Essential Oils: Try lavender, ylang-ylang, marjoram, and neroli

In a recent study, 83 participants with high blood pressure were tested to see whether essential oil inhalation would have an effect on blood pressure and cortisol levels (cortisol is the most common “stress chemical” that can be measured).

Participants were asked to inhale an essential oil blend of lavender, ylang-ylang, marjoram, and neroli with the following ratio (20 : 15 : 10 : 2).

The study group experienced the relaxation effects of this particular blend of essential oils leading to:

• significant decreases in cortisol levels
• reduced blood pressure
• stress reduction

Favorite for Anxiety: Mindful Belly Breathing

Believe it or not, the number one best way to ease anxiety is to BREATHE…as long as you do it the right way.

What I’m talking about here is learning a specific technique of conscious breathing, which is quite different from what we do moment-to-moment as part of our daily living.

If you take a minute to become aware of your breathing right now, you’ll find you are probably breathing short, shallow breaths into your lungs. This is how most of us breathe most of the time – unconsciously.

When you’re feeling anxious, you tend to unconsciously “overbreathe” with shorter, faster breaths into the lungs and chest.

This creates an imbalance between oxygen and carbon dioxide which can result in symptoms including:

racing heart, breathlessness, dizziness, hot flashes or chills, and distorted thinking such as fear that something terrible will happen.

The Deep Breath Myth

There is a common misconception that taking a “deep” breath is the key. While the deep breath may be useful for some purposes, it is not the best for calming anxiety.

When you take a deep breath, you are making a sudden and significant change to your breath. Your amygdala (the “caveman” part of the brain that regulates the fight-or-flight response) does NOT like sudden change. Instead of relaxing, your brain goes on high alert when there is any sudden change because your amygdala wants to make sure there is no sabretooth tiger coming to threaten your safety.

Your brain can relax when breathing is calm, even and predictable, without sudden change.

Master the specific technique

The specific form of Mindful Belly Breathing described here is designed to reduce anxiety by calming your brain AND creating a real physiological change for your nervous system (activating the parasympathetic nervous system).

This can only be done by using the proper technique consisting of 2 parts:

1. lowering the focus of your breathing to the belly/diaphragm area (diaphragmatic breathing)
2. controlling the pace and size of each inhale and exhale (respiratory control).

This breathing technique is Mindful due to the addition of respiratory control. Diaphragmatic breathing alone can be helpful for many things, but what makes Mindful Belly Breathing so effective for anxiety is the combination of Mindful respiratory control + Belly Breathing.

Mindful Belly Breathing can be done anywhere, anytime! I teach this to most of my clients and literally every single client has reported a benefit from Mindful Belly Breathing.

How to do it:

1. Place one hand on your belly.
2. Inhale and exhale through your nose only, with each breath “normal-sized” and comfortable for you.
3. Lower the focus of your breathing by slowing pushing out your belly/diaphragm as you inhale and slowly pulling in your diaphragm as you exhale. Imagine a balloon in your belly that fills with each inhale and deflates with each exhale.
4. Notice the movements of your hand: you should see your hand moving up and down on your stomach as you breathe.
5. Now pace your breathing in a predictable and even way by silently saying to yourself:

“Inhale – 2 – 3 – Relax… Exhale – 2 – 3 – Relax”

Want help learning Mindful Belly Breathing?

You may like my downloadable Less Stress Now CD.

How you know it’s working

Here’s a little test to show you what a big difference Mindful Belly Breathing makes:

1. Stand up and just breathe normally
2. Look into a full-length mirror. Look sideways so you can see your profile. Go ahead and suck in your stomach to look your best (yes, we all do that sometimes!).
3. Now breathe while still holding your stomach in. Notice that only your chest is moving up and down with each breath. This is more or less what happens when anxiety kicks in. Notice how the airflow is restricted. Notice the pace of your breath. Does this create any feelings of anxiety or discomfort?
4. Let your stomach relax now and re-start your Mindful Belly Breathing. Notice how much more air you’re taking in now. Notice the sense of calm this brings.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Like any new skill or tool, Mindful Belly Breathing requires practice. You want this tool available to you in times of extreme anxiety, right?

