|Medical Dictionary and
|Fighting Memory Loss
|Good health is merely the slowest
rate at which one can die.
|If you enjoy being around animals, having companion animals can
enrich your life – and may have a positive effect on your health. If
you already have a pet, take advantage of the relationship by
walking it and playing with it as opposed to showing it the door.
|If you're concerned about your cholesterol, reduce the amount of
saturated fat in your diet (cut back on dairy foods and red meat), avoid
trans-fats (margarine, vegetable shortening, and products containing
partially hydrogenated oils), substitute soy protein for animal protein,
drink green tea daily, use fresh garlic regularly in your meals, eat
plenty of soluble fiber (beans, lentils, apples, citrus fruit, oats, barley,
peas, carrots and ground flax seeds are good sources), and lose weight
if you're heavier than you should be. You also can try a red rice yeast
supplement (take Co-Enzyme Q-10 along with it) for cholesterol
control, and a fish oil supplement to help protect your heart.
3 Ways to Reduce Your Anxiety
Learn to cope with stress: Reducing stress can help control symptoms
of anxiety. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that stress-
management techniques may even boost the effectiveness of therapy.
There are many ways to reduce stress, including meditation, massage,
and muscle relaxation. Listening to music and exercising are also
effective stress-busters. Different methods work well for different
people. What’s important is that you find the method or combination
of methods that works for you—and that you use it regularly.
When anxiety is related to a traumatic event in the news, one of the
most important things you can do is tune it out. In the weeks
following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the media was
saturated with replays and updates of the tragedies. While the events
naturally caused feelings of anxiety in many people, dwelling on the
news made some people feel helpless and extremely fearful about the
future. If an event dominates your thoughts or causes extreme upset
or panic, it’s time to turn off the TV and put down the newspaper.
Limiting exposure to traumatic news is especially important for
children, who have less experience with putting problems into
Avoid coffee and cigarettes: Smoking and caffeine can promote
anxiety. Research suggests that heavy cigarette smoking during
adolescence increases the risk for generalized anxiety disorder and
panic disorder in early adulthood. The mechanism may have less to do
with nicotine’s effect on the nervous system than with the damage
done to the respiratory system. Smoking causes breathing problems,
which research suggests may play a role in anxiety. The theory is that
the brain misinterprets the smoker’s labored breathing and resulting
lack of oxygen as a threat of suffocation. The automatic physiological
response is heavier breathing and faster pumping by the heart. In
people who are susceptible to anxiety, the brain mistakes these
responses as signs of panic.
With caffeine, on the other hand, it’s the stimulant effect that
promotes anxiety. Caffeine can set off a panic attack in someone
prone to anxiety by activating the sympathetic nervous system, which
launches the body’s response to stress or danger. Many psychiatrists
recommend that their anxiety patients eliminate, or at least minimize,
their consumption of coffee and other caffeinated beverages and
foods. Also be aware that many over-the-counter medications,
including weight-loss aids and "daytime" cold medications, contain
Seek social support: Support from family members and from others
with anxiety disorders can improve the results of treatment. The
National Institute of Mental Health reports that many people with
anxiety benefit from sharing their problems and triumphs with others.
Joining a support group can help by giving you a regular opportunity
to talk with people who understand. Talking with trusted relatives,
friends, and members of the clergy can be helpful, too. Chat groups
on the Internet also provide a forum in which to share concerns and
decrease the feelings of isolation that are common among people with
anxiety. Just be skeptical about the information you find on the
Internet, unless it comes from an established mental health
organization. Also, use caution and common sense in deciding how
much personal information to reveal when chatting online. Remember
that chat rooms aren’t a substitute for therapy. If you’re looking for
group therapy, join a group run by a mental health professional.
Loneliness or inactivity can promote anxiety. Getting involved in
activities and developing new friendships can help.
From the Harvard Health Publications Special Health Report, Coping
With Anxiety and Phobias. Copyright 2002 by the President and
Fellows of Harvard College. Illustrations by Scott Leighton. All rights
reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner,
in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint
request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of