Nicola, you should be seeing a therapist. The sooner you do, the sooner you will cut this short before it becomes chronic.
You will need some medication for anxiety but most importantly you should be talking to someone not only about your symptoms and diagnosis, but about what is going on inside your mind that scares you, what about your feelings and conflicts needs to be put into words and examined with a specialist.
You are not going mad or insane. When you feel as if you are losing control, Do You? or Have you ever lost control? I have had these feelings since I was 17, when I got panic disorder and though I have had these feelings of going insane at least a thousand times--I haven't (At least I dont think so) and neither will you. You should see a psychiatrist for a med that can help you along and maybe a panic disorder group therapy. In the group therapy you will find alot of people who have the same feelings as you and me. If nothing else it will help you to understand that there are others, I bet people you know, that have the same feelings. There are also alot of books on the subject. I hope in a small way this info helps you. This is a very hard illness to understand but not impossible to control. Good Luck Michael Rando
ps: Feel free to email me if you have any questions that I might be able to help with, I am not a doctor but I have had this dis
order for 20 years
You can't mean that. Your doctor actually said, "just don't worry about it?" What compassion; how professional. I hope you didn't PAY for that rotten advice.
Nicola, I had panic attacks that took fifteen years to go away.
I must be honest and admit I never had therapy. They usually start with some huge event; in my case, a divorce. After remarrying they continued. It is my own personal opinion that
feeling "ok" with what you're doing with your life is the "key" to greatly reducing these nightmares. Getting rid of the "junk" that stirs in the backs of our brains. And finally coming to that comfy spot or niche in which we feel comfortable. Along the way, Xanax was (and is) a lifesaver for me. Not a popular statement, I know.
I still use 1/2mg of it to make me sleep very well. The addiction of 25mg of Imipramine, a cheap, old antidepressant has worked wonders for the agoraphobia that often develops along with anxiety. For me , no side effects combining them. I have read literally dozens of webpages of people who feel just as bad or worse taking the new, expensive drugs as they did taking none.
We, what I will term, "unwell" people have to come through it in our own way. Best of Luck Finding YOUR Kind of Life!
I had/have severe anxiety disorder and was having panic attacks. I developed the attacks during my divorce. As a matter of fact, the trauma was so great it also triggered menopause at 40 yr of age. I understand anxiety disorder can manifest itself during trauma and I believe this affected my body chemistry enough to make some permanent changes.
Initially, I too felt as if I were losing my mind - it was very simular to your experience - I felt there was a hole that my mind/memory would go into and I would be left severely handicapped, not being able to function in everyday life or even able to perform personal hygiene. I also experienced severe, uncontrollable shaking exteriorly and well as interiorly and a loss of appetite. I really felt I was going to lose it. I sought professional help.
The doctor placed me on Zanex and I was on this medication for about 3 months with very little relief. I was weened off of Zanex and placed on Zoloff for about 3 months and had the same results - very little difference in my mental and physical being. Finally, the medicine that has helped me and kicked in within 1 day, believe it or not, is Paxil. Everyone, especially my children noticed an immediate effect which only got better after a few weeks.
What I am trying to say is this - be assured you are not losing your mind and know this is only temporary until you are able to find the right medication. While Zoloff did not work for me, I know a school teacher who raves about how well the medication served her in relieving/eliminating her panic attacks. Don't get discouraged if you don't have immediate results as I did - actually I understand it usually takes about 2 weeks for your body to maintain a certain level to be stable. Seek professional help for your meds and to determine the root of your attacks.
I will pray for you and keep you in prayer asking God to give you victory over these attacks.
I am a 31 year old female, who has suffered with panic attacks and feelings of going mad since I was about 17. I agree with and earlier post. You have to stop this now before it becomes a habit in your life. I am going to offer a suggetion and it helped me alot. Contact Lucinda Bassett at the Midwest Center for Panic and Depression their number is 1-800-Anxiety. This program saved my life. It will give you your life back with some added benefits. I wish I would have had the program when I first had my attacks. I missed out on so much suffering in silence. Good luck Charline
I am 43, male. I suffered my first panic/anxiety attack when I was 18 and high on grass at the time. Talk about your unpleasant trip--and all in technicolor slow motion, in the middle of the night.
