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Don’t Panic!

I was very fortunate to attend a psychotherapy conference in the USA before Xmas and was so impressed with a talk by Dr David Burns entitled "When Panic Attacks". Dr Burns has been working with anxiety and depression for many years and has developed extremely effective treatments for anxiety disorders, including panic.

The talk got me thinking about panic attacks… Panic attacks are extremely common with estimates revealing that between 2-4% of the Australian population suffer from panic disorders with recurring panic attacks, with panic being almost twice as common among women than men. Panic attacks can be extremely frightening for sufferers, with many people worrying that they are having a heart attack, are losing control or even going crazy. After experiencing their first panic attack, people can worry about having further panic attacks which can then lead to panic disorder. It can become a debilitating and isolating condition as people can withdraw from situations and activities that they enjoy in an effort to avoid having another panic attack

A panic attack is described by the DSM-V as an "abrupt surge of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches a peak within a few minutes” and during which people can experience a pounding heart, trembling or shaking, breathlessness, nausea or a fear of dying, among a number of other symptoms. This sudden increase in anxiety can occur from a calm state or an anxious state. 

So… what can be done? There are some very effective treatments for panic disorder, so don’t despair! Below is a brief summary of the treatment options:  

  1. Information on panic and how it arises
  2. Changing the way you think about panic, reframing your thoughts and learning about breathing and relaxation strategies
  3. Gradually exposing yourself to the way that anxiety manifests in your body; and
  4. Confronting situations that trigger anxiety, once you have learned coping and relaxation strategies

                                                                                            

Essentially, anxious thinking is based on unhelpful and inaccurate thoughts that can be challenged with therapy. As Dr Burns concisely put it, you feel the way you think, and you can CHANGE the way you FEEL!

If you would like help with recurring panic attacks or anxiety, book an appointment with Claudine or another psychologist at the Drop Of Life! 

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Christmas is now upon us – Kindness Matters!

It is interesting, as I grow older and wiser, and my children have partners and lives of their own, I find that Christmas feels different!  When I had a younger family and we were all under the same roof it was financially difficult because of the expectations around gifts and the season events.  However that was offset by the thrill of Shopping centres and Christmas carols which excited our  little family and made the season come alive.

Now that it is only my husband and I in the house and no grandchildren as yet!! This time of year is more about my relationships and slowing down to feel connected with those that I choose to be in my life.  This leads me to feel like there is so much more about this time of year than gifts and the commercial side of things.   In the clinic our monthly competition has changed to a challenge!!!! (should you choose to accept). We have borrowed a 'Kindness Calendar' which has something very small every day that I challenge everyone to do. The gift of giving is not only around presents, it is also about the ability to give of yourself to others without any sense or feeling of reciprocation. It's doing something simply because it feels good and costs nothing, but to someone else it may be everything!

I remember one year a very long time ago when I was in hospital with my youngest who was very unwell and had spent years in and out of hospital. I had a school mum come to the hospital and simply arrive with no other agender than to give me a hand massage and manicure which she did then left. It was such a simple gesture and so very kind, and to this day almost 18 years later it still sits with me as one of the kindest and most unselfish things someone has done for me. It saddens me that most of us only stop this time of year to think consciously about giving to all, I have no doubt that you are doing kind things often,  however how often do you stop to make a conscious choice to change the way you act and treat others? How often do you stop and ask, is there a softer way to say that so it is heard by others and not reacted upon? What is one small thing that I could do to make someone elses life easier/happier? Challenge number 2, slow down and be aware during this month of your interactions, of your words and most importantly of your stress levels.

I have enjoyed tremendously working with you all this year and sincerely hope you have a relaxing Christmas filled with love and wonder.

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Dog with a blog

Hi its me again Benji, my human has asked me to do another Dog with a Blog.  My human and I went to an event the other night where other animals came, as well as a lady Kathy from the Pet Wellness Centre. Which sounded like a  pretty cool place to go but I think she also said their was a vet in their…grrr no sure about that now!! Kathy brought her pup which had really sharp teeth and really really wanted to play..with his teeth!! So I tried hard to stay away from him, lucky I made a good friend with another shiatzu who was pretty cool.

My human and Kathy talked about lots of cool things about animals.  Everyone got really emotional when Kathy was telling them about the research around what makes dogs the most happiest… which of course was the smell of their humans.. weird I thought everyone would of known that.. woof.

My human talked about what we do in sessions and how beneficial it was and what happens to humans bodies and minds when they interact with animals.  Again …weird… I thought everyone would have known that it is really good for them to hang out with us. It does things like;

  • Lowers Blood Pressure
  • Reduces Anxiety
  • Lowers Heart Rate
  • Reduces de-escalation times
  • Increase self esteem
  • Helps regulate emotions and behaviours
  • Helps form healthy attachments
  • Increase eye contact
  • Decrease distractibility
  • Improve appropriate voice tone
  • Significantly lower behavioural, emotional and verbal distress

She’s real smart to know all that stuff.  I can smell something really cool outside so I’m off to explore what it is.  I’ll talk later woof!

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It's Benji! A Dog with a Blog

HI my name is Benji and I work at Drop Of Life with my human Natalie. Let me start by reminding you I'm a dog! My Human Natalie has let me have my own BLOG... wooof a dog with a blog... it will become a thing I bet!
This is new to me my human blogs all the time however I'm not as good as she is so be kind to me when reading. When you read this you must remember I'm a Dog so I'm very focused on instant gratification.. Like when you come into the clinic I just roll over so you can instantly rub my belly (Coz that's what I love soooo much!!)
My Human tells me we have a big gathering coming up at the end of the month which means I get to hang out with everyone that comes soooooo looking forward to that, (don't tell my mum I asked but bring treats! I really like chicken the best... or sometimes cheese.. although that sometimes isn't too good for me..if you know what I mean anyway back to what I was saying… looking forward to the gathering ..as the BEST part of my day is when you come to visit me.

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Why we love Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory

Why we love Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory

This month is the start of Autism Awareness Month in Australia and Autism Queensland's annual Go Blue for Autism campaign. In my research to do a blog on this topic, I came across an article which looked at Asperger syndrome completely differently and it made so much more sense to write about it in this format than in the typical diagnostic format.

The majority of people have some idea of Asperger syndrome, and if not they can certainly reflect on the characteristics of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. Just to refresh your memory, Sheldon plays a scientific genius who works at a local university and shows several characteristics typical to those who have Aspergers, such as attention to detail, repetitive actions and a lack of social skills. I realise that I am just postulating on whether or not the Sheldon character has Aspergers, regardless the show’s popularity has brought a level of tolerance and appreciation for Sheldon’s character. I have to admit that I love and watch The Big Bang Theory and am quite fond of Sheldon’s character. One of the biggest reason why people seem so drawn to Sheldon is that he comes across as absolutely brilliant. The characteristics that I love about him is he is who he is and doesn’t pretend to be someone he isn’t. He’s just his own unique self! That is something to admire.

There has always been speculation around other prominent figures, and recently self-advocate Dr Temple Grandin mentioned that she believed Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein shared characteristics of Aspergers, Much like Sheldon, these two geniuses are seen as brilliant minds that also have issues with social interaction.
Sheldon, Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein show us that anyone with a dream, with or without a diagnosis of Asperger's can aspire to obtain a job you love, be in a healthy relationship and live an independent life. These people show us hope that this can become a reality.

Even though Sheldon may seem different, anyone with a profile like his should be treated with respect and tolerance. Because the wide spectrum of autism includes many truly unique individuals. Their stories should be celebrated much like those of Sheldon, Albert and Steve.
My message in this month’s blog is one of respect and tolerance

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