I am speaking to you, those of you who suffer from chronic anxiety. You may be taking psychiatric medication, which, despite being helpful, has failed to make your anxiety go away completely. You may have tried psychiatric medication, but had a poor experience with side effects or ineffectiveness for your symptoms. You may be avoiding medication altogether, looking for a more natural approach to help with your anxiety. If any of these descriptions speaks to your personal experience, the following information may help you to progress further in your healing. It can also be helpful for the eternally curious reader, since it may help someone you know and care for.
Our minds and bodies have been brilliantly designed by nature to perpetuate and renew themselves in healthy, beneficial ways. From moment to moment, our blood pH is balanced, the precise level of multiple hormonal messengers is released and recycled, and our heart beats with uncanny accuracy to suit our activity level. At a moment’s notice, our minds and bodies respond to internal or external environmental changes to continuously create and re-establish balance and proper function. This creates our physical and emotional well-being.
Listen to Your Mind and Body
It is clear that living with chronic anxiety is not living in a state of balance. Your system of homeostasis (internal balance) has been affected in some way, physical and/or emotional, so that balance has been disturbed. Your anxiety symptoms are evidence of this. This physical or emotional disturbance can include such things as a chronic physical illness, a traumatic physical accident, surgery, traumatic emotional events, or current life stressors. These events have affected your mind and body’s natural balance. You may not be able to identify a specific event, yet your anxiety symptoms indicate an unidentified imbalance.
In spite of this imbalance (signified by chronic anxiety), your brilliant mind and body has accommodated these symptoms and continues to create balance in other ways, so that you can continue to function. Your mind and body unceasingly attempts to recreate balance. What if chronic anxiety is your mind and body’s way of bringing to your attention this imbalance, so it can be properly identified and corrected?
Chronic Anxiety Doesn’t Have to Last Forever
Your mind and body do not understand chronicity because they are incessantly attempting to create balance. The clear message here is that chronic suffering can be alleviated. We have a tendency as human beings to be accepting of long standing problems if we have not had the capacity to solve them in spite of our best efforts. Your chronic symptoms are actually encouraging you to continue to move your problem solving efforts forward.
Your persistence in doing so will reward you with a solution or partial solution that you can expand upon. This results in relief of your chronic symptoms. Your chronic symptoms are transformed to remitting symptoms.
The acceptance of chronic anxiety as a long term unsolvable problem leads to resignation and the discontinuation of seeking solutions. I am encouraging you to continue attempts at solving this problem which may seem as though it has no solution. It is in the seeking that progress, healing and the restoration of natural balance to your mind and body reside.
Let me tell you about Thomas. I have his permission to share his story with you and his name has been changed to protect his privacy. Thomas, who is now in his fifties, has suffered with chronic anxiety since he was four years old. He was a very shy child with few friends and an inherent fear of approaching people or becoming emotionally close to them. His anxiety was so much a part of his life that he mistakenly identified it as part of his personality. Throughout his life he had suffered with panic attacks, predominant worry, and irritability in response to feeling disrespected by others.
When he entered his mid-thirties, he experienced a traumatic relationship and sought out psychotherapy, where his anxiety was then identified. From there, he attempted a trial of medication for his anxiety which he deemed marginally effective, but he didn’t give up. Through a series of psychotherapy treatments, support groups, and spiritual guidance his, panic attacks have markedly diminished and are more easily mentally diverted when they do arise. I speak about Thomas’s recovery from his anxiety because his life—and the way he has unyieldingly searched for solutions—is a template for my discussion here. He never quit trying new things to help himself feel better, in spite of feeling hopeless at times and wanting to give up. He never gave up his quest for a solution and, because of this, ultimately found relief. Now, while he is still a bit shy, Thomas is more confident, more open to pursuing lifetime career goals he has always dreamed about, and has the most active, healthy social life he has ever had.
Time for a New Beginning
If you are feeling stuck or frustrated regarding chronic anxiety or a chronic problem of any kind, this may be the time for a new beginning. Your failures only identify the things that do not work but do not limit the possibilities for the solutions that will work. The two most important factors here are persistence in your search and connecting with the best people or healthcare practitioners for ongoing guidance and support. Never stop in your seeking. Your brilliant mind and body will inform you of your success with noticeable relief of your anxiety.
Dr. Albert Speranza, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist with 20 years of experience, studied medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin and completed his psychiatric residency at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in NYC. He specializes in anxiety relief using psychiatric medication and other techniques. Dr. Speranza offers individual and group treatment, blending meditation, mental imagery, and cognitive behavioral techniques. Since 1997, he has served the Brooklyn, New York community in his private practice.