Navigating Sleep Disorder, Dysautonomia, And Health Of An Individual That Is Struggling

Dysautonomia is a term that may only be familiar to some people. However, for 70 million people in the world with some form of it, dysautonomia has a significant impact on not just their daily lives but also their nightly rest. When paired with sleep disorders, dysautonomia presents a unique set of challenges that can significantly affect an individual’s health and well-being.

Understanding Dysautonomia Sleep Disorder

Dysautonomia refers to a group of conditions that cause a malfunction of the central autonomic nervous system. This system is responsible for controlling the ‘automatic’ functions (autonomic functions) of the body – those we don’t consciously think about, like heart rate, digestion, and blood pressure regulation. When dysautonomia strikes, this delicate internal balance and autonomic regulation are disrupted, leading to a myriad of challenges.

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These conditions that affect the autonomic nervous system can be a pre-existing condition or the result of a different disease or injury. A person’s symptoms might be the result of environmental factors, neurological health issues, injuries, or even genetic causes; dysautonomia can be difficult to diagnose due to the range of causes it has.

Symptoms are equally diverse. As a condition that affects the automatic functions of our body, it can lead to dizziness, fainting, unstable blood pressure, abnormal heart rates, digestive disturbances, chronic fatigue, and more. These symptoms not only vary from person to person but can also fluctuate in severity over time.

Different Types

There are several types that each present unique characteristics and affect the body in different ways. Here are a few of the most common forms of dysautonomia:
Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)
One of the most common forms is characterized by an abnormal increase in heart rate after sitting up or standing.
Neurocardiogenic Syncope (NCS)
Involves sudden fainting as the predominant symptom.
Multiple System Atrophy (MSA)
A more severe form, with widespread effects on the body’s functions.

Role Of The Autonomic Nervous System

Understanding the autonomic nervous system is key to grasping the impact of dysautonomia in your daily life. This part of our nervous system operates largely below the level of consciousness, meaning we’re not completely aware when it’s working.

It is divided into the sympathetic neural mechanisms and parasympathetic systems, which work in harmony to regulate body functions. Dysautonomia represents a disruption in this harmony, leading to the different symptoms experienced by patients.

Daily Living

Living with dysautonomia can be challenging. The unpredictability of symptoms often requires lifestyle adjustments and careful management. Patients may need to modify their diet, exercise routines, and even their work life to accommodate their condition.

Social interactions, work commitments, and personal hobbies are all viewed through the lens of symptom management. The constant adjustment to these symptoms, particularly fatigue, dizziness, and heart rate fluctuations, can be emotionally and physically taxing. This struggle with how our body automatically works not only affects the physical aspect of life but also impacts, our mood, mental health, and overall well-being.

An often overlooked yet critical aspect of this struggle is the profound impact dysautonomia has on sleep architecture. The very system that disrupts daily activities—the autonomic nervous system—also plays a pivotal role in regulating sleep patterns. Understanding this connection is vital to completely understanding the impact of dysautonomia on daily life and what you can do to manage it.

The Science Of Sleep Disorder And Dysautonomia Disorder

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Everybody needs sleep. It is a vital part of your life that makes sure your body is healthy and well-rested. The process of sleep is dynamic and involves various stages. It is considered to have two primary types: Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non-REM sleep stage, each playing a distinct role in our health. In Non-REM sleep, the sympathetic nervous system has decreased activity, and it specifically has three stages:

Light

The transition from wakefulness to sleep, where the body begins to slow down.

Deep

Vital for physical recovery and growth, this stage sees a further slowing down of the body’s systems.

Very Deep

Here, brain waves are at their slowest, and waking up becomes more difficult.

Following these stages, we enter REM sleep, where most dreaming occurs, and the brain is almost as active as when awake. This stage is crucial for cognitive functions like memory and learning.

The autonomic nervous system plays a crucial role in transitioning between these sleep stages. It fine-tunes the body’s internal environment, adjusting heart rate, breathing, and other vital functions necessary as we fall asleep and rest. Dysregulation of the ANS, as seen in dysautonomia, can disrupt these transitions, leading to sleep disturbances.

Why Do We Need Sleep?

Sleep is not just a period of rest but a critical component of our health. It aids in memory consolidation, muscle growth, tissue repair, and resetting our emotional compass. It’s also when the body clears toxins from the brain, reducing the risk of neurological diseases. Inadequate or poor sleep quality can lead to a host of health issues, including mood disorders, impaired cognitive function, and a weakened immune system.

The Connection Between Dysautonomia And Sleep Disorders

In the United States, 34.8% of adults don’t get enough sleep. The difficulty falling asleep can stem from the relationship between dysautonomia and sleep, causing sleep disorders and affecting cognitive functioning. Dysautonomia, with its hallmark of autonomic dysfunction, can significantly disrupt the delicate balance required for restful sleep. Let’s delve into how this condition can impact sleep patterns, cause autonomic dysfunction in sleep disorders, and the resultant effects on daily life.

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Insomnia

Perhaps the most immediate and noticeable impact of dysautonomia on sleep is insomnia. The irregular activity of the autonomic nervous system makes it difficult for individuals to relax into a sleep state. This leads to trouble in both falling and staying asleep, causing sleep deprivation. The mind and body, caught in a state of heightened alertness due to ANS irregularities, struggle to achieve the tranquility necessary for deep sleep.

