We’ve medicalized chronic illness such that, if we talk about our experiences at all, we use the language of medicine. — Katie Willard Virant MSW, JD, LCSW
Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), a type of dysautonomia, is an irregular spike in heart rate that occurs when a patient goes from being laid down and then, standing up. Treatment is prescribed depending on the symptoms, and it is a combination of methods to address cardiovascular dysfunction.
This is the second part of the article which tackles all about Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, which is a form of dysautonomia. To continue, here are more facts about the illness.
Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, a form of dysautonomia, is one rare health condition and as it follows most people all over the world are not well educated about it. But just like any other health ailment, it should be studied, and the details of the said condition should be made well known to the general public. With this, below are some of the facts you need to know about Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome or POTS.
Neurasthenia is a medical term founded in the 19th century that turns previously healthy people weak and unable to function normally than before. Its symptoms are complicated, usually fatigue, pain from a part of the body that would move from one section to another (sometimes it goes and then comes back again), overall body weakness, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Doctors had a hard time explaining these symptoms and would attribute it to a weak nervous system. Traditional therapists would also conclude a mental health issue.
I have been working with a lot of individuals who deal with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) to know that many of them have gone to psychologists or psychiatrists first to diagnose the illness. Some of the symptoms related to it, after all, are known indicators of anxiety disorder. E.g., heart palpitations and dizziness. Despite that, there are more studies now that show that POTS is a real autoimmune disease, not a sign of a mental condition.
Being positive all of the time when dealing with illness is unrealistic. In fact, being excessively upbeat is sometimes linked with the denial of illness. — Tamara McClintock Greenberg Psy.D.
One investigation that has been published in Clinical Autonomic Research in 2014, for instance, has revealed that the visceral and somatic reflexes of people with POTS are no different from regular people. What it entails is that the palpitations that the patients may experience are not due to psychological reasons. The sensations have “organic origins,” as they say so that they may come from the central nervous system or internal organs. Nevertheless, some individuals merely deal with lightheadedness when they are standing up – and no palpitations at all – that’s why it remains difficult to make conclusions on the matter.
Another symptom that’s common among patients with POTS is brain fog. According to some experts from Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine in 2015, many folks complain about mental clouding. In other words, they have trouble remembering, reasoning, recognizing, and sometimes even concentrating on things. Such a sign can be a source of stress, especially if a lot of people are counting on you to do your tasks well. Upon comparing the cognitive performances of healthy and non-healthy subjects, the researchers have gathered that there’s an obvious issue with their ability to process or pay attention to circumstances.
Now, the reality is that there is no known cure for any autoimmune disorder, including POTS. But if you can at least counter the mental-clouding symptom, that may make life a dozen times better for you. Here are some incredibly practical tips on how to improve your cognitive function now.
Talk To A Kid
I am pretty confident that I have not seen this technique mentioned in any other article yet. Nevertheless, it does not mean to say that it cannot help you mend your mind. Even though there are already kids who know more about life than they should, most of them still do not have an accurate perception of how the world moves. They tend to ask brilliant questions as well that can faze even a highly dignified person. Thus, if these children always throw out-of-this-world items at you, it may force you to think harder than ever and (hopefully) recalibrate your brain.
Understanding the patterns and determinants of your well-being is key to living well with chronic pain. — Deborah Barrett Ph.D., LCSW
Sing Your Heart Out
If there is one thing that I like the most in life, it’s the peace that I get when I am alone. However, even if I am not a fan of noise, I still can’t seem to concentrate on various tasks at hand when I am not singing or listening to music. There is a significant change in my recollection capability when I am singing because I get to memorize one whole science textbook, word for word when I am doing it. My friends and family always tell me that I am weird because of that. To prove that it is acceptable to sing my heart out to remember stuff, I have shown them a study related to it. It states that learning new songs increases the level of acetylcholine in the body, which lets us build new memories and retain the old ones. Try doing it every day and wow everyone around you when they see that you are not just an awesome person but an awesomely smart person as well.
