Mental Health

8 Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

Have you ever noticed your heart starting to race for seemingly no reason, started sweating before an important meeting, or maybe had an ongoing digestive issue during a time of change? Because anxiety is a mental health condition, we tend to focus more on psychological symptoms and less on physical ones. It’s easy to forget about or chalk up physical symptoms to be something else. But physical symptoms of anxiety are not something to be forgotten about. What is anxiety? Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes. People who experience anxiety tend to have reoccurring and intrusive thoughts. While it’s normal to experience anxiety from time to time, especially if it’s situational, anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, anxiety doesn’t dissipate once the triggering has passed, rather it lingers and tends to worsen over time. Symptoms can be debilitating, and interfere with day-to-day activities like work, school, relationships, and maintaining physical health. Persistent feelings of anxiety that interfere with daily life may be a sign of a diagnosable anxiety disorder. There are five main types of anxiety. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) Generalized Anxiety …

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Health Benefits of Being In Nature

The pandemic forced many people to spend more time indoors and engaged in technology. Since the start of the pandemic, the average American spent 90 percent of their time indoors. With all this time indoors, Americans spent 7 hours and 50 minutes per day consuming media alone. Now think about how much time you spend on your computer working from home, taking classes, or paying the bills online. With more time spent indoors and increased time spent in front of a screen, it’s no wonder there’s been a significant increase in reports of mental health issues. During the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. That’s up 30% from 2019. In addition to negative impacts on mental health, many reported difficulty sleeping or eating, increased consumption of alcohol or other substances, and worsening of chronic conditions due to stress. Now that restrictions have loosened, it’s time to put down the phone, close the laptop screen, and take a step outside for a low-cost and effective way to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, regulate metabolism and improve overall health. A study of 20,000 people found that those who spent at least 120 minutes per week outside …

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signs of medical gaslighting

Is Your Doctor Gaslighting You?

You’ve noticed symptoms for a few weeks, maybe months or even since childhood. You visited doctor after doctor with no answer. Over time, the symptoms progress and may start to interfere with daily living. So you go to your doctor again, seeking some answers and solutions. But again, you don’t get a diagnosis or are misdiagnosed. Every year, over 12 million adults who seek medical care receive a misdiagnosis. Of these misdiagnoses, about 15% are patients with serious conditions and 28% are life threatening. Unable to provide answers, the doctor tells you “it’s all in your head” or “these symptoms don’t add up, have you considered a psychologist?” You leave feeling more confused, frustrated, even anxious and depressed. You may even start thinking it really is all in your head. Medical gaslighting happens to millions of people every year. What is gaslighting? Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that hangs on creating self-doubt and makes someone question their sanity, perception of reality, or memories. Someone who experiences gaslighting often leaves a conversation or situation feeling confused, anxious and even a little ‘crazy’. Because gaslighting involves an imbalance of power between the abuser and victim, it can happen in personal, …

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women feeling depressed

8 Celebrities Who Struggle With Depression

Celebrities have it all – status, wealth, power, resources, luck – or so we think. From the outside, they don’t appear to struggle with mental or emotional health and seemingly have it all together. But looks can be deceiving. Celebrities have real feelings and mental health issues that interfere with daily living. On the inside, celebrities are just like everyone else.  Until recently, it was taboo for anyone to speak up about personal mental health issues for fear of judgement and ridicule. But the stigma of depression has slowly lifted as celebrities have bravely opened up about their stories and use their platform as a means to advocate for mental health.  The truth is depression doesn’t discriminate. More than 264 million people suffer from depression worldwide, ranking it as the leading cause of disability in the world.  Major depressive disorder is described as experiencing a depressed mood or loss of interest in daily activities, coupled with problems sleeping, change in appetite, poor concentration, altered energy levels, isolation, and feelings of low self-worth for at least two weeks.  While there isn’t a simple cure-all for depression, the healing journey begins when we start to honestly and openly share about our battles …

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caffeine and anxiety

Is Caffeine Causing Your Anxiety?

Most people look forward to their first cup of coffee every morning. In fact, 62% of U.S adults drink coffee regularly. The routine of having that first cup; the strong aroma, taste, and the feeling you get when you take the first sip is a moment of peace, celebration and energy all at once.  But after you’ve finished the first cup, and maybe a second, or third, you may start to feel a little jittery, nervous or even irritable.  Caffeine is the psychoactive compound in coffee that affects how we think and feel, physically and emotionally. It’s the most commonly used stimulant that, when consumed in large doses, elevates heart rate and blood pressure, speeds up breathing, and increases feelings of nervousness and irritability.  This fight-or-flight response, also known as an acute stress response, can make anxiety worse and in some cases may even trigger an anxiety attack. What is anxiety? Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 18.1% of adults every year. While most people experience anxiety at some point in time, like speaking in front of a crowd, the first day at a new job, or driving, not everyone has an anxiety …

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Men's Mental Health - PatientsLikeMe member John films WebMD depression video

Brits are boosting men’s mental health — can the U.S. follow suit?