Apnea

Dysautonomia can affect breathing patterns and the muscles involved in respiration, potentially leading to obstructive sleep apnea. The repeated interruptions in breathing (respiratory autonomic dysfunctions) resulted in frequent awakenings, fragmented sleep, and a significant reduction in sleep quality.

There are still more different types of sleep disorders, such as: REM sleep behavior disorder, restless leg syndrome, or sleep disordered breathing. All of these types can also be affected due to the loss of autonomic control.

Impact On Daily Life

The impact of sleep disturbances in dysautonomia extends far beyond the night and leads to sleep deprivation. Too often, people may wake up feeling as if they haven’t rested well, even after a full night’s sleep. Poor sleep quality can exacerbate daytime sleepiness symptoms of dysautonomia, creating a cyclical pattern of discomfort and restlessness. This can manifest in several ways:

  • Increased Fatigue: A common symptom of dysautonomia, fatigue can be significantly worsened by poor sleep, affecting cognitive functions, mood, and the ability to perform daily tasks.
  • Cognitive Impairment: Lack of restorative sleep can lead to difficulties with memory, concentration, and decision-making, adding to the challenges of managing daily life with dysautonomia.
  • Emotional and Psychological Impact: Chronic sleep disturbances can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and depression, further complicating the management of dysautonomia.

Without treatment, it could lead to excessive daytime sleepiness.

Getting The Help You Need For Dysautonomia Disorder And Sleep Disorder

It’s important to acknowledge when it’s time to seek professional help. If you’re experiencing persistent sleep disturbance, wake up feeling unrefreshed, and feel excessively tired throughout the day, it may be time to consult with your healthcare provider. These autonomic symptoms, especially when coupled with known dysautonomia, can significantly impact your quality of life, your sleep duration, and warrant professional attention.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing sleep disorders, especially in dysautonomia patients, requires a multifaceted approach. Common diagnostic tools include:

Studies (Polysomnography)

These studies monitor various bodily functions during sleep, such as brain waves, heart rate, breathing, and movement, specifically periodic leg movements.

Questionnaires and Logs

Patients may be asked to complete detailed questionnaires or keep sleep logs to record their sleep patterns and daytime symptoms.

Medical History Review

A thorough examination of the patient’s medical history, including any existing conditions like dysautonomia, medications, and lifestyle factors.

The challenge in diagnosing sleep disorders in dysautonomia patients lies in the overlapping symptoms and the variable nature of both conditions. An accurate diagnosis is crucial for effective management, as it informs the treatment plan and helps in addressing specific sleep issues, leading to improved overall health and quality of life.

Learning To Manage It And Its Impact

Managing dysautonomia and its impact on sleep involves a combination of lifestyle adjustments, medical interventions, and holistic approaches.

Lifestyle Modifications
Changes like a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adhering to good sleep hygiene practices are important. These steps can help regulate the body’s internal clock and promote better sleep.

Medications
Depending on individual symptoms, sleep medicine (sleep med) may be prescribed to regulate heart rate, blood pressure, or sleep patterns and alleviate symptoms.

Non-pharmacological Interventions
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques, and more can play a part in improving sleep quality and reducing stress.

Proper Healthcare
A multi-disciplinary healthcare team is vital in creating a personalized management plan. This way, you have a comprehensive approach to treating both dysautonomia and sleep disorders.

Dysautonomia and sleep disorders can largely impact your daily activities and nightly rest. They can take a toll not only on your mental and physical health but on your career, social life, and personal happiness as well.

Fortunately, with a thorough understanding of these conditions and the help you need, managing these conditions affecting the autonomic nervous system can be successful. A more restful night’s sleep and more comfortable day-to-day life are within reach for those navigating the complexities of dysautonomia and sleep disorders.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does dysautonomia cause sleep problems?

What is the most serious sleep disorder?

What are the symptoms of a neurological sleep disorder?

What is the disease where you can’t sleep?

Is sleep disorder a mental illness?

Why am I so tired but can’t sleep?

Do sleep disorders go away?

What is sleep anxiety disorder?

How I cured my sleep anxiety?

What is the best medicine for anxiety and sleep?

Is sleep anxiety serious?

How many hours should a person with anxiety sleep?

Why is anxiety worse at night?

Why does anxiety stop you from sleeping?

What is the best position to sleep in for anxiety?

Frequently Asked Questions About Depression Symptoms Among Males Also Females

People used to say that I made every task look easy. I often credited it to the fact that both my parents were technically geniuses (they were members of MENSA), and so I inherited their intelligence. They also taught me early that learning was fun and that enjoying sports was just as important; that’s why I worked hard to juggle my academics and remain the captain of the women’s basketball and football teams throughout high school. 

Before going to college, I received multiple scholarship offers due to my athletic skills. I declined many of them at first sight, considering they only planned to make me play all day long. That’s not what I wanted. Although I loved sports, I loved studying even more. Hence, I agreed to go to an Ivy League university to take up medicine and play football. 

When I informed my parents of what I would be doing in college, they expressed their concerns. It was not because they did not believe that I could do both. It was more because they were aware of how physically and mentally taxing both activities were. Besides, I would be playing as a hobby – I would go to that university on a football scholarship, so I was expected to train hard and play hard. However, my parents backed down when I insisted that I could do it and said that they would support me all the way.

Three women who are playing soccer in the field.
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When Medical Issues Appeared

I mentally prepared myself for the exhaustion that I might experience once the semester started. I thought my mental health was in order, got ahold of my schedule early, so I even wrote my daily agendas on a massive calendar. In my head, that was all I needed to do to stay sane until the winter break when I could chill at home for at least a week. 

