How Caregivers and Patients Can Manage Bodily Responses to Stress

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by Ezekiel Lim |

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Anxiety is a common response to an increasingly demanding society and work culture. We are surrounded by physical and mental stressors that may impact the body in ways that mirror peripheral neuropathy symptoms.

For caregivers and patients suffering from familial amyloid polyneuropathy, it is important to be aware of how stress affects peripheral neuropathy symptoms and to distinguish the differences in bodily reactions to these stressors.

Similar symptoms

The symptoms of stress may be similar to those of peripheral neuropathy. That includes the constricting of blood vessels due to hyperventilation and seemingly hyperactive nerve activity.

Patients who are prone to anxiety attacks must be aware of how their hands, feet, and arms are feeling. The constriction of blood cells caused by hyperventilation may increase tingling and burning sensations in the peripheral nerves. Patients and caregivers should be aware of how reduced blood flow due to hyperventilation may impact existing peripheral neuropathy symptoms.

Anxiety may also cause increased nerve reactions in the body. The increase in nerve firings may cause cramps and symptoms similar to nerve damage. As these symptoms may feel similar to those caused by peripheral neuropathy, caregivers and patients must be diligent in having both topical treatments and stress-relieving exercises readily available.

Breathing exercises

Breathing exercises may help patients relax during times of increased stress. During hyperventilation, patients should breathe in deeply, holding each breath for a few seconds and then slowly breathing out for seven to 10 seconds. This exercise helps patients relax their bodies and may help to reduce the effects of hyperventilation caused by anxiety.

Time with loved ones

Spending time with loved ones helps patients distract themselves from stressors that may cause anxiety. Being around people whose company a patient enjoys may help increase feelings of happiness. Activities may include spending time with children, traveling with family, or spending holidays together.

My mother-in-law’s preferred method of battling anxiety and depression is by spending time with her loved ones. She is rooted in her family. The time spent with them provides her with a sense of purpose and a distraction from her bodily pains. They are her support center when she needs it.

Massage therapy

Massage therapy may help patients relax their bodies and reduce the impact of peripheral neuropathy symptoms. Relaxing the body is an effective way to mitigate the effects of anxiety. When pursuing massage therapy, caregivers need to understand their patients’ thresholds for touch. Applied pressure may cause increased pain and essentially negate the desired outcome for massage therapy.

Massage therapy may include self-administered massages, professional massages, and foot massages. The ultimate goal for patients pursuing massage therapy for anxiety is to relax the body while providing a mental distraction that reduces the symptoms.

What are some ways that you reduce stress or anxiety? Please share in the comments below. 


Note: FAP News Today 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 FAP News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to familial amyloid polyneuropathy.


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