Well, in those moments of anxiety your ability to think straight and remember what to do next can be very limited. In order to break that cycle, you need to be able to start Mindful Belly Breathing automatically – your body will remember what to do only if you’ve practiced regularly.

Make Mindful Belly Breathing a daily habit and it’s an investment…you’ll be able to use it anytime, anywhere to help you break free from anxiety. Regain control of your breath, your clear thinking, your physical/body sensations, and your life!

 

OCD Interview

I was recently interviewed by a local university for an article about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This Q&A explains the basics of OCD and the effective, non-medication treatment that works for OCD.

Question 1: What is the biggest misconception you’ve heard and/or seen about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Misconception #1: Many people believe OCD has to include compulsive behaviors like hand-washing or excessive cleaning. Truth be told, I actually see more OCD in the form of obsessive and intrusive thoughts than I do with the classic compulsive behaviors.

Misconception #2: There’s a misconception that people must live with anxiety their whole lives, or that they must take medication for it for their whole lives. That is not true! [READ MORE HERE]. The neural pathways in the brain which create anxiety and obsessive thinking can be changed. Thus, the root cause of anxiety can be addressed and resolved.

The answer: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can provide long-term, preventative relief from anxiety/OCD (see Question 6 below).

Question 2: From your experience with treating OCD, what seems to be the biggest trigger for the people who suffer?

OCD can look very different for different people so it is difficult to generalize. People with OCD suffer from repetitive (and often disturbing) thoughts that they can’t seem to get out of their heads – these are Obsessions. These thoughts, and the inability to “let it go,” can cause a lot of anxiety.

Sometimes that anxiety creates an urge for people to repeatedly perform certain behaviors or routines – these are Compulsions. The urge to do the behaviors is an attempt to try to ease their anxiety.

Some people with OCD have obsessions only, while others have both obsessions and compulsive behaviors.

Most people who have OCD are aware that their obsessions and compulsions are irrational, yet they feel powerless to stop them which actually increases anxiety.

Common obsessive thoughts include:

• fear of a detrimental error by overlooking something
• worry about things being in proper order
• fear of harming someone
• feeling over-responsible for others
• worries about germs or illness

Common compulsive behaviors include:

• hand-washing
• counting
• arranging things
• cleaning
• checking and re-checking things (like did I forget anything?)

Question 3: OCD is often labeled a “mental illness.” Do you agree with this label?

I hate the label “mental illness” because some people attach a stigma to it…and that causes people to avoid getting treatment that could lead them to a happier life. At least 40 million American adults suffer from anxiety, but only about one-third of those seek help, even though anxiety is highly treatable without medication.

Like other types of anxiety, OCD involves what I call “a thinking problem” or “anxiety thinking.” There is a problem with the thinking process and in that respect it could be considered mental as opposed to physical illness.

The great news is that thinking problems can be corrected! Neuroscience research shows that the brain can reconfigure itself and learn new and more effective ways of thinking when trained to do so.

Question 4: Do you believe that people are born with OCD, or is it something that develops over time?

Research supports the understanding that OCD involves problems with the brain circuitry that causes anxiety thinking. No one knows for sure all the factors that could be involved in development of anxiety/OCD. Possible factors include perhaps genetic predisposition, perhaps learned behavior when kids grow up in a family where adults have anxiety, perhaps an illness, or even ordinary life stressors.

Question 5: How are patients diagnosed?

During an assessment, I look at whether a person has obsessions and/or compulsions, but the biggest factor in diagnosis is whether these thinking problems and behaviors cause a real problem in the person’s life.

I always say there’s not a problem unless there’s a problem. I’m looking to see whether the thoughts and/or behaviors are creating a problem with the person’s daily routine, job, school, relationships, social activities, or other activities the person values.

Question 6: What types of treatments are available to patients who suffer from OCD? Is there one particular treatment that seems to be more effective?

Extensive scientific research and my own clinical experience demonstrate that the most effective long-term solution for anxiety/OCD is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

CBT is a very specific sort of non-medication treatment that is focused on correcting the anxiety thinking that is underlying the obsessions and compulsions. It helps people learn different and more accurate, effective ways of thinking – this can significantly reduce or eliminate obsessions and compulsions.

