Wednesday, October 10, 2012


The title of this piece is Anxiety. The artist apparently has many anxiety attacks and  blows into paper bags to calm himself down. All these bags are full of his anxiety filled expired breaths: thousands of them. This is my friend's photo. Mine was out of focus and full of people

Back when I was among the working, I was on various projects targeting disorders of the mind, mainly schizophrenia but to a minor degree, anxiety and depression. We saw these problems as imbalances of various neurotransmitters and receptors and tried to develop substances that would right the wrong. For instance, increasing the levels of serotonin by blocking its degradation (re-uptake inhibitors)is one way to alleviate depression. But we found this was not so simple as numerous transmitters are involved with various conditions and the interactions aren't fully understood.

Anxiety we learned can be classified as generalized anxiety and specific anxieties such as phobias and compulsions. We were not interested in anxiolytics as other companies seemed to have a much better handle on them but accidently one of our medications used for other conditions seemed to ease generalized anxiety.

Panic attacks are even more poorly understood despite how common they seem to be. The symptoms they cause can be explained sometimes by other conditions that do not directly involve the mind. When I had Graves' Disease, I would have periods of my heart racing and pounding that some could characterize as a panic attack. True I was under a lot of stress with a young crabby baby who would not sleep or be easily soothed and a teenager who was at her worst with the rebellion and self destruction but as my attacks seemed unrelated to my thoughts, I assumed something was wrong with my heart. And various heart conditions can cause panic like symptoms. I learned recently that several on my mom's side have some condition that I will only say is WPW that is a defect in heart rhythm regulation. Allegedly it is an autosomal dominant trait meaning both my mom and I would have had to have it to gift it to my kids. I had a complete cardiac workup when they were trying to pinpoint my problem and they should have noticed that. 

So some of my kids have what appears to be panic attacks. They seemed to have developed as they became adults. One is under treatment and I think they are missing something. I have to say that this person is the most calm panicked person there  is. The drugs seem to alleviate them somewhat but do not prevent them.

So far, not one of them has been advised to blow into paper bags.

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