Fuck You Anxiety AND Big Pharma! That’s Right, You Can Kick Them Both…At the Same Damn Time!
What is anxiety?
Let’s start there. Anxiety is intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about every day situations. Symptoms include a fast heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, and sometimes fatigue. If you Google the definition, it goes on to explain how physical activity, a healthy diet, regular sleep and relaxation exercises will help to alleviate the symptoms, or even rid individuals of anxiety entirely.
In a nutshell, if anxiety is caused from worrying and fear, and our thoughts are what control those emotions, then if we change our thought patterns, we conquer anxiety. Easy peasy, right? Extremely wrong.
Changing our thought patterns is like trying to convince your hundred year old granny she needs the newest iPhone. Once we settle into our thoughts, it can be challenging to learn a new routine, or a new way of thinking. Luckily, there are things you can do to start guiding yourself into a new, healthier version of yourself, but prepare. Those that are serious about wanting to come off anxiety meds (under physician care & supervision) should be prepared for a lifestyle change, and be willing to embrace it.
So, how can we start? Many people skip right past the simple things because they don’t think ‘that one little thing’ can rid anyone of such a crippling disorder. They’re right. That ‘one little thing’ can’t, but collectively, with other exercises and healthy habits, you can. I’m going to discuss those things in this post.
Learn to Breathe.
You’ve been doing it your whole life. Why would you need to LEARN to breathe? Because you’re likely not doing it right. Mindfully. Breathing is not a conscious decision, it’s an automatic process, so even though you’re breathing, you may need to learn to slow down and be mindful of your intake/output to ensure you’re getting the right amount of oxygen to your brain.
We obviously cannot be mindful of every breath we take every second of the day, but once you learn to breathe correctly, the new routine will become automatic, replacing old breathing habits. For proper, mindful breathing exercises, I recommend mindful meditation, coupled with yoga. Harvard Health Medical School offers free, guided mindful meditations here
According to the journal, NeuroRegulation, people with performance anxiety perform better when they sit up straight compared to when they slouch.
Richard Harvey, Ph.D., associate professor of holistic health and health education at San Francisco State University goes on to explain that when people feel threatened, their muscles tighten, their shoulders lift toward the ears, and they hold their breath. He notes that slouching mimics this defensive position. It tells your brain and nervous system that there’s a threat and that they should focus their energy on protection.
Sitting up straight signals safety so your brain can turn its attention to the task at hand. Good posture also slows your breathing and releases GABA neurotransmitters, which counteract anxiety.
Change Your Eating Habits.
Harvard Medical School provides a great list of foods to include in your diet, as well as foods to avoid. Check it out here.
Changing to a healthier diet will also restore gut health. According to John Hopkins Medical, “…The ENS may trigger big emotional shifts experienced by people coping with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional bowel problems such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, pain and stomach upset. “For decades, researchers and doctors thought that anxiety and depression contributed to these problems. But our studies and others show that it may also be the other way around,” Pasricha says. Researchers are finding evidence that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may send signals to the central nervous system (CNS) that trigger mood changes.
Basically, our two brains ‘talk’ to each other, so therapies that help one may help the other.
“This new understanding of the ENS-CNS connection helps explain the effectiveness of IBS and bowel-disorder treatments such as mind-body therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medical hypnotherapy,” says Pasricha. For more gut health information, go here.
Get Some Sleep!
According to Rick Nauert PhD, scientists have found that a lack of sleep, common in anxiety disorders, may play a key role in activating brain regions that contribute to excessive worrying. (Sound familiar?)
Neuroscientists have found that sleep deprivation fires up areas of the brain associated with emotional processing. The resulting pattern mimics the abnormal neural activity seen in anxiety disorders.
“While previous research has indicated that sleep disruption and psychiatric disorders often occur together, this latest study is the first to causally demonstrate that sleep loss triggers excessive anticipatory brain activity associated with anxiety, researchers said.” For more info, click here.
Hypnotherapy or hypnotic suggestion, is a trance-like state in which you have heightened focus and concentration. Hypnosis is usually done with the help of a therapist using verbal repetition and mental images. When you’re under hypnosis, you usually feel calm and relaxed, and are more open to suggestions.
Hypnotherapy can be an effective method for coping with stress and anxiety. In particular, hypnosis can reduce stress and anxiety before a medical procedure, such as a breast biopsy.
Hypnosis has been studied for other conditions, including:
• Pain control. Hypnosis may help with pain due to burns, cancer, childbirth, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, temporomandibular joint problems, dental procedures and headaches.
• Hot flashes. Hypnosis may relieve symptoms of hot flashes associated with menopause.
• Behavior change. Hypnosis has been used with some success in the treatment of insomnia, bed-wetting, smoking, and overeating.
• Cancer treatment side effects. Hypnosis has been used to ease side effects related to chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
• Mental health conditions. Hypnosis may help treat symptoms of anxiety, phobias and post-traumatic stress.
For more information, click here.
Change Your Perspective.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel.
It is used to help treat a wide range of issues in a person’s life, from sleeping difficulties or relationship problems, to drug and alcohol abuse or anxiety and depression. CBT works by changing people’s attitudes and their behavior by focusing on the thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes that are held (a person’s cognitive processes) and how these processes relate to the way a person behaves, as a way of dealing with emotional problems.
Cognitive behavioral therapy can be thought of as a combination of psychotherapy and behavioral therapy. Psychotherapy emphasizes the importance of the personal meaning we place on things and how thinking patterns begin in childhood. Behavioral therapy pays close attention to the relationship between our problems, our behavior and our thoughts. Most psychotherapists who practice CBT personalize and customize the therapy to the specific needs and personality of each patient. For more info, see info from Ben Martin, Psy.D., here.
The next couple of therapies I’m going to mention have a stigma. Try not to judge, especially if you have no idea how much more effective these medicines are in comparison to prescription and OTC drugs, with unwanted longterm side effects.
You’ll notice I cut straight through the CBD hype and went straight for the THC. That’s right. I’m not saying that CBD isn’t medically beneficial, of course it is. But, for disorders such as anxiety and depression, for many people, it simply didn’t change their anxiety levels. Let’s look at some of the differences between CBD and THC treatments:
CBD is used to help with other various conditions, such as:
• psychosis or mental disorders
• inflammatory bowel disease
THC is used to help with conditions such as:
• muscle spasticity
• low appetite
This is where I preach a little. Stop spreading false lies! Cannabis is NOT a gateway drug, nor can you die from an overdose of THC or CBD alone. It’s safer than prescription medication, and has no known long term effects. (We asked the ancients!). Rant over. Moving along. For more information, click here.
Take a Trip.
According to the journal, Neurotherapeutics, A small, open-label study in patients with treatment- resistant depression showed reductions in depression and anxiety symptoms 3 months after two acute doses of psilocybin. (On another note, for addiction, small, open-label pilot studies have shown promising success rates for both tobacco and alcohol addiction.)
Safety data from these various trials, which involve careful screening, preparation, monitoring, and follow-up, indicate the absence of severe drug-related adverse reactions. (Whaaaaat, no side effects?!)
Of course any therapy should be under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.
There. That’s my “cover your ass” disclaimer.
Another disclaimer: this is not a typical blog. I wanted to get information out, so a very large portion of information has been copied/ pasted from the medical journals and peer reviewed articles that I’ve provided links for.