CBT is very focused on teaching people new tools and techniques for changing old thinking patterns and old behavior patterns. To address the behaviors associated with OCD compulsions, exposure treatment is often included in CBT.

Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is a systematic way of gradually exposing people to the things/situations that cause anxiety while teaching them new ways to respond (eliminating the need for compulsive behavior).

Question 7: Do you think OCD can be cured?

The concept of a “cure” really means correcting the thinking problems and the anxiety thinking that are underlying the obsessions and compulsions. Yes! These thinking processes can be successfully changed with CBT.

Question 8: How did you become a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders such as OCD?

I decided to specialize in holistic solutions for anxiety because so many people have been told they have to live with anxiety for their whole lives…or that they have to take medications for their whole lives. It is my mission to dispel this myth!

People don’t realize that is completely possible to get rid of all kinds of anxiety. They haven’t been education to understand that anxiety is caused by processes in the brain that they can learn how to change. They just need to learn the effective tools to use. I’ve seen so many people literally change their lives with CBT and holistic tools and techniques that treat anxiety.

You’ll Never Guess Why I Got The Flu

In the midst of one of the worst flu seasons in Milwaukee ever on record, I got the dreaded flu. Yet all my friends we’re so surprised because “you’re my healthiest friend.”

So, why did I get the flu?

Ask a scientist or doctor and you’ll hear about the human immune system and airborne contagions. As if it is all physical… I generally have a very strong immune system, and I actively use natural, holistic supplements and other things to keep it that way.

So, why did I get the flu? Is it all physical? I think not.

The Back Story

I started out 2018 by setting new intentions and goals, as I do each New Year. Usually this is in the form of theme words. One of my theme words this year is CONNECTED. For me, CONNECTED means CONNECTED to the Universe, to Spirit, to those in my life, and to myself.

[I use the words Universe and Spirit here to represent a spiritual connection. Please translate to whatever words may work for you, such as God, Buddha, Goddess, Higher Power, The Divine, or whatever fits for you.]

But this year, for the first time ever, I also got a motto for my new year. When I say that I got it, I mean that I didn’t set out to create a motto. The idea and the words just came to me. (Hmmmm… divine inspiration.)

My motto for 2018: Less is More.

Ever since that motto came to me, I have been pondering what it really means. I started wondering how Less is More might be related to my intention to be CONNECTED.

So, why did I get the flu?

Essential vs. Optional

I can’t remember the last time I was this sick. A couple of days were like a blur to me… fever, aches, fatigue, nausea, headache migraine, coughing, sleeping, resting.

The decision to cancel everything (do less!) on my schedule for the rest of the week came out of sheer necessity. I was non-functional. Being that sick made it easier to see what is essential and to let go of the rest.

After a visit to my most amazing chiropractor, Dr. Angie English, the fever finally broke!

Then I became dangerous! As I was slowly feeling better physically, I almost immediately started thinking “If I have to be stuck home sick, maybe I could at least get some things done.”

So I started rescheduling appointments, and picking up things around the house that I had strewn all over. Dr. Angie warned me to take it easy and continue resting. Yes, good idea but certainly I can do that later after I finish doing a few more things, right? Dangerous!

Doing more felt better. More is more, right? That was my instinct.

So, why did I get the flu?

The Gift of the Flu

I think the Universe loves me so much (and you too!) that it responded to my intention for Less is More. The flu was so bad that all doing and most thinking came to a complete halt. It forced me to make the decisions necessary to do less and be more in the moment, tuned in to myself…Connected!

I was just becoming aware of these lessons from the Universe when I decided to take an Epsom salt bath with frankincense and lavender essential oils. The one I took the day before really helped, so this time I added more frankincense. More is more, right?

Shortly after I got in the tub, my skin started tingling and itching. Too much frankincense. Oops, I guess less is more.

Seeing deeper than a negative situation

Thank you Universe for loving me so much to help me see past a seemingly negative situation and learn so many lessons about Less is More:

Less doing and busy-ness
• Less sense of urgency
• Less focus on being productive; more focus on being
• Being in the present moment (mindfulness)
• Accepting what is (leading to the next item….)
• Peace even in the midst of illness
• Honoring my limitations
• Practicing asking for help
• Prioritizing myself first

 

What could you learn if you could see beyond a seemingly negative situation and listen more deeply?

I’m listening Universe… Next request… May I come to listen more deeply and understand how Less is More without the flu, please?

P.S. The Universe loves you too!

5 Ways Stress Prevents Weight Loss

Tis the season when many of us are focusing on losing weight.

Whatever you do, please don’t go on a diet. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: diets don’t work. If you are tired of yo-yo dieting, then you know what I mean.

95 to 98% of dieters regain the weight they lost. Does this ring true for you?

Stress and anxiety are huge, huge contributors to:

1. Inability to lose weight
2. Weight gain
3. Inability to keep weight off
4. Inability to maintain ideal weight
5. Overeating

Let’s look at the top reasons why…

1. Emotional Eating

We are actually hardwired to eat when we’re under stress. So stress and emotional eating are often major contributors to inability to lose weight.

This comes from the brain’s evolutionary process; from a time when fight-or-flight was a necessary daily survival skill for cave people. The energy gained from the extra food calories could help the body react and survive in the threat of sabertooth tigers.

Your brain still has that ancient wiring which unconsciously tells you to eat when you feel stress or anxiety.

Food is often used for many reasons completely unrelated to physical hunger: distraction, boredom, avoidance, comfort, love, filling a void, control, anger, anxiety, depression, avoidance of emotions, body image worries, shame. The list could go on and on.

Until you resolve the underlying emotions and related stress, emotional eating will always sabotage weight loss.

Are you an Emotional Eater? Take this QUIZ.

2. Worrying, Sleeping… Leptin and Ghrelin

Stress and anxiety alter the hormone leptin (“the satiety hormone”) which is supposed to tell your body to stop consuming food when you become full. Stress creates an imbalance which prevents that message from coming through, thus causing overeating and bingeing.

Conversely, stress and anxiety cause increases in your levels of ghrelin (the “hunger hormone”). Ghrelin is produced in your stomach and is supposed to signal you that it is time to start eating. Stress and anxiety cause ghrelin to send excess hunger signals… this stimulates appetite, increases food intake and promotes fat storage.

Sleep More and Worry Less

Studies show that shortened sleep time is associated with decreases in leptin and elevations in ghrelin. According to a 2004 study, people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30 percent more likely to become obese than those who slept seven to nine hours (from WebMd).

Sleepless nights have a direct impact on brain regions that control decision making and make us more inclined to crave fast food rather than healthier options (from 2013 research at UC Berkeley, from Psychology Today).

Furthermore, a study published in the journal “Appetite” found that worry – just thinking about a stressful event in the future can cause you to eat more by increasing your levels of ghrelin.

3. Cortisol, Metabolism, and your Thyroid

With chronic stress or anxiety, your adrenal glands produce a cascade of hormones connected to your fight-or-flight response. You end up with an excess of adrenaline and cortisol (the main stress hormones).

High cortisol levels signal to your brain that it is time to go into fight-or-flight mode. Then three things happen:

1. Hunger increases.

2. Your thyroid reduces its hormone production and thus slows down your metabolism.

3. Energy, fat, and calories are stored to avoid starvation, and also to conserve energy (in case you need to fight that sabertooth).

Stress ==> more cortisol

==> hunger and increased appetite =

no weight loss and more belly fat

4. Stress, Insulin, and Blood Sugar

Another part of the hormonal cascade that occurs due to stress or anxiety is imbalance in insulin levels. Did you know that insulin was a hormone?

Increases in cortisol caused by stress also can cause higher insulin levels. Insulin regulates your blood sugar. When insulin levels are off, your blood sugar drops and you crave sugary, fatty foods.

 

Stress ==> blood sugar drops

==> food cravings =

weight loss sabotage

5. Stress and Mood – Tryptophan and Vitamin B

Stress and anxiety are both very correlated with low mood and depression. And those things are correlated with weight gain. It creates a vicious cycle.