Watch TV Shows More Often
Many adults forbid their kids – and themselves – to stay in front of the TV for more than an hour for fear of getting too much radiation from it. Although it is true if you merely keep a one-meter distance from the television, there are recent researches that confirm that children who watch TV all day long leave behind the others who are not allowed to attend the television in terms of academic standing. In my opinion, almost everything that you have to learn about life – from general to scientific knowledge – can be learned from the different channels that you can find there. So, if you are still cringing with the thought of sitting to watch TV, try it before you dismiss the idea.
Yes, I live with a disease that is not going away. It has changed and continues to change me profoundly. — Katie Willard Virant MSW, JD, LCSW
Kindly be reminded that the tips mentioned above are supposed to boost your cognitive function alone, not cure postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). The latter is something that you should receive treatment for from a specialist. What we merely provide here are practical ways to counter somehow the brain fog that you may experience due to the condition.
We all want the same thing for the people we love, and that is to care for them. We want to make them feel that we value their presence in our lives. At the same time, we also want the best things for them, which is why we also feel bad when they are suffering from any challenge or struggle with a problem. According to a journal on online therapy, the human person is always sensitive to the feelings of the people who matter in his life. As such, we must not feel shocked to find out that we usually have strong feelings for our loved ones.
Having data on what actually helps (and hurts) is crucial for living well with chronic pain because, unfortunately, acting from intuition or common sense sometimes worsens symptoms. — Deborah Barrett Ph.D., LCSW
Unfortunately, there are some bad days in life that you may share with your partner. In this article, our primary focus would be on the disorder named dysautonomia. It is a complication in a person’s autonomic nervous system or ANS. As a result, the individual who is suffering from this illness will experience some failures in his internal organs. Dysautonomia affects the blood vessels, intestines, heart, bladder and even pupils.
If your loved one is going through this disorder, it is best if you will make an effort to remain strong for the said person. Make sure that you show him that you are always there for him no matter what happens. Below is a list of the five ways to show how you can support your spouse or boyfriend in this challenging time of his life:
Maintain Good Communication Line
Never forget the importance of communicating effectively with your partner. Let him know that he can open up to you at any time of the day. He must not feel that you are drifting away from him because of his current health condition. Instead, show him signs that he can approach you anytime whenever he wants to talk. Be sure to be sensitive to all the things that you will tell him as he may get hurt easily.
In my experience, people struggling with illness want acknowledgement about how hard their situation is. — Tamara McClintock Greenberg Psy.D.
Never Blame Him
Stop looking for a reason to blame your partner’s condition. Never make the mistake of telling him the line “I told you so” when it comes to referring to his state. At the same time, do not say to him that his misery is a product of his mindset. Take note that he is going through a tough time and he does not need to hear your negativity. Instead, inspire him to keep going.
Spend Quality Time Together
Find time to bond with your partner who is suffering from dysautonomia. Do not let his sickness prevent you from having quality time together. It is highly recommended for both of you to take some time off from your usual activities and go for stuff that you can enjoy doing together. The advantage of doing this regularly is that you can maintain your intimate relationship with the other person. At the same time, getting his much-needed rest with the one he loves can also improve his mental health. As such, he may develop a better tolerance for his sickness.
Accompany Him In All Checkups
One of the basic things that you can also do to show your support to the other person is to accompany him in all medical checkups. If possible, cancel your appointments on the day when he is set to meet his doctor. He needs your moral support. Take note that you are the only person who can make him feel calm whenever he feels threatened and afraid by the symptoms of dysautonomia.
If almost half of us share this experience, why aren’t we talking about it? — Katie Willard Virant MSW, JD, LCSW
Make Him Feel Loved At All Times
Do not underestimate the significance of showing love and affection to the other person regularly. Your never-ending support to the one you love will be one of the reasons why your partner is going to fight the battle against the disorder. What you need to do to make him feel this way and to sustain such thought is to remind him every single day that you love him. You can also surprise him on certain days so that he can feel happy despite having the condition.
