With the increase in diagnosis and treatment of depression and anxiety it would seem that mental health disorders are on the rise. But are the rates of
mental health disorders really increasing or is the medical fraternity becoming hyper vigilant and prescribing anti-depressants for normal common stress-related
Most of us at some stage have felt anxious about something like a new job interview or having to give a speech in public. When we are faced with an obvious
stressful event or a difficult situation we tend to accept the anxious feelings as normal and the anxiety then usually calms down completely with the
end or absence of the stressor. But when the anxiety doesn’t go away or comes on randomly without an obvious trigger, that is when you can really freak
out, especially if you don’t understand why you are feeling that way. If you don’t have the tools or strategy to deal with the anxiety, the fear of
it only feeds it and the anxiety can spiral out of control. For many people this is their reality.
When anxiety hits you in this way you can feel nauseous, your mind has irrational thoughts and you think “right now I really am losing my #$@% and it’s
only a matter of time before I’m off to the looney bin” …Does that sound familiar? Well you’re not alone because anxiety is becoming commonplace
for many people. More and more people with anxiety and depression are presenting at my clinic and that is what’s prompted me to write this blog; to
offer some insights from an energetic perspective and some handy tips to help you understand and hopefully avoid anxiety or a panic attack, or at least
manage it better so you feel empowered rather than victimised.
What is anxiety?
The precursor to anxiety is always stress i.e. fear: an age-old condition since the dawn of time.
In the beginning, the stress response saved our lives. It allowed us to run from predators, enabled us to take down prey, run from dinosaurs or protect
our family from neighbouring cavemen – it’s known as the “flight/fight response”. This is a vital part of our physiology and without it, we may not
be here today to even talk about it – we would be dug up instead as fossilised dinosaur droppings.
We are designed to cope with a limited amount of stress to avoid danger in short bursts and as the threat of danger passes, we relax in the safety of our
cave and our stress levels return to normal.
Unfortunately, our 2017 life style is creating modern stressors such as coping with 30-year mortgages, meeting deadlines, final exams, difficult bosses,
children, traffic jams and a multitude of other modern day pressures. And so we have difficulty turning this stress response off. From our body’s perspective,
we are still running from dinosaurs; constantly marinating ourselves in corrosive stress hormones. As a result, our stress is slowly killing us – statistics
show a 50% chance you’ll end up with a chronic disease due to unmanaged levels of stress and anxiety.
Stress is simply an unmanaged fear-based response, imbalancing the various energy centres of our energetic system and negatively impacting our mind, emotions
and body as a result.
‘Beyond Blue’ defines anxiety as:
Physically: panic attacks, hot and cold flushes, racing heart, tightening of the chest, quick breathing, restlessness, or feeling tense, wound up and edgy,
Psychologically: excessive fear, worry, catastrophising, or obsessive thinking
Behaviourally: avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious which can impact on study, work or social life.
Stress, left unmanaged, creates a condition known as anxiety – a prolonged adrenalised state constantly undermining the quality of our life and reducing
our ability to perform and cope with life.
Creating the Anxiety Bomb
Not every person who has a stressful day will experience anxiety or a panic attack. To create an anxiety bomb one needs to have been exposed to a high
level of stress (short or long term) and completely block or control the emotion (fear) negating the natural release of the excess stress through the
If you watch young children play, they are completely uninhibited when it comes to expressing their emotions, as society hasn’t yet taught them to control
and block their natural states. As a result, young children usually release their emotions and then continue to play and interact peacefully as the
emotional charge has been expressed and released. Animals release stress by physically exerting themselves to burn off the adrenalin – ducks vigorously
flap their wings after conflict; dogs and horses run around or shake for the same reasons – to expel the excess adrenalin.
Traditionally, post-World War II generations were told to “get on with it” in order to survive the travesties of war. What choice did they have at the
time? This suppression of stress (particularly emotional stress) has endured and been passed on through the generations ever since. For some men, the
ability to suppress stress is foolishly revered as a badge of honour – with lethal consequences.
Society’s inability to understand, much less teach, generations how to manage emotional stress effectively has led to generations of suppressed, unresolved,
emotionally wounded people. Combined with the modern dilemma of wanting more and doing more, with little down time to relax and slow down, we have
created an emotional pressure cooker – an anxiety bomb waiting for the next trigger to light the fuse. Triggers such as an argument, a loss of some
kind, being run down from over work and lacking of sleep, or a trigger from a childhood trauma can suddenly provoke a stress response that will suddenly
flood the body with panic and anxiety.
These explosions can manifest in a variety of ways, such as full-blown anxiety attacks, a mental breakdown, or through a more subtle a slide into the blues
The good news is that we can diffuse the anxiety bomb by reducing and managing the fuel (stress) and dismantling the bomb (ignorance that creates it in
the first place).