The more stress and anxiety you have, and the lower your mood, the more likely you are to have food cravings and eat foods that will actually perpetuate the problem.

You might benefit from a boost in serotonin, which is the brain’s feel-good chemical. What most people don’t know is that 95% of your body’s serotonin is produced and stored in your gut.

You can help your gut produce serotonin by increasing a particular amino acid called tryptophan. Foods high in tryptophan can help with mood and are also stress-reducing.

When people feel stressed or anxious and their blood is measured, they tend to have high levels of lactate in their blood. Foods high in B vitamins help stabilize the body’s blood lactate levels, and have a calming effect on your nervous system.

Tired of Diets that Don’t Work?

If you are tired of yo-yo dieting, try a different approach.
Focus on one of the biggest root causes of the problem: stress and anxiety. Read about HOW on my blog:

Emotional eating, Top 5 holiday sabotages, why diets don’t work, what does work
• #1 most effective solution for stress and anxiety, the one and only resolution you ever need

Remember…
If you always do what you always did…
You’ll always get what you always got.

L-Theanine

L-Theanine is an amino acid which can provide relief of the tension and stress, and improve mood. It is also shown to promote alpha brain wave production – alpha brain waves are a sign of relaxed activity in your brain.

L-Theanine can be found in black, green, and white teas, and also is available in higher doses in supplement form.

Anxiety and Constantly Checking Your Phone

Yes, there is a correlation!

Do you have shiny penny syndrome or squirrel syndrome?

The human brain has a “novelty bias.” This means that the pre-frontal cortex becomes easily distracted by new things.

These days, your phone has become your biggest distraction.  You carry your phone with you everywhere and it has an app for everything on it. So your phone has become a problem for your pre-frontal cortex.

Your phone provides a constant distraction which is actually hard on your brain and body.

Your Brain on Phone Addiction

The constant distraction creates a dopamine addiction loop. Your pre-frontal cortex gets a dose of dopamine every time it responds to a phone distraction. Every time you check your phone or text/message or use a phone app, your brain gets its drug.  

Is this an addiction? You probably underestimate how often you actually do this because it has become an unconscious habit.

According to research reported by USA Today and Apple:

  • iPhone users unlock their phones 80 times a day
  • On average, we tap, type, and swipe our smartphones more that 2600 times a day!!!
  • People are more willing to give up food, sleep and sex than to lose their internet connections
  • Half of people in one study would rather have a broken bone than a broken phone!

 

Dopamine is a feel good brain chemical so your brain likes it! It’s the same brain chemical involved in all addictions.  Dopamine is the driver of heroin and cocaine addiction.

When your phone dings and you don’t immediately check it, you feel anxiety.

Because your brain gets addicted to that little dopamine rush, when it doesn’t get it, your brain goes into a stress reaction. Your body is signaled into an anxiety state.

This stress/anxiety reaction releases adrenaline and cortisol in the brain and your sympathetic nervous system is activated.

This activates fight or flight mode, and the following anxiety reactions can occur in your body: increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate, perspiration, preparing muscles to fight or flight, and shutting down digestive processes so you aren’t able to digest food properly.

When your body spends too much time in this mode, it can also suppress your immune system (and therefore contribute to a multitude of health issues). It is also a big contributor to insomnia.

What To Do?

Because your brain likes that dopamine, it will not want to stop pursuing those shiny pennies and squirrel distractions on your phone. It will urge you to keep checking.

But your best strategy is to reduce the constant checking. This will help your brain fight off that stress and anxiety response.

Another strategy is to counter balance the dopamine addiction loop with periods of time of deep concentration or focus or mindfulness.  

Concentration calms your brain so the goal is to find an activity to focus on for a period of time, giving your brain a break from anxiety orientation that your phone creates.

The goal is to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which calms your brain and body.

Meditation is great for this, but you can also accomplish this with many different activities.

Put your phone away for a little while and concentrate on a yoga class. Try concentrating on reading, knitting, or crossword puzzles. Maybe coloring, or cooking, or Zumba.

Find something you love to do and see if you can zone out doing it. That feeling of zoning out, or losing track of time, is what you’re going for. No multi-tasking allowed! No phones allowed!