I walked into an emergency room because my first thought was that I had smoked contaminated dope--and at that time a particularly bad herbicide was being used to try eradicate marijuana fields. The hospital had the grass tested and a few days later the results came in--no sign of the herbicide.
First the bad news, then the good news.
For about a year, I went through every physical test there was in 1978, including a CAT scan. At the same time, I saw a psychiatrist two or three times a week. He suggested I try smoking grass during a session so that he could understand what was happening, but I could never work up the courage. Generally, the extreme panic attacks were fewer and fewer, but what remained was a constant feeling of anxiety and uncertainty. Of course, I was also worried constantly about another attack, so I carried a couple of Thorazine with me all the time (although I hated the zombie state it put me in, and I only took it two or three times).
After about a year and a half of therapy, I felt that I was not improving although I was fairly stable and feeling more in control. I knew that this was an emotional and mental state that I put myself in, so I determined to talk myself out of it once it started. This was always successful, and minor pangs of anxiety never blew up into the full panic attack.
Then at age 24, for the first time in years, it all got away from me and I had another panic attack. Almost immediately, I understood why. I went back to the same psychiatrist and we talked some more, this time for only about two months. I came away from this feeling much better--better because I had identified part of the foundation for my anxiety. For awhile I carried Valium, just in case, but rarely took it. (We didn't completely get to the good news yet. There's worse to come.)
From that time I was panic attack free, although the generalized sense of anxiety never completely disappeared. It was as if that first attack when I was 18 had permanently short-circuited something in my brain and over the years it had healed back as best as it could, but would always be slightly tender.
Now the worst of the bad news: 2 weeks ago I had another panic attack. And I understand what caused it almost completely, yet while it was happening I was powerless in its grip. Once again, I went to an emergency room (this time because I worried I was giving myself a heart attack; I wasn't). After years of thinking I had tamed the beast, it snapped up and bit me hard.
But even so, during those years of introspection, I came to understand the underlying anxiety that has led me back to feeling like I'm losing control and panicking.
Without going into detail, it matches the general theories that you will hear from psychologists and at websites like this one: anxieties over major changes in life (relationships and work being at the top).
For the last two months, both my professional and love lives have been in enormous turmoil. The future of both is impossible to predict, and it is this loss of certainty in my life that triggered the beast's return. Similarly, when I was 18 and 24, the same types of tension and uncertainty about my life reached overwhelming levels. My brain shut down when it couldn't take any more.
For me, I think there's an even more fundamental reason for the first panic attack when I was 18. It was if I had been living in an unrealistic dream up until then. After the panic attack, the world looked different, and as time went on, I realized my new perspective was more accurate than my old one. It was like having 90% of my illusions slapped out of me overnight. (By the way, Sartre's novel, "Nausea," describes a man undergoing an almost identical transformation. I read it in my mid-20s, and it helped to see in print such a familiar ordeal. What we are all experiencing is nothing new.)
Something similar is happening now, and I have felt it coming for a couple of years of increasingly overwhelming stress. I am in a situation that cannot continue indefinitely, yet I have postponed taking the actions necessary to resolve it. After this recent panic attack, I have no choice. I have to keep going with my life.
It will take me about a year to make these changes. Today I went to see my GP to request a mild tranquilizer or sedative to cope with the onset of any future panic attacks. After discussing things for about a half hour, he suggested instead that I go onto Zoloft. Although for years I had avoided anything that smacked of Prozac and hadn't even munched a Valium for 10 years, I agreed. There are huge life changes ahead of me and a longer term drug is probably what will help most.
I took the first dose about 6 hours ago. So far no adverse effects, although obviously it's going to take several more days to gauge the negatives.
Once I have made the changes in my life that I know I must, I'm pretty sure that I can wean off the Zoloft and go on.
My situation, by the way, is one that people with more common sense than I have, would have been unlikely to get into to start with. I have not been true to myself or to others for years. I didn't tell the psychiatrist the complete truth when we met--but thankfully figured it out on my own and with the help of friends in whom I could confide.
