Treatment of Anxiety Question:
If you think that “positive thinking” can control my anxiety, you obviously just don’t understand.
There is no point in reciting a positive thought you do not believe. A real anxiety cure will actually change the distorted thinking that contributes to anxiety and replace it with more realistic, rational, (and incidentally, more positive) thinking.This is not to say that anxiety is not real, debilitating, and horrible to deal with. Treatment of anxiety is not as simple as “thinking positive.” You have probably already tried that. If a positive thought would chase away anxiety, anxiety disorders would not exist.
The idea that your thinking can make such profound changes as to eradicate anxiety does not mean that the anxiety is your fault or that you were doing anything wrong to bring on the anxiety in the first place. Quite the contrary.
Infusion of lactic acid can bring on a panic attack (1). This is a purely physical cause, and cannot be attributed to any fault of the person or to the person’s thinking.
As Dr. David Burns Says: Aspirin helps with a headache – this does not mean you had an Aspirin deficiency.
Changing your thinking can help decrease anxiety – this does not mean that you were doing anything wrong causing the anxiety in the first place.
There are possible treatments of anxiety, including cognitive, hidden emotion, and exposure techniques.
Cognitive therapy has been shown to make actual physical changes in the brain. This means that there are thinking techniques that you can use to change your own brain. Using cognitive, exposure, and behavioral techniques can change the way your brain responds and ultimately cure panic attacks. These techniques are highly effective in treatment of anxiety.
Many people are reluctant to accept that there is anything they can do to deal with anxiety – in part because of the high emotional cost of doing the necessary work, and in part due to belief in a medical model of health. The idea that a pill should make us better is prevalent in North American society, and many people just want to take medication and wait for the anxiety to go away. The problem with medication is that it does not actually cure anxiety, rather, medication just masks anxiety. The cause of the anxiety remains. Medications become less effective over time, and they have side effects.
On the other hand, dealing with anxiety by using specific cognitive, hidden emotion, and exposure techniques is not a quick fix either. The work that needs to be done is difficult and anxiety provoking. A person must actually go through anxiety in order to work on decreasing anxiety. The high emotional price prevents some people from making the decision to do the work to cure their anxiety.
And that is okay.
Whatever action you decide to take is up to you. No one can force you to work on your anxiety or force you to do so in a certain way. You may decide that doing what it would take to get rid of anxiety is too difficult at this point, or that right now it is just not something you are willing or able to do.
If you do decide that you are willing to do whatever it takes to be free of anxiety, there are a variety of techniques at your disposal. You do have the power to change your brain and get rid of anxiety!
1. Margraf J, Ehlers A, Roth WT. Sodium lactate infusions and panic attacks: a review and critique. Psychosom Med. 1986 Jan-Feb;48 (1-2):23–51.
Resource for Treatment of Anxiety
When Panic Attacks, by David Burns, is an excellent book that describes in detail a variety of cognitive, hidden emotion, and exposure techniques. Several examples illustrate how the techniques are used. All people experience anxiety from time to time. I am confident that anyone who reads this book and does the exercises in it will experience at least some decreased anxiety – and quite possibly, recover from anxiety completely.