Anxiety, Panic Attacks And Abuse


“Many survivors of abuse find that especially in the early days after leaving an abusive relationship they suffer from increased anxiety, depression and sometimes also panic attacks. The combination of depression and anxiety really can be quite overwhelming and frightening, and especially if we don’t understand what is happening with us and our bodies, we can feel as though we are going crazy or may fear that we are somehow physically ill.

Anxiety is something we are all familiar with and which everyone experiences at some point in their lives. We might be anxious about a friend or family member who is ill and needs an operation, or anxious about an exam or driving test. Generally anxiety is the body’s response to a potentially threatening situation, it is like a forewarning or alarm system in which the mind at an often subconscious level recognises potential danger or need for action and prepares the body accordingly, pumping oxygen into the bloodstream and heightening our senses. Anxiety becomes a problem when it is inappropriate, ie when there is nothing to be frightened of. We all have an anxiety threshold and it is when this threshold is much lower than appropriate that anxiety becomes a debilitating and frustrating problem – we feel frightened and uptight all the time or much of the time even when there is no outward obvious reason for it.

A panic attack is a result of anxiety, but anxiety doesn’t have to result in a panic attack. Panic in itself is a normal physical response to danger, like the ‘fight or flight’ response, and as such can serve a useful purpose, eg if we are crossing a busy road and see a car coming at us at speed we ‘panic’ and run. That is a normal healthy response and once the danger is over, the panic subsides. The problem with panic attacks is that they can be unrelated to the reality of what is happening to us at that moment in time, and as such is often described as a fear of fear itself, rather than an appropriate response to imminent danger. We could have a panic attack in the middle of shopping or dropping a child off at school, and such panic attacks become debilitating as we can then develop anxiety around doing normal things, the additional anxiety over possibly having an panic attack stresses our body further and the risk of actually having a panic attack increases.

Sometimes a panic attack can be triggered by events, noises, sights, smells or thought of previous trauma, and we react with panic as though we were still faced with the danger as it was at the time.

The symptoms of a panic attack are:

  • fast, pounding heartbeat
  • difficulty catching your breath
  • chest pain
  • flushing and sweating
  • feeling sick
  • trembling
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • needing to go to the toilet
  • feeling faint¬†¬† more

Feeling Depressed During The Holidays?


“It can be especially difficult to cope with a Christmas depression because everyone else seems so joyous, so reaching out feels more awkward and more remote. We don’t want to bring down those around us, we don’t want to feel “different” or alienate ourselves, and we don’t want to draw attention to ourselves either. We tend to disassociate ourselves from our own feelings and ask ourselves self defeating questions. We wonder what’s wrong with us and why we can’t just jump right on into the holiday cheer. This is supposed to be the happiest time of the year and yet we can barely drag ourselves out of bed and become functional human beings. On top of feeling sad and dysfunctional, we feel out of place, and somehow illegitimate in our feelings.

Not all holiday depression has anything to do with loss or failure or death, or even anything obvious. Sometimes people tend to just get depressed around the holidays. Yet those without an obvious “reason” feel that they really shouldn’t be depressed and are least likely to reach out for help. It’s as though people who have experienced trauma have more of a “right” to experience holiday depression than those who appear to have everything that could need or want.

People fail to recognize that holidays are stressful enough to trigger a depression. Sometimes the hustle and bustle and the need to produce (food, presents, parties, and the lot) are enough to seriously frustrate a person right into a depression. Feeling disconnected with the holidays can easily lead to a mild to moderate depression.

Whether dealing with a loss or change or simply feeling overwhelmed by holiday sadness, the number one most important thing anyone can do is to tell someone. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Over the past ten years there has been a great awakening, so to speak, that has illuminated the issue of Christmas depression. People have become more educated and more understanding about the phenomenon and often already know that someone they love is suffering from depression before there is any actual confession.

The onset of Christmas depression can sneak up on you in numerous forms. You may simply start to feel more tired than normal or start sleeping through the alarm. You may procrastinate on holiday shopping, even when those events that require your participation are only a few days away. You may start to feel randomly irritable, or snap at people without provocation. You may start to feel disconnected with the world and withdraw from those around you, even children. These are all signs that you are experiencing at least some form of holiday depression, and warning signs that you may need help in dealing with whatever is making you feel this way.

Dealing with a holiday depression once you are able to recognize it is a vital step in returning to a better state of health. Naturally, my first recommendation is that you find a good counselor to speak with. The onset of holiday depression doesn’t have to mean that you require long term counseling or even medication. It may just mean you have to learn to set better boundaries or learn to let go of the past or learn better coping skills when it comes to dealing with a tragedy. Nothing that you are experiencing is so terribly abnormal, and no one is going to react terribly to you if you ask for help.” more from The Professors House

Depression And Anxiety Disorders- Part Two

Depression and Anxiety Disorders – Part One