Anxiety is a pervasive and chronic problem for millions of people. Anxiety does not discriminate among sectors of the population. It affects all ages, ethnic groups, socioeconomic brackets, and both men and women.
Anxiety can range from extremely disabling (where a person cannot leave the house or be around other people) to a persistent nuisance that detracts from quality of life and the range of activities that a person can enjoy. Many people suffer from simple phobias (fears of certain stimuli, such as heights, driving, flying, public speaking, meetings or presentations, tests, doctor visits, diseases or germs, closed or tight spaces, bugs, etc.). Others have periodic panic attacks, leaving them stricken with fear, confusion, physical symptoms (such as heart palpitations and shortness of breath), and the terrible burden of wondering when the next panic attack will strike.
Many people (including quite a few of my patients) have been taken to hospital emergency rooms, fearing they were having heart attacks, only to discover that they had a panic attack. Such experiences are traumatic, leaving patients embarrassed, confused, and told that they must take (habit-forming) medicines indefinitely.
Anxiety is a terrible emotion to experience and is worsened when there is no apparent cause for it. The anxious person not only feels bad due to the anxiety, but he also feels silly for feeling bad, because he knows that the emotion makes no sense. If an anxious person can take something or do something that blocks awareness of the anxiety, he feels tremendous relief—temporarily.
The triggers and causes of anxiety are multiple. It is easiest to understand anxiety as a basic nervous system response that helps survival under certain conditions. The adrenal response that elicits fight-or-flight mode is a biological instinct that prepares us to deal with threat or danger. However, this arousal response gets out of hand when the nervous system perceives threat or danger repeatedly in situations where they do not exist; an anxiety disorder is a condition in which this happens continually, relegating its victims to a lifestyle decimated by tension, anxiety, fear, panic, physical symptoms, sleeplessness, impaired social relations, poor concentration, and diminished performance—often without conscious awareness of what is making them feel so uncomfortable.
The acceleration and seeming “mutation” arousal of the nervous system that constitutes persistent anxiety can be seen as a nervous system habit caused by various traumas (including experiences, perceptions, illnesses, foods), genetic predisposition, and “perturbations”—disturbances in the coding processes of the nervous system—triggered to the point where the person cannot calm it down. Persistent anxiety is a condition in which the normal self-soothing mechanisms have become ineffective.
There are several treatment options for anxiety. Unfortunately, the predominant method—drugs—is only a temporary palliative and has many untoward side effects, including addiction!
The prevailing “scientific” explanation for anxiety (and depression and many other conditions) is that chemical imbalances in the brain are responsible, thereby “requiring” a daily infusion of chemicals that help the brain bind certain receptors and facilitate uptake of other neurotransmitters in the synapses. Such explanations are technical-sounding misnomers—straw men of sorts that miss the point, which is: our entire nervous system and biochemistry runs on chemical imbalances! Fatigue, hunger, joy, irritation, sexual desire, ambition, satiation are all “imbalances” managed by a flexible brain. When these imbalances are insufficiently managed or are over- or undercorrected, symptoms such as anxiety arise beyond a threshold level. (See Steinberg & Othmer, ADD: The 20-Hour Solution, 2004, chapter 8, for a fuller explanation)
Trying to solve the anxiety problem by dousing the nervous system with toxic chemicals is a marginal solution, at best.
Other treatment approaches include cognitive behavior modification and various forms of psychotherapy (usually “talk” therapy). In cognitive behavior modification, the patient is taught to “reframe” anxious thoughts and feelings by using logic and reassurance to prove that there is no actual threat or reason to be anxious. Despite its current popularity, cognitive behavior modification is largely ineffective in maintaining anxiety reduction and for good reason: feelings do not have reason! They exist in a domain independent of reason. Although feelings and reason can be integrated (and usually are in healthy functional individuals), you can no more tell the nervous system not to be anxious by logic than you can will a stomach-ache to disappear or to reason that you should fall in love with a particular person.
An extreme and popular form of therapy for anxiety-reduction is systematic desensitization. In this “treatment” the anxious or fearful person is encouraged to gradually expose himself to the feared stimulus in order to desensitize the anxiety. Patients are assisted by cognitive behavior modification scripts and sometimes by the presence of a therapist. It is, in my opinion, a fancified yet barbaric method of toughing it out. It often leaves patients more anxious and less confident. Proving that you can withstand pain does little to resolve so-called “chemical imbalances” or to keep anxiety from returning.
I should know. I practiced these methods for decades before I discovered the newer and more effective treatment methods.
I now use a combination of Voice Technology Thought Field Therapy and EEG neurofeedback to defeat anxiety.
Thought Field Therapy (TFT) is a powerful treatment for dealing with psychological disturbances. TFT provides a code that, when applied to a psychological problem the individual is experiencing, eliminates perturbations in the thought field that are the fundamental cause of all negative emotions. (A perturbation is a disturbance in the encoding of information that connects a thought with a feeling. TFT acts upon these perturbations to collapse them and render them inactive.) Voice Technology is a very advanced form of Thought Field Therapy that uses the human voice to determine the codes that keep anxiety and other negative emotions in place.
I test the person’s voice and, using the revealed information, prescribe tapping sequences that the person self-administers on his own body. In a matter of minutes, the anxiety and other negative feelings disappear! This procedure works 97% of the time and can be done over the phone.
In cases involving phobias and trauma-based anxiety, one or two treatments are often sufficient to eliminate the anxiety and keep it at bay. Some people need more treatment, and a significant percentage of these people are sensitive to toxins—foods, supplements, toiletries, materials—that they encounter regularly without knowing that these contribute to and trigger anxiety. By voice-testing for toxins, patients are empowered to identify and avoid substances that can trigger anxiety.
There are also self-help versions of Thought Field Therapy that enable many people to effectively treat their own anxiety (See Steinberg, Living Intact: Challenge and Choice in Tough Times, 2011, for a fuller description and step-by-step self-help guide).
EEG neurofeedback is a highly effective method of gradually reducing anxiety and training the brain and nervous system to remain calm, even in the face of provocation. Using this method, patients train their brainwaves using computers. This method takes advantage of the brain’s natural neuroplasticity by providing feedback that subclinically alters the brain’s flexibility in manipulating the timing mechanisms underlying states of arousal and feeling.
Neurofeedback is a brain exercise that has pervasive and lasting effects. It enables the brain to find, develop, and restore its own “comfort” levels for maintaining calmness and equanimity. Neurofeedback is effectively used for many conditions. Because it directly influences nervous system control, almost always enables the reduction of anxiety and exerts a calming influence on the nervous system. After a training regimen, the brain continues to exercise the control it has learned. Anxiety is rendered noninvasive because the brain learns to maintain self-regulation.
I use a combination of these treatment methods to achieve both rapid and lasting effects in the elimination of anxiety. These treatments are natural, effective, and enduring because they address the root causes of anxiety.