I too come from a very big family with all the love and support that you would expect,i am the eldest of five all girls i brought them all up,always had to be the strong one,the one they all relied on and came to in troubles of need,but just 3 years ago i staeted to suffer with anxiety and because i was the strong one i really couldnt understand why i was going through all this change now,but then it dawned on me that that exact same year i had the worst year ever,i found out my husband was having an affair then he started using drugs,then i was in a car crash,then my son had a fit i lost my job,it was a roller coaster of a year,i eventually went to my doctors who said i was suffering with severe stress and anxiety,so you see even the strongest of people can suffer this,and just because the rest of the family dont seem to be as anxious as you it dont mean that they dont have bouts of it,you are perectly normal and the fact that you are dealing with your issues means that you have faced your fears head on,i am really sorry about your mother and i hope that in time your symptoms will fade.
Interesting, I have 6 siblings and 3 of us suffer pretty severely but didn't share for a long time so didn't know each other had this to some degree. I seem to have it the worst but they have used alcohol to control it, and I never have drank much. My dad and grandmother both suffered from some sort anxiety illness as well so I always assumed it was at least in some part hereditary chemistry
OK, so we all know I'm a bit OCD. And, I tend to use intellectualization to cope with having anxiety. As a result, I've spent practically the last 20 years in ceaselessly investigating this disease. I have taken college courses and try to only get my information from credible sources (ie: peer reviewed medical journals, research on PubMed Central, etc.). I always felt that the more I knew about my disease, the better equipped I could be to fight it. Knowledge makes me feel safe. :) Here's what I know. And let me just apologize if it's way more than you wanted to know... I tend to be a bit long-winded... :)
Here we go. The history of mental illness is a long one. It has been around since the dawn of man. In ancient Greece, if a person suffered from a mental illness, it was thought to be a punishment from the gods for something they had done. Then as time progressed, it was thought to be caused by something being out balance physically in the body. Thus bleeding with leeches and so forth. After that, during the times of the plague in Europe, there was a religous revival and once again people felt that disease was the result of a punishment from God. However, a few people began to question this and started wearing bits of material over their faces and washing their hands when working with people who had the plague and they didn't get sick. So, the views on health began slowly to change. It wasn't until the late 1800's and very early 1900's that Louis Pastuer discovered and came up with the germ therory. This changed modern medicine as we know it today. Unfortunately, mental health treatment and discoveries did not progress by similar leaps and bounds. The only treatment for mental health during this age of discovery was rest and susnhine. Which are really good things, truth be told. So, my point is the advances in mental health are not nearly the advances in physical disease and it really is still a new frontier that is being discovered, even today. Here's what we do know. It is thought that more women than men suffer with anxiety and depression, but you can't count on that for sure due to the fact that women are much more likely to seek treatment for their ailments then men are. It has to do with our society and the stigma that is attached to mental disease and to the stereotypical way that males can be raised or how they chose to view their lives. So, it is more fair to say that of the people who seek treatment for these disorders, most are female. From a biological standpoint, this disease is thought to be the result of a process called epigenesis. Basically epigenesis is the theory that you are born with a defective gene (which theoretically can either be passed down or just messed up on it's own). This gene, for most people, just hangs out there silently not really doing much of anything. Until something in our external environment turns it on. Most usually, this external event is a crisis of some sort. A loss, an extended period of high stress, a major life change. This little gene then comes to life. And anxiety/depression/any other mental disorder is set in motion. People who do not have the defective gene tend to self-recover from crisis, people who do have the defective gene have a harder time because there is something wrong in our very biological make-up that prevents us from becoming well as fast as others. So, many times, people with anxiety or depression, have issues with serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and gaba and a multitude of other nuerotransmitters in our brain. This is thought to be correlated with this defective gene (on chromosome 11, by the way). These nuerotransmitters are what makes us feel good, calm, able to cope. Our brains either don't make enough of the neurotransmitters or are absorbed back into our bodies (thus not being readily available to us) too quickly. Antidepressants mainly work by blocking or slowing down this reasorbption process, thus allowing more of these nuerotransmitters to be available. That's why it takes a while sometimes for antidepressants to work. You have to build back up your supply. Another issue many developmental psychologists have researched is the issue of temperament and how it relates to the development of anxiety/depression. All babies, across all nation, are born with one of four major temperaments. This temperament (which is different than personality) is thought to be solely genetic because their has been no outside influences on the baby before it has been born (as far as learned socialization, adapting mechanisms, etc.). Most people who suffer from anxiety/depression were born with what is called a "high temperament". As babies, they cry a lot, don't eat very well, may have issues with bowel movements/urination, fussy, colicky a lot of the time. They tend to have separation anxiety from their parents and are not so strong in self-comforting. They are born this way! Fascinating, huh? So, the true development of this disease, at this point in time, stems from a lot of factors. Were you born with the genetic component? Did your parents raise you with good coping skills? Did they teach you to self-comfort? Did they stress to you how unnecessary it is to place the demands of perfectionism upon yourself? Did you have a crisis of some kind that could trigger your gene? What kind of temperament did you have at birth? All of these are factors. So, yes, it is hereditary. It is definitely genetic in nature. Is a dominant or recessive? Not sure yet. Will we pass this gene on to our kids? Nobody knows, it's a roll of the dice. But, researchers do know that if you have a child who shows sign at an early age of high temperament, of anxiousness, etc. then you can teach them coping skills early on. Learning these coping skills changes the structure, the actual pathways in our brains. It's amazing that we can actually change how our brains work. And guess, what? It works on adults as well. That's why therapy works. That's why you feel better after therapy, your brain is changing back to a healthy state. Will it ever become completely healthy? Who knows? Does it help? For most people it does, but everyone is unique so there can be no definites. Does the process take time? Absolutely. But, it happens. So maybe, just maybe, in theory your siblings may not have been born with the defective gene. Maybe they had a different temperament. Maybe they learned better coping skills. But the main message to remember is that 1) there is a biological root of this disease. You could not help getting it any more than you could have helped getting your hair color. 2) The brain is a hard organ to study because we are using our brains to try to learn about our brains! 3)Medication helps. Meditation, relaxation, counseling are all ways to change the pathways in our brain and train our bodies to respond to the chemical changes that happen during a PA in a more positive way (think of Pavlov's response)-- it's classic conditional training. And it works! It takes time, but it works. I hope someday I can be a researcher and maybe help find a cure for this. Enough is enough. Well, sorry for the novel... I do get carried away... Jen
Thanks Jen, i always wondered about that and that makes so much sense. I was overly sensitive from my earliest memories and also see the triggers along the way. If nothing else we are well educated!!!
:) Right... My hubby always says if you ask me what time it is I'll tell you how to build a clock... I do get soooooo carried away!