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Is Anxiety Scaring You to Death?

One of the biggest medical complaints plaguing Americans today is anxiety. Even if you don’t have a diagnosis, chances are you’re living in some degree of overwhelm. While anxiety can trigger fear of death or illness, it doesn’t necessarily indicate an underlying medical problem. However, over time anxiety and stress triggers the same chemistry that’s been shown to cause every major disease most Americans are dying from: heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer.

A hundred years ago it was thought that anxiety and fear was “just in your head,” and had no affect on the body. However, we’ve now learned through decades of medical science that brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) directly impact your immune system, your digestive system, and even your reproductive system. That means that simply the fear of illness can actually make you sick.

The reverse is also true. Organic disease in your body can trigger hormonal changes that makes you feel anxious. For example, a disturbance in your gut can trigger anxiety, although the underlying problem has nothing to do with your head. Since 95% of your serotonin is generated in the lining of your gut, something seemingly unrelated like a food intolerance, can trigger a hormonal imbalance that makes you feel anxious, long after you’ve eaten that bowl of pasta.

With all of this complexity in the human system, how are we to address this pervasive problem that affects so many?

One way is by using the MindBody connection. Research has shown that not only can we change the way we feel emotionally by changing our thoughts, but that changing our thoughts can also change our health. In fact, the quality of the thoughts you have creates changes in your brain, changes in your breathing, changes in your heart rate, and even changes in your DNA.

What if there is an organic cause for the illness or anxiety? Would it be possible to use the mind to change this chronic problem and reverse the underlying illness?

Ellen Langer has extensively studied the powerful impact of the mind on the body. In her #1 New York Times bestselling book, Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility, she profiles multiple clinical studies demonstrating that changing our perspective creates changes not only in mindset, but also in physical and chemical tests. After just a week in a setting reflecting a time when they were younger, elderly participants showed dramatic positive changes in their health. Height, weight, posture, hearing, vision, even intelligence improved. They were more flexible, had greater agility and showed improved athletic performance.

I decided not to believe the doctors, and tried something new. I addressed the illness from the inside out. I applied what I’d learned in MindBody Medicine and in just 10 days, the entire illness was reversed. I quickly shed the excess weight, ended the pain pattern and migraine headaches, and no longer had recurrent viral illnesses.

Was it a medical miracle? Some doctors might say so. However, because I understood the science behind how it happened, I made this the new foundation for my practice of medicine. I’ve now helped hundreds of thousands of people reverse anxiety, depression, pain, and a myriad of chronic illnesses without medications.

When I founded the American Institute of Mind Body Medicine, it was to teach physicians about this research that is so germane to the practice of clinical medicine. I just couldn’t imagine discounting the powerful forces of the MindBody connection when I evaluate or treat a patient. I know too much that goes beyond the conventional thinking we’re taught in medical school. It didn’t make sense to leave this important piece out.

Soon, this understanding will be integrated into mainstream practice. People are living in chronic overwhelm and anxiety. We’re in too much pain. We’ve got too much illness. We’re losing too much money and time allowing people to suffer when the answers are clear:

We are an integrated whole,

our systems are not separate,

our body has the ability to heal itself, and…

our Mind and Body are intimately connected.

Church, D., & Brooks, A. J. (2014). Pain, depression, and anxiety after PTSD symptom remediation in veterans. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing (in press).

Church, D., Geronilla, L., & Dinter, I. (2009). Psychological symptom change in veterans after six sessions of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT): An observational study.International Journal of Healing and Caring, 9(1).Church, D., De Asis, M., & Brooks, A. J. (2012). Brief group intervention using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) for depression in college students: A randomized controlled trial. Depression Research & Treatment, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/257172.

Brattberg, G. (2008). Self-administered EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) in individuals with fibromyalgia: A randomized trial. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, Aug/Sep, 30-35.

Rowe, J. (2005). The effects of EFT on long-term psychological symptoms.Counseling and Clinical Psychology Journal, 2(3), 104-110.

Jain, S., & Rubino, A. (2012). The effectiveness of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) for optimal test performance: A randomized controlled trial. Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, & Treatment, 4(2), 13-24. doi:10.9769.EPJ.2012.4.2.SJ

Hodge, P. M., & Jurgens, C. Y. (2011). Psychological and physiological symptoms of psoriasis after group EFT treatment: A pilot study. Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, & Treatment, 3(2), 13-23.

Ortner, N., Palmer-Hoffman, J., & Clond, M. A. (2014). Effects of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) on the reduction of chronic pain in adults: A pilot study. Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 6(2), 14–21. doi:10.9769.EPJ.2014.6.2.NO

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  1. Great article. I suffer from anxiety & adrenal fatigue. Im interested to find out what technique did you use to get rid of an illness in 10 days?

    • Thank you for asking, Lissa. Sorry about the delayed response!

      I avidly determined to shift my mind on creating strength in my body. I used body awareness, affirmations, movements, and literally refused to listen to the fear thoughts that arose when I felt ill. Instead, I let my symptoms inspire me. I asked, “How can I be gentler and more loving to my body now?” Instead of “What’s wrong with me and how can I fix it?”

      I focused a new level of love and acceptance for my symptoms and changed my beliefs about what it meant.
      These tools are all detailed in my book and my online program “The MindBody Solution.”

  2. Still, no matter what you need to learn to control your anxiