What is Anxiety?
For people who have never suffered from anxiety it is almost impossible to describe how debilitating the symptoms can be. It can seem as if there is no escape from the pain and discomfort; it feels like life will be like this forever and that the symptoms can’t be helped.
Conventional approaches to anxiety seek to medicate. Many physicians may tell you that your anxiety is something you just have to live with. Counseling or mainstream psychological approaches may have you manipulate or change your thought patterns, while alternative practices may seek to have you relax or practice mindfulness. While there is value in some of these approaches, most fail to reach that deeper understanding of the underlying cause of anxiety and panic.
The sufferers that I work with are ready to take back control of their health and they want to be cured. They learn to understand the nature of their symptoms and what causes them so they can take the appropriate steps to eradicate the anxiety symptoms for good. It is possible to eliminate anxiety symptoms without the need for medication.
What are the Anxiety Conditions?
- Anxious apprehension (worry, rumination)
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder (free floating anxiety)
- Intense anxiety and panic attacks
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Phobias of all kinds including agoraphobia and social phobia
- Eating Disorders
Anxiety and Brain Function
There is an enormous amount of scientific evidence to show that various regions of the brain are either over active or dysfunctional when anxiety symptoms are present. One of the most salient issues pertaining to this kind of scientific research is that different types of anxiety symptoms correspond with different areas of brain dysfunction.The forebrain appears to be the area most affected in most anxiety disorders. This is the largest portion of the brain and includes the cerebral hemispheres, the limbic system, the thalamus and hypothalamus, amygdala and the corpus callosum.
Each of the brain hemispheres is divided into four lobes: frontal, parietal, occipital and temporal. Collectively, the forebrain functions to control cognitive, sensory and motor function, regulate temperature, reproductive functions, eating, sleeping and the display of emotions. When it becomes dysfunctional it is evident that the range of symptoms can be enormous.Recent studies using electroencephalographic (EEG) methods have found that patients diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder had heightened activity in the left brain regions, whereas patients with panic disorder, panic symptoms or those subjected to high stress situations exhibited enhanced activity in the right hemisphere.
The important lesson from this type of research is that anxiety conditions are not all the same and therefore each case needs to be approached and treated depending on the needs of the individual and the types of symptoms present. However, we must also be mindful that over activity or dysfunction in brain regions is not the cause of anxiety – rather this activity is caused and supported by the 4 Core Element Model outlined below. It is these 4 Anchors that trigger brain dysfunction, and it is only by fully addressing these that a complete cessation of symptoms is achieved.
How Can I Recover From Anxiety?
The first step is to understand the nature, structure and cause of anxiety, and then we can begin to address the cause of the symptoms. Within our culture we use the words ‘anxious’ and ‘anxiety’ to mean both the emotion of fear and a varied and debilitating set of symptoms. This can be extremely confusing since fear, in the form of worry, nervous, scared, or dread, is often very different from symptoms of anxiety. I would argue that even though many anxiety symptoms can feel like fear, it’s also the case that many anxiety and panic symptoms do not feel like fear (see Anxiety Symptoms Checklist below). This means that is possible to experience anxiety symptoms without being afraid of anything.
Even though anxiety can be related to the emotion of fear at a deep unconscious level, there are many instances when symptoms of anxiety are present and there is no evidence of the emotion of fear. Most sufferers of anxiety will experience fear about the symptoms; though fear of symptoms is not the cause of symptoms. Fear can exacerbate symptoms and make them feel significantly worse, however it is rarely, if ever, the underlying cause.
So what causes anxiety symptoms? The first step is to embrace the notion that symptoms are feedback from body and brain. Symptoms are not some nasty evil invader trying to make us suffer, they have reason for existing and that reason is to let us know that something is not right, something is blocked and out of balance.
Anxiety Symptom Checklist
As you would expect, the experience of anxiety varies tremendously from person to person, with each sufferer’s experience being unique. Here is a comprehensive list of symptoms:
- A feeling of intense fear or panic
- A sense of impending doom or extreme fears about losing control, being in public, what other people will think, passing out or vomiting, being too far away from home or safety, being too far away from an exit point or toilet.
- Palpitations and pounding heart
- Feeling extremes of temperature – including sweating or shivering
- Fatigue and exhaustion
- General weakness
- Tightness or pain in the chest
- An excess of energy in the form of agitation and discomfort
- Feeling of nausea and actual vomiting
- Sleep problems and insomnia
- Cognitive problems including brain fog, concentration problems and memory loss
- Loss of libido and sexual dysfunction, or excessive sexual energy
- Difficulty speaking or an inability to speak, including loss of voice, co-ordination problems with the mouth or tongue
- Dizziness and feeling lightheaded
- Burning skin, itchy, prickly or other skin sensations; skin sensitivity and numbness on the skin
- Muscle twitches, facial twitches and ticks
- Muscle tension, muscle aches and pains and joint pains
- Trembling or shaking uncontrollably
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Clenching of the jaw or grinding of the teeth
- Tinnitus and ringing or rumbling sounds in the ears
This list of anxiety symptoms is not exhaustive; however, if you experience any of these symptoms they are all reversible and curable. If you are ready to take the next step towards better health and the life you wish to experience, you can either attend one of our Anxiety Recovery Bootcamps or you can book private sessions with Kyle.