I was foolish not to listen to my conscience for so many years, to tell myself repeatedly that events would work themselves out. It's a pity it took me until 43 to decide to do what I have to, rather than just contain the stress.
But at least I've gotten there, I hope, and the future has at least a 50-50 chance of being much, much happier for me than the past.
One last note: Over the years I've met others who have experienced these attacks. There has always been an underlying stress--a fear of something--and confronting the fear has always reduced or eliminated the attacks.
Hope this has made some sense. Good health to you all.
I would just like to thank everybody for their kindness and supportive words, I have found all your comments very encouraging. I have come to the realisation that I do not trust myself enough and I think this is one of the main issues that I need to overcome. I need to have faith in myself that everything will be ok and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I have recently been to see my doctor who has now prescribed me tranquilizers, but I am reluctant to start taking them, I shall see how far I can get without them first.
I would like to comment on how eye opening this experience is, I never realised that it effects so many people's lives and in such a serious way. I am determined to turn this into a positive experience and look at it as if it has helped me to grow as a stronger person. People keep telling me that it's not what has happened to us or what will happen to us that make us who we are, it's how we deal with these circumstances when they arise.
Good luck to everybody.
Hey Heather, Everyone,
This page really amazed me; finally after about 1 1/2 yrs of suffering through this I see that I'm not alone. I've been going through the same things as you. Actually it started about six years ago but only lasted for about 2 months. It scared me to death. One day I woke up feeling fine, doing the usual things and when I stepped outside I felt like I stepped out of myself. A (now what I understand to be) panic attack changed everything - it detached me and all i could do is worry. I thought i was dying or going crazy and couldn't function. I shut down and quit doing everything i enjoyed doing before. One day i was simly told to get out, to go do things, and learn to have fun again. I guess that's what its like - re-learning how to live. Anyway, just about a year and a half ago it returned. Right about the time i was making a big move away from home and when i was stressed about money, friends. It didn't scare me as bad because i had been through it - or so i thought. About six months ago i had the worst panic attack of my life to which i would like to blame Paxil (especially after reading things like www.quitpaxil.org). I also went to the hospital and found out that it was "in my head" Since then everything has been worse. I haven't been working much or even going out. I always feel anxious for the same reasons as you all. I've been trying to ignore my way out of feeling like this (like i'm watching my life from the outside and that it's not always real). But that only works temporarily. I guess I have to FACE THIS like you said and now, just knowing that i'm not the only one makes me feel better.
This started with me at 16 at the mall. I thought i was going crazy.. every job I got i had to quit I thouht i was lossing it for sure.. The Dr put me on xanax it worked for a while then just did not work anymore... Then put on prozoc which i was going crayer.. Then klonopin that really helped... Now at 38 im on celexa which is great but feel memory loss.. I would ask you to start a good chruch and when the fear comes up look up fear in the bible and just ask it to go away in Gods name I feel meds could make things worse at times but celea works for me but now i have to worry about withdraw Hope this helps GOd bless
YOU ARE NOT CRAZY!!! I started having panic attacks around the age of 15, a few years after my father passed away. I worried about everything, and as I tried to explain my emotions to other people (my mother, sister etc...) they just told me everything was fine, and I was just being paranoid (ironic, since my mother suffered from panic attacks and agoraphobia for years). It wasn't until I was 24 and married with a one year old that I had my most massive panic attack while I was at work. I'm an RN at a local hospital, and I just started crying uncontrolably for about 2 hours. I worried that something was wrong with my daughter, or my husband, it seemed like every little thing that I usually put out of my head suddenly crept up on me in the form of one massive panic attack.
The next day I saw my physician, and after a LONG discussion, we both discovered I suffer from a type of Obsessive-compulsive disorder, in which I don't have the urge to clean as "clinical" people with OCD do, but rather, I get one thought in my head and it "recycles" itself. For example, I will think "there's someone in the house". Rationally, I know that there is no one in the house, but the thought will stay with me until it becomes a full blown anxiety. This is actually a common illness, but it is also very treatable.
I have been taking Celexa, an anti-depressant commonly used to treat anxiety, and it has been a miracle for me. I'm not telling you that medication is the right path for you, only a trained physician or psychologist can diagnose you, but I am saying that their are many options out there for you to explore. I was afraid of the stigma attached of taking an "anti-depressant", but after talking to MANY of my fellow nurses, I've found that almost all of them have been on one psych med or another, and almost all of them have found it rewarding.
