Feeling anxious? Talk it out!

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 40 million
people in the United States (that is, 18.1%) suffer from anxiety. Numbers have
increased significantly in the last decade and with that, the use of different drugs to
cope with it. From alcohol, to marijuana, to the best seller Xanax, people historically
deal with anxiety through the use of different drugs. But now more than ever the use of
prescription drugs has become problematic because it encourages the person to
consume over and over again, finding difficult to manage anxiety without the pill.
Therefore, in hope of a quick fix that closes the possibility to treat the underlying cause,
many people rely exclusively on anxiety medications to deal with this unbearable
feeling. Different researchers believe that the young generation has been raised to feel
comfortable taking psychiatric medications. The stigma that previously accompanied
psychiatric medications seems to be vanishing. Quite the opposite, psychiatric drugs
are now solutions for everything, from being stressed at work, to having a bad day.
However, according to Ingrid Walker, author of High: Drugs, Desire, and a Nation of
Users, “the familiarity can blind people to danger… if you have safely taken a drug for a
while and you’ve seen others do so, you may forget how powerful it is” 1 .

In many cases, the original anxiety problem turns into becoming dependent on opioids.
So, far from curing anxiety, this remedy can sometimes open up another set of challenges. The question is, what do we do with anxiety? Getting appropriate and timely treatment is crucial. 

Certainly, we cannot deny that anxiety is related to physical symptoms: increased heart
rate, hyperventilation, weakness, and trouble sleeping. Medication works at this level, it
might temporarily suppress the symptoms. But, what do we do with the psychological
symptoms such as feeling nervous or restless, a sense of impending doom, and
excessive worry. Typically, anxiety can be linked to a clear external stressor. However,
sometimes it can arise for no apparent reason. Feeling anxious can be a constant
feeling despite the external circumstance. Anxiety is a symptom and as such, reveals
that something else is happening in the person’s life that found anxiety as a way to
express itself. Therefore, treating anxiety exclusively through medication can provide
temporary relief that soon wears off, needing to take another dose of the medication.
Because anxiety could be a complex problem, the idea is to treat it with a variety of
resources. For instance, practicing mindfulness – a technique that entails intentionally
paying attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental manner allowing us to
relate directly to what is occurring in our lives in a new manner.

According to the Bilingual Center for Mindfulness, “this practice offers us the opportunity
to consciously transform the way in which we relate to life’s experiences and
challenges, such as; stress, illness, pain, and anxiety. Mindfulness is compassionate
and kind. It helps us to recover our internal balance and allows us to observe directly,
our automatic reactions. As we cultivate our innate capacity to live in the “here and
now”, we discover that generally we are preoccupied with thoughts of the past or
future” 2 . Deep breathing can also be an important tool. It has been proven that breathing
can have a direct impact on the overall activity of the brain. In a study, scientists found
out that if we can slow breathing down, as we can do by deep breathing or slow
controlled breaths, certain neurons then don’t signal the arousal center, and don’t
hyperactivate the brain. In other words, “calming your breathing can also calm your
mind” 3 .

Finally, finding the right place to talk and be heard can be an invaluable resource.
Through counseling, the person might be able to learn about him/herself in a new
manner and be able to use that knowledge in everyday situations. Moreover, counseling
offers the possibility to engage in an exploratory process that not only helps a person
understand subtle and often unnoticed emotions, but also helps them begin to manage
strong and usually uncomfortable feelings more effectively. Learning about your
motivations and desires may help you respond differently and find new solutions to the
same challenges. Being able to talk out loud offers the possibility to name our thoughts
and feelings. In this process, anxiety is transformed into a symptom that is narrowed
down – through discovering the cause – as opposed to something flooding the entire
existence. As a result, anxiety may become manageable.

  1. Retrieved from https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/pavx5g/this-is-why-xanax-is-blowing-up-in-
    america challenges. The question is, what do we do with anxiety? Getting appropriate and timely
    treatment is crucial.
  2. Retreived from http://bilingualmindfulness.com/what-is-mindfulness/
  3. Retrieved from: http://time.com/4718723/deep-breathing-meditation-calm-anxiety/