I managed to follow my schedule in the first month because my professors were busy with seminars and other stuff. Most of what I did was go to class, attend a lecture until the afternoon, and join the football training for newcomers until the evening. My parents called me one day, and I assured them that everything was still going as planned.  Little did I know the symptoms of depression were about to creep up on me.

Then, after the winter break, I felt a shift in the winds. The professors started giving more assignments and pop quizzes, while my coaches wanted us to train up to nine o’clock at night. For the first time in my life, I experienced cramping, and I hated every minute of it. 

I had to do two projects simultaneously while eating my dinner most of the time. If I needed a bathroom break, I would bring my book there. In between practices, I would also play an audiobook version of some of my textbooks. I would still ace my exams and excel in the games, but I started feeling like I never had an opportunity to relax and sleep for more than five hours.

This unhealthy routine went on until my sophomore year. It ended around that time because I collapsed on the way to class and was hospitalized afterward. The doctor initially diagnosed me with fatigue and dehydration, so I had to take a week off school and guzzle water whenever I could. However, when I returned to my usual routine, the dehydration returned, along with vertigo, migraine, and worse, balance disturbance. Meaning, I would often trip and fall, which was awful for a footballer.

In truth, I was dealing with depressive symptoms — a disorder. My parents eventually got me a new doctor, who diagnosed me with dysautonomia

No Longer A Player

The diagnosis ended my football career. Mom and Dad said that it was a blessing in disguise since my condition could have gotten worse if I continued playing. Still, as I just said,  ended my football career earlier than I expected, impacting my health, both physical and mental. I was so unprepared for it that the absence of the sport in my life caused me to fall into depression.

How I Reacted

At first, I tried to act like nothing was wrong and ignored the depression symptoms. I kept up with my studies and kept my friends close, but I could feel a major depression taking over. I would experience sudden bouts of sadness or anger that I couldn’t explain, and I was constantly exhausted. Depression felt so frustrating for me to fail to do the same things I have always done. I stayed in my room all the time, and I stopped participating in activities that I used to enjoy. I started to withdraw from my friends and family members, and I felt like I had no control over my emotions. 

I was devastated. Football had been my life for so long that I didn’t know how to cope without it. I had no idea how to deal with major depression. I went through a period of mourning, lost the motivation to keep up with my studies, and felt overwhelmed by the thought of not being able to play my favorite sport ever again. 

How My Parents Saved Me

My parents were worried about me and sought out healthcare providers’ help. With the help of my psychiatry therapist, I slowly started to come to terms with my situation. I had to accept that I was no longer a football player and was now living with dysautonomia and needed more health care. 

The reality was that I was now living with a chronic illness and had to learn to manage it, because the effects of a major depressive episode were powerful. I found comfort in online support groups and learned to make lifestyle changes to better manage my condition. It was hard work, but I was determined to make the best of the situation. 

I finally understood that my parents had been right all along – I was pushing myself too hard and needed to take a step back. I had to make sure that I was taking care of myself, both physically and mentally. With time, I learned how to find a balance between my studies and taking care of my health. I am now in my final year of medical school, and although I don’t play anymore, I still go to the games and cheer for my old team.

Coping With My New Reality

I still miss football, but I am grateful that I can now recognize the signs of my condition and take the necessary steps to manage it. I am determined to use the knowledge I have gained from my experience to help others living with dysautonomia. I am thankful for my parents who looked out for me and supported me throughout my journey. They have been my pillars of strength and have been a source of great comfort and motivation. 

My experience with dysautonomia has taught me that it’s okay to accept help and that I need to take care of myself to succeed in life. It has also made me realize that nothing is worth sacrificing my health and well-being. I am now more aware of my limits and have learned to enjoy the small moments in life that I had previously taken for granted.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does Gender Affect Depression?

There are depression symptoms differences in women and men. According to studies, depression rates among women are higher than those of men rates. One factor is that women reach puberty earlier than their men counterparts, meaning women reach a more emotional state first, which makes depression in women have different effects. Women typically develop depression at an earlier age, and this difference in depression may continue as they age, as supported by studies that have also been published.

A girl laying her head.
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Does Gender Count In Depression?

Yes, gender does count in depression, as studies have shown that depression rates are higher in women than in men. This is because women reach puberty sooner than men, leading to depression as women’s emotions are running high. The depression gap in rates for men and women will continue with age. However, it has also been found that aside from men and women, members of the LGBT community are also at a higher risk of depression or mental illness such as depression due to many different factors directly connected with their gender identity.

What Is The Most Reliable Symptom Of Depression?

Many different signs of depression are usually the most common among those diagnosed. Among these symptoms are the loss of energy and difficulty concentrating. This typically looks like a person being sluggish, and they always seem to be tired. Loss of energy can typically point you in the direction of depression immediately. Also, having suicidal thoughts or talking about how to commit suicide can be an indication as well. Of course, it is still wise that you have this checked with a doctor to avoid self-diagnosing.

Why Do More Women Experience Depression?

There are different risks and triggers for depression for both men and women. A study suggests that women tend to exhibit more internal symptoms of depression, while men tend to show more physical symptoms of depression. Women experience depression more than men because women go through more hormonal changes and brain chemical imbalances that cause irregularities in moods, leading to depression. Women also are susceptible to more forms of depression than men, especially during their monthly periods. Meanwhile, depression in men has different causes. The symptoms tend to be universal.

How Do I Know If I’m Bipolar?

