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What It's Like to Live with Anxiety

Going through life with an underappreciated disability can be a difficult and isolating experience. I recently had the chance to sit down and have a talk with a woman who has a debilitating case of social anxiety syndrome, and she was kind enough to relay her experiences for the benefit of others who may be suffering in the same way.

Jane was born in 1980 in Detroit. Her father had dependency issues, and left the family when Jane was 5 years old. The two years leading up to her father's departure, Jane was living in a household with ever increasing anxiety levels. When her father was around, everything was noticeably tense, even when everything seemed to be quiet and calm. There would be outbursts of rage, arguments that brewed and eventually boiled over into yelling matches. Never getting violent, these confrontations did have an ever present threat of violence that resulted in a tremendous amount of anxiety for Jane and her mother.

When Jane was five, her father lost his job, and the result was that he was at home more often during the day. These conditions led to daily arguments and eventually Jane's father left them. He would visit a few times a year, and these visits always resulted in a confrontation. This environment of a lack of control, and not being able to predict when a visit would occur had a profound effect of the development of young Jane.

Today, Jane copes with the effects of her childhood. She has a keen sense for people who are harboring lots of anxiety inducing emotions. She spent some time under the care of a psychiatrist, who prescribed her an anti-anxiety medication. This episode was one her most difficult times. The medication worked. The side-effects and subsequent addiction almost destroyed her life. Benzodiazepine is a powerful anti-anxiety medication prescribed to millions of Americans each year. This medication is only intended to be used for a few weeks at most to help the patient cope with a life event that produces a petrifying amount of anxiety.

For someone with a long term condition like Jane's, anti-anxiety drugs, when taken over many months lose their potent effect. The patient begins to develop a tolerance to the drug, and larger and larger doses are required for the same effect. When a patient like Jane decides to get off the medication and pursue other treatments, she discovers that she is hooked, and must begin the multi-year process of weening from a high dose of Benzodiazepine. Jane cautions that anyone is a situation similar to hers to not take anti-anxiety medication for more than a few weeks, or that they talk to their doctor about the risks of tolerance and addiction.

Five years ago Jane began a process, that would take two whole years, freeing herself from an addiction that caused great pain, and tragically, more anxiety. After getting clean from her prescription medication, Jane found different and natural ways to deal with her anxiety. With the help of a therapist, Jane was able to work on memories and emotions associated with her high levels of anxiety. As it turns out, the medication works by allowing a patient to not become emotional when recalling anxious thoughts, and this effect also keeps the patient from healing from their trauma. “If a memory from your past causes you anxiety when you recall it, then you need to spend time thinking about that memory until it does not cause you anxiety.”

Jane shares what she has learned, “Memories of the past are useful for creating a future that you want to be a part of, if you are able to comb through your past, and live through all of the emotions associated with the memories, you will be able to set a course for the future that is good.”

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Importance of the Human Spine

Having good posture is integral for optimum health and performance. Conversely, having poor posture is detrimental for every system of the human body.

The human body has had three distinct evolutionary developments though the processes of evolution. We share common ancestry with other vertebrates and this helps to provide clues about how the human spine evolved. The human spine consists of three distinct regions, each curving in a different direction. These sections are the cervical spine, thoracic spine and the lumbar spine. The thoracic is the center of the spine that bows away from the body, the lumber spine is found towards the bottom, and the cervical spine is at the top, connecting to the skull.

The thoracic spine is the oldest, in terms of evolutionary history, and is found in common with most invertebrates, and most mammals that walk on four legs, imagine a cat stretching it's back. The cervical spine that connects to the head is also very old in terms of evolution, this section of the spine developed as vertebrates began using their head with more sophistication, as in lifting it up to look at the trees.

The lumbar section of the spine developed as our primate ancestors began to walk on two feet, it curves in the opposite direction from the thoracic section to counterbalance the weight of the body. This section is newest section in terms of evolutionary history. This may be part of the reason why the lumbar spine causes people the most pain and problems.

Taking care if your spine involves three components: maintaining good posture. Stretching regularly, and strengthening the muscles in your back.

Maintaining good posture is not only good for your back and spine. Maintaining good posture is important for many systems in your body. Poor posture is bad for your internal organs, by compressing structures. Your lungs, stomach, liver and heart all benefit from proper posture. These organs need to have optimal function for your body to be in optimal health.

Stretching the spine is crucial. Warm up your body be moving your arms and legs. Cat/cow stretch is the best stretch for the spine. Kneel on your hands and knees, start by looking down at your thighs and raise your back to the sky. Breath out completely while doing this motion. Next, look up to the sky and drop your back as low as possible. Breathe in completely and expand your rib cage during this motion. Do this sequence ten times.

