Chronic pain can lead to hopelessness, depression, anger and anxiety disorders such as panic, generalised anxiety, hypochondriasis and post traumatic stress disorder (see studies cited in Winterowd, Beck& Gruener, 2003). This is not surprising as chronic pain sufferers may have many other negative events and stressors to deal with such as: losing a job, experiencing financial hardship and having increased stress upon families.
Sufferers also may have to contend with unpleasant side effects of medication such as constipation, weight gain and tiredness. Furthermore, chronic pain patients may find that they can no longer engage in activities that they enjoyed such as hobbies, crafts and sports, or that their participation in such activities...
Anxiety sufferers are advised to pay attention to dietary and lifestyle factors which can aggravate anxiety (Andrews, Creamer, Crino, Hunt, Lampe & Page, 2003).
Avoid or limit caffeine. Chocolate, some high energy drinks, hot chocolate beverages, coffee, tea & cola drinks all contain caffeine, a stimulant which accelerates the fight or flight response. Caffeine can interfere with your sleep and make you more nervous. Switch to decaffeinated coffee, herbal tea and/or decaffeinated cola drinks, or reduce the number of cups of coffee/cola you have.
Alcohol can aggravate anxiety. People with anxiety are often tempted to drink alcohol before and/or during social engagements as it initially decreases anxiety. However, after alcohol has been in your system for a...
Regular physical exercise is a simple and effective means of reducing stress.
Physical exercise is the outlet for the body when it’s in the fight or flight state. Exercise releases the natural chemicals — such as adrenalin — that accumulate during stress. Exercise relieves chronic muscle tension, reduces insomnia and decreases depression and anxiety.
increases alertness and concentration
reduces skeletal muscle tension and helps people to feel more relaxed
leads to a more rapid metabolism of excess adrenaline and thyroxin in the bloodstream (i.e. it reduces the hormones which increase arousal)
allows people to discharge their frustrations (which can aggravate phobias or panic reactions)
helps you to feel good by stimulating the production of endorphins
What does cognitive behavioural therapy involve?
Cognitive behavoural therapy posits that how you think affects how you feel, and that your emotions influence your behaviour. Therefore if you think realistic, helpful thoughts you will feel and function better.
The example below — for someone who fears having a panic attack on a train — highlights the interaction between thoughts, physical symptoms and behaviour.
“Im going to have a panic attack”. I always panic on trains”.
“I’ll sweat and shake, everyone will see I’m anxious and think I’m weird”