3 Things

Think of 3 things right now that might get you that into the zone feeling. That is the anti-anxiety feeling.

Pause right now and name 3 things.

My clients often ask me “what can I do to reduce my anxiety?”

Now you know 3 things you could do.

When will you turn off your phone and put it out of sight and try one of them?

Acupuncture for Anxiety

Chinese medicine and acupuncturists view anxiety as an imbalance in your organ system called “Shan You Si” meaning “anxiety and preoccupation.” This is believed to affect your main organs: Heart, Lung, Spleen, Liver and Kidneys. Each of these organs is related to different aspects of your emotions and different energy flows within the body.

Acupuncture restores the energy and functioning of those organ systems to restore balance to your emotional state and reduce anxiety. Most people experience deep relaxation during the acupuncture treatment itself, and after a series of treatments acupuncture can contribute to lower anxiety levels.

Your Health Today Affected by Childhood

The latest research is showing a clear connection between childhood experiences and various physical and mental health problems in adulthood.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are correlated with higher incidence of chronic conditions like:

*  cancer
*  heart disease
*  autoimmune issues
*  obesity
*  COPD
*  liver disease
*  depression
*  anxiety

Adverse Childhood Experiences and Traumas

A lot of things could qualify as an Adverse Childhood Experience – anything which had an adverse effect on you, or a situation which caused you to have a traumatic reaction.

Now when I use the word “trauma” many people think “Oh I didn’t have a traumatic childhood, I wasn’t abused or anything.” There are many types of trauma so I use it the broadest sense of the word.

People automatically think of what we call “Big T” Traumas.”

These include obvious situations of threatened or actual injury, serious accidents, death of someone, losing a caregiver, homelessness, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, physical and emotional neglect, substance abuse, or dealing with mental illness.

It doesn’t have to be something that happened to you. It can be something you witnessed, or something that happened to a caregiver, relative or friend.

Then there are a million different “little t” traumas.” 

Any situation which exceeds your capacity to cope in that moment can be registered in your brain as a trauma…including things like:

*  living in a chaotic household
*  an overly critical parent
*  an emotionally absent parent
*  gaining a new family member
*  being bullied
*  being belittled
*  moving to a new neighborhood
*  disagreements with significant people
*  accidents, or hospitalizations
*  unhappy or depressed or anxious parents
*  substance abuse in the family
 

Both Big T Traumas and little t traumas are Adverse Childhood Experiences. Sometimes a traumatic situation could be a little t or a Big T, depending on your situation.

The Body Remembers

[Babette Rothschild wrote a great book by that name.]

Because of the way that Adverse Childhood Experiences are stored as memories in the brain, both the brain and the body remember them. They become part of your biology.

The same way you may emotionally try to put ACEs out of your mind and “move on,” your body may store the impact of ACEs away out of consciousness.

But many years later you may start to have physical expression of illness due to the unresolved trauma. 

In order to heal, both the physical illness and the unresolved trauma need to be treated.

Childhood experiences can contribute to cancer in adulthood? To heart disease? To Lyme disease? It seems so.

 

Treating cancer or heart disease or Lyme disease means treating emotional trauma too? It seems so.

Astounding Research Statistics

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente studied Adverse Childhood Experiences and correlated them with health statistics of participants over a lifetime.

Rates of disease for those with ACEs were found to be:

• 4.5 times higher for depression
• 3.5 times higher for heart disease
• 2 times higher for cancer
• 3 times higher for lung cancer
• 2.5 times higher for hepatitis
• 2.5 times higher for COPD

Disease rates were worse for those with multiple ACEs.

Risk of suicide was 12 times higher for those with multiple ACEs.

With two or more ACEs, you’re 100% more likely to be diagnosed with rheumatic diseases.

It’s Not All in Your Head

It is believed that the effects of trauma creates chronic inflammation in the body which contributes to a multitude of diseases. These are often diseases for which there does not seem to be an obvious cause (i.e. the doctors can’t explain it).

Sometimes it even surfaces as a mysterious set of symptoms that defies diagnosis. I see many clients who have seen a multitude of doctors who cannot figure out what’s really wrong.

