Is there an anxiety cure? It's a good question as many of the recommended treatments are not about cure but about management. People suffering from anxiety can end up in a neural loop, being anxious about anxiety. They can become hardwired by anything that is related to the anxiety attack:
1. You have a panic attack in a classroom
2. Your hippocampus remembers you were in a classroom and it clocks 'classroom' as danger
3. Next time you are about to walk into the classroom you are triggered into anxiety
It can be more simple than this:
1. You blush when your boss criticises you
2. You find everytime you see your boss you blush
So the strong emotion gets hard-wired in your brain causing an automatic response via the limbic system or the amygdala area in the brain. Our brain can be retrained so it doesn't respond automatically.
The two go-to treatments for anxiety are CBT and an SSRI medication. CBT teaches you cognitive awareness and approaches to self-manage anxiety. An SSRI or anti-depressive/anxiety medication is likely to help with anxiety in the short term but not the long term and again it's treating the symptoms not the problem. Sometimes the symptoms will escalate before they get better.
Because there is an automatic aspect to anxiety, it cannot be cognitively managed. It will switch on whether you like it or not and then CBT teaches you to manage the symptoms.
I find an integrated mix of modalities works best. I work with the brain, the unconscious and the body. My style is holistic. I find this gets best results and clients walk away after approximately 4-6 sessions without anxiety. One client walked away fully healed after 40 years of anxiety and 2 sessions - but he did have a kundalini rising - which isn't something I can deliver on request!
So what is involved in curing anxiety? These are the techniques I use:
1. YOUR HISTORY
In our first session together I take notes about your symptoms and your history. We develop a check list of outcomes that will guide us to our last session.
I like to work out when the nervous system learnt to go into hyper vigilance and when the brain started it's neural looping into anticipating the anxiety or anxiety of anxiety.Has there been an initial incident or incidents where the body learnt to escalate into fight or flight? Not everyone will remember the time they began to get anxiety and what triggered it, but most will. For some anxiety comes about as a gradual amping up of life's stresses.
We establish if there is trauma - when the body first learnt to escalate into fight or flight whether it be through a death, a birth, a traumatising incident such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, an accident, a relationship break-up or bullying. I work with EMDR to reprogram the brain. This separates the incident or incidents from the high level emotions so you can carry the memory without the emotional load.
EMDR is short for Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing and it has been evidenced to be highly useful in treating PTSD and trauma. You can read about it here http://www.emdr.com/what-is-emdr/
Neuro linguistic programming was developed to work with the brain, language and programming of self to open up your world view and make you a more successful person. A couple of dudes called Bandler and Grinder developed it and marketed as coaching on the corporate market. While I'm not a huge fan of NLP it does has some really good tools. If you have ever heard the word 'reframe' that's an NLP term. I like to use a n NLP technique where you take your anxiety provoking trigger - such as walking into a room of people. By imagining it your body will be going into fight or flight and you will experience some anxiety and you are likely to produce stress hormones that will activate the nervous system. We then build other imaginative scenarios and neural cues over the top of the triggering scenario, that may involve you feeling confident or loved or in control or happy, causing you to release different neuro chemicals. We layer and layer until the neural pathways become confused and you have broken down the neural pathway linked to triggering the anxiety.
Hypnosis is safe and you will always remain in a state of control. It is like a guided meditation where you are in a state of relaxation and focussed on the sound of my voice as I take you on a journey
Working with the unconscious and by-passing the critical mind is very powerful. I work with positive suggestions to help you release triggers and bring you back into a natural state of calm and safety. I retrain the unconscious to understand that it is safe. We train our confident, empowered self to expand.
While in a state of hypnosis we can also:
Work with your anxious self to identify what they need to feel better (safety? Love? Care?)
Use the imagination to project to the calm you, in the future. What you can imagine can become real. If you can see it and feel it you are creating neural pathways.
We use the imagination while in a trance to relieve triggers - we re-experience the anxiety through the imagination, each time learning to calm it and turn it around. This is called 'exposure' - slowly retraining your nervous system that it is safe.
5. SOMATIC WORK
We work through your body while in a trance identifying where you hold your anxiety. We relax these areas (heart, below the heart, stomach) and identify if there are any feelings of tension, terror or anxiety. Is it fluid or frozen, heavy or light? Our nervous system response is reflected in an increased heart rate, nausea and can lead to IBS and other digestive issues. We work with moving toward safe states and unsafe states via the imagination so that you can learn how your body responds. The nervous system is re-trained to relax. You learn how to map your own body and how to truly relax.
We work with the breath - using diaphragmatic breathing to slow down your nervous system. Some call this the switch breath as it is a physiological way of turning the system from activated and stressed to relaxed. It is a standard method of self managing anxiety.
All of us have a wise inner guide who knows what you need and what's best for you, it's a matter of connecting with him or her and expanding their power. We all have multiple players within us - the child, the teacher, the pupil, the mother, the victim, the healer...
You may have an inner critic that wants to punish you and this leads to anxiety or an unsafe child that feels victimised and in pain, or a worrier who is constantly imagining the worst outcomes. By activating and expanding the part of you that is powerful, matured and wise and bringing them into a leadership position within you, big changes can be made.
If needed, we can work with your inner child, first finding your wise, strong and powerful adult who can step in and look after you. We use all sorts of techniques to bring the child to a place of safety and healing including narrative re-writing (re-imagine the story so you are more empowered) and finding out what the child needs to feel whole again. We can work with parts of you that feel unsafe and unresolved and integrate them into a place of safety and maturity.
This work is closely tied into the somatic work. While in a trance we go can work on a deeper level with your unconscious finding symbols and colours that represent trauma, anxiety and low mood. We can work together to shift and change the unconscious state and to let go of old patterns and bring about a deep change. This is extremely powerful work.
I may use all or some of these tools in combination depending upon your story.
If you have interest in being anxiety free, as opposed to 'managing your anxiety' then please give me a call to talk about whether this type of therapy would suit you.