**TRIGGER WARNING** PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS ARTICLE MAY TRIGGER ANXIETY SYMPTOMS - IF YOU ARE IN AN ANXIOUS OR VULNERABLE STATE, PLEASE PROCEED WITH CAUTION OR READ IT AT ANOTHER TIME.
Nervous tics happen to many people at some point in their lives, especially when they are small children. Usually it is temporary, and disappears as a person ages, but for some people it doesn't, and can happen throughout their lives and on a more regular basis, especially in times of stress.
Tic Disorder is described as an involuntary movement or sound that a person makes with their body or mouth.
The physical tics (with the body) are referred to as motor tics and the verbal tics (with the mouth) are known as vocal tics.
Ten examples of some nervous Tics include: (but not limited to)
- Blinking and squeezing the eyes - making it seem as though the eyes are irritated
- Shrugging and rolling the shoulders
- Shaking a leg or both legs up and down in a very fast manner
- Rocking back and forth
- Making clicking sounds with the mouth
- Repeating certain words - sometimes yelling obscene words
- Clearing the throat for no apparent reason
- Stretching the fingers across each other - especially the pinkie finger
- Wrinkling the nose
Tourette Syndrome is the most common type of Tic Disorder. However to receive a diagnosis of this, a person must have two or more motor tics and one vocal tic, and they need to happen regularly.
The tics must have happened for at least a year and they need to have begun before 18 years of age.
The person should also not be experiencing the tics as symptoms from taking other medication or from having another medical condition.
What causes Tic Disorder?
The cause of Tic Disorder is not really known, but a few causes are speculated:
- Chemical imbalance or Abnormalities in the brain
- Other Mental Disorders such as ADHD, Anxiety, OCD and Depression
Tic Disorder can differ from person to person. Some people are not even aware that they are doing the Tics - this is more so with things such as wrinkling the nose, clearing the throat or shrugging the shoulders.
Some people however are aware of their tics but struggle to fight the urge to not perform the Tic. This can leave the person with increased frustration as a result of not carrying out the tic.
How to treat Tic syndrome
Unfortunately, there is no solid cure for tic disorder, however, it can be managed in a very efficient way.
A holistic approach is the best way to manage tic disorders, so whichever method you choose, it is always a good idea to look at your diet and lifestyle.
Because stress, anxiety and fatigue are big contributors to tic disorder, a person should try to keep their stress levels low, manage their anxiety and get enough sleep. If the tics are mild, then self care may be all you need to manage the condition.
For more severe cases however, apart from medication, two main therapies can be used under the guidance of a doctor and psychologist:
Habit reversal therapy helps a person to learn other ways to respond to the tic, so that those are used instead of the Tic, preventing the Tic from happening
Exposure with response prevention exposes a person to the sensations that they feel just before the Tic happens, helping to prevent the Tic from occurring.
It is very important to note that the muscles are heavily affected when our bodies are under stress or in an anxious state. The muscles are constantly in a state of tension, causing muscle twitching, or as was in my case, complete paralysis of the muscle from stressed induced muscles spasms.
This is because the nervous system is in an erratic state. This affects the nerve impulses, which control the muscles.
Here are some reasons at to why you may be experiencing anxiety induced muscle twitching:
The muscles are simply tired
When the muscles are in a tensed state, it's like they are doing exercise, but they never get to rest or stretch out - causing them to tire out easily, resulting in spasms, cramps and twitching.
As we know, adrenaline sets off the fight or flight response, which obviously gets our bodies into an excited state. This causes the muscles to want to move, resulting in an involuntary twitch.
Lack of Magnesium
Magnesium is one of the bodies anti stress minerals and helps the muscles to relax
Not enough exercise
Exercise is important for keeping the muscles flexible and strong. Always warm up and cool down before exercise.
Not drinking enough water
People who are anxious tend to sweat or urinate more often, which could contribute to dehydration.
I encourage you to read the following references and resources, especially if you or someone you know suffer with a tic disorder:
PLEASE NOTE: THE FOLLOWING BLOG WAS WRITTEN BY ME (MEL BONTHUYS) FOR CARE 2 CAUSES AND APPEARED ON THEIR SITE ON 1 AUGUST 2017
Habits are hard. The good ones are hard to get into—and the bad ones are hard to break—and as we grow up and mature and start to feel the stresses of life, we can become reliant on certain kinds of behaviours and habits to make life easier for ourselves.
Unfortunately, these behaviors could be the stepping stone to developing an anxiety disorder or make existing anxiety worse if not recognized and dealt with in a more efficient and healthy way.
Here are 7 common habits that could be making your anxiety worse:
1) The need to be perfectPerfectionism is a very common personality trait of several kinds of mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders and eating disorders. Perfectionists feel the need to get everything done on time, get it done right the first time and are extremely hard on themselves when they don’t succeed. Perfectionism can make a person believe they are not good enough unless they are perfect in everything from their physical appearance, to their careers, to their abilities as a parent or partner.
Perfectionism Tip – Start practicing positive self talk. When you feel yourself saying “I am stupid” rather force yourself to say “I made a mistake, but that’s okay.”
2) IndecisivenessI myself struggle with making decisions, and even when I do, I always find that I want to change my mind a few days down the line. Anxiety sufferers do struggle to make up their minds, and because we are so anxious all the time, we are constantly having a battle within our minds wondering which the best way to go is, and because we fear everything going wrong, it can be hard to make up our minds at all, leaving the decision up to someone else.
Decision making Tip – Draw up a pros and cons list. This has helped me in many sticky situations.