Please, talk to your doctor. If left untreated, it can cause hypertension, numerous affects on your immune system, and a myriad of other things.
well the good news is panic attacks/anxiety does go away. dont deny tourself a therepist because they can speed up the recovery process. and i also believe in being truthful to the therepist and to yourself is the key to overcoming anxiety. i feel that most people with many years of anxiety is not being truthful to thereself or dont want to eccept a fact of life. you also need to read up on axiety and all the symptoms that can occure. people who react great to a medicine after only trying a couple is fantastic news for them but remember most anxiety cases usually have side affects to most med. taking them at night only, may help them to adjust to your system. you could also over medicate so i would try only half of what you start for a week no matter what the dose. but if you feel crapy after a week , go on to the next and try not to get dicouraged. your lucky your more aware at a young age. im 33 and my problems started at age 22. and i am now getting treated. i didnt have the internet and i thought if i went to a doctor and said im depressed he would think i was an idiot. i didnt know that what i was experiencing was a medical problem. i thought it was just my personality. it started out with heart pounding social pheobia then grew stangly worse. i thought i had a medical illness other then a chemical imballance. i mostley experienced physical pains( first hamstrings hurt-right foot swelled up
woke up with achy ankles and feet
ankel swollen every now and then
( all in 20s)
age 26- legs ached severley(fibromyalgia) felt
like the flew-for 4 years
and all the mental stuff that went with anxiety
then i started experiencing this major stress
thing. my head wanted to lock into place and
pull it to the right
then shaking and head bobbing ocurred.
then a severy depression took pace age 32.
shoooo. i totally couldnt turn my head to left
at all , not even in my home . i was in the
i coulnt do anything social for months, my only
escape was working with my boyfriend. i felt a
better outside but refrained from doing
anything social. i was uncomfortable around
my own family. i was too ashamed to tell them
because they would have thoght i was nuts. in a
state like that you cannot explain anything to
make it sound intelligent. your a scrambled mess
i wasted a lot of money to top it off on
false solutions. FINALLY i went on wellbutrin,its a doctors last resort and there are no side affects only the remainder of the trix in your head for fear of a side affect.that med straitened lossened up my stess and stopped the head bobbing. i can drive in some comfort now. iam seeing a psych./ therepist the deep depression is gone and i feel better and better each month that goes by and im taking nourontin (mood stabilizer) that i take at nite untill the tiredness and drunk affect goes away so i can increase mg. it does make me a little calmer and less tense. we shall see. well thats my scarey anxiety story. my outlook is only knowing that i am getting better and i am much happier. good luck and dont post pone treatment. anxiety can cause a lot of problems to the body.
i know youll have a happy recovery. keeknap
let me post that wellbutrin can have side affects. let me refrase the that it is usually well tolorated and doctors use it as a last resort is what i have read. sorry
Nicola - I could have written much of your posting....I hope you are doing ok and maybe coping without the medication.
I had a warning panic attack 2 days after my Dad died which was only several days after I found my neighbour dead in his garden-he'd been there 3 days. Then I was totally fine for 6 months. the next 2 hit me 2 weeks apart as I was working 16-18 hr days driving 350 miles a day and totally overdoing it running several projects. I was in 'status panikus' for about 3 weeks and like Nicola I hated being alone. My Mum came up to stay and I had Prozac for 3 months. I was off work for 5 weeks and spent my time between cleaning out freezers and cupboards- someone had said that menial tasks were good to give focus to the day and going for ' huffy puffy ' walks which always helped for several hours.
The general consensus seemed to be that it was like 'The Perfect Storm'. Had all these events not happened simultaneously then I would have been fine but they did and I am not fine yet.
During the rest of the year I had another 11 bereavements of friends/family/colleagues/pets and finished off a 12 year relationship and sorted out house buying etc but didn't have any panic attacks.
