About Me

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Personality Disorders are like tips of icebergs. They rest on a foundation of causes and effects, interactions and events, emotions and cognitions, functions and dysfunctions that together form the individual and make him or her what s/he is. I have always been interested in people, their ways of thinking and behaving. Studying psychology has partially satisfied my curiosity, however, I have also ended up more intrigued then ever! I have a great interest in neuropsychology or simply, the way our brains work. I have worked in various mental health environments and have seen the effects that absence of good mental health can have on people. However, I have also become much more aware of the ignorance and stigma, which is unfortunately, still attached to mental illnesses and mental instabilities. I have set up a web site as well as this blog to promote the awareness of mental health and the related issues, to help eliminate the prejudiced thinking prevalent in our societies. I hope both will develop into useful resources for different individuals and I look forward to all the interesting comments and posts from the readers, who are all welcome to sign up to the blog.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Coping with Panic Attacks

A panic attack is a severe attack of anxiety and fear which occurs suddenly, often without warning, and for no apparent reason. It is an exaggeration of the body's normal response to fear, stress or excitement. Panic attacks are extremely frightening and involve physical symptoms, including shaking, feeling faint, dizzy, confused or disorientated, rapid heartbeats, dry mouth, sweating, ringing in ears, hot or cold flushes, tingling or numbness in hands/ feet and chest pain.

During an attack, you may fear that the world is going to come to an end, or that you are about to die or go mad. The most important thing to remember is that, however dreadful you may feel during an attack, this is NOT going to happen. Panic attacks always pass and the symptoms are not a sign of anything harmful happening. The following is based on various useful resources provided by MIND – the leading mental health charity.

First Aid:

If you are having a panic attack, try cupping your hands over your nose and mouth, or holding a paper bag (not plastic!) and breathing into it, for about 10 minutes. This should raise the level of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream and relieve symptoms.

Other first-aid tips include running on the spot during a panic attack. If you feel unreal, carry and object, such as the photograph of a loved one, to anchor you in reality, or finger a heavily textured object (e.g. a strip of sandpaper). You could also distract yourself, by trying to focus on what is going on around you.

  • The first step is recognising that you have the power to control your symptoms.
  • Confront your fear – do not run away from it. You need to tell yourself that nothing bad is going to happen and the symptoms you are experiencing are caused by anxiety. Try to keep doing things and, if possible, do not leave the situation until the anxiety has subsided (Salkovskis, 2010)
  • Accept that a panic attack is unpleasant and embarrassing, but that it is not life-threatening or the end of the world. By going with the panic, you are reducing its power to terrify you.
  • Learn creative visualisation – for example, imagine you are in a place that symbolises peace and relaxation for you . You can practice this anywhere but, until you have got used to doing this, try sitting in a chair with your limbs as floppy as possible, and think of calming images.
  • Use positive, present-tense affirmations – you can use visualisation to focus on situations that you fear. Imagine the situation and speak positively to yourself: 'I am doing well', 'This is easy'. These can be said silently or out loud.
    (NB: If you have been used to thinking negatively, over a long period of time, you will need to practice every day.)
  • Learn a relaxation technique, which focuses on easing muscle tension and slowing down your breathing.
  • Practice correct breathing – to avoid hyperventilation (over-breathing), which leads to panic attacks. Avoid breathing shallowly, from the upper chest, and breath more slowly from the abdomen. Put one hand on your upper chest and the other on your stomach. Notice which hand moves as you breathe. The hand on your chest should hardly move but the hand on your stomach should rise and fall.
  • If necessary, make changes to your diet – eat regularly and avoid sugary foods and drinks, white flour and junk food to prevent unstable blood sugar levels , which can contribute to symptoms of panic. Caffeine, alcohol and smoking all contribute to panic attacks and are best avoided.
  • If the self-help does not help, consult your doctor
  • Therapies that can be considered include: Drug Therapy, Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Behaviour Therapy as well as various Complementary and Alternative Therapies (e.g. acupuncture, aromatherapy, homeopathy).

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Do you have bipolar?

The first question that you need to ask is, if you indeed have this condition. Learning the signs and symptoms will help you to weigh the need to seek out medical attention. If any of your symptoms are severe or you are considering harming yourself, you must seek immediate medical attention as soon as possible.