3) Taking on too muchThis is not only related to your career. You could be involved in charity work, being a parent, organising an event or travelling to different places. Taking on too much not only causes physical exhaustion—it can also cause brain fogginess and panic when it starts to feel as though there are not enough hours in the day.
Time management Tip – Invest in a diary and allow yourself some ‘me time’ in between your appointments. Also learn to say no when you have too much to do in one day.
4) Sleep habitsWithout sleep, we as humans would not survive, and an average adult human should be getting 8 hours of sleep per night. Things like stress, anger, anxiety and depression can cause insomnia, leaving you feeling awful the next morning, contributing to poor performance and even more anxiety and depression. Here are some awesome hacks and tricks for insomnia.
5) Skipping breakfastIf you are one for getting headaches, feeling bloated, tired and irritable in the morning—this could be related to you not eating breakfast. If you cannot eat in the morning, you can start off small. Try squeezing 2 oranges and drinking the juice and munching on some nuts. This is a light snack and a great combo for anxiety. I actually find this is the best to eat when I don’t feel like eating in the morning—then at about 11am, I’ll have an apple or banana which will last me until lunch time.
6) Caffeine and SugarAmong other things, caffeine speeds up the heart rate, contributes to insomnia and increased cortisol - a stress hormone. Sugar, on the other hand, upsets the blood glucose levels and depletes the body of Vitamin B, our anti-stress vitamins.
Caffeine reducing Tips - Don’t go cold turkey if trying to give up coffee. Concentrate on cutting back on your daily cup allowance. For chocolate, try eating something like a medjool date or another piece of sweet fruit before eating chocolate—most of the time, you won’t feel like the chocolate afterwards. For soda, try substituting for sparkling water with some freshly squeezed fruit juice.
7) Imbalance between your work, family and relaxation lifeI think it’s safe to say that most of us struggle with this one. Achieving a healthy balance within these things is a tough one, but there are ways to improve it. So many people take on too much in their jobs, and often family and time for themselves take a backseat, which could leave you feeling guilty, angry and tired.
Balance Tip – Invest in a diary, and schedule time for family and relaxation. It sounds funny scheduling time for family and relaxation, but it really is a smart life hack!
PLEASE NOTE: THE FOLLOWING BLOG WAS WRITTEN BY ME (MEL BONTHUYS) FOR CARE 2 CAUSES AND APPEARED ON THEIR SITE ON 21 JULY 2017
We often forget about spouses of people with mental illnesses and what they are going through, as all focus is on helping the person who is suffering with the actual mental disorder.
However, it is just as important to have help and advice at hand for those people who not only took their spouse for better or worse, but are also constantly exposed to the challenges of their spouse’s mental illness. After all, they share a home with their anxious spouse, and behind closed doors they witness the true intensity of what mental illness can do to a person.
Having to recently coach a desperate wife on how to help her anxious husband, I do believe that apart from the obvious tips out there, these four pointers can make or break the healing process for spouses who need to pull out all the stops to get help to their loved one.
This is tough, especially if you are not the sort of person who enjoys babying or mollycoddling. Unfortunately you are going to have to try your best here. I speak from personal experience when I say that people with anxiety disorders need reassurance. They need to be told often that ‘All is okay.’
Anxiety sufferers need to be told and reassured constantly that they will get through this and that you are there for them. Hold them. Hug them often, because not getting the hug or nurturing that they need will only make an anxiety sufferer more agitated and angry.
So hold them tightly every moment you get, and reassure them with words like: “Everything is okay, I am right here with you.” “You are going to get through this, and I will be with you every step of the way.”
Anxiety sufferers can often slip into an irrational and emotional state, making them believe that the whole world is against them and that everything is hopeless. This leads to exhaustion, making them emotional, angry and bitter.
Unfortunately, these emotional outbursts can lead to you, the spouse, becoming their punching bag, causing them to say and do things they don’t mean. They will say things such as ‘I just wish I would die.’ This is not only because they are anxious, but also because they are feeling like a burden to you. You need to hold your head high and develop a thick skin, because sometimes the words they say will sting, but please know that this is not them talking, it is desperation. I remember when I was at my worst. I asked my mother, who is a nurse, to please kill me and end my suffering. OUCH!
So please know that no matter what is said, the words are not always meant, and it is not your fault.
It’s hard to hold back the tears, but it’s important to be cautious when showing emotion in front of your anxious spouse, as this can often intensify their emotions. You have to remain calm and maintain your composure. You are their rock. You are the person who provides a means for support. You are also the person who represents level-headiness and practicality, and if you start showing your emotions, they will feel as though they have lost their rock, which will only lead back to square one.
However, you are also only a human being, and you cannot bottle it all up, so cry when your anxious spouse is out of sight. I recommend even speaking to a psychologist if you feel the need. There is absolutely no shame in wanting to get support for yourself while supporting your anxious partner.
The Bad Guy
Sometimes, people with mental illnesses have trouble admitting that they need help.
Health does come first, and you unfortunately are going to become the bad guy because no matter how much they protest, you need to insist that they get the treatment they deserve.
Do not make the mistake of threatening your partner if they resist going for treatment. Instead tell them of all the things that you two can look forward to together once they are better.
People who require going into rehabilitation centres and actually staying on site within a program may need the hardest convincing. You have to be firm but kind and tell them it’s for their own good. Make the appointment and go with them!
It is not easy being the partner of an anxiety sufferer, but hopefully these few tips can help better prepare you for the recovery process. As hard as it is, please know that anxiety is like a roller coaster, and there will be good days and bad days, but please keep faith and know that it will get better!
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