If you’ve ever sat and watched normal television for a while these days, it’s not hard to count up to 10 advertisements for prescription drugs. From ADHD to digestive issues to erectile dysfunction, you’ll find an ‘instant’ solution. So not surprisingly, the topic of prescription drugs often comes up with clients who experience anxiety.
Oprah recently focused our cultural obsession with pill popping on one of her “Super Soul Sunday” programs. According to the NIMH – National Institute of Mental Health 40 million U.S. adults over 18 years of age have some kind of anxiety disorder.
That is about 18% of people in a given year. An anxiety disorder is different than feeling anxious about a specific event. By definition, an anxiety disorder lasts at least 6 months and can get worse if it is not treated. They often occur with other mental or physical illnesses, including alcohol or substance abuse. In general, women are twice as likely as men to experience an anxiety disorder.
Here is a list of the common kinds of anxiety disorders that people experience:
- Panic disorder – anxiety to the max produces panic attacks.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder — use rituals to control the anxiety due to upsetting thoughts, such as germs or dirt.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — a terrifying event that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm produces anxiety.
- Social anxiety disorder – intense anxiety and self-consciousness in everyday social situations. The fear they are being watched, judged, or embarrassed often interferes with work, school, and keeping friends.
- Specific phobias, such as flying, spiders, black cats, blood, heights, etc.
- Generalized anxiety disorder – anticipate disaster with exaggerated worry and tension, be it about health, money, family, or work.
The good news is several kinds of therapy have proven helpful in controlling anxiety. Support groups, stress management techniques, meditation, and support from one’s family, also are successful but most often people opt to treat it with medication and antidepressants.
My prescription is somewhat different. It’s simple. It’s natural. It’s free.
Underneath all of these types of anxiety, is the emotion of FEAR. And fear is one of our six emotions. An emotion is a pure sensation, simple physiology in the body. You know the feeling — that agitation, speedy, heart racing feeling paralysis.
Instead of getting tense and tightening up your muscles, release the fear using your body. When you feel anxious, let your body do what’s natural: wiggle, jiggle, shudder, tremble, and quiver—like a dog at the vet. If it’s easier, shake to music. It may sound strange at first, but if you express the emotional energy with vigor — up the spine, out the arm, hands, legs, in the neck and jaw — it will move out of your body and you’ll quickly feel more peaceful, centered, and focused. While shivering, don’t fuel your doom and gloom thoughts but just remind yourself: “It’s okay to feel scared. It’s okay. I just need to shiver.”
Here are some other pacifying thoughts you can repeatedly tell yourself as you interrupt the old chatter that perpetuate your fear. Pick one or two that resonate for you and repeat them often.
Everything is all right.
Everything will be all right.
One thing at a time.
I’ll handle the future in the future.
I’ll do what I can and the rest is out of my hands.
Be here now.
I suggest trying shivering and interrupting your anxiety-producing thoughts before you reach for a pill. If you feel like it’s too overwhelming and you need some chemical help to stop the intensity, do so, but shiver and replace your funky thoughts as well.