The energy of stress / fear can be absorbed and held anywhere in the body and there are three energy centres that are always involved in anxiety. These
are the base, navel and heart centres.
The base centre triggers the classic fight response, connecting to the kidneys and adrenals and creating that speedy, can’t-sit-still, adrenalised feeling
throughout the body. This contraction of the base centre also reflects to the diaphragm, commonly resulting in an inability to breathe deeply.
Fear also imbalances the navel centre, effecting our digestive system and stomach and resulting in feelings of nausea or pain across the whole torso.
The heart centre contracts fear through the pericardium – the membrane housing the heart organ. This feels like a tightness across the chest and can lead
to a heart racing due to trapped excess energy. Normally, the energetic meridians of the pericardium expel excess energy through the hands acting like
a release valve so the heart stays calm. When we hold fear in the pericardium/heart this release valve through the pericardium meridian is reduced,
resulting in a backup of energy in the chest giving rise to a pounding panic attack or the feeling of a sack full of rabbits in the chest.
An additional symptom of anxiety is the feeling of being ungrounded, where the energetic body is displaced from the physical body. It has a predictable
set of characteristics such as; floating out of body; clumsiness; feeling forgetful and unable to structure thought; feeling like you are watching
your life and not being in it; feeling detached; feeling emotionally up and down.
Research shows that our perception to a situation is critical to our response. i.e. How we think about a potential stress determines our emotional response
and visa versa – how we feel about a situation affects our thinking. So what comes first, the thought or the feeling?
In the end it doesn’t matter – we need to manage both. Viewing our situation from a calm, rational perspective is important i.e. realising we won’t die
if we don’t meet our expectations or that the worst scenario isn’t life threatening, helps keep our thoughts in perspective. Conversely, managing our
emotions – letting go of the fear and calming ourselves down – reverses the negative irrational thoughts.
Having tools and a strategy for managing both the mind and the emotions is key to reducing the stress response in any situation.
The tricky aspect in mental health is the complexity and conflicting definitions of what is “normal” and what is a “mental illness“- even within psychiatry
circles there is division and confusion.
Dr Al Frances, the lead editor of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders said, “There is
no definition of a mental disorder. It’s bulls–t. I mean, you just can’t define it.” (Greenberg 2017)
So for the average person, how do we know what is normal and what is a mental illness? Am I losing it or am I just stressed out? Should I seek help? Do
I need specific medications, interventions and perhaps time spent in an acute care mental health facility? What are my treatment options other than
anti-depressants etc.? Do alternative therapies help? And so on.
For most people with some form of depression or anxiety, the first port of call is to seek help from a general practitioner, where anti-depressants are
often prescribed. Other general practitioners with a broader perspective might refer patients to a psychologist, who in turn will provide drug-free
one on one consultations to help address and hopefully reduce the symptoms by encouraging a different mental approach to their problems.
Psychologists will often discuss a broader framework for individuals addressing aspects of the work / life balance, lifestyle habits and relationships.
If these initial consultations fail to remedy the symptoms, a referral to a psychiatrist is the third line of defence for a GP. At this stage, medications
will be the order of the day to help balance any chemical imbalances affecting mood, behaviour and general outlook. With this approach, patients will
often feel there is no other choice or alternative treatment offered by the prescribing doctor.
In my last 15 years working as an energy medicine practitioner, I have witnessed this typical approach to mental health and for some patients it has been
the best approach to manage their states of depression and anxiety. However, I have also seen many people who found little benefit from the GP/psychologist/psychiatrist
approach and have presented themselves at my clinic disillusioned, frustrated and more anxious than were when they were first diagnosed.
In recent years, the acceptance of mindfulness meditation (now verified by scientific studies) has the medical professions catching onto what the eastern
traditions have known for centuries to be a legitimate tool in the treatment of anxiety and depression – a mind/body medicine so to speak.
Understanding stress and anxiety from an energetic perspective provides a fresh approach to this common challenge we all face at some point in our life
and provides a successful treatment methodology for many people. I have helped many patients otherwise at the end of the treatment options road completely
recover from anxiety. This has achieved by combining one-on-one treatments and teaching a refined therapeutic mindfulness program “Meditation Essentials”
as an ongoing self-care strategy.
Most people tend to have an idea what is triggering their anxiety or depression but little understanding of the cause or tools available to practically
deal with the condition where traditional options have failed.
There are some very easy practical solutions to help reduce anxiety.
If you feel you need additional help the first step would be to contact your local GP for a referral to a registered alternative health practitioner as
part of an overall treatment plan.
Greenberg, Gary 2010, “Inside the battle to define mental Illness”, Wired, viewed 24th March 2017, https://www.wired.com/2010/12/ff_dsmv/
Beyond Blue, viewed 24th March 2017, https://www.beyondblue.org.au/ the-facts/anxiety/signs-and-symptoms