The British Royals’ passion for improving mental health is giving us all the feels — and possibly helping reduce male suicide rates in the U.K. Who’s raising awareness of men’s mental health in the U.S.? (See how PatientsLikeMe member John, pictured above, is doing his part!) Diverging stats in the U.K. and U.S. The U.K. has been making progress in terms of reducing male suicide rates and the stigma around men’s mental health, thanks in part to Heads Together campaign launched by Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince Harry in 2016. Each of them have their own areas of focus in mental health advocacy. Kate deserves credit for coming up with the idea to join forces for one major campaign, Prince William says. He and his brother have also been opening up about their grief from losing their mother during their childhood. Unfortunately, U.S. suicide rates (among men and women) have been on the rise, according to the latest CDC report, and stigma still surrounds mental health — especially among men. The American Psychological Association (APA) says that about 6 million American men suffer from depression every year, but men are far less likely than women to seek help for their mental health. U.S. psychology researchers are studying “how …

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Health news: What’s making headlines in June

In case you missed it, check out this round up of some of the stories making headlines in June…   Parkinson’s disease: Apple Watch will now be able to monitor PD: Tech developers announced this month that the Apple Watch will now be able to track two common PD symptoms — tremors and dyskinesia — and map them out in graphs to help doctors (and patients) with PD monitoring. Fill me in. Study points to an “overlooked driver” of PD — Bacteriophages: What are bacteriophages or “phages”? Viruses that infect bacteria. New research shows that people with PD may have an overabundance of phages that kill “good” bacteria in the microbiome or gut, which could mean a new target for treating PD. More on the study. Lupus: How common are cognitive issues with lupus? Very. A doctor specializing in lupus research says nearly 40% of people with SLE have some level of cognitive impairment, such as trouble with attention, recall and concentration — so doctors should monitor it early and often. Read his Q&A. Lung cancer: Drug may replace chemo as initial treatment for many with NSCLC: New clinical trial results of the immunotherapy drug Keytruda show that it can be a more effective first treatment than chemotherapy for …

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The benefits of just a bit of exercise (+”forest bathing”?)

If frequent, long workouts aren’t in the cards, here’s some good news: A new research analysis based on decades’ of studies shows the potential mental health perks of even just a smidgen of light exercise. Also, see the results of a Japanese study on something called “forest bathing.” Exercise linked to good vibes “Even a Little Exercise Might Make Us Happier,” a recent New York Times headline proclaims. It might sound obvious, but it’s still positive news — especially for those who may not be able to meet physical activity guidelines for the general population (30+ minutes of exercise on most days). “According to a new review of research about good moods and physical activity, people who work out even once a week or for as little as 10 minutes a day tend to be more cheerful than those who never exercise. And any type of exercise may be helpful… The type of exercise did not seem to matter. Some happy people walked or jogged. Others practiced yoga-style posing and stretching.” For the published review, researchers at the University of Michigan analyzed the results of 23 studies since 1980 that explored the links between physical activity and happiness. The studies were mostly observational (not strict clinical trials) but …

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Parkinson’s disease + anxiety/depression: Stigma-busting for Mental Health Month

Stress. Anxiety. Depression. Have you experienced any of these along with Parkinson’s disease (PD)? As National Mental Health Month comes to a close, we’re highlighting how common these non-motor symptoms and mental health issues are among people with PD. Plus, see some new research on the prevalence of feeling demoralized (vs. depressed) with PD, and explore how members of the PatientsLikeMe community try to manage their mental health. Research shows that the vast majority of people with PD have non-motor symptoms (NMS) — with psychiatric symptoms (like anxiety, depression and psychosis) accounting for 60 percent of NMS in one large-scale study. “That’s why taking action is important,” says Andrew Ridder, M.D., a movement disorders specialist at Michigan Health. “If you or a loved one has had a new diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, we recommend an immediate evaluation for depression, mood and cognitive problems. Frequent monitoring should also be done throughout the course of the disease.” Dr. Ridder cites some key stats: About 5 to 40 percent of people with Parkinson’s disease have a clinical diagnosis of anxiety Between 17 to 50 percent of patients with Parkinson’s have depression “Anxious mood” and “depressed mood” are commonly reported symptoms of PD on PatientsLikeMe. Hundreds of members have reported a diagnosis of PD …

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Lights out: Bedtime tips to help you sleep through the night

Do you have a bedtime routine? Sleep is a challenge for many members in the mental health community — over 3,000 PatientsLikeMe members say they have difficulty sleeping through the night. Establishing a regular bedtime and better sleep hygiene is one way to help manage restless nights. Check out some pointers from around the web, and hear from other members about their nighttime rituals. Setting aside “worry time” and other sleep hygiene reminders Along with getting into a consistent sleep-and-wake cycle, building these habits into your nightly ritual might help: Set aside worry time— A few hours before you go to bed, take time to address and contemplate all you have on your mind (vs. letting it keep you up later). Go to bed only when you feel tired enough to sleep Prepare your brain and body for sleep with a signal it’s time to wind down, whether that’s a warm bath, dimming the lights or listening to soothing music Stop screens (phones, tablets and computers) an hour before bedtime. If you can it might be a good idea trying to make sure that none of these devices are in your bedroom. If you’ve just brought yourself something like a new corner TV …

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