I am now left with what I think must be residual anxiety but it is intermittant. I can have 4-5 completely clear weeks and be toatlly fine and then suddenly hits me but not in the form of a panic attack - more like a 'what if' thought that then escalates until I'm shaky and nauseous and have a tight throat. This can either dissipate by itself over a day or I end up asking Mum to come up for a few days and the constant company and positivety helps enormously and we go back to taking small confidence building steps until I'm off and fine again.
I still hate being alone all day and driving long distances alone. I used to think this was because I was afraid of passing out on the motorway or at home when noone would kow for hours but recently the fear has changed to thinking, like Nicola, that I could be going mad and will do/experience something terrible - quite what I have no idea - and it's never happened.
I can have all this and unless I chose to say something noone would ever know as I no longer get sweaty/ massively tachycardic/SOB etc but it scares me so much.
It seems that sometimes I get a physical feeling/thump in my solar plexus that starts this off and other times it definately starts in my thought process.
Has anyone else experienced this or known people where over time these 'sessions' have subsided which is what I'm desperately hoping will happen.
I currently go to Yoga, take loads of Vit B, valarian root herb when anxious,walk daily, swim regularly and see a spiritual healer which has beeen the best of all. I have no idea what she does but I always feel heaps better afterwards .
I'm thinking of starting St. Johns Wort - hoping it might just take the edge off these being sparked off- anyone any experiences ?
I wish you all well. Before last year I knew nothing about any of these issues now -like most of you, I would try anything to get rid of these feelings.
Let me tell you that you are NOT going insane, and there is a slim-to-none chance that you are going to wake up tommorow morning and be "crazy" all of a sudden. You remind me so much of myself, because I too have been a prisoner of these fears in my life before. Honey, you are NOT going mad, nor are you severely ill by the sounds of it.
Rather than going on medication, what about just seeing a therapist to TALK about what has been going on? The only permanent fix to any of these problems is talking about them, and finding your route issue. Medication may be helpful at first, but it is not permanent and it can seriously affect your brain chemestry (I know what I'm talking about in that department) So I wouldn't consider medication unless it was a last resort.
You may have panic disorder, you may be a bit depressed...but none of these things are so severe that they should merit going on psychotroptic drugs for years because of them. TALK to somebody, and then decide what you think will be best. And I urge you to research any medication recomended to you yourself. Sadly, many doctors do not tell their patients the whole story about these drugs, and the effects can be bad. So, do your OWN research, and make your OWN choices.
First you need to look at the possibility food or mold allergies.
You would be surprised at what low blood sugar can do to cause anxiety and fear. The following may help or checkout the rest of www.alternativementalhealth.com and you too can go through life without the meds. My wife and 3 of 4 kids were all meds,Prozac,zoloft,celexa,paxil and effexor. They all experienced terrible side-effects of violent dreams,visual and audio hallucinations, self mutilation,amnesia and now that we found out that they are reactive or fasting hypoglycemic and have cut way back on sugary stuff. They just enjoy an occassional adrenaline rush for what it is and also have more control over their phobias and cognitive thought processes.Take a good long honest look at your eating habits,do you find yourself craving chocolate,candy or sweets in general. Also do you have family members with diabetes or alcohol problems. If so you are probably prone to pancreas problems. Italians don't seems to have as much problem with pancreas as do the northern europeans and africans and asians. The glands control moods.
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Conquering Anxiety, Depression and Fatigue Without Drugs - the Role of Hypoglycemia
by Professor Joel H. Levitt
The Anxiety & Hypoglycemia Relief Institute
(For questions regarding anxiety & hypoglycemia and New York City
classes, contact Prof. Joel H. Levitt ***@****)
Stress is often blamed as the root cause for anxiety, depression and fatigue, but, although stress can make any problem worse, the source of such problems is often physical in nature. And hypoglycemia is one of the major physical causes.
This article covers the following:
What is Hypoglycemia? - the cause of hypoglycemia and its effects.
Typical Hypoglycemia Symptoms - the wide range of mental, emotional and physical symptoms.
Testing for Hypoglycemia - standard medical testing and why it is often unreliable.
The Solution to Hypoglycemia - a list of dietary and nutrient recommendations, with special notes and cautions.
Recommended Reading - books and other references that will give you a more complete understanding.
What is Hypoglycemia?