It is always best that you have a doctor help you understand what you are going through to avoid further complications from self-diagnosis and self-treatment and medicating. However, some signs of bipolar disorder you can look out for are extreme changes in mood, extremely high periods of mania, very low periods of depression, and at times you might feel a mix of both an intense high and an extreme low or a mania and a depression at the same time. 

Are Women More Stressed Than Men?

A study suggests that men and women have the same stress levels; however, women tend to be more vocal and report their stress levels rising than men. According to this study, women will more likely report their physical and emotional signs of stress than men. So, women are not more stressed. Women are more vocal regarding the stress they experience, which may help them handle depression better.

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Who Is Most Affected By Stress?

No one specific group is most affected by stress more than the other as all of us experience a certain level of stress individually. Apart from this, what others may find stressful may not be stressful for you, and vice versa. Stress can be a good thing for us to experience because it can keep us on our toes and keep us moving; however, unhealthy amounts can cause many other health disorders, both physically and mentally. 

What Are The Five Emotional Signs Of Stress?

We are all entitled to our feelings, and whatever may cause us stress should never be invalidated or minimized. There are five emotional signs of stress: anxiety, fear, sadness, anger, and frustration. All these emotional signs can be caused by stress alone, and when you find yourself feeling this way, it might just be the perfect time to take a step back and breathe for a bit. A moment to yourself can never hurt.

What Are The Three Causes Of Stress?

Many different factors can cause stress for other people. Of course, we all have different triggers and limits. There is no specific cause for this, but it could be heavy workloads, pressure, being put on the spot, social gatherings, big life changes, and more. There will be an extra stressor for different people, so make sure that you take a step back and breathe when you start feeling stressed.

What Diseases Are Caused By Stress?

Many diseases are caused by stress, and most of them are pretty fatal, especially for specific age groups. We have cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, hypertension, depression, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and ulcers. There are more on this matter, so you must ensure that stress does not take over your life. 

What Are The Three Most Stressful Things In Life?

Different people (children, teens, and adults) will have other stresses and triggers. We are all entitled to our own emotions and our levels of sensitivity to things that may or may not stress us out. However, the most common stressful situations in life are the death of a loved one, major illness or injury, and divorce. Apart from these three events, of course, there are more triggers such as job loss, moving from one home to another, bankruptcy, and maybe even finding out that you are adopted. Generally speaking, there will always be a difference in people’s reasons for being stressed.

What Are The Signs Of Poor Health?

Be mindful of your body and what you may be feeling because it might just be a sign of poor health. If you snore, or maybe the whites of your eyes are not white, perhaps you feel gassy. Even your pimples might be a sign of poor health. Ensure that you take extra care of yourself by eating healthy, drinking lots of water, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Remember, you only have one body, so if you do not take care of it, there is no redo. 

A girl wearing glasses.
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What Does Stress Do To A Woman’s Body?

Generally, stress can tense up your muscles, while long-term stress can cause migraines, general body pains, and insomnia. However, for women, this can affect their reproductive systems where periods are delayed, which can negatively impact their ability to reproduce. Apart from that, stress can make PMS harder to cope with. Other things that could happen: irritability, frustration, and anxiety. As a woman, you should keep the stress levels at a minimum to make sure that there is lesser discomfort in your life. 

How Do Females Cope With Stress?

 According to research published in 2015, women tend to cope with stress in a more emotion-centered approach. What women will do is they will change their emotional response to stress and do what researchers call a “tending and befriending” approach where they will be reaching out and talking to other people about how they are feeling and what has made them feel this level of stress. Studies show that women have a higher tendency to report their stress than men, which is why it appears that women are more stressed than men.

What Are The Behavioral Symptoms Of Stress?

The behavioral symptoms of stress consist of these signs: not eating much or overeating – irregular and abnormal of the person, having sleep problems, substance use, no drive to do work and keeps on delaying, more interested in drinking alcohol (alcohol abuse, substance abuse, or drug abuse) or taking substances unlike before, showing nervous ticks and behaviors such as nail-biting or fidgeting. Also, there will be a chance of insomnia which can cause you to feel more tired by the day. When you see someone or experience any of these symptoms, make sure to relax and give yourself a moment to breathe and rest.

Final Thoughts

Luck must be on my side, considering my psychologist prescribed psychotherapy to me. I got diagnosed during summer break, so all I did was see my therapist every other day for four weeks. It helped me understand that I still had another passion for focusing on – medicine. I even worried that the end of my football career also signaled the end of my scholarship, but she also helped me see that my parents were willing and able to pay for my education out of their pockets. And if I didn’t want that, I could get student loans. Hence, when the next semester came, I studied hard, managed to join a sorority, and pretty much enjoyed my life as a student.

Why Is Depression More Common Among Females Than Males?
How Is Mental Health Affected By Gender?
Are Males More Likely To Be Depressed?


How Does Gender Affect Stress?

 

 

 

Physicians Want You To Ask Them These 3 Things In Diagnosing POTS

The Dysautonomia International Conference 2019 brought together clinicians, patients, caregivers, and advocacy groups to discuss Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) and discuss the most current research among medical doctors. Specialists from the University of Utah, Mayo Clinic, and Brown Medical School, among others, presented ways on how dysautonomia impacts specific organ systems.

For POTS patients, it is a collective experience to suffer from symptoms that a physical test cannot diagnose. Through panel discussions, the medical conference shed light on the practical approaches that physicians have used to diagnose dysautonomia.

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1. “Will you listen first before checking my medical history?”

