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May 20, 2013

Anxiety: What is it, what causes it, what to do about it? Part 3

Anxiety!! What can I do to make it stop and go away! Anxiety feels like a helpless state of suffering but there are things a person can do to heal and transcend the suffering. This article will give a feel for what can be done. It is not meant to be an exhaustive list or suggestive. It is meant to open the possibilities of treatment and healing of the suffering of anxiety. The article will look at western medicine, and then will focus on self help, therapy, and all other medicines.

 

WESTERN MEDICINE
Western Medicine separates body, mind, and spirit. Anxiety ties them into a knot. Western Medicine treats symptoms. Anxiety uses symptoms and symbols from long ago to access the fear upon which it feeds. That doesn’t mean Western Medicine is useless or shouldn’t be used!! What I love about Western Medicine is it’s acute care. Nothing else seems to do it better. If a person is suffering from unbearable anxiety or panic attacks, medications can give nearly immediate relief to the symptoms. Unfortunately, in order to get immediate relief, an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety medication) must be prescribed and most anxiolytics (the class of medications called benzodiazepines) create anxiety in their withdrawal (after effectiveness) period. That is not a worry if the person uses the anxiolytic on an as-needed basis and not on a regular basis to avoid anxiety! Unfortunately, more often than not, Western Medicine physicians prescribe the anxiolytics for long-term treatment of anxiety!!

 

Long-term regular use of an anxiolytic is not a good option. The person can develop a dependence on the drug and the withdrawal is greater anxiety. It is why the person using an anxiolytic finds he or she needs more to keep the anxiety away!! The withdrawal from the drug is anxiety itself. That means the body adjusts to the input of the medication and as the medication’s effects start to wear off, the body experiences withdrawal from the absence of the medication. That withdrawal is experienced as anxiety. So the person takes the next dose a little earlier and a little earlier until they have to take a little more and a little more. Slowly, they have developed a physical dependence on the medication, a secondary challenge! In order to be free of the drugs, the person must now go through a medical detox. Years ago, I knew a woman we called Vibrating Vicki. She had checked herself into treatment to get off of an anxiolytic (benzodiazepine). She went through detox and then entered treatment. She was in treatment for >40 days! Her entire body shook with anxiety the first 30 days in treatment! Vicki hung in there and recovered. She was a real trooper!

 

The other long-term option used in Western Medicine is an anti-depressant. There are two categories of anti-depressants that have an anxiolytic affect and can be quite affective for long-term use. If the person is comfortable being on an anti-depressant for the rest of their life this is a good option. It takes, however, about 10 days to really start to have an affect on the anxiety (in some cases longer). Many of the people with whom I have worked find themselves stopping the antidepressant at some point because they have been feeling great for awhile. Unfortunately, I get the call when they are in the middle of an anxiety episode and they don’t know what to do. If a person chooses this as an option for treatment of the anxiety, he or she needs to add to the protocol several of the following options so that they are healing the anxiety while symptom free!!

 

The third most common treatment with Western Medicine is the anti psychotic. It is used at subclinical doses (doses much lower than what is affective for thought disorders) to interrupt the thoughts. It’s benefits are they are nonaddictive and are fast-acting. They are great for sleep at night. They are also great for use with withdrawal symptoms that occur from anxiolytic use. They are a short-term remedy.

 

Because anxiety can create such horrific suffering, it is understandable that a person can get caught in the Western Medicine loop after using it for an acute episode. If a person wants to truly heal, it is imperative that he or she learns about the options available for healing and implements them while feeling symptom free on the prescribed medication. If the person suffering does not use Western Medicine, or wants to use a combination of medicines or protocols, the following are great options for the healing and transcendence of anxiety.

 

SELF-HELP TECHNIQUES
There are several things that the person who is suffering can do on her or his own while seeking treatment options. These are also VERY good for anyone who experiences consistent worry or mild to moderate anxiety. Yoga and exercise are good for a few reasons. First, they both increase the person’s breathing sending more oxygen to the lungs. Second, they both can create a focus of the mind. Last, they both can exhaust and/or relax the participant. Further, they both can be social, giving the person an external focus. Yoga has a spiritual component that ignites the healing. There are more benefits to Yoga as a person gets involved. If someone is interested they can contact me on my website.

 

A very important part of healing anxiety is the breathing. Learn to consciously breathe, to be mindful. Most people do not consciously breathe. People with anxiety sometimes don’t breathe at all and are unaware! I have been able to temporarily pull a person out of an extreme anxiety attack by breathing with them (in a specific manner). Anxiety is increased by the levels of carbon dioxide in the blood as a result of poor breathing. It is critical to keep the oxygen content high if a person has experienced or is experiencing anxiety. This is partly why people with asthma and COPD may experience anxiety.

 

Second to breathing for calming anxiety is the focused mind. Meditation, visualizations, mantras and music can focus the mind of the suffering person. I tend to start my clients off with mantras because they learn to use their thoughts to take them into a meditative or trans-like state. I do the visualizations for them in my office until they are symptom free and by then they have learned to do them at home. There are various types of meditating a person can learn to do. It has to be a type of meditation that is a match to the individual. Many times it takes a professional who knows the person to guide them to various styles of meditation. Music has to be likable and healing! If the music to which one is listening is triggering or perpetuating the very thing that is a cause of the anxiety, then, obviously, it isn’t going to work. Again, work with someone you trust who can guide you in the best direction.