Bipolar individuals will go through an alternating pattern of highs and lows that play on their emotions. The highs are called episodes of mania. The lows are episodes of depression. The intensity of these highs and lows will vary from person to person and from one episode to the next. For some, the symptoms can be quite mild but for others they can be quite severe. In addition to this, you may also have very normal times too.

During the manic phase, there are a number of symptoms that can be observed.
  • You may feel extremely happy and optimistic. You may feel euphoria. You may also have an inflated self esteem or ego.

  • You may have very poor judgement, and you may know this by being told by others that you’ve made the wrong decision.

  • Your speech can be very fast. Your mind is going crazy with thoughts (see earlier Racing Thoughts post below). You may be agitated and feel the need to move your body and your mind. Physical activity may be increased too.

  • Many will be aggressive in their behaviour.

  • Some people find this to be a time of problems with sleeping, problems with concentrating on what you should be doing. You may be easily distracted, and have problems getting tasks accomplished.

  • You can be reckless or you may take chances on things that you normally would not do.

The depressive side of bipolar is often associated with depression like symptoms. These symptoms can include the following, often more than one symptom.
  • Feeling very sad, very guilty or feeling that all is lost. Hopelessness is a common feeling here too. The trademark of a problem is that the symptom is unfounded and is persistent.

  • You may be very tired, often not caring about getting your tasks accomplished. You may lose interest in the things that you do daily, normally. Even those things that you love to do may not be done.

  • You may be very irritable, losing your temper for no real reason.

  • You may not be able to sleep although you are tired. You may not be hungry and some will lose weight because of not eating properly here.

  • Some have problems with pain, too. If you have pain that there is no real cause for, this can be a sign of depressive behaviour.

  • The most serious of all symptoms and signs of depressive behaviour is that of thoughts of suicide. If you have these thoughts, your condition needs immediate attention.

If you think that you have any of these symptoms, then you need to work with your doctor to be diagnosed. It is necessary to get treatment and treatment really can help you!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Anxiety Disorders

ANXIETY is a normal response to stress or danger. At times it's helpful because it can help prepare the body for action, and it can improve performance in a range of situations. It only becomes a problem when it is experienced intensely and it persistently interferes with a person's daily life.
Depression and anxiety commonly occur together. Not everybody who is anxious is depressed, but most depressed patients have some symptoms of anxiety.

Are not fully known, but things to do with your family, your body and what has happened to you in the past are all believed to be involved.
Studies have shown that some people are born more likely to have high levels of anxiety. You are probably more likely to suffer from an anxiety disorder if someone in your family does.
Drug use and some physical conditions can also lead to increased anxiety as can one or more events that cause significant adjustments in everyday life (e.g. marriage, injury or retirement).


1) Psychological:
  • Inner tension.
  • Agitation.
  • Fear of losing control.
  • Dread that something catastrophic is going to happen, such as a blackout, seizure, heart attack or death.
  • Irritability.
  • Feelings of detachment, as if being trapped in a bubble separate from the world.
2) Physical:
  • Racing heart beat (palpitations).
  • Breathing fast, feeling short of breath or finding it hard to 'get breath'.
  • Chest tightness.
  • Dry mouth, butterflies in the stomach, feeling sick.
  • An urge to pass urine.
  • Tremor.
  • Sweating.
Five major types of anxiety disorders are:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder)


1) Psychological: Often tried first. They may include learning about the symptoms and realising that though they are frightening, they are not medically dangerous. Relaxation techniques can also be helpful.
People with OCD can be taught 'thought stopping' techniques to prevent obsessional thoughts.
Phobias can be treated by a number of techniques including 'graded exposure'.

2) Medicines
- Diazepam , Lorazepam - effective in quickly relieving the symptoms of anxiety. However, the body rapidly becomes used to these drugs and they can be addictive. Should not be used for longer periods.


- Other medicines can help some of the physical symptoms of anxiety, for example propranolol (eg Inderal LA) can slow a fast heart beat and reduce tremor.

Antidepressants – such as Prozac (fluoxetine), Seroxat (paroxetine), Lustral (sertraline) and Cipramil (citalopram) – these appear to be better for panic disorder and OCD. A newer antidepressant Cipralex (escitalopram) is also proving to be beneficial in many patients with anxiety and panic disorders. Other antidepressants such as Gamanil (lofepramine) and Edronax (reboxetine) may be helpful for social phobias.