Most of the time, we dread going to the doctor for fear they will see something wrong with us. It’s not often that we meet physicians who can sit with us longer than ten minutes, listening carefully to our symptoms and patient history. Expert clinicians suggest that patients’ beliefs could change the diagnosis journey immensely, citing examples of treating options that didn’t require looking at previous medical records that may contain biased information. 

2. “Why do you think my illness is not a rare disease?”

We don’t want to tell doctors they are wrong, but we want them to think that they could be mistaken. Asking questions that consider even the rarest of diseases can benefit patients because it encourages searching for information. It rings true, especially for POTS patients who have been suffering from the wrong diagnoses or lack thereof.

Source: pxhere.com

3. “What else can I do to learn more about my condition?”

When doctors feel that they have your support as a patient, they open up to you more and vice versa. This relationship can transform our healing journeys and help others along the way, too. As more studies emerge, patients are encouraged to seek each other, share experiences, and add to the growing research that fund treatments and medical conferences.

On your next medical check-up, open up to your doctor and try to ask these questions. If it helps in managing the pain, doctors will do what they can to help.

Tips On Supporting Your Spouse During Their Battle Against Dysautonomia 

In a relationship wherein one half of the couple has dysautonomia, a condition that the medical world cannot fully understand or cure, it is not only that person who’s having a hard time. Their healthy significant other suffers as well, but not because he or she feels tired to care for the ill spouse. The most likely reason is that it is difficult for them to see the love of their life go through such misery and never have the means to take away their pain. 

 

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 This is about increasing your own awareness of how you think, what you do when you are stressed, anxious, depressed, in pain. — Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W.

If you can identify with that circumstance, please don’t bother to hide it. Every loving individual will feel that way, especially when their husband or wife’s disease is recurring. However, what isn’t true is the thought that you cannot ever help your spouse deal with the health issue. 

Check out the tips on how to support your better half during their battle against dysautonomia down below. 

Inquire 

The first thing that you need to remember is that you can always ask your spouse concerning their mood that day or whatever you do not understand about the disease. You should never be afraid to do that, thinking that it might hurt his or her emotions. Your unwillingness to ask questions may even make them assume that you do not care, which isn’t a terrible lingering idea for couples. 

Listen 

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In case you have a talkative husband or wife, you will not have difficulty in letting them realize that they can talk to you about everything they are feeling. That person will do it without much prompting, no worries. However, if your better half is usually silent regarding the illness, and then he or she speaks up all of a sudden, you ought to listen to him or her well. It is the only way for you to figure out what’s going on in their head before, during, and after a painful episode. 

Transforming one’s thoughts will ultimately result in positive actions and behaviors in difficult moments. — Greta Gleissner LCSW

Plan 

Most chronic diseases luckily take some days off too. Meaning, there will be times in which you can both act as if neither of you has a disorder that keeps on coming back and go on adventures together. To make such occasions extra memorable, therefore, you should plan what places you will visit or what activities you will try months or weeks before that. 

Support 

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Last but not the least, support your significant other in any way possible. If he or she wants to try a new activity, say yes to it. If there’s a blockbuster movie he or she wishes to watch, go for it. Moreover, in times of ordeal, though the spouse may not want you to see him or her in that state, ensure that they know you are around whenever they need anything. 

Some persons have good enough executive function that they can quickly mobilze CBT strategies and keep arousal from rising to the point where their cognition is overwhelmed. — Tom Bunn L.C.S.W.

When you have a till-death-do-us-part type of relationship with your spouse, there is virtually nothing that can stop you from being there for him or her through thick and thin. Sometimes you may argue or get frustrated with each other, but that is normal for any married couple. What matters is that you will not leave your better half during their fight against a chronic illness like dysautonomia. 

Aspects Of Life That A Psychiatrist Can Assist POTS Patients With

 

Have you ever heard of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)? 

It is one of the many autonomic illnesses that wreak havoc in peoples’ lives. Based on a 2014 study from Vanderbilt University in the United States, over three million folks got diagnosed with the disease, and the number most likely rises still. Most of its victims are young women who are already capable of carrying a child. 

Source: pxhere.com

 

The thing about POTS is that it’s quite hard to spot fast. The patient may experience dizziness, increased heart rate, and migraine – symptoms which are easy to associate with various disorders. Hence, the specialist may require multiple assessments to figure out the real illness of the individual. 

One can only imagine how crazy it must be to submit yourself to all of that for months. And if the person indeed has POTS, they need to deal with the fact that they may have the disease for decades. 

In cases like this, the assistance of a psychiatrist is most wanted. Below are the aspects that the professional can help overcome the mental health of dysautonomia patients.

Transforming one’s thoughts will ultimately result in positive actions and behaviors in difficult moments. — Greta Gleissner LCSW

Frustration 

The ultimate issue that POTS sufferers face is the frustration that comes with waiting for the diagnosis. As mentioned above, it may take ages before a doctor can rule out other illnesses and pinpoint the disease. To make that happen, however, the individual has to get different tests first, which can be bodily, mentally, and economically stressful. 

Being unable to give a name to the disorder also means that the patient cannot receive proper treatment. The physician may prescribe some medicine to lessen the headaches and other symptoms, but those are not enough to remedy the health problem.  

The role of a psychiatrist at this point is to open the person’s mind to allow them to see a hint of positivity from this experience. After all, it’s better to go through trials and errors than to get a misdiagnosis.  

