftentimes, it is a full-time job.

    I hope that your daughter's problem completely resolves itself. If not, it sounds like she will have the love and support she needs.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Sept. 24, 2013 8:45 a.m.

    I would strongly recommend investigating diet and environmental causes to this condition. There is more and more research coming out every year supporting the connections, but sadly your average MD (who mostly looks to drug therapy to alleviate symptoms) is unaware of most of these causal relations.

    The fact is modern society is undertaking an unprecedented experiment over the last century with our use of chemicals and ubiquitous food additives (and lately foods never before found in nature), and this trend has grown exponentially over the past few decades.
    And science is far behind in being able to fully understand all the causal links especially since many people seem to be able to (physiologically) handle all the modern changes while many others (perhaps for genetic reasons) cannot.

    Someday if we ever invent a Star Trek-type Tricorder we might be shocked at what many of these modern inventions are subtly doing to us at a cellular and molecular level, but until then it is up to those experiencing the worst effects to try and make sense of their maladies.

  • jeanie orem, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 8:16 a.m.

    I have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks off and on since 3rd grade. I used to joke that in heaven when trials were being handed out I got their late. The only thing left was the strange and nonsensical so I was stuck with something humiliating and difficult to believe or explain.

    I try to explain panic attacks this way, it's like hiking in the mountains and as you round a corner suddenly you come face to face with a mountain lion. The rush of fear and adrenalin would be how a panic attack feels, except in a panic attack there is no monutain lion. There's no rational danger which leaves intelligent people feeling very, very stupid.

    Your daughter is so brave to face her fears and then share her story. She will be a strength to many people she crosses paths with in her life. She knows what it's like to have fear as a constant companion and be courageous anyway. What a good, good mom and a compassionate dad.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  • utah cornhusker NORFOLK, NE
    Sept. 24, 2013 7:33 a.m.

    Ive suffered with anxiety attacks for many years and unfotunately, there are not alot of medicines that treat anxiety. My heart goes out to your daughter and glad that She is blessed to have supportive people around her. Good article,jason, and god bless you and your family.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Sept. 24, 2013 7:22 a.m.

    I second all that Ranch has said.

    Also, that the author admits to a problem we can all be subject to. We find it easy to dismiss other's problems until those issues strike us close to home. Suddenly, our understanding of the world changes.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 6:54 a.m.

    This is a touching story, Jason, and I hope your daughter is doing well.

    Many Americans simply don't have the means to afford treatment and we're letting these poor people fall through the cracks, in large part due to our own ignorance and our arrogance that it is a "figment of their imagination". Lets work together to address these issues.