Determining the Cause of Anxiety
Our body only has limited ways of indicating there is something wrong, even though the causes of symptoms may vary drastically. This is especially true for Anxiety. Anxiety is a case where a differential diagnosis is extremely important to sift through what is truly the cause of its symptoms.
Dr. Diane® explains this concept to every patient who comes into the office through her “sweaty woman” example. Sweating is a symptom, but what is causing the person to sweat? Dr. Diane®’s office has a huge front window. She asked my patients to picture themselves outside looking into her office. She has them picture a chilly fall day. Her office has an amazing fireplace, and she has them picture the fire ablaze. She then asks them to picture a 45 year-old woman who is sweating while sitting in an office chair.
- She’s sweating because the room is too hot
- She has a fever
- She is anxious
- She has food poisoning
- She has diabetes
- She’s having a hot flash
- She has Lyme disease.
The potential answers range from having all seven issues individually or concurrently. Therefore, it is extremely important to differentiate which of the causes ranks the highest to find the appropriate solution, methods and/or treatments to help her.
Dr. Diane® In Brain Health approach I divides methods into two categories: Internal and External. Internal is something you can do on your own without help, whereas external requires help from someone outside of yourself. Medication is an external method, while other methods such as humor, exercise, and meditation, are internal. Dr. Diane® believes it is important to know the internal methods, because there may come a time when you do not have access to them.
So if you have a method or methods that work, then great. For those of you who have not found something that works, or you just want additional methods to use, here are internal and external methods for alleviating the symptoms of anxiety.
- Thinking about something else
- Music: Singing, dancing, drumming
- Emotional Freedom Therapy (EFT) / Thought Field Therapy (TFT)
- Energy Medicine
- Heart Rate Variability Breathing
- Exercise, Yoga, , Tai Chi, and QiGong
Worldwide, prayer and/or mediation are two of the most calming methods known. However, most people do not take time to pray, and learning how to mediate correctly has a learning curve, just read the book Eat, Pray, Love.
Visualization Techniques for Anxiety
If you prefer utilizing visualization, distraction and breathing techniques, Dr. Joseph Cautella, Ph. D., who was a professor of psychology at Boston College, developed the Cautella’s Self Control Triad.
The following is a brief explanation of Cautella’s method:
You learn to stop thinking by saying, “Stop,” and then take a deep breath in through your nose, and exhale out of your mouth. Then you picture water over your body, and while picturing a squeegee, you visualize the squeegee removing the water going from the top of your body down to your toes. You keep doing this until you feel calmer, and then you picture a calming relaxing scene.
Energy Psychology and Energy Medicine
For many people fidgeting with their clothing, hair, or other objects can be very calming. Singing, dancing, making rhythmic sounds, tapping or drumming is also very effective.
If you like drumming or tapping, there is a form of Energy Psychology called Emotional Freedom Therapy (EFT) and/or Thought Field Therapy (TFT), which encourages you to tap specific acupressure points in a specific pattern and alleviate anxiety.
Founded and developed by Donna Eden and Dr. David Feinstein, which heals the body by activating and/or restoring its natural healing energies if they have become weak, disturbed, or out of balance. Energy medicine uses techniques from healing methods such as acupuncture, yoga, kinesiology, and Qi Gong. These different approaches work well against the symptoms of PCS and PTSD. Dr. Diane® is a certified practitioner for all these methods.
Creating art is an internal method that allows the overactive Limbic system to feel calm. This is also true of using humor as a method. On the other hand, Heart Rate Breathing does require some external devices to give you the proper feedback. One of the best is through HeartMath Inner Balance.
Hypnosis is the natural ability to disassociate from the current situation. Once you have learned what is needed, you have an extremely effective method for alleviating anxiety.
Exercise, whether it is active sports, or recreational activity such as yoga, Tai Chi, Reiki, and/or QiGong, is great at producing a calming effect to the brain without any external methods. Clara Diebold is a Reiki Master and is a part of the Brain Health Team.