 

Another thing that can be done to move through anxiety is to learn how to observe your thoughts and your Self. There is always the “I” who cannot take the “me” or the my “self” any longer. That connotes that there are two aspects to this life: the true you and the learned you. The anxiety is of the learned you. The true you can observe the other aspect and help it heal. For example, a part of you is reading this intently and another part of you is aware of the fact that you are reading. Feel it? I teach my clients to listen to their true self as it observes the learned self of this life. With anxiety, a person wants to learn to observe the committee in her or his head and then turn her or his attention away from that to an inner truth. This objectifying of the anxiety comes from the ability to observe. A person may need to find a teacher or guide for this. A person suffering with anxiety ALWAYS wants to be using the above-described techniques to move away from anxiety and into life, regardless of the other forms of treatment they are using.

 

One of the most controversial self help techniques is the use of cannabis. Because of it’s current illegal status, there are people who have strong opinions for and against it’s use medicinally. Consequently,this is a topic that needs to be addressed. There are MANY people out there using cannabis for their anxiety. It works! Until it doesn’t…. If used purely on an as-needed basis it would be ok. It isn’t a cure but it offers relief to many. Most people, however, start smoking it to prevent the anxiety and then (because of the fear of the anxiety coming on) find themselves smoking the cannabis throughout the day!! Their psychological dependence is caused by the very thing they are hoping to avoid –the anxiety! That means that the anxiety is being kept alive in the recesses of their mind somewhere. Furthermore, constant use of cannabis causes irritability, worry, and anger!! The very emotions that lend to anxiety! Not to mention, those emotions can cause greater stress in a person’s life thereby increasing his or her anxiety!!

 

THERAPY
Therapy is a strong option for treatment. The most common treatment in America is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) it has a nice immediate relief from symptoms but does not appear to last (according to research). That can be okay IF the person suffering is using the above-mentioned exercises to maintain an anxiety-free existence and is using them correctly! More often than not, however, CBT is used with medication. That means that the person is feeling symptom free from the therapy in time for the drugs to take over. This is not a cure. It is a fix of the symptoms. It is an option!! Some people will prefer this option and that is great! Others will want to be medication free and, consequently, this is not a great option. Do not judge this. It is a personal choice!

 

Another therapy that is quite affective is EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitizing and Reprocessing. It is a technique that allows the person the opportunity to begin altering the subconscious defining of the situation and symptoms. It can be affective but it is critical that you use a qualified professional. Furthermore, it seems it could be quite important to work with a professional beforehand to know what the “cause” of the anxiety is before using EMDR.

 

My clients have found great long-term relief from anxiety not by managing it (because then you have to still have it) but by understanding the cause (from where it comes) and learning their response and fears at that time and how they grew upon that. I have found that a cognitive component to a “life” approach allows me to interpret the symbols for my clients which, in turn, opens the possibility of them identifying the cause (a situation, event, or series of circumstances). The interpretation of life’s symbols allows the client to identify past experiences as they connect to the anxiety. It is then that the person can separate their Self from the other person and acknowledge their innocence and from where the fear developed. It is at that point that the person can then learn what his or her truth was at that time

 

BEYOND WESTERN MEDICINE: POWERFUL HEALING OPTIONS
Some of the greater medical protocols come from Oriental Medicine (Acupuncture), NAET, Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Hypnosis, Neurolinguisitics, Aromatherapy, energy healing, and massage (e.g., Rolfing, myofascia release [MFR]) in conjunction with the above-listed protocols. It would take me another article to address each of these. I encourage you all to do your research on these techniques to see what might be best for you. Overall, each of these can heal or have a healing affect on anxiety. They are usually used in combination with other techniques or medicines so that the person can actually find themselves transcending the anxiety. The hypnosis, neurolinguistics, and rolfing can have an initial immediate affect with long-term affects upon completion of treatment. The others may take some time to have an affect but when they do it is long-term to permanent. I have been working with professionals in these fields for over a decade and find that these medicines/treatments are critical to the healing of severe anxiety! I use a combination that is defined by the unique needs of the client and their anxiety. Please feel free to ask, if interested, send questions to askkristen@kristenbomas.com.

 

In summary, there is much available for a person to heal from the suffering of anxiety. Most people are used to thinking in terms of medication and, possibly, therapy but there is so much more available for the true healing of anxiety. A person does not have to suffer, they have to be willing to be consistent with the healing protocol that is best for them! Remember, this life is with great purpose. So, then all of a person’s experiences must be, including anxiety. Anxiety is not in a person’s life just for them to suffer but, quite the contrary, to offer them the opportunity to master it and to heal. I wish you all a LIFE beyond surviving the suffering of anxiety!

 
 

Read Part ONE

 

Read Part TWO

 

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Kristen Bomas, PA
398 Camino Gardens Blvd., Suite 104
Boca Raton, Florida 33432
Phone: (561) 212-7575
Email: KB@KristenBomas.com

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