Mental Health (14)

Do you sometimes have sudden attacks of anxiety and overwhelming fear that last for several minutes? Maybe your heart pounds. You sweat. You feel like you can’t breathe or think clearly. Do these attacks occur at unpredictable times with no apparent trigger, causing you to worry about the possibility of having another one at any time?

Social anxiety disorder is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. This fear can affect work, school, and other daily activities. It can even make it hard to make and keep friends. In a collaborative medicine environment, it can even impact our medical treatment. The good news is social anxiety disorder is treatable. We all should learn more about the symptoms of social anxiety disorder and how to find help. 

The information in this article should help reduce common stress and anxiety sometimes experienced by the Health Guardian, and help you discover what can be done to cope. Life can be stressful—you may feel stressed about performance at school, traumatic events such as a pandemic, a natural disaster, or an act of violence, or a life change. Everyone feels stress from time to time.

For this article we have invited a special guest, Dr. Linda, to discuss anxiety, the impact it has on our health, and to better understand the difference between common anxiety and anxiety disorders. We have all experienced some form of anxiety at one time or another.

   Observed behavior is likely to have developed because it is adaptive. It has been naturally selected, i.e., individuals who are best adapted survive and reproduce. Behaviors may even be sexually selected, i.e., individuals who are most successful in gaining access to mates leave behind more offspring. The mind is therefore equipped with ‘instincts’ that enabled our ancestors to survive and reproduce.

   The way children learn and develop varies from culture to culture and is sometimes specific to each individual society. While the resulting cognitive processes may be unique to each culture, the way in which they are handed down from generation to generation is often similar. Vygotsky, the father of the Sociocultural perspective, cites three methods which are used to teach children skills: imitative learning, instructed learning, and collaborative learning.

   Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, explained the human mind as like an iceberg, with only a small amount of it being visible, that is our observable behavior, but it is the unconscious, submerged mind that has the most, underlying influence on our behavior. Freud used three main methods of accessing the unconscious mind: free association, dream analysis and slips of the tongue.

   The actual self is not viewed as a special part of a person, but rather as the whole person considered from a particular point of view. When the self-concept accurately depicts the actual self, it is said to be congruent. When it inaccurately depicts the actual self, it is said to be incongruent. When people’s self-concepts are in tune with their actual selves, they are free to let their human potential manifest itself. The Health Guardian can facilitate the movement toward congruence, which is a move to a more fully functioning biologically and psychologically healthy person.

   The biopsychosocial approach systematically considers biological, psychological, and social factors and their complex interactions in understanding health, illness, and healthcare delivery. Fundamental to these tenets are:

  • Biological, psychological, and social factors exist along a continuum of natural systems.
  • Systematic consideration of psychological and social factors requires application of relevant social sciences, just as consideration of biological factors requires application of relevant natural sciences. Therefore, both the natural and social sciences are ‘basic’ to medical practice.

   The cognitive perspective is concerned with “mental” functions such as memory, perception, attention, etc. It views people as being similar to computers in the way we process information (e.g., input-process-output). For example, both human brains and computers process information, store data and have input and output procedure. This has led cognitive psychologists to explain that memory is comprised of three stages: encoding (where information is received and attended to), storage (where the information is retained) and retrieval (where the information is recalled).

   Biological psychologists explain behaviors in neurological terms, i.e., the physiology and structure of the brain and how this influences behavior. Many biological psychologists have concentrated on abnormal behavior and have tried to explain it. For example, biological psychologists believe that schizophrenia is affected by levels of dopamine (a neurotransmitter).

   Behaviorism is different from most other approaches because when using this perspective the Health Guardian views people (and animals) as controlled by their environment and specifically that we are the result of what we have learned from our environment. Behaviorism is concerned with how environmental factors (called stimuli) affect observable behavior (called the response).

   Many people have mental health concerns from time to time. But a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function. A mental illness can make you miserable and can cause problems in your daily life, such as at school or work or in relationships. In most cases, symptoms can be managed with a combination of holistic care, talk therapy, and medications. Many mental health concerns are preventable, and even curable when addressed early. Regardless of your status, the Health Guardian should be the first step towards getting help.

   Everyone needs sleep, but its biological purpose remains a mystery. Sleep affects almost every type of tissue and system in the body – from the brain, heart, and lungs, to metabolism, immune function, mood, and disease resistance. Research shows that a chronic lack of sleep, or getting poor quality sleep increases the risk of disorders including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity.