There’s often nothing more isolating than being told to “cheer up” or “it’s not so bad” when in the throes of a rough patch. Even when it’s clear that a shift in perspective or a perkier outlook could make a situation seem better, it’s not always possible to just flip an internal switch and suddenly decide to feel better. A new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reminds us of what psychologists have been saying for years — that these “positive reframing” phrases, which we use in an attempt to create perspective, are sometimes anything but helpful. Keep reading »
I remember my first panic attack in more detail than I remember losing my virginity or the first time I drove a car by myself. (I guess vivid terror of suddenly not being able to breathe really ingrains itself into your psyche.) It was 1998 and I was watching the “Psycho” remake with my family’s French exchange student. During the infamous shower scene, my throat and lungs tightened inside me like a figure eight knot. I got up and paced around the movie theater, unable to control my body and wondering if I was having a heart attack. I’ve had panic attacks periodically since then, probably due to a combination of biology and circumstance. I’ve made an effort to lessen the conditions that they occur in and for the most part, I live a pretty calm life. My anxiety only spikes in extreme circumstances, such as the rare times I’ve gotten temporarily stuck in a subway underground (I’m claustrophobic).
After a couple of years without anxiety attacks in my everyday life, I’ve started having them again. The stress is related to old stuff resurfacing in my life and the anxiety is pretty much the same, too: my chest tightens, my heart beats too fast, I can’t breathe, and I feel like I’m having a heart attack. (Or, you know, what I assume a heart attack feels like.) I’m 30 now. Panic attacks are still shitty and frustrating, but all the experience I’ve had coaxing myself through them over the years actually does makes them less intense and quicker to get over.
These are my thoughts on what panic attacks are like, how to deal with them, and what I hope other people could understand if they’re trying to help:
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I’ve never liked cats. I know this is an unpopular point of view, but the heart wants what the heart wants. And this heart wants everything of the feline persuasion to stay away from her. It’s the allergies, but also, I just don’t like the way they look at me. Should you want to join me in the pursuit of catless-ness, you might be interested to know that new research published in the PLOS ONE journal discovered a link between cat bites and depression. Keep reading »
I was diagnosed with clinical depression about two years ago. Sadly, this didn’t lead to me beginning a wacky romance with a free-spirited girl who taught me to embrace life and love myself for who I am. I just started taking prescription drugs, made a few lifestyle changes, and felt smugly justified about listening to Joy Division.
All the time I spent not “Silver Linings Playbook”-ing it up made me realize that a lot of what I thought I knew about depression was about as accurate as what elementary school children know about where babies come from. Read all five ridiculous things often believed about depression on Cracked…