 

Depression 

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It isn’t too far-off to think that POTS may cause depression. Knowing that you have an incurable illness can’t possibly give great vibes. The autonomic disorder makes even standing up a feat too; that’s why people who have this illness may isolate themselves and step away from their social life. 

Going to a psychiatrist, luckily, may help patients realize that the disease isn’t the end of the world. Although there may be tough times ahead, they can learn to handle POTS symptoms if they have the willpower to do so. They may rebuild relationships as well in the process, which is never a bad thing.  

The goal is understanding what happens in your brain and your body when emotions start to overwhelm you. — Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W.

Anxiety 


Source: commons.wikimedia.org

The suffers may also worry about making a fool out of themselves in case others find out about their illness. Thus, they may be very cautious when going out or stay in defensive mode whenever someone asks them a question that may or may not have a relation to POTS. 

What’s wrong with this attitude is that the individuals perhaps assume that people will dislike them for having an autonomic disease. While it’s understandable that it’s the need for social acceptance that governs these folks, they need to see too that others’ opinions don’t matter all the time.  

The more receptive a person with POTS becomes around the psychiatrist, the faster it will be for them to get rid of their anxiety. 

Lack of escape is a problem. — Tom Bunn L.C.S.W.

Lastly, POTS patients tend to be as fragile as anyone who just found out they have an illness that the medical world cannot cure today. Apart from medication, they deserve to receive counseling help to cope with the situation better. Otherwise, their negative emotions will overwhelm them too much and push these people to make irrational decisions. 

 

What are the different types of Dysautonomias?

As we have outlined on our other pages, dysautonomia is the name used to describe a number of disorders where the nervous system no longer works the way it should. This means that there are a number of different types of dysautonomia. Each type of dysautonomia differs in terms of the type of symptoms experienced. Before you can begin treatment, or even when you are trying to support someone else with a diagnosis of dysautonomia, it is important to have a good understanding of the type of dysautonomia you are dealing with. As there is such a vast array of different dysautonomias (at least 15), we won’t be able to discuss them all. However, this article will give you a quick rundown of the most common dysautonomias.

 

Source: theoicenter.com

Over the years others have focused more on behaviors — while you can’t directly control what you feel (you can’t right now make yourself happy) you can learn to control your thoughts — what you say to yourself — and you absolutely can control your behaviors. — Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W.

The most common…. Neurocardiogenic Syncope
Neurocardiogenic syncope can be called NCS for short. The symptom that is most prevalent within NCS is fainting (which is also called syncope). Generally, what happens in the body is that when a person stands up, the blood will naturally flow downwards — heading towards their feet and legs. For most people (those without NCS), the automatic nervous system (the system involved in dysautonomias) will take measures to make sure that the blood will not pool down in the lower parts of your body so there is still a good amount of blood fueling your brain. This is done by tightening the muscles in your veins and adjusting your heart rate. However, because dysautonomias involve problems with the automatic nervous system, this process tends not to work properly for people with NCS and as a result of blood draining away from the brain, they faint. The frequency of fainting can vary between people with NCS and can range from relatively rarely, to so regularly that it makes daily living difficult.

However, the autonomic nervous system tends not to work properly for people with NCS. As a result, the blood is drained away from the brain that causes fainting. The frequency of fainting can vary between people with NCS and can range from relatively rarely to regularly which makes daily living difficult.

 

Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome

Source: clinicaladvisor.com

That is a mouthful, right? Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome can be called POTS for short. This is a dysautonomia that is characterized by a number of different symptoms including strange or fast heart rate, problems with breathing, fainting, nausea, stomach problems, chest pain, problems with exercising, problems with temperature and shakiness.

POTS is relatively common in teenagers and more often found in females opposed to males. Generally, POTS does not occur in isolation and is often caused by another medical concern. These can include autoimmune diseases, genetic disorders, infections (such as Hepatitis C), multiple sclerosis, diabetes, problems from poisoning, medications, alcohol use or surgery. It can often be difficult to isolate exactly what causes POTS. There is still significant research being conducted to investigate this.

Transforming one’s thoughts will ultimately result in positive actions and behaviors in difficult moments. — Greta Gleissner LCSW

Diabetic Autonomic Neuropathy

This type of dysautonomia is quite commonly found in people with a diagnosis of diabetes. Diabetic autonomic neuropathy impacts the sections of the heart that helps to manage blood pressure and the level of glucose in the blood. When these processes do not work properly due to problems with the automatic nervous system, you can experience increased heart rate, problems with digestion such as constipation, problems with sexual arousal, breathing, excessive or restrictive sweating and generally more difficulty managing diabetes.

 

Multiple System Atrophy

Source: verywell.com

Another more well-known type of dysautonomia is multiple system atrophy. This type of dysautonomia is more likely to impact individuals over around 50 years of age. Unfortunately, it can be commonly misrecognized as Parkinson’s disease when it is in its early stages. This makes treatment difficult without an accurate diagnosis.  Multiple system atrophy is characterized when parts of the person’s brain begin to disintegrate (atrophy). The symptoms of this type of dysautonomia can include rigid muscles, poor flexibility, problems with balance, coordination, speech, problems swallowing, difficulty focusing or blurred vision.

For some persons, even the slightest restriction leads to difficulty. Some of us need an aisle seat in a theater rather than one in the middle of the row. — Tom Bunn L.C.S.W.