- Hot Bath or Hot Tub
- Talk Therapy- Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
- Cranial Sacral Therapy
- Homeopathic-including Bach Flower Essence
- Herbal Remedies
- Cranial Electro Stimulation (CES)
- Aroma Therapy
- Light Therapy
- Sound Therapy
- Massage, such as reflexology or Feldenkrais Method
- Energy Work: Reiki, Polarity, Quantum Touch
- Night out: movie, theater, etc.
Nutrition for Anxiety
What you eat truly does affect how you feel. If you eat lots of sugar you will not feel calm, and feelings of anxiety will heighten. Alcohol and some recreational drugs will perpetuate anxiety. If you have any form of brain injury, please avoid sugar, alcohol, and recreational drugs. Martha Lindsay is our nutrition educator as part of the Brain Health Team.
Medication for Anxiety
Before using any medication, whether it is prescribed or over the counter, please consider the side effects of medication and how it may affect you due to your sensitivity to it. Before taking any medication, discuss your medical history with your PCP or licensed provider. This also goes for homeopathic, herbal remedies, and aromatherapies. Dr. Sharon Barrett, M.D. is our Psychopharmacologist as part of the Brain Health Team. David Sollars is our homeopathic practitioner as part of the Brain Health Team. Dr. Diane® is also an essential oil provider.
Other External Methods
Acupuncture has been around for over 4,000 years as an external method for alleviating anxiety. Both William Mogan and David Sollars are our team acupuncturists. What you think can cause your body and brain to react. Understanding how you think and how to change your thinking can be effectively done through talk therapy; Dr. Diane® is a licensed psychologist. Another form of talk therapy, specially designed to deal with anxiety, is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which was developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro. This form of talk therapy includes an integrative eight-phase approach to disconnecting the emotional and physical reaction to a traumatic event from the thought of the event. This method of identifying the physical and emotional triggers that heighten PCS symptoms provides tools to work through and sever this connection. Sound therapy includes using scientific programs such as Hemi-Sync, Bilateral Sounds, the Tomatis Method and Swingle Sounds to help to soothe the Limbic system. Light therapy uses lasers from infrared to visual wave patterns, to sitting under various color lights that help produce a calming effect to the brain. Paul Soper is our sound specialist as part of our Brain Health Team.
Biofeedback and Neurofeedback
Biofeedback, which includes thermal, muscular and EEG (Neurofeedback), is akin to looking in a mirror that reflects your inner responses rather than your outer appearance. Ordinarily, you cannot influence your brain wave activity, because you have no information about it. However, when you can see instantaneous information about your brain function on a computer screen, you have the ability to positively influence that function. One form of Biofeedback speaks to the body through electrical impulse signals that are modified based on changes detected at the skin’s surface, such as reddening or numbness. Signals are sent to the body through the skin based on changes within the body, and are then reflected back to the surface of the skin. This causes the body to move toward a more normative state. Self-controlled Energy Neuro Adaptive Regulation (SCENAR) employs signals that are modified depending on what happened in the past—a backward-looking technology that is viewed as reorganizing. The newer Cosmodic technology of adaptive regulation looks ahead to the body’s target state of response, so it is more regenerative in nature. Another electrical Biofeedback method that was also developed in Russia during the 1950s is Cranial Electro Stimulation (CES). From this technology there has been double blind clinical trials, proving it effective in treating anxiety, insomnia, and depression. It is also a registered FDA medical device for alleviating said symptoms, and it is effective for chronic pain. Neurofeedback has many subdivisions, which I will go into greater detail about in a future post. However, all of the various types are specifically designed to alleviate anxiety. The number of external sessions of treatment vary depends on the specific cause. Neurofeedback is one of the external methods that not only addresses the symptom of anxiety, but also addresses the cause. The use of Neurofeedback with talk therapy, in conjunction with many of the other internal and external modalities presented, can help to alleviate anxiety. Both Dr. Diane® and Paul Soper provide Neurofeedback as part of the Brain Health Expert Team.