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Sunday, 17 July 2016 22:37

Food Allergies and Panic Attacks

I had my first panic attack episodes after experiencing anaphylaxis for the first time  from eating a mango on the fourth of July (wherein I also accidentally took too much benedryl  and the entire day was like a really bad paranoid trip). The week after I would get these fake anaphylaxis symptoms before I would eat fruit - my throat would tighten and go dry (I could not swallow unless I was drinking or eating), I had the "sense of doom", and I could just feel myself turn white and I would get a cold sweat. When this happened, I would just take a sip of water, breathe deeply a couple of times, and get back to work. On the weekend, I sat down and choked down all the food that had given me an episode - I could eat strawberries again! It took about an hour and a half to eat all the fruit and nuts I normally eat. So that stopped for a while. However, everytime I would think about a mango, I would get the fake allergic reaction symptoms.

I practice martial arts, and on this past monday we were working on grappling, specifically arm bars which involves pressing down all of your weight on your partners chest, using that to lift your leg over. My partner was having a hard time making it fluid, so we worked on it for a while. The day after, I started having chest pain, and had my first episode not involving food that day. Basically, I felt pain in my chest and thought for about 30 seconds that I was having a heart attack (my mom had her first heart attack when she was young and healthy), until I remembered the excessive arm bars and pressure on my chest, and forced myself to calm down. 

On Thursday, I saw an allergist and he prescribed me an epipen and ordered some blood tests to verify the allergies (he did not have a scratch test for the mango). I got through the appointment okay - describing the allergic reaction made me relive it a bit, which I actually think is a good thing, but was not that bad. I told my doctor about the anxiety, and he says he sometimes sees this with patients and that it probably some sort of short term PTSD. 

On Friday, I had my first full blown panic attack. I had a little panic episode, and when I tried to breath deeply to calm myself down, I had a very sharp pain in my chest. It terrified me. Ever since the first panic episodes began, I figured that as long as I could breathe deeply, I was fine.I had body aches all over, pain in both arms, and a general sense of confusion along with dizzyness I ended up having to leave work for a couple of hours to go to the clinic. I told the doctor that I had no idea what was going on with me, and  I told him about the anxiety about fruit - freakin' lame fruit (which he said was not lame)  - and about everything that I had experienced since. I spent the two hours crying the entire time, and I have no idea why. The doctor did some bloodwork, gave me an EKG and a chest xray. All my vitals were fine, and every result was perfect. I am healthy. I know that I am healthy rationally. I am so used to being in tune with my body, but now I cannot trust the symptoms that it gives me. I feel very out of control. And I am just tired and frustrated although this has only been going on for a relatively short time. 

The food phobia has not really gone away yet, and apparently I have a phobia of heart attacks which probably comes from having a mother who has had a couple. I've spent this weekend trying to deal with it - trying to remember what it felt like to have that allergic reaction and trying to learn how to let that fear go. 

I have never had anxiety before; I've had asthma attacks with no access to an inhaler and have still not panicked. This is all new to me, but I want to deal with it. Has anyone else had anxiety with regards to food, and or medical conditions that family members have?

 

 

 

 

Published in Anxiety General Blog

The Prevalence of Anxiety

Anyone who has experienced anxiety, and according to statistics that’s almost 1 in 10 of us at any one time in the UK, knows that it is much more than a state of mind. Characterised by tension, worry, restlessness, irritability, insomnia and an array of other symptoms, it can severely impact on everyday life. Whilst there are a multitude of drugs targeted to treat and manage this condition, for those who want to take a more natural approach, can anything be done through food and nutrition?

Supporting Anxiety through Diet

When stressed and feeling anxious, the temptation is to go straight for the quick fix- the caffeine, the sugar, the slice of cake that’s going to give you a big hug from within! However, the “high” these types of food bring are short-lived, and the energy crash that inevitably follows can leave you feeling jittery and even more anxious than before. A kinder approach to your body is to eat foods that settle, not stimulate your anxiety. By making choices that nourish your adrenals (the glands that regulate your bodies’ response to stress), support your nervous system, and keep your blood sugar levels balanced, your body will be best equipped to deal with everything that life throws at it. So eat your way to calm, with the following nutrient-rich, anxiety-busting foods that expert recommend:

Top 5 Anxiety Foods

 

1) Salmon and other oily fish are bursting with omega-3 fatty acids. An increased intake of omega-3s has been associated with reduced risk of anxiety in many studies, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-the-zone/201201/anxiety-and-omega-3-fatty-acids. Omega-3s aid in blood sugar regulation and help to prevent the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline from spiking during periods of stress. They also form the building blocks for a happy brain, and a deficiency has been linked to both low mood and depression. For vegetarians and vegans, chia seeds and flaxseeds are the best plant-source of omega-3s.

 

2) Spinach is rich in folate, an important B vitamin that is converted to folic acid in the body. Depression and anxiety have both been linked to folic acid deficiency. Spinach also boasts high levels of magnesium and vitamin C which are both highly important for our adrenal glands and our body’s ability to cope with stress

 

3) Turkey- great news for the festive season, turkey is a fantastic source of the amino acid tryptophan which produces chemicals in the brain that boost mood and encourage relaxation. It helps to provide a sense of calmness, and may also aid sleep. Seafood, nuts, beans and pulses are also all great sources.

 

4) Oats are one of the best foods for boosting levels of the “happy hormone” serotonin in our brain, low levels of which are linked to anxiety. Oats are also packed with B vitamins, which are essential for the creation of important neurotransmitters in the brain and nervous system that affect mood.

 

5) Almonds make the perfect on-the-go snack during times of stress. High in both protein and fibre they help keep the blood sugar levels balanced, and cortisol levels in check. They are also rich in magnesium, otherwise known as “nature’s tranquilliser” which has a calming effect on the nervous system and promotes feelings of wellbeing.

 

To boost your intake of these important nutrients further, you may also consider a dietary supplement. In times of intense stress, our adrenals are under a lot of pressure and are likely to benefit from additional B vitamins, vitamin C and magnesium. And as a last tip, eat little and often. This will keep your blood sugar levels balanced, and provide you with the vigour to deal with bouts of anxiety in the best way you can.

Published in Anxiety General Blog

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