And the rare… Familial Dysautonomia

Although this is not a common form of dysautonomia, it deserves a mention given the significant impact it can have on sufferers of this disorder. It is one of the least frequent types of dysautonomia but can have the worst outcomes including premature death (with the chance that the person will live to 40 years old being only 50%). This type of dysautonomia can be detected from a young age and is characterized by a number of symptoms including problems with temperature, under-sensitivity to pain, cycles of vomiting, excessive sweating, spinal difficulties, poor growth, kidney problems, issues with the heart, problems with sleep apnea and frequent lung infections to name a few.

We have only mentioned a few of the types of dysautonomia here. But, you can clearly see from those discussed just how detrimental these disorders can be to someone’s life. There is hope for ways to help manage these disorders and treat the symptoms. Head over to our page on treatment {how are dysautonomias treated} for more information on this.

This article was only able to touch on a few of the types of dysautonomia. Therefore, further information on the different types of dysautonomias is needed. Please see the links below.

References:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/76785.php

https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Dysautonomia-Information-Page

http://www.dysautonomiainternational.org/page.php?ID=35

Treatment and Management of Dysautonomia

Our most basic way of regulating emotion is approach/withdrawal. — Tom Bunn L.C.S.W.

Dysautonomia, as you may already know, is just a general term used to describe several medical conditions that affect the Autonomic Nervous System. ANS is that part of our body that controls the automatic functions or the functions which we are not conscious about. These body functions include digestion, heart rate, respiration, pupil of the eye, and temperature regulation. People with Dysautonomia have problems with these functions.

 

Source: theodysseyonline.com

Since Dysautonomia involves different medical disorders, the treatment and management require multiple approaches. It is a combination of pharmacological and medical modalities, physical therapy, long-term illness counseling, and caregiving.  This treatment is divided into two – the pharmacological and non-pharmacological approach.

Transforming one’s thoughts will ultimately result in positive actions and behaviors in difficult moments. — Greta Gleissner LCSW

Consult a Physician

Finding a good physician who has in-depth knowledge of the nature of your condition is also important. It’s necessary for the patient to consult a specialist physician regarding their specific type of dysautonomia so that proper treatment can be recommended. The treatment for these patients usually takes time to work since it’s done through a trial and error approach. Whatever will work for the patient best is the approach to consider.

Physical Therapy

Regular physical activities or exercises that the patient can tolerate will improve the stability of the autonomic nervous system (ANS).  When the ANS stabilizes, the possibility of symptom relapse is lesser and the duration of the symptoms also shortens. That is why physiological and physical adaptation to the treatments and therapy are needed. A commitment to a healthier lifestyle is a must, as well.

Nutrition and Diet

The whole treatment and management of this condition involve nutrition or dietary adjustments. An adjustment in the fluid intake must also be observed. The inclusion of sodium, as prescribed by the physician, is also needed in the fluid maintenance of the body. Some dietary restrictions will be strictly followed. Caffeine and high sugary foods are restricted or to most, not well tolerated.

Source: nrbpublishing.com

Awareness is the front door to change, and by being aware of your reactions, you now can begin to change them — both the thoughts and the behaviors. — Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W.

Pharmacological Approach

Drug therapies to control or lessen the symptoms are also being utilized. Some of the drugs used for treatment involves the following:

  • anti-low blood pressure drugs
  • anti-anxiety drugs
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory,
  • antidepressant drugs

The goal of the treatment is to control the symptoms of the disorder. Sometimes, a physician will conduct a “trial and error” approach in treating your symptoms to a tolerable level. The physical therapy that the patient undergoes will help strengthen their body. Mind conditioning is also important during the course of their therapy. Since it may be a chronic management type of illness, these therapies will require a lot of determination and motivation for the patient’s road to recovery.

Prognosis

With proper medical management, healthy lifestyle, and adherence to physical therapy, a majority of those with Dysautonomia will see significant improvement, especially with patients in the secondary form of the condition. Patients also need to remember that their condition will improve, as time goes by.

There are now funded international research studies being conducted for the development of better treatments on this condition. Hopefully, someday, scientists will find a cure.

Source: withasideofsaltpotssupport.blogspot.com

Dysautonomia And Stress

Source: en.wikipedia.org

A word that describes a malfunction in the ANS or Autonomic Nervous System is called Dysautonomia. The Autonomic Nervous System has two parts: the Parasympathetic Nervous System and then the Sympathetic Nervous system. The PNS or Parasympathetic Nervous System is known for the resting and systems like the digestive system. The latter on the other hand is for controlling your fight or flight response.

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Understanding Dysautonomia

There is nothing that will hurt a parent more than hearing that your child has an incurable illness like Dysautonomia. For sure, kids with the condition won’t need to get radiation therapy, which is often necessary for cancer patients. Staying away from sweets or having insulin injections practically forever is just for the diabetics as well. But the fact that a kid will most likely struggle with the disease for as long as they live after the diagnosis of this can’t be comforting either.

Source: pixabay.com

 

Dysautonomia is the medical term for when the autonomic nervous system (ANS) a part of your nervous system that controls involuntary functions of the body does not work as it should. The disorder disturbs cells in the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary actions such as digestion, breathing, pupil dilation, kidney function, sexual function, and the regulation of heart rate blood pressure and body temperature.

According to Dysautonomia International, dysautonomia affects more than 70 million people worldwide. They come in many forms and can be primary or secondary. There are many forms of dysautonomia that can occur at any age: pediatric, adult, and/or geriatric. The diagnosis of this depends on the overall function of three autonomic functions – cardiovagal, adrenergic, and sudomotor.

The most common form of dysautonomia is optional autonomic neuropathy or secondary dysautonomia which occurs because of a physical issue or other diseases (e.g., autoimmune diseases, multiple system atrophy (MSA), etc.). A possibly more common form of it is postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). POTS is a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system that involves abnormal symptoms in many parts of the body, including abnormal blood flow to the heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain.

According to the National Institute, it can be a mild, temporary condition or a serious long-term illness. The most common sign of this is orthostatic intolerance, which means you can’t stand up for long without feeling faint or dizzy. In severe cases, people might have life-threatening complications such as pneumonia and respiratory failure. Doctors call this orthostatic hypotension.

Parent’s Thoughts After Their Kid’s Dysautonomia Diagnosis

The typical thoughts of parents who witness generalized dysautonomia or primary or familial dysautonomia, or pure autonomic failure symptoms in motion include “If only I can transfer their pain to me” and “I hope a miracle will happen and dissolve this and underlying condition, it comes with.” Neither, of course, is plausible at the time of writing this blog. You may leave treatment to the physicians and focus on helping the child with this illness.

  1. Never Doubt Your Kid’s Words Immediately

The most prominent fear of parents whose youngster has autonomic dysfunction is that they might use their dysautonomia information page to get out of unfavorable situations. In case you ask the child with dysautonomia to clean their room, for instance, they may say that they’re dizzy or feeling unwell due to central nervous system degeneration. Despite that, it doesn’t mean that symptoms like frequent lung infections, diabetes due to autonomic neuropathy, blurred vision, lack of bladder control, decreased pain sensitivity, and other autonomic medical conditions aren’t there.

When you live in the same house as your kiddo with dysautonomia, you should know by now whether they’re capable of efficiently lying or not. If they are, you may scrutinize your kid further before believing they aren’t in great health. Considering they don’t lie or are not good at it, however, then you shouldn’t draw conclusions about what they’re saying about dysautonomia before they even finish talking.

  1. Ensure That They See Their Dysautonomia Doctor On A Regular Basis

 

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

A healthcare provider will highly suggest that anyone with dysautonomia get checkups with a specialist regularly. Even though it won’t be cheap, that’s the best way to understand the progression or regression of it.

  1. Maintain Your Composure

When kids go through puberty, they develop mannerisms and ideas that can make a parent happy or sad. It’s cool in case your kiddo is one definite cookie, to the point that the symptoms of the dysautonomia don’t faze them too much. But once they give in to their rebellious side and start talking back at you or sneaking out at night, you might lose your calmness before you know it.

Will your outburst help your kid with dysautonomia? No. If anything, it may merely aggravate the situation as the children with dysautonomia see how much effect it has on you. So stay level-headed to help your offspring better.

Sometimes the cause of a chronic illness/condition can be identified, but often no specific cause can be determined and nothing can explain why it happened. — Dan Mager MSW

  1. Consider Joining Support Groups
Source: pixabay.com

Taking care of a child with dysautonomia can’t be as straightforward as dealing with a regular kid without dysautonomia.

Joining a dysautonomia support group may help some moms and dads overcome this issue. The dysautonomia organization ideally consists of parents whose children have dysautonomia too. You may ask them dysautonomia questions and garner advice on how to help your youngster with dysautonomia better.

  1. Subject Yourselves ToFamily Counseling

Whether your child is six or 16 years old, you may speak with a counselor together and deal with the psychological aspect of dysautonomia. The ups and downs that come with this, after all, don’t affect the patients. While the latter feels its dysautonomia symptoms alone, knowing that you can’t alleviate their dysautonomia can be burdensome for parents. You might be concentrating too much on the kid as well, which may cause your other children to rebel or develop adverse feelings toward the entire family.

Through a dysautonomia group counseling session, you’ll be able to address all issues. You can learn coping mechanisms for dysautonomia as a family as well and become one another’s rock.

Final Thoughts

It’s definitely not a walk in the park to know your kid has dysautonomia. Dysautonomia is a lifelong condition. You and your kid will face multiple hardships from dysautonomia. There is currently no cure for any form of dysautonomia, but secondary forms may improve with treatment of the underlying disease. You need to stay strong and work together in managing dysautonomia. The good news is there are many dysautonomia researchers at the National Institutes Of Health looking for ways to cure dysautonomia once and for all.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can dysautonomia be caused by stress?

Stress can exacerbate dysautonomia symptoms, but it’s not a direct cause of the health condition, which primarily involves issues with the autonomic nervous system that can affect blood pressure and other bodily functions.

Does dysautonomia get worse over time?

Dysautonomia can vary, and its severity may change over time, affecting heart rate and blood pressure differently in individuals.

What are the signs and symptoms that your nervous system is malfunctioning?

Signs that your nervous system is malfunctioning may include dysautonomia symptoms, which can involve symptoms like shortness of breath.

How does dysautonomia make you feel?

Dysautonomia can make you feel unwell due to symptoms of dysautonomia, which can affect multiple systems in the body, and it is related to conditions like multiple system atrophy.

Does This Illness Shorten Your Life?

Which Dysautonomia Is Fatal?

Is This Type Of Illness Inherited?

What kind of doctor treats dysautonomia?

What is the difference between POTS and dysautonomia?

What diet is best for dysautonomia?

What Diseases Cause Autonomic Dysfunction?

What is dysautonomia caused by?

What happens when you have dysautonomia?

Who is at risk for dysautonomia?

What You Need To Know About Dysautonomia – Doctors And Therapists Explain

Source: flickr.com

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 an issue in the mental health of dysautonomia patients.

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