First of all, let's be clear on one major point - hypoglycemia is not a "disease" in that you either have it or don't, it is a condition, and, in most cases, it is fully reversible.
Some types of hypoglycemia are caused by a tumor or other physical damage to a gland. However, that is rare, and not the focus of this article. The more common type of hypoglycemia - called "functional," "reactive," or "fasting" - is your body's reaction to what you put in it.
Hypoglycemia is the body's inability to properly regulate blood sugar levels, causing the level of sugar in the blood to be too low or to fall too rapidly.
Blood sugar, in the form of glucose, is the basic fuel for all brain operation and physical activity, including muscular. If the available fuel is too inadequate, any marginal physical or mental system may start to shut down. In addition, the glandular imbalances that result, as the glands struggle to regulate the sugar level, cause their own symptoms - especially high adrenaline, which is usually perceived as anxiety or panic, but, in some cases, can lead to violence. (Am I saying this has something to do with domestic violence and street crime? YES! And there is expert congressional testimony to back this up.)
Here is a typical pattern:
1. You eat or drink excess sugar (the average American consumes well over 100 lbs/yr.).
2. The body releases insulin to put sugar into storage, but the insulin response is excessive (due to ADAPTATION and/or chromium deficiency).
3. About 2 hours later so much sugar has been put into storage that there is not enough left in the blood, and you get a low-blood-sugar emergency.
Symptoms such as weakness and mental fog begin.
4. The body responds to the emergency by dumping adrenaline into the system.
More symptoms follow from the high adrenaline, such as racing heart, anxiety, etc., etc., etc..
5. The roller coaster rises and falls in critical hormones, causing an unbalance in all the hormones and often resulting in ongoing symptoms.
Many Americans have hypoglycemia to a greater or less degree. The symptoms comprise a remarkably long list and range from mild discomfort to being completely incapacitated.
Typical Hypoglycemia Symptoms
Following is a list of symptoms I've drawn from multiple sources, plus my own observations. The list is long because symptoms result not only directly from low blood glucose but also from the glandular imbalances that result, especially high adrenaline. Only one or two symptoms may be present, but most often, you will find several.
Note that although I've listed mental and physical symptoms separately, they often overlap.
Anxiety - ranging from constant worry to panic attacks.
Phobias - claustrophobia, agoraphobia, acrophobia, and so on. This is anxiety tied to a particular issue.
Depression - especially with females
Violent outbursts - especially with males
Obsessive Compulsive Behavior
Forgetfulness - this may just be choline/inositol deficiency.
Inability to concentrate
Unsocial, Asocial, Anti-Social behavior
Nightmares & night terrors - terror can continue after you wake up. It is especially indicative of hypoglycemia if you wake in a cold sweat, if the terror continues, if there is pressure on the chest, or if you are unable to breathe.
Headaches - especially if a meal is missed.
Tachycardia - racing pulse due to high adrenaline.
Fatigue, weakness, "rubbery" legs.
Tremor or trembling of arm, leg, or whole body (outside or inside)
Twitching, jerking, or cramping of a leg muscle - cramping may be just calcium or magnesium deficiency or food allergy response.
Waking after 2-3 hrs sleep
Tinnitus - ringing in the ear, due to high insulin in about 70 % of tinnitus cases.
Abnormal weight - too high or too low.
Compulsive craving for sweets, colas, coffee, alcohol
Lack of appetite
A diagnosis of "mitral valve prolapse"
Crawling sensations on skin
Smothering spells - gasping for breath
Red blotches on skin or circular arcs of red skin
Lack of sexual drive
Chest pain - severe, but EKG normal.
Can't tolerate bright light or loud sounds
Another clue is that the symptoms are usually worse in the early morning after waking, and get better after being up and around a full day.
It's a remarkably long list and for very good reasons!
Many of the above symptoms can be found in the standard PDR
(Physician's Desk Reference) as the typical expected side effects
for a NORMAL HEALTHY person given an injection of adrenaline
(alternate name epinephrine).