Conditions are often misdiagnosed and patients are often made to feel that it’s all their head. Sometimes they have been told this directly. Sometimes doctors have refused to continue seeing them.

You Are Not Just a Body

We have long known there are emotional contributors to disease. These days we regularly hear how stress (an emotional state) contributes to and worsens so many diseases.

Anxiety (an emotional state) is correlated with many physical ills. 

Disease is not just physical because you are more than just your body. You are body-mind-spirit-emotions-energy. Real healing comes from tending to all of who you are.

Anxiety: Addressing Root Cause (not just symptoms)

Anxiety produces a lot of very distressing “symptoms.”

These include (but are not limited to):

 Headache
 Nausea
 Diarrhea
 Lightheadedness or dizziness
 Heart palpitations
 Breathing difficulty
 Chest pain
 Numbing & tingling (especially arms and legs)
 Sweating
 Chills or flush (hot flash)
 Trembling
 Choking
 Insomnia

So, of course you want to get rid of those symptoms. But you have a choice:

A) You could get rid of the symptoms ONLY for now; or

B) You could get rid of the actual source of the problem, preventing both current AND future symptoms.

A) The Symptom Approach

Doctors tend to ask about symptoms. They have a precious few minutes to assess your symptoms and diagnose your problem.

Often they don’t ask:

• WHY do you think you are having those symptoms?
• What was going on in your life when they started?
• What’s going on in your life now?
• What are you thinking about when you have those symptoms?
• How are you feeling emotionally when you have those symptoms?
• How is your job?
• How are you relationships?
• How is your financial situation?
• How happy and satisfied are you with your life?
• What makes you happy? What makes you unhappy? What’s missing?
• What are your coping strategies?
• What stressful events are you facing at this time?
• What chronic stressful events have you been dealing with over the past 2 years?
• What support do you have (or not have) to help you work through current challenges?

I think they are missing out on finding the root causes of anxiety.

Actually, I’m not sure they are even looking for the root cause.

The primary tool they have to offer for anxiety is medication. Medication works at the level it is designed to work: at the symptom level – to give you some symptomatic relief.

Medication is NOT designed to resolve the root cause of anxiety.

That’s why people are told they have to be on medication forever. Anxiety medication does not prevent anxiety from coming back again….and again. So if that’s the only tool you’ve got, and then you stop taking it, your anxiety will likely come back. Thus, the dependence on it.

Have we lost sight of the real goal?

B) The Root Cause Approach

In my practice, the real goal is to put an end to the root cause of the problem.

Finally getting at the root cause of your anxiety automatically eliminates symptoms… and prevents them from coming back again and again.

 The latest and greatest neuroscience research is clear: The thoughts (neural pathways) and automatic responses (think fight-or-flight) in your brain are the root cause of anxiety.

Therefore, to resolve the root cause of anxiety you must: a) become aware of your thoughts and responses that create anxiety; and b) learn how to retrain your brain to think and respond differently.

Thus, it is no surprise that there are alternatives to medication which are proven by research to be equally or more effective than medication (with longer lasting results).

These have nothing to do with chemical imbalance. Instead, the most effective anxiety treatment addresses the root cause of anxiety thinking and anxiety responses in the brain.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the gold standard treatment for anxiety and panic attacks.

Skills Not Pills

Being free of pills for anxiety is very possible. I see it in my private practice every day. I have many clients who avoid having to start anxiety medication, as well as many who are able to taper off anxiety medication.

With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), my clients learn exactly how to regain control of worry, negative thinking, fear, panic, and the monkey mind of anxiety.

I empower my clients with holistic skills, tools, coping strategies, and natural drug-free methods for eliminating panic attacks, reducing anxiety and improving sleep.

When they learn the tools to both address symptoms and resolve the root cause of the problem, then they find they don’t need medication.

Disclaimer: The topic of prescription medication can be a challenging one for many people. I encourage you to take responsibility for being fully informed and confident making the right healthcare choice for yourself. This article is not medical advice and does not replace consultation with a qualified healthcare professional of your choosing. Never stop medication without such consultation.