Strategies for Coping with Anxiety and Panic

1. Remember that although your feelings and symptoms are very frightening, they are not dangerous or harmful.
2. Understand that what you are experiencing is just an exaggeration of your normal bodily reaction to stress.
3. Do not fight your feelings or try to wish them away. The more you are willing to face them, the less intense they will become.
4. Do not add to your panic by thinking about what “might” happen. If you find yourself asking “What if?” Tell yourself. “So what!”
5. Stay in the present. Notice what is really happening to you as opposed to what you think might hap pen.
6. Label your fear level from zero to ten and watch it go up and down. Notice that it does not stay at a very high level for more than a few seconds.
7. When you find yourself thinking about the fear, change your “what if ‘ thinking. Focus on and carry out a simple and manageable task such as counting backwards from 100 by 3’s or snapping a rubber band on your wrist.
8. Notice that when you stop adding frightening thoughts to your fear, it begins to fade.
9. When the fear comes, expect and accept it. Wait and give it time to pass without running away from it. 10. Be proud of yourself for your progress thus far, and think. about how good you will feel when you succeed this time .

Reprinted courtesy of the National Mental Health Association.   Understanding Panic Disorder.

 

New Ways to Stop a Heart Attach

It takes more than diet and exercise to prevent a heart attack. Here’s what you need to know.

By Jeff Meade. Prevention Magazine / February 1999, pages 107-113.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following are some of the seven ways the author outlines as maintaining a healthy heart.

MAKE FRIENDS. He states that “(I)f you don’t have family and friends living near you, you can join a support group. Depressed Anonymous is an international 12step organization that can help you deal with the blues.

GET A PET
MEDITATE
PUT A LITTLE LOVE IN YOUR LIFE
SAY YOUR PRAYERS
GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR NATURAL RHYTHMS
THE FASTEST WA Y TO YOUR HEART IS THROUGH YOUR MIND

Mental Imagery Process fro Overcoming Resentment

MENTAL IMAGERY PROCESS FOR OVERCOMING RESENTMENT

Sit in a comfortable chair, feet flat on the floor , eyes closed.

Create a clear picture in your mind of the person toward who you feel resentment. 3. Picture good things happening to that person. See him or her receive love attention or money, whatever you believe that person would see as a good thing.

Be aware of your own reactions. If you have difficulty seeing good things happening to the person, it is a natural reaction. It will become easier with practice.

Think about the role you may have played in the stressful scene that caused the angry reaction to you in the first place and how you might reinterpret the event and the other person’s behavior. Imagine how the situation might look from the other person ‘s point of view.

Be aware of how much more relaxed, less resentful you feel. Tell yourself you will carry this new understanding with you.

You are now ready to open your eyes and resume your usual activities.

The imagery process usually takes less than five minutes to complete. Use it whenever you become aware of resuming an unpleasant, painful, or angering episode from the past. There may be months when it is unnecessary for you to use it at all, and there may be days when you use it a half dozen times.

Source: Simonton, Carl O., MD. GEITING WELL AGAIN. New York, Bantam Books, 1984, pp. , 178-179.

Waiting for the Drugs to Kick In!

One of the realities of one’s life -especially if one has been depressed for a time -is that language creates reality. This is a tenet of our recovery program. How often as children have some of us have been told that “we’ll never be like our brother or our sister” all the time preparing us for a lived out prophecy from some early childhood significant other.

Since language can and does create our reality -especially if the language is that of someone who is an adult and many years our senior. It is this language that helps construct the meaning that we give to life and life’s events and circumstances – both pleasant and unpleasant. How often have we heard that we are patients or that “we are under the care of the doctor.” Get the feel of the language here –one, we are a patient, and secondly, we are under the care of and/or we are waiting for the drug to “kick in.” I don’t know about you, but the language just described can promote a self-understanding of someone who not only is powerless but is waiting for something to fall out of the sky and make things better. Don ‘t get me wrong, medication, doctors, therapists all may be very important as part and parcel of healing – but, let’s get this straight – we are responsible for our own health! I can’ t afford to sit and wait for something, someone to make me feel better – this is true especially for that painful reality that we call depression. I want to live in the solution, where I know there is hope the more I become proactive in my own recovery and start doing things for my­ self. I now believe that once I start making choices for my own health today the more I will speed up my recovery and release from the prison of depression .