Why should anyone not injected with adrenaline have such symptoms? To understand what is going on, we have to understand how humans have been designed to survive emergencies. Suppose you meet a tiger on the road. What happens? Immediately an emergency situation is detected and the adrenal gland dumps adrenaline. The adrenaline prepares you for vigorous
muscular activity. It brings sugar out of storage for muscular action. It raises the heart rate so your blood circulates faster and turns off digestion. You are now prepared for FIGHT or FLIGHT.
Some people will fight, their adrenaline response will be ANGER, most people will run, their adrenaline response is felt as FEAR.
In most cases, the simplest WORKING DEFINITION OF ANXIETY is the way you perceive HIGH ADRENALINE. If adrenaline is moderately high for too long a time, people feel anxious and wonder why. This is called "free-floating " anxiety.
If, on the other hand, adrenaline shoots up to a very high value rapidly, and
then decreases rapidly, the anxiety is brief but intense. This is called a "panic attack." If you regularly pick a particular thing to tie the anxiety to, such as high places, that's called a "phobia." What's the problem? What's wrong with the life-saving response to a tiger on the road?
The human body, because it's a wonderful self-adjusting system has a mechanism called ADAPTATION. If you repeatedly have emergencies the body learns to dump larger and larger amounts of adrenaline at the slightest hint of an emergency. The adrenal gland puts out about 60 different hormones- repeated requests for adrenaline dumps will affect all the others.
A hair-trigger adrenaline response is not what you want in modern life. What happens in modern life is that several times a day many people have low-blood-sugar emergencies. This leads to adrenaline dumping and ANXIETY, it also leads to hormonal imbalances.
NORMAL SUGAR PROCESSING: Eat food including sugar; pancreas
releases insulin; insulin puts excess sugar into storage for use later.
"REACTIVE HYPOGLYCEMIC" PROCESSING: Consume excessive sugar food
or beverage; pancreas dumps excess insulin (remember ADAPTION);
About two hours later blood sugar crashes to emergency level; adrenal
gland dumps excess adrenaline (remember ADAPTION); RESULT=ANXIETY
and HORMONAL IMBALANCE
The saving grace is that hypoglycemia, even early-stage diabetes when the pancreas starts to give up, is fully reversible with diet and nutritional supplements.
Testing for Hypoglycemia
Standard medical testing for hypoglycemia is the Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT). The person being tested is required to fast for 12 hours, then have a drink with a super-high sugar content - a disaster plan for someone with hypoglycemia. The blood is then tested every 30 minutes, for 6 hours. Unfortunately, the test is unreliable as it is frequently done in an inadequate way or is misinterpreted.
The most frequent problems with the GTT are:
The test is run for less than 6 hours - a 3 -hour test certainly can't catch a drop at the 5.5 hour point).
The test measures glucose level but fails to measure insulin and adrenaline - your blood sugar may be holding up because your adrenal gland is dumping huge amounts of adrenaline. Glucose alone can't tell the full story.
The symptoms are not carefully observed during the test - the classic story is of a man who went for his test, drank the sugar solution, became violent, and smashed the furniture in the waiting room. Upon leaving, he was given a bill for the furniture, and a test stamped "normal!" His glucose level didn't go below the level that lab used as an absolute criterion! If you become violent during the test, or faint, or break out in a cold sweat and start shaking you have FAILED the test REGARDLESS of the NUMBERS!
The rate of drop in blood sugar is ignored - the lowest glucose level is important, but the rate of drop is just as important. Falling too rapidly from high-normal to low-normal represents poor regulation and will give symptoms.
Because of the above testing problems, hypoglycemia is best diagnosed by its symptoms.
The Solution to Hypoglycemia
To reverse the condition, the glands must be allowed to recover. This is done by eliminating all foods and beverages that deliver sugar rapidly. Thus the cure for "low blood sugar" is to AVOID sugar and simple carbohydrates, like white wheat flour, that convert rapidly into sugar.
Stress, of course, makes all problems worse. And if you can eliminate all stress - fine. But, realistically, it is much easier to simply control what you consume.
My recommendations for handling hypoglycemia consist of diet, and nutritional supplements. There are also excellent full-length books available in the Recommended Books list at the end of this article. I especially recommend books 1 and 2.
Best foods to eat
raw mixed salad greens
seeds and nuts (not peanuts)
cooked greens (Collard greens, Mustard greens, Spinach etc.)
organic eggs (hardboiled for safety)
whole grains (one at a time)
carry seeds & nuts.