Remember that you are a strong person and you can get through this stage in your life. Just have faith that things are going to turn for the better when the time is right.
It can be trying for people who are ill when friends and family encourage patients to feel happy or optimistic. — Tamara McClintock Greenberg Psy.D.
The best and simplest way to understand the nervous system is its work with reflex actions. It is the junction between the conscious and subconscious mind. Therefore, any activity or task a person’s body has to do during the day that gets controlled by the nervous system is an autonomic function. With that said, the anxiety of knowing more about autonomic dysfunction gets explained in this article.
The autonomic nervous system is a part of a nerve network that controls the body. Its basic structure consists of the central control units located in the specific part of the brain and spinal cord responsible in the body’s vital organs automatic function without the need of a person’s subconscious thinking. Examples of these processes are the narrowing of the blood vessels, monitoring the body’s temperature, and the non-stop beating of the heart. The nerves serve as the controlling unit of the brain and spinal cord to reach out with the other vital organs.
There have been current advances as well as the experience of doctors, the healthcare team, and family members when taking care of patients with Parkinson’s disease. They have revealed that autonomic problems play a crucial role in the evaluation of patients and that the signs and symptoms that present are sometimes the cause of disability. Symptoms seen in Parkinson’s disease include cardiovascular dysfunction, sweating, and gastrointestinal failure, among others.
Being positive all of the time when dealing with illness is unrealistic. — Tamara McClintock Greenberg Psy.D.
Getting a diagnosis for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) can undeniably be difficult news to accept. The blood that should be circulating all over remains on the lower half of the body. Whenever you stand up, your heart may always beat abnormally fast – 30 times or more – to provide oxygen to the brain. Worse, there is no cure for this condition at the moment.
Due to the setbacks that you might experience while dealing with this illness, it is likely for you to feel a lot of hate. For yourself – because you ended up with an incurable disease. For the doctors – because they cannot offer a long-term solution.
If you’re tired of being bitter, though, you can improve your mental health by doing any of the following:
1. Change Your Lifestyle
Off the bat, keep in mind that what and how you eat can immensely affect the illness. The basic idea is that decreasing your carbohydrate or protein intake while increasing the amount of salt or fluids you consume is great for your body. You should also get more sleep, exercise, and say no to alcohol.
2. Embrace Technology
Since POTS may prevent you from performing even mundane tasks like cleaning the house or going to a drive-thru place, you don’t have to feel guilty about embracing technology. Say, download an app or get the number of the restaurants you want to receive food from so that they can deliver it at your doorstep. You can look for robotic appliances as well that may be useful in and out of your home, including a mobility scooter.
Every day patients walk out of our facility with a new lease on life. — Scott Dehorty MSW, LCSW-C
3. Learn About The Illness
It will also do you a lot of good if you start knowing more about POTS than what the specialists can tell you. There are excellent resources on the internet regarding the case studies and history of the illness that you can undoubtedly find after a few clicks. If that does not suffice, you may visit a local library to search for other learning materials.
4. Take Care Of Yourself
Considering your hours often get occupied by work, family, or friends, you should realize that that is no longer acceptable after getting diagnosed with POTS. People with this disease are known to be extra sensitive to stress. When problems related to these areas occur at once, they may trigger your condition and keep you from functioning for days. Thus, it matters to make self-pampering your #1 priority all the time.
Similarly, you don’t need to be in tiptop shape to help. In case you have some money to spare, you can donate to charities that aid less fortunate patients, as well as to the research facilities that try to find a cure for POTS. On a good day, you may join a support group to offer a shoulder to lean or cry on to new patients or give them counseling.
Even your most wrecked moments become productive when they contribute essential data to your quest for improvement. — Deborah Barrett Ph.D., LCSW
A POTS diagnosis is not enough reason for you to think that life will become dull from that day forward. Millions of people out there have incurable diseases; many of them are even at the terminal stage of their illness. Despite that, they never get tired of believing that there’s something good they can do before passing. These people should serve as your inspiration to improve your mental health and be generally kinder to yourself.