Posts tagged with "psychological"

10 facts about Anxiety Disorder

Vinay Saranga M.D. is a psychiatrist and founder of Saranga Comprehensive Psychiatry. He offers these 10 facts about anxiety disorders:

1. There’s a difference between anxiety and an anxiety disorder:

Everybody experiences anxiety from time to time. It quite often presents itself when we are feeling scared, stressed or worried and that’s normal anxiety. People with a true anxiety disorder experience both psychological and physiological symptoms on a regular basis, and in many cases, it can be debilitating.

2. Anxiety disorders encompass a number of psychiatric conditions:

An anxiety disorder is not just someone who experiences excessive worry. A number of psychiatric conditions makeup anxiety disorders including: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

3. Anyone can develop an anxiety disorder:

Anxiety disorders are not just reserved for people who tend to worry a lot. Anyone can develop an anxiety disorder because there are a number of factors that come into play including your environment, upbringing, genetics and chemical imbalances in the brain.

4. Anxiety symptoms aren’t always obvious:

Most people think of excessive worry and stress as symptoms of anxiety. That is true, but there are also other symptoms that you may not associate with anxiety such as racing thoughts, chest pains, difficulty breathing, irritability, loss of appetite, headaches, trouble sleeping and increased heart rate.

5. Anxiety disorders can be managed:

Many anxiety disorders bring about very unpleasant body sensations. Although they can be quite scary and even uncomfortable, it is possible to learn to control them and lead a very successful and fulfilling life despite your condition.

6. Treatment should be started as soon as possible:

Like any medical condition, the sooner you can start treatment for an anxiety disorder, the better. The longer it goes without getting help, the more severe your condition can become. There are many great treatment options available including medication, therapy, alternative treatments and self-help options.

7. There’s no reason to suffer:

Millions of people have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders. But unfortunately, so many more are silently suffering. Men in particular have a tough time seeking treatment due to the fear of being labeled weak or being seen as less of a man. There is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about.

8. There is an upside to anxiety:

For all the negative things we hear about anxiety, there is some good that comes from it. Chances are you are more cautious, very compassionate, kind, a good listener, and think before you act. In fact, whether you realize it or not, many of the characteristics that you may not like about yourself make you more attractive to others.

9. Too much anxiety can affect your health:

In the short term, there’s nothing dangerous about the physical sensations of anxiety. However, in the long run, if left untreated, anxiety disorders can take a toll on the body and lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, GI problems and other psychiatric conditions.

10. We must continue to erase the stigma:

In recent years, anxiety and mental illness as a whole has become more accepted by society. However, it is still not on the same level as more physical illnesses. The responsibility is on all of us to erase the stigma and be more accepting of those who struggle with their mental health.

Stress Awareness Month: Alleviating Stress and Working Out

Natalie Durand-Bush, PhD, CMPC

Association for Applied Sport Psychology Executive Board Member

Full Professor, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

Co-Founder, Canadian Centre for Mental Health, Ottawa, Canada

Recovery plays a vital role in sport. It is necessary to prevent underperformance, overtraining, burnout, injuries, and illness. This is mainly due to the fact that athletes are subjected to ongoing physical and mental stressors while training in order to stretch their performance limits. However, it is important to balance such stressors with appropriate rest and recovery through the use of periodized approaches. Periodization programs are designed and implemented in sport to maximize the effects of physical and mental training over predetermined training cycles by varying key training variables such as volume and intensity.

The aim of these programs is to maximize long-term athlete development and peak performance during targeted competitions within identified periods or ‘mesocycles’ (e.g., hockey season, Olympic quadrennial). Each mesocycle consists of preparatory (e.g., off-season and pre-competitive season), competitive (e.g., regular competitive season), peaking (e.g., playoffs, national championship), and recovery (e.g., post-competition period prior to off-season training) periods or ‘microcycles’ that vary in length based on training objectives, athletes’ needs, and the amount of time available between peaking events. Issues often arise when periodization protocols are mismanaged and training responses are not properly monitored. For example, peaking may not occur if athletes do not respect built-in recovery activities (e.g., days off, sleep routine, naps, limited social media) as a result of fearing they will fall behind their competitors. Also, coaches who insufficiently pay attention to warning signs during high-intensity periods in which athletes require more time to physically and mentally recover can jeopardize athletes’ performance and health. The costs of poor or failed monitoring could be injury or illness, including low mental health and the onset of mental illness.

Athletes’ mental health reflects their psychological, emotional, and social well-being. Athletes who are mentally healthy are able to feel, think, and act in ways allowing them to work productively, reach their full potential and goals, enjoy life, contribute to their community, and cope with normal daily stressors. When stressors (e.g., physical, psychological) exceed athletes’ internal (e.g., resilience strategies) and external (e.g., parental and coaching support) coping resources, it can deplete them and lead to significant distress and impaired functioning. In other words, it can exacerbate an existing mental illness or trigger a new one. Symptoms to which coaches should pay attention when working with athletes include any significant changes in eating and sleeping patterns, isolation from others, unusual low energy/stamina, intense mood swings, decreased enjoyment and concentration, feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness, inexplicable pain, and difficulties performing daily tasks, to name a few. Coaches noticing such changes in athletes should intervene, particularly if these changes last more than two weeks.

This entails having a private, respectful, and empathetic conversation with struggling athletes by (a) asking them specific questions regarding observed changes (e.g., “I have noticed that you look more tired and withdrawn than usual, are you struggling at the moment?”), (b) offering support (e.g., “Your mental health is important to me, what can I do to help you recover and regain your strength?”), and (c) referring them to an appropriate mental health care provider if necessary (e.g., “I’m not a mental health expert but I am seeing signs that concern me; our team has access to a mental health practitioner and I’d like you to see this person to make sure you have the resources you need to cope and get back to your normal self”). Given the crucial role of rest and recovery in the management of both athletic performance and mental health, coaches should discuss with any struggling athletes the benefits of adding recovery periods in their training program or of taking a complete break to prioritize and help them restore their mental health.