Freshly made vegetable juices. Most hypoglycemics should probably limit carrots in juice form to about 1/day or less, as a sweetener for other veggies.
Spring or filtered water.
Herbal tea - from one or two herbs, not "naturally flavored" blends.
Worst food ingredients
The packaging for some foods can be misleading. For example, many packages will say "Sugar Free." However, if you read the ingredients, you will find types of sweeteners just as harmful. Therefore, it is important to read all labels carefully.
Hypoglycemics should avoid the following:
Sugar - this includes sucrose, fructose, raw sugar (sugar + dirt), brown sugar (sugar, dyed brown), corn syrup, "dried cane juice", "raisin juice" etc., molasses, malt, malted barley, even maple syrup and honey.
Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils - including vegetable shortening and margarine. These are hormone imbalancers.
White wheat flour and white rice - nutrients that prevent heart disease & cancer are removed from these products to give longer shelf life. Fiber is also removed, therefore the starch rapidly converts to sugar.
Peanuts & Corn - high mold sources which tax the immune system.
Special Notes and Cautions About Diet
The above list represents my personal current opinion, and is periodically modified. Consideration was given both to the influence on sugar metabolism, and on general health. Many foods not listed above as best or worst can be eaten in moderation, assuming of course that you are not allergic to them. Additionally, the following factors need to be observed
If you can't get "organic" foods, use non-organic foods less often.
If you are a vegetarian, of course eliminate animal foods. The vegetarian route requires more knowledge and more work; but I currently believe that, in the long run, it gives the best health in most cases - for hypoglycemics as well as "normals."
Food allergy and reactive hypoglycemia frequently go hand in hand. If you are allergic to one or more of the best foods, then they are not acceptable for you.
Individual food allergies must be carefully considered with any restrictive diet. For example, a grain-based diet can be a disaster for someone with grain allergies, even if the carbohydrate level can be tolerated. Another example is eggs, which are a common allergen.
To find out what you are allergic to is a gradual process of learning which involves primarily selective elimination, for at least 5 days, with careful observation of symptoms.
Likes and Dislikes
I also believe that you must be reasonably comfortable with your food choices to assimilate the food properly, i.e. foods you hate won't make a good diet for you.
Beware of Liquids Containing Sugar
Liquids containing sugar deliver sugar to the body too rapidly. In addition to obvious disasters such as sodas, colas, sweetened coffee (a double whammy if caffeine is present), and alcohol (behaves like liquid sugar), you should also AVOID FRUIT JUICES (an exception is grapefruit which can usually be tolerated in moderation, perhaps 4 oz./day)
AVOID SKIM MILK. Milk would be O.K. for hypoglycemics, but a harmful enzyme, Xanthine Oxidase, makes it a bad choice for all. Consider instead organic yogurt, from whole milk, NOT skim or low-fat. The harmful enzyme Xanthine Oxidase is de-activated when yogurt and cheeses are made.
Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners have been a major American health disaster, especially aspartame, and should not even be considered as a substitute for sugar. They make recovery for hypoglycemics much more difficult and are a major health hazard.
The most important of the supplements are high level vitamin C - which is the primary support for the adrenal gland - and a good multiple formula containing chromium.
The best type of vitamin C, and the easiest to take in my opinion, is POWDERED Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid).
I recommend Allergy Research (Willner stock # 10004), or Freeda (C PWD "Dull"- Willner stock # 14267, 4 oz & # 14268 16 oz).
Solgar Vitamin C Crystals do not dissolve as well but are still effective, and widely available.
The dosage depends on how serious your symptoms are. A general guideline for most people having uncomfortable symptoms would be 10 grams (10,000 milligrams) per day. A level teaspoon of powder or crystals gives about 4 grams, a heaping teaspoon 5 grams. Therefore two heaping teaspoons per day would give 10 grams. This should be split into two or more servings at different times during the day, preferably with meals. If you are not used to these levels, start with less and work up over a few days. An extra teaspoon can always be taken if you start to feel bad - indigestion, a headache, dizzy, a panic attack starting, etc.
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