Since language can create our reality and since humans are always constructing meaning for their lives it is essential that persons depressed he given the message from health-care professionals that they can do something now to start feeling different. In other words, people need to believe that there is hope for them. They can begin to believe that by starting a personal exercise program, watching what they put in their minds and mouths – in time things will start to come around. But if! am given a message that my problem is a chemical imbalance or that my problem is genetic-then that leaves me with little hope for now or the future. The only solution might appear to be no solution or at least a reliance on a chemical solution at best. And if the problem is essentially a chemical im­ balance then I’ll just have to wait til they find the right chemicals to stabilize those misbehaving chemicals in my brain.

For some reason, I don’t believe that we can just blame the brain – in fact, I don’t think it ever does any good to blame anybody or anything for the way we feel. Oh, sure, we can blame others and possibly that makes us feel a little better-but in the long run – it’s me, myself and I who has to take responsibility for me.

I caution you then, be careful the way you talk to yourself . At the mutual aid meetings of Depressed Anonymous, the whole point of our coming together is to believe that you and I together can begin to see our­ selves in a new light. In fact, we learn a new language at our meetings. We learn to take responsibility for our­ selves, We find people in the group who speak our language of hope and courage. You never hear “snap out of it” at our meetings. The message that a newcomer gets at our 12 step meetings are assurances that things will get better the more you come to meetings; expect to get better; start using the tools that have successfully led others out of the prison of depression. So, all in all, we need to get busy as soon as the doctor prescribes the medication, or we start therapy or both. Next, we need to find a depression mutual aid group like Depressed Anonymous which is a NOW program to help support you as you gradually begin to walk out of depression. No need to wait ­ wait out the weeks before the drugs begin to take effect, hopefully, and we start feeling better . We don’t have to wait for the drugs to “kick in” before we get busy and start working on ourselves. We can start today. We can join a group of people committed to change and recovery. We can start today as together we work the steps of our program of recovery. It speaks the language of hope!

Characteristics of a well functioning group

• Attraction to individual members of the group.
• Feelings of getting help by helping.
• Risk-taking by group members.
• Demystification of the members experience and consensual validation
• Strong leadership with a willingness to share on the part of the leader, along with rotation of leadership roles
• A focus on goals and resolution of discrepancies in individual and group goals
• Active participation by group members.
• Demand by the group for self-responsibility of members.
• Elaboration ofa substitute culture in which identity changes can occur.
• Expansion of alternative perceptions through continuous intervention.

Source: Richard J. Riordan and Marilyn S. Beggs. Counselors and Self-Help Groups. Journal of Counseling & Development. Volume 65, Issue 8, pages 427–429, April 1987

Working the Steps

“If we have ‘worked’ the Twelve Steps on a daily basis, I do believe we now re­alize the value of surrender and the power that releases in us. Just by making a decision in Step Three “to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand God” • is the beginning of reconnection with life and with our selves. Now, we are conscious how our own isolation paradoxically isolated family, friends, loved ones from us. The more our friends tried to help us the more we went deeper into the darkness. Our darkness and their inability to comfort us in turn pushed them deeper into their own feelings of helplessness and isolation. Many times the desire to help the de­ pressed pushes the helper deeper into the isolation of the depressed – mirroring the reality often depressed person.”

Source: DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS, Harmony House Publishers, Louisville, Ky, 1998, Page 186.

Twelve Steps are the essential beliefs and at the very core of Depressed Anonymous

The Twelve Steps are the essential beliefs and at the very core of Depressed Anonymous. The DA recovery program, modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous which originally developed to help men and women deal with their addiction to alcohol, one day at a time.

The Twelve Steps have been found to be a potent means of recovery for those who desire to free themselves from their compulsions. The Twelve Steps are basically a program of letting go of our compulsions and handing over our will to God as we understood God. Essentially our program is a step by step way to change not only our addiction but our way of life.

