What Feeds Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety is an emotion, its purpose being to alert you to something that needs your attention. In the case of a disorder, the anxiety you experience is either more frequent, more intense, or more out of proportion than for those without a disorder.
What sustains an anxiety disorder is fear – we become afraid of being anxious (phobophobia, or the fear of fear) to the point where that fear has us in constant tension and thereby more prone to further anxiety and panic. By constantly worrying when the next wave of anxiety will wash over us, we confirm to the amygdala that it needs to remain hyper-vigilant, which it does by keeping us locked in the fight-or-flight response, with all that adrenaline coursing through our veins.
This fear is just one form of resistance and, as we have established, what we resist persists. It’s easy to get frustrated with anxiety, to get impatient when trying to ‘cure’ it and to get angry about all the things that we’re no longer able to do because of it. Unfortunately all of these responses, no matter how natural, are forms of resistance that actually serve only to perpetuate the condition and prolong the suffering.
Can Anxiety Be Cured?
This is a common question, widely debated and also slightly misunderstood. Anxiety itself cannot be ‘cured’ as it’s a naturally occurring emotion and it has a purpose. You wouldn’t want to stop experiencing anxiety altogether, any more than you would want to live completely free of anger, sadness, or joy. As you’ll discover elsewhere in my articles, to experience one extreme of the emotion spectrum, you must also experience the other extreme. For example, you can only experience true joy if you have also experienced true sorrow.
So, what we mean then is, “can anxiety disorder be cured?” Yes, it can. You’ll find some therapists who don’t agree, they believe that an anxiety disorder is something you must learn to live with, but this is simply not the case. No one is born with an anxiety disorder, it develops over time, and in the same way it can be reversed.
So What’s The Answer?
In a word, acceptance. It sounds so simple, and yet it is unquestionably far from easy to master. True acceptance is the opposite of resistance, and it has the opposite effect. So far you have probably been reacting to anxiety with fear, frustration, impatience, anger – in other words resisting it. All of this confirms to the amygdala that something is wrong and it ramps up the fight-or-flight response as a result of this. So what you need to do is something that tells the amygdala that there is nothing to be concerned about. This can take many forms, for example something as simple as smiling, yawning, listening to some music, reading, meditating. basically, anything that you would not be doing if your life was in immediate danger.
Do this for a few minutes, at the same time resisting the urge to panic or wonder how bad this episode will get, and eventually your amygdala will get the message and the symptoms will start to fade. That’s the basic theory of it, but there is a lot more to it and it takes time and practice to master.
There are numerous articles on this platform to guide you through various methods to reduce anxiety and control your response, but by far the quickest way to recover completely and permanently from anxiety disorder is to register for the Anxiety Recovery Accelerator Program, which is a six week video coaching program that I developed and used for my own recovery. Since then I have used this with many people and have fine-tuned it to make it as enjoyable and effective as possible. It’s the result of years of therapy, research, trial and error, as well as all of my knowledge and experience, all rolled into a powerful program that will have you trying to remember what it was like to have an anxiety disorder!
I wish you all the best with your recovery, and I’ll be honoured to help you get there.