1. How to Manage Anxiety Sweats

    November 27, 2013

    How to Manage Anxiety Sweats
    The big moment has arrived, you’re having an interview with your dream job. You’ve been preparing your entire working career for this one opportunity and you’ve planned everything you need down to a tee.  A copy of your resume rests flat in your laptop bag, your shirt has been pressed and dry-cleaned and you got a good night’s sleep. It seems that nothing can go wrong. You jump in your car and pull out the driveway, the air con is blasting – you don’t want to get overheated and start sweating right? Only problem is, you are sweating. Despite an 18 degree temperature, two wet circles are starting to form under your arms and they’re spreading quickly – the enemy has won again! By the time you get to your interview, you’re anxiety levels are at an all-time high, and you’re struggling to get it under control. A million thoughts run through your head like, why couldn’t they be one of those new age businesses and conduct a Skype chat interview? Or would it be bad if I cancelled now? Or maybe if I wear my backpack the entire time they won’t notice. People who suffer from anxiety sweats (myself included) know this feeling all too well. You don’t need to be embarrassed, sweating due to anxiety is a common condition that affects more people that you think. Apparently, sweating is a natural response of our sweat glands when we are anxious. For some, the sweating doesn’t begin until you’re standing in a crowded room, others just need to think about interacting with people and they start perspiring. So how do you manage this condition? Here is a few ways to help you overcome anxiety sweats.

    Wear clothes that allow you to breathe


    Much like the aforementioned scenario, if you know you are going to be in a stressful situation that may lead to sweating, try to reduce your external body temperature by wearing non synthetic clothing that is light and breathable. Wearing synthetic materials will only increase your body’s need to sweat, making it seem more excessive. Partner this with a strong antiperspirant (I use Rexona Clinical) to prevent any further sweats.

    Recognise your triggers and focus on something less anxiety provoking


    Feeling of anxiety can be incredibly overwhelming, besides sweating you may also be feeling waves of tightening in the chest, a racing heart, snowballing worries and obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviour. These reactions are provoked by situations that make you uneasy or nervous. I’m not saying it’s easy to recognise all your triggers, but if you can identify a few and find ways to redirect your focus onto something other than your anxiety, you retain a sense of control. You can reach out to others, do work around the house, exercise, listen to music, watch a movie or engage in a creative activity such as drawing, painting or writing.



    Here’s yet another good reason to get involved in some extracurricular activities. Physicians have long recommended exercise as a means of relieving anxiety by helping your body to practice responding to stress. That way, when the real McCoy happens, you are much better prepared to handle an anxiety provoking situation. Exercising prior to anticipated anxiety provoking situation is also a good idea (such as job interview), because the exercise will cause inflow of endorphins into your brain and it will function better. Yet, you should finish the exercise at least two hours prior to the interview.


    This is by no means an exhaustive list of the things you can do to curb anxiety sweats. However, if you do experience anxiety on a regular basis, remember these tips and don’t be afraid to see the psychologist or psychotherapist to deal with root cause of your problems.


    Image Credit: Ryan Hyde @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/breatheindigital/4668093768



  2. What is Panic Disorder?

    November 23, 2013

    What is Panic Disorder?

    Have you ever experienced sudden attacks of fear and uneasiness? Have you ever felt physical symptoms such as sweating, chills and a pounding heart without warning? Have you ever believed in a stressful situation that at any moment you are going to die? When these symptoms have no relation to the environment or context, the cause might be a panic attack. When these attacks repeatedly happen to a person, they might be suffering from a psychological condition known as panic disorder.
    Panic disorder is a sub-type of anxiety disorder.  The reactions of a person suffering from a panic disorder are different from our normal reactions to everyday stressful occurrences. This disorder manifests a severe form of anxiety; the symptoms are sudden and intense. The comorbidity of panic attacks with other anxiety disorders has made it difficult to diagnose. The latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), which mental health professionals use to diagnose patients, lists the following symptoms and criteria of panic disorder (DSM-5, American Psychiatric Association, 2013):

    1. Recurrent unexpected panic attacks

    2. At least one of the attacks has been followed by 1 month (or more) of one or both of the following:

    –  Persistent concern or worry about additional panic attacks or their consequences (e.g., losing control, having a heart attack, going crazy).

    –  Significant maladaptive change in behavior related to the attacks (e.g., behaviors designed to avoid having panic attacks, such as avoidance of exercise or unfamiliar situations).

    3. The panic attacks are not restricted to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., an illegal drug or a medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., hyperthyroidism, cardiopulmonary disorders).

    4. The panic attacks are not restricted to the symptoms of another mental disorder, such as Social Phobia (e.g., in response to feared social situations), Specific Phobia (e.g., in response to a circumscribed phobic object or situation), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (e.g., in response to dirt in someone with an obsession about contamination), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (e.g., in response to stimuli associated with a traumatic event), or Separation Anxiety Disorder (e.g., in response to being away from home or close relatives).

    Panic attacks are mostly prompted by situations that are perceived to be very stressful, such as speaking in front of a crowd.  A sense of panic quickly overwhelms the victim and the immediate response is to completely remove them from the situation. Chances of experiencing a panic attack increase if person is away from home and out of their comfort zone. Some attacks may last longer than others, but in most cases they reach the peak symptoms in 10 minutes and return to normal in 20 to 30 minutes. Unfortunately, it is not possible to predict when it will happen again, but we know that the chances to have another attack are greater for people who have already had a panic attack . Women are also at a greater risk for having panic attacks, and most of the cases have supported the fact that it usually occurs during early adulthood.  Depressions, drug abuse or suicidal attempts may go hand-in-hand with panic disorder.

    The reasons behind panic disorders are currently unknown, but there are several potentially contributing factors.  These include genetics, as well as with major life changes such as entering college, joining the professional workplace, and any life stressor like the death of loved one, loss of major possessions or marital problems.  It can also be the result of traumatic or embarrassing experiences that occurred at some time during their lives.  The mere thought or recall of those memories can trigger an attack.

    The positive: panic disorder is treatable. Anti-anxiety medications are not the only option. Cognitive behavioral therapy has proven to be the most effective therapy for treating panic disorder.  It focuses on changing the irrational thought patterns in the patients mind that are instigating the attacks. Exposure therapy, group therapy, self-help techniques, and alternative treatments such as acupuncture are also being used for treatment of panic disorder.

    The suffering is not only experienced by the patient; family members, friends and many others that are exposed to the panic disorder suffer from its negative effects. But, they can also be the best source of emotional support, understanding, hope and recovery. It is not easy to deal with a family member or friend who has a panic disorder.  However, one of the most difficult challenges can also yield the greatest rewards.  By simply listening and supporting the person suffering with this disorder, everyone can start down the path to recovery.


    1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Arlington American Psychiatric Publishing.


    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/challengeconvention/8106671053


  3. Panic Attacks And Acupuncture: An Alternative Treatment

    June 27, 2013

    Panic attack

    by Ryan Rivera

    While the Bay area is a great place to live, it’s not without its stresses. Many people struggle with stress and anxiety daily, and some of those people experience stress so severe that it culminates to panic attacks. Aubrey Huff of the San Francisco Giants made headlines last year when he was sidelined for hours as a result of a severe panic attack, and thousands of less famous residents suffer from these attacks regularly to the point where they need serious intervention.

    Panic attacks are complicated anxiety problems. They’re not just an issue with stress and anxiety. They’re also a problem with “over-sensitivity” – where the mind becomes overly focused on physical sensations to the point where it notices each and every change in the way your body feels, and those sensations end up triggering panic attacks. That’s what makes acupuncture as a panic attack treatment so interesting, because it can potentially help control not only the anxiety, but also the sensitivity that triggers episodes of panic.

    The Benefits of Acupuncture for Panic Attacks

    In order to treat panic attacks, you have to first combat anxiety and stress, and then follow that up with some type of solution that counters some of the anxiety attack triggers – for example, minor aches and pains, an increased heart rate, etc. That’s one of the reasons I’ve always been fond of acupuncture. Acupuncture has specific points on the body (which can vary depending on your stresses) that are known to promote significant mental wellness. Acupuncturists often have different views on which points to use depending on their training, but you’ll find that such points may include:  ST 30,  LIV 13, P 4, HE 5, and P 6

    These are the areas that reduce issues like heart palpitations, mania, tension, and more. They’re the release points for a variety of anxiety-related symptoms and issues, and some of many that are linked to providing the body with considerably more resistant to anxiety and stress.

    However, in addition to the basic anxiety relief points, acupuncture can be used to address other issues as well, and may have some additional benefits beyond reducing anxiety and stress symptoms that can help you overcome your panic attack issues.

    Acupuncture and Focus

    One of the main problems with panic attacks is that the more reminders you have about your panic attacks, the more likely you are to get one. This is because thinking about panic attacks can cause panic attacks. The more distracted you are, the less likely a panic attack will occur.

    Taking medications every day or going to therapy regularly may have some advantages, but they also force you to remind yourself that you suffer from panic disorder, which of course increases the likelihood that you’ll think about your symptoms and create a new attack. On the other hand, while you may need to attend regular acupuncture treatments, it is also not something you need to address daily. This will help ensure that you’re not overly focused on it, so that when you’re living without stress you’re not as reminded of your panic.

    Acupuncture and Reducing Physical Sensations

    Similarly, acupuncture can potentially stop some of the physical sensations that cause panic attacks beyond those related directly to anxiety. For example, if you often feel that your legs are weak, and when you feel this way you have a panic attack, then by addressing this directly (ie, using acupuncture to prevent leg weakness) you’ll decrease the frequency of your physical sensations and ultimately have fewer issues that cause attacks.

    Using Acupuncture as an Alternative Panic Attack Treatment

    For all of these reasons, acupuncture has become a very interesting method of treating anxiety and panic, and is growing in popularity within the Bay Area.

    Any anxiety treatment needs to incorporate lifestyle changes that contribute to anxiety. Fatty foods, obesity, a lack of exercise, and working in a stressful environment are all issues that will always cause some anxiety. Make sure that you’ve examined the ways that you yourself have increased your own anxiety symptoms, because while acupuncture (and any anxiety treatment) can reduce anxiety, they cannot stop you from contributing to it without your own willingness to commit to life changes.

    But when you’ve made those changes, there are several reasons that acupuncture may be to your advantage when you suffer from panic attacks. Find an acupuncturist you trust, and you may find that your panic attacks drastically decrease in overall frequency and severity for weeks at a time.

    Image CreditLuis Sánchez