Change happens when we choose to change. The fellowship of the group and our desiring to make changes in our life is what provides our life-giving spiritual experience. Many people get organized religion and spirituality mixed up and DA achieves strength from spirituality without set creed, dogma or doctrine. All the program asks of a person who comes to the meetings is only to have a sincere desire to stop the compulsion of saddening themselves.

Signs of the Depressive Experience

• Wanting to isolate and be alone
• Change in appetite Shifts in sleeping patterns (too much/not enough sleep)
• Waking up early in the morning
• Fatigability or lack of energy
• Agitation or increased activity
• Loss of interest in daily activities and/or decreased sex drive
• Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worth lessness, guilt or self-reproach
• Weeping/Not able to cry
• Lapses of memory
• Hard time making decisions
• Fear of losing one’s mind
• Reluctance to take risks
• Difficulty in smiling or laughing
• Suicidal thoughts

Depressed Anonymous: A Spirtual Program for Personal Recovery and Serenity

One of many questions that arise in a person’s mind as they make that first courageous step into the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous is “How soon and how quick can I be free from the pain and isolation that has imprisoned me for so long?”

This question can only be answered by time and frequent and active participation in the fellowship of the group. It is by reading the text of the Depressed Anonymous manual and attempting to put these principles into effect into one’s daily life. Also, one can begin to feel some improvement in their lives as they slowly gain a belief, a faith if you will, that they too can get better- – with time, patience and sharing they will begin to accept themselves for who they are and try and change what they don’t like in themselves. By the fact that one comes to a meeting is in itself half of the battle in overcoming the depression. It is this interminable isolation that keeps the disease of depression at its height and intensity. It is only when a person can come to a meeting, begin to trust the group and so share some of the pain that has been bottled up for as many years as one can remember.

The program has been built by those who have experienced depression and know about the need to get connected and to be part of others like themselves. This is where the hope begins-when we see and hear others like ourselves sharing their past pain and how sharing how today it is all dif­ ferent because of their willingness, their openness and their honesty about themselves that has forced open the prison door that has till this time kept them imprisoned in their own fears and phobias.

The program is a very simple one -but this doesn’t mean that it is easy. All change is painful and if we are to grow we have to change. We have to get resolved some of those old issues that keep pop­ ping up in our lives and that want our attention but we cram them back in place and don’t want to look at them. The 12 Steps of Depressed Anonymous will help promote your own personal discovery of what it means to force oneself from the despair and self-hatred that normally comes with depression.
If you are new to our fellowship and this is the first that you are reading about a group whose sole purpose is to help ourselves and others escape the prison of depression ­ you might be surprised to learn that we neither discuss medicine nor religion at any of our meetings. But really this makes sense as religion is about certain prescriptions and dogma that various religious bodies demand of their adherents -whereas spirituality is about one’s concept of a God of their understanding – not of someone else’s
understanding of who god is supposed to be for them­ selves and for everyone else.

The first step in getting past our depression is to first get into the door of a Depressed Anonymous meeting -take a seat – keep our ears open and know that we will not be pressured to say a word. Usually they only ask for the first name and leave it at that. Since we want to keep our anonymity we only use our first names at the meetings. There is a phone list for those who would like to keep in touch with fellow members between meetings. At each group meeting a passage is read from our big book or any other book that specifically deals with the spirit of the 12 Steps. Afterr all, we believe that the depression experience is much more than simply a brain disorder or a problem with misbehaving neurotransmitters

Is the Internet a reliable Source?

“As many as 60 million adults used the World Wide Web last year to find information about health care, according to a poll by Louis Harris & Assoc. “Health care is an enormous reason why people go online,” said Humphrey Taylor, Chairman of the polling company, which estimates that 90 million (or 44% of the adult population) use the Internet at home, work or at school.

And amazingly, 91 % said the last time they went online, they found what they
wanted .. .” The most common topics being researched were depression (19 % of searches), allergies or sinus (16%), cancer (15%), bipolar disorder (14%) and arthritis or rheumatism (10%).

According to the Harris survey of more than 1,000 people, which was done online in January, the health sites most often visited online were created either by medical societies or by patients ‘ advocacy or support groups.” Washington Post, 2/16/99, P17.

We seek to prevent depression through education and by creating a supportive and caring community through support groups that successfully keep individuals from relapsing into depression.

%d bloggers like this: