How I combat the anxiety that stems from Cushing’s disease
Here's what helps one columnist fight off anxious thoughts and feelings
I recently had to lower my dosage of ketoconazole, one of the medications I take to treat my Cushing’s disease, because of liver problems. It always takes me some time to adjust to changes in medication, especially when it comes to my Cushing’s treatment. Since my ketoconazole dosage was lowered, I’ve been experiencing severe anxiety, a common symptom of Cushing’s.
I’m sure many of you know what anxiety feels like. For me, it’s having a pit in my stomach and overthinking every interaction. I’ll read texts that are completely pleasant and think my friends are mad at me. After a conversation, I’ll analyze everything I said. My boss wants to talk to me? Surely I’m getting fired. Receiving a mean comment on one of my columns or social media videos consumes me. Everything feels heightened.
I’ve tried practically everything to combat these feelings — therapy, meditation, yoga, sitting in the sun (which everyone swears will work!), and so on. The truth is, my anxiety is caused by my illness, and while the following methods help, it’s a symptom I occasionally have to put up with.
Combat anxious thoughts
Through therapy, one way I’ve learned to combat anxiety is by fighting the accompanying thoughts. For example, if my boss wants to talk to me, instead of immediately thinking I’m being fired, I try to come up with other examples of what could be happening. Maybe they really liked my work, or there’s an event I need to be aware of. That helps me recognize when my thoughts are irrational.
Let the anxiety rest
Anxiety is exhausting. When I’m dealing with it constantly, I need a lot of sleep. I find myself crawling into bed at 6 p.m., desperate for rest. I used to fight this feeling and try to push myself, but I’ve noticed that the more I listen to my body, the better I feel. I might sleep for 12 hours a day, but for the 12 I’m awake, I feel much more balanced.
Cut back on caffeine
This one has been awful for me, as I love my supersweet, frozen coffees. They keep me going, especially when there’s a lot going on at work. However, as GoodRx Health notes, “Research shows that in people with panic disorder, caffeine consumption raises the risk of having a panic attack and increases levels of anxiety.”
While I haven’t cut caffeine out entirely, I’ve limited my intake to less than one cup a day, be it coffee or tea. I usually buy myself a fancy coffee once a week and finish it over several days. It took a while for me to reach this point, but I find that I’m less wired and anxious when I’m consuming less caffeine.
When I’m feeling anxious, my first impulse is to duck under my covers and stay there. I can’t mess up from my bed. I can’t upset anyone if I have my phone off. Despite what my anxiety tells me, however, I feel much better when I’m with the people I care about. They distract me, and though it’s hard at times, letting people in can truly help.
Anxiety is a beast, but for those who are struggling, take it easy. You’re doing a fantastic job, and remember: You are not your anxiety.
Note: Cushing’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cushing’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Cushing’s.