For several years newspapers, magazines, and TV talk shows were chock full of “depression-talk.”
The rates of depression were, and still are, rising propitiously and conversation about the phenomenon of depression and possible cures for this malady were discussed endlessly.
I haven’t noticed as much “depression-discussion” in recent weeks. The conversation has shifted to discussion of anxiety. Now it seems as if newspapers, magazines, and TV talk shows are chock full of “anxiety-talk.”
I wonder why this shift occurred. One reason could be that research has shown the anti-depressant medications to work, in most cases, no better than placebos. Discussion of a problem, when it is believed that no strategy for solution can be offered might, perhaps, block the discussion.
It is my hope that discussion about depression will be renewed and will focus on the good news that solutions do exist! Natural medicine and natural solutions definitely work as effective treatments and cures. For the majority of people drugs have been shown to be ineffectual and, therefore, not needed. We do not need to collectively grieve over this news. Instead we can turn our attention in a different direction and find viable natural treatments which empower and enhance overall health.
In our book Healing Depression the Mind-Body Way Sandra and I describe how depression is created and we offer seven anti-depressant strategies, coming from Ayurveda, the oldest form of natural medicine.
And here is some exciting news—–the same strategies that effectively treat depression work also for the treatment and cure of anxiety! You see, neither anxiety nor depression are isolated conditions. These maladies are tied to the overall health of the entire seamless energetic system that is YOU and understanding how to process matter and digest life is curative. Ayurveda offers an instruction manual on how to accomplish this; how to attain physiological balance and to deter the problems of both anxiety and depression.
We’ve written a lot about depression. Today I want to focus on anxiety and offer one specific strategy to alleviate this disorder.
Anxiety is truly our enemy. It gets in the way of nurturing relationships. We can become detached or revved up because of anxiety. Either way makes true connection impossible. Anxiety makes focus on our work difficult and sleep impossible. Because we each possess a unique nervous system, anxiety is displayed differently by different people. Some people shut down while others fly about, eating on the run, moving from thing to thing like a jack rabbit on steroids. When anxiety overwhelms, panic attacks or phobias can occur. All of us suffer occasionally from a degree of generalized anxiety. Those who experience phobias, such as hypochondria or agoraphobia have severe anxiety.
What is the basis of anxiety? It is, in most cases, triggered by a depleted nervous system. Our physiology is in an ongoing energetic exchange with both its immediate environment and with the universe at large. In other words—we are affected by our expectations of ourselves and others and by everything and everyone around us. Staying in balance is necessary if we are to keep our equilibrium. Life is often filled with obstacles and challenges which profoundly effect our mind-body. We need strategies helping us to maintain physiological balance and relieve stress.
We need to effectively treat anxiety because this disorder can make our life miserable. Nothing that happens to us is as bad as the anxiety which can accompany the event. Anxiety is so uncomfortable that oftentimes individuals become fearful of its presence. This fear creates a tension which insures the occurrence of a subsequent attack. Whether you suffer from generalized anxiety, anxiety about the occurrence of anxiety, panic attacks or phobias, simple, breathing techniques can be helpful. Breathing techniques are powerful medicine but guess what—-the breath is free medicine. No expense occurs! And there are no troublesome side effects.
Breathing techniques are potent. Integrating the performance of our respiratory tract with that of our nervous system has an impact on our digestive, immune, circulatory, and endocrine functioning. When used properly and on a regular basis breathing techniques help us to exert voluntary control over our mental and emotional states. The oxygen that meets your nose is a medicine that can effectively treat anxiety disorders. No kidding!
Our breath mirrors our moods. When we become anxious shortness of breath ensues. Choppy, irregular breathing causes an inadequate exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, which in turn causes the heart to pump faster to oxygenate the blood. Such an increase in heart rate enhances the experience of anxiety. When your hear pumps wildly, your thoughts race, your emotions are bound to be out of control and vitality will evaporate.
Begin to train your nervous system to function in a calm and healing mode by focusing on nose breathing. Mouth breathing has the same effect as gasping for air: it sends a message to the brain that the physiology is in a state of stress; the physiology then responds by going into overdrive.
When air enters through the nose, it affects the part of the brain that sends a message of relaxation to the nervous system. A deep full breath through the nose also ensures that oxygen is being delivered to the lower lobes of the lungs. As the lower lobes expand to accept the gush of air, stretch receptors are activated. These receptors trigger the release of biochemicals that ground one’s mental torrents yet invigorate the physiology. Putting the breath under your voluntary control is a great antidote for a physiology that is overcome with anxiety and exhaustion.That’s why so many people advise, “Take a deep breath” when the going gets rough or when things get tense—–because it works!
Breathing techniques are but one of the solutions Ayurveda offers for the treatment of anxiety.
If you are suffering from an anxiety disorder we hope you will utilize your breath as a free and effective treatment and that you will come to Ayurveda to learn about other interventions! There are many and the good news is this—they work!
As always, Sandra and I wish you health, happiness, and—– an anxiety free day.