Anxiety Relief Without Medications?

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population). However, there can be relief from a source that may surprise you and it doesn't involve medications.

Anxiety

According to anxietycentre.com, current estimates put this number much higher - approximately 30 percent - as many people don't seek help, are misdiagnosed, or don't know they have issues with anxiety.

The Economic Burden of Anxiety Disorders commissioned a study by the ADAA and based on data gathered by the association and published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, anxiety disorders cost the U.S. more than $42 billion a year, almost one third of the $148 billion total mental health bill for the U.S.

More than $22.84 billion of those costs are associated with the repeated use of healthcare services, as those with anxiety disorders seek relief for symptoms that mimic physical illnesses.

A recent survey showed 41 percent of employees from a range of industries reported high levels of anxiety in the workplace.

Another report found that more than half of college students sought help for their anxiety issues. Research has found that anxiety can impede learning, which often leads to lower academic achievement and performance.

Further statistics show:

  • 65% of North Americans take prescription medications daily, 43% take mood altering prescriptions regularly.
  • There were over 3.3 Billion prescriptions filled in America in 2002 (12 times the U.S’s population - that’s 12 prescriptions for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. that year).
  • Paxil and Zoloft (two of the more popular anti-anxiety medications) ranked 7th and 8th in the top ten prescribed medications in the US (these two medications totaled almost $5 Billion in sales in 2002).
  • Recreational drugs are also used to cope with anxiety.  42% of young adults in America regularly use recreational drugs (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
  • Alcohol is commonly used to cope with anxiety. 72% of Canadians consume alcohol each year.
  • 10% of Canadians admit they have an alcohol problem.
  • In 1998, 50% of all traffic fatalities were alcohol-related fatalities. (CBC Report)
  • 70,587 Canadians were charged with impaired driving in 1998. (CBC Report)
  • 25 - 40% of all patients in US hospitals are being treated for complications resulting from alcohol related problems (The Marin Institute)
  • 10% of all deaths in Canada result from alcohol-related diseases.
  • Alcohol-related car crashes are the number one killer of teens. Alcohol use is also associated with homicides, suicides, and drownings—the next three leading causes of death among youth (Center for Substance Abuse Prevention)
  • 65% of North Americans take prescription medications daily, 43% take mood altering prescriptions regularly.

Image of Drugs

There were over 3.3 Billion prescriptions filled in America in 2002 (12 times the U.S’s population - that’s 12 prescriptions for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. that year). Paxil and Zoloft ranked 7th and 8th in the top ten prescribed medications in the US (these two medications totaled almost $5 Billion in sales in 2002).

These are just a few of the common side effects that the FDA lists for anti-anxiety medicines:
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Restlessness
  • Weight gain (the risk is higher with some atypical antipsychotic medicines)
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Not everyone responds well– 50% of people who take these medicines do not benefit; they have no effect.

And according to Dr. Sharron Moalean in her book "Inheritance - How our genes change our lives and our lives change our genes" as many as 10% of individuals of European descent and up to 30% of North African desent are ultrarapid metabolizers of certain drugs due to the versions of genes they have inherited.  so a few of the drugs that are prescribed for anxiety such as Diazepam can be lethal.


An important question to ask “Is anxiety caused by one’s body lacking a pharmaceutical such as: Benzodiazepines, Fluoxetine (Prozac), Paroxetine (Paxil), Sertraline (Zoloft), Citalopram (Celexa), Escitalopram (Lexapro) (SSRI's) and Effexor, Cymbalta, Pristiq (SNRI's)?

Or perhaps anxiety is a symptom of:

  • one’s life is out of balance
  • Stress at work
  • Stress from school
  • Stress in a personal relationship such as marriage
  • Financial stress
  • Stress from an emotional trauma such as the death of a loved one
  • Stress from a serious medical illness
  • Side effect of medication
  • Use of an illicit drug, such as cocaine

Stress is experienced when pressure exceeds our capacity to respond it. Stress results in allostatic load.

Allostatic load is "the wear and tear on the body" which accumulates as an individual is exposed to repeated or chronic stress.

Pharmaceuticals may mask the symptoms of anxiety, but they will not change our brains habitual and unconscious response to change and or challenge that result in stress.

 

Allostasis diagram

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine done by researchers at John Hopkins, showed that there was evidence that mindfulness meditation could alleviate anxiety to a similar degree as drug therapy does. 

Research from Dr. Joe Dispenza is very exciting, since it shows how meditation can balance the brain and relieve anxiety. He highlighted in a presentation at the recent 2017 Neuroscience Training Summit that a CEO suffering from anxiety was able eliminate it long term (he asserts she healed her anxiety) by mastering meditation, as shown in the brain scans indicating Delta/Theta brain wave balancing in her brain in as little as three days.

Brain scan before and after meditation

Source: Joe Dispenza, DC - Becoming Supernatural How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon (Neuroscience Training Summit 2017)

Red show areas of the brain are hyperactive and over aroused. Green areas show the brain in balance.

When are brains are in balance and have coherence (stress disrupts this coherence), Dr. Dispenza asserts, we not only feel better, we function better and achieve better health; we leverage the body’s natural abilities to heal. He shares that findings show people healing themselves from chronic illness. It also shuts down our brain’s Default Mode network (DFM).

The research from Judson Brewer at MIT shows that we can quiet and flat line the Default Mode network (DFM) and the Posterior Cingulate Cortex (PCC) of the brain; which is the source of a lot of our stress and the repeated rumination of thoughts that can be the source of anxiety.

 Image of quietening the PCC and DFN with mindful breathing

Source: http://themindfulnesssummit.com/sessions/judson-brewer/

There are significant numbers or studies done by reputable sources, such as the National Institute of Health (NIH), University of California, John Hopkins, Harvard Medical School, University of Washington, University of Montreal, Emory University in Atlanta, Leiden University in the Netherlands, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Stanford School of Medicine, UCLA, University of Michigan Health System, University of Kentucky, just to name a few.

These findings can be found in the JAMA Internal Medicine, The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, Clinical Neurophysiology Journal, The Journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, PubMed, American Psychological Association, American Journal of Psychiatry, and more…  There are a total of 300 research studies alone on just one type of meditation (Transcendental Meditation) that have been published in 160 peer-reviewed academic and medical journals.

What neuroscience is revealing about meditation, mindfulness, and yoga is exciting because essentially it's starting to catch up with yogic wisdom — yoga, meditation and mindfulness improve your brain, make you stronger, healthier, more relaxed, and more capable of self-actualization.

Recent events such as the 2017 Global Stress Summit and the 2017 Neuroscience Training Summit were packed with presenters sharing some of the latest research and findings. I will be sharing some of them in future blog posts.

What’s keeping you from learning Mindfulness and or Meditation and reaping their benefits?

Do you want a future greater than your past filled with anxiety?

What’s keeping you from obtaining relief from your anxiety and or stress?

Visit the NeuroYoga.Zone  store for my Meditation and Mindfulness offerings.

 

Keith Engelhardt A.S., B.A., MYT

Related:

NeuroYoga Zone “NeuroPatterning”™ Mindfulness Class (6 wk) 5-17-17

Our Brains on "Kirtan Kriya" Meditation

Our Brains on "OM"

 

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