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October 24, 2011 at 3:21 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Outside Stimulation and Anxiety Disorders -from HelloLife

By Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, MD More Blogs by This Author

Dr. Jeff Chamberlain explains some of the personal practices and outside stimulants that can increase anxious feelings.
Gerry Barnaby (host)- Hey, what's up, Barnaby here. Another HelloLife moment just for you, because you're interested in different causes of anxiety disorders. I know this because you've written into the website and wanted to get the counsel of Dr. Jeffrey Chamberlain, who is a family medicine specialist on this very specific question. So, let me ask you, I think a lot of people will think that stress is probably self-induced to some degree. What are some of the more surprising causes of the stress that leads to anxiety disorders.
Dr. Jeffrey Chamberlain- There's a lot of stress that people have that in their everyday lives. There's a concept of how our brain works, that when we practice doing something it gets better at doing it. This is true, if I'm playing baseball, the more I swing the bat, the better that I get; if I'm a ballerina, the more I do whatever positions, the better I get at it; if I do math, the more I do math, the better I get at it. If I'm anxious, the more I'm anxious, actually, the better my brain gets at being anxious. So, if I'm anxious most of the time, my brain's making more pathways to make it easier and easier for me to be anxious. So, whenever I'm in a situation where there's some stress going on, it's easier to fall into that anxiety track.
B- So, intervention, sel-diagnosis, and saying, "you know, I've got to back off of this," instead of just letting it happen and saying, "this is just the way I react to a situation."
C- Exactly, so you have to train your mind to kind of get out of that anxiety track and get into a normal, better track of thinking. There's things that can make it easier to fall into that track and to hype your body up some and get back in that track. There's a lot of problems that people can have that are made worse by things we do: Caffeine, actually can make anxiety worse, it wakes our body and gets it feeling like there's something going on, so that can make anxiety a lot worse.
B- Yea, I'm amazed at how I see everybody walking around with a giant cup of coffee all day long.
C- Yea, so people are drinking a ton of coffee, energy drinks, a lot of them have a bunch of caffeine in them, they have sugar in it, they have who knows what in it that's kind of jolting the body and getting the body going. That mimics the physiological effects of anxiety, so it makes it a lot easier to have problems with anxiety when you're drinking these things.
B- Wow, so it's almost like you're self-inducing a faux psychiatric condition.
C- Yea.
B- You're just saying, "This is the way I want my body to feel, my mind to behave. Here, give me another can of that."
C- Yea, same thing with smoking cigarettes. When you smoke cigarettes it causes a relaxing sensation when you're smoking it, but the longer you smoke it, the longer you need that nicotine just to stay normal. So then, if you don't have the nicotine, you actually have an anxiety reaction. So, getting off cigarettes and staying off of them, in the long run, drastically reduces anxiety. In the short run, a lot of times it feels like it's helping your anxiety, because it does, but in the long run being off the cigarettes can really reduce your baseline anxiety.
B- Well that's good. Exercise, I know they always say, "Don't exercise a lot before you go to bed because you won't get a good night sleep." So, I guess it's a two-prong thing right here. If you're just hyperactive, does that se the stage for my new normal just being jacked up all the time?
C- Well, exercise is actually interesting, it actually helps reduce anxiety. What it does, is it gets the body going for a little bit, but then the body settles back down. There's actually been studies where they've compared exercising on a daily basis to taking anxiety medications and they're actually equivalent to each other. So, someone who runs a half an hour, five days a week, anxiety is going to be improved as much as somebody who takes the anxiety medication every single day. So, by doing physical activity, you can actually reduce your baseline anxiety.
B- Yea, I might recommend to, because I run quite a bit, and it is run without ear buds, get away, just go zen, just drift through your...mental labyrinth and just not be hyper-stimulated while your trying to relax.
C- Exactly, it's a good time to process things and think about things while your body is physically being exerted, your mind can actually relax.
B- And then, sleep. If you're sleep deprived, I'm sure that puts you into a hyper-anxious state.
C- Exactly, there's actually good studies that show that people who are sleep deprived, makes your anxiety much worse. It's easier to become anxious when you're sleep deprived. So make an effort to be sure you're getting a good amount of sleep. It's really important to try and develop good, normal sleep habits, that's really important.
B- Tell you what, I learn something every time I sit down with you here for a HelloLife moment. Who would think, as we all think, "the last thing I want to be is anxious," we're actually, in large part, setting the stage for being anxious as a possible life long condition by our very drinks that we drink and the ways that we behave. So, good information and a good watch word for everybody out there and that is just "chill it," just kick back, stop being so hyper, we're all going to get to the finish line one way or the other right? Just another invaluable insight during this hellolife.net moment.

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