A great way to begin to strengthening your back muscles is to do this simple exercise: Begin by laying flat on your stomach. Outstretch your arms as if flying like superman. The inside of your elbows should be lightly touching your ears. Position your legs so that your feet are about twelve inches apart. Now raise your right arm and left leg simultaneously. Only raise your hand and toe about two inches from the ground. Hold this position for 5 seconds and slowly drop to the ground. Now do this again with your left arm and right leg, hold for five seconds. To this ten times in a row and to this exercise 2 times everyday.

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Nutrition Varies Between Individuals

When studying diet and nutrition, or when deciding on what type of diet is right for you, it is important to keep in mind that every person is different. A diet that works perfectly well for one individual, may cause inflammation and disease or disability or the next individual. This is especially true for populations within the North America.

Diverse people means that the optimal diet should be diverse. Historically ancestors of some groups were able to survive primarily on blubber of animals, and some were able to thrive on diets rich with vegetables or corn. Time selected for traits in the people to be able to process different kinds of foods, depending on the region and climate that was inhabited.

While exactly how every component of diet is affection by the persons history is not fully understood, it is rather clear that there are differences between people. The only sure way to learn what type of diet id best for each individual is through trial and error. An elimination diet is one example of how this investigation could work, and its best to eliminate all foods that have been introduced by modern industrial society.

Processed foods can wreak havoc the health of most people. Processed food can be identified as anything that come in a package or can, or anything that has ingredients that are not recognized as a meat or vegetable. Over the past century, food scientists have created products that seem to be healthy, but that actually are problematic for the people who consume them.

Some of the most common foods produced in the modern ecosystem are hydrogenated fats, artificial and natural flavors, and preservatives. Additionally the industrialized agriculture system used to produce food has its own set of various problems. Large farms that grow a single species of crop, have a difficult time of eradicating pests and mold. These pests thrive among thousands of acres of crop.

Pesticides and fungicides are widely used to kill insects and mold that damage crops and diminish profits. Pesticides and fungicides are known to cause a host of problems in the humans as as well as in the livestock animals that consume the residual chemicals. The organic designation of food precludes the use of these chemicals, so it is recommended to eat only organic food to avoid as many heath problems as possible.

Elimination Diet

An elimination diet can help to determine which foods cause problems for you. Common food related allergies are, inflammation, which can manifest as fatigue with an unknown cause, runny nose, or clogged nasal passages, eczema, digestive gas or pain.

Start with one simple nutritious food that you don't know to cause problems, an example may be chicken eggs, a single meat like beef or chicken, or possibly a vegetable like potato or rice. Then, after 3 days, begin by introducing one more whole food at a time. Keep a journal to describe what you ate and how you feel. Do this in the morning and evening to determine what food work and what foods cause problems.

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Is It a Cold or Something Else?

Upper respiratory illness and sickness can affect the lungs, throat sinuses and nasal passages, and the eyes. Causes of an upper respiratory infections may include bacteria, virus or mold.

A bacterial infection may go away on its own, or antibiotics may be used. A virus is usually cured by the body with antibodies that are created in the blood, and the body learns how to fight the virus. A respiratory illness caused by mold is less common.

If symptoms continue to persist longer than two weeks, giving some indication that the ailment is caused by a fungus or mold. It is important to identify sources of mold exposure and eliminate them. Usually the body can overcome the infection once the exposure is eliminated, but sometimes anti-fungal medication is necessary to combat the infection. This type of medication should be used as a last result as side effects can be severe. A blood test can be given to determine is an individual has a mold infection.

Symptoms of all respiratory illnesses may include:

Coughing - Dry coughing produces no phlegm, a cough with phlegm is considered a wet cough. Note the properties of a wet cough, as phlegm may be clear, yellow, green, or it may contain blood or tar particles from smoke.

Sore throat – A sore throat can be painful, and make eating or swallowing difficult or uncomfortable. Mix two tablespoons of salt with one half cup of warm water. Gargle the mixture in the back of the throat as symptoms persist.

Clogged/fluid filled sinuses- a stuffy nose is an uncomfortable symptom of respiratory illness. This condition may cause sneezing/runny nose. Blowing the nose can cause broken, irritated skin around the nostrils and lip. Also the person suffering from the clogged nose will be breathing through their mouth, causing their lips to become dry and chapped. Pressure from the increased volume of fluid may also cause headaches.

Fever – The body's natural response to an invasion of a microbe is to make the biological environment inhospitable for the pathogen. Most pathogens that affect humans thrive at normal human body temperature. The body produces a fever condition to help to kill the pathogen as it does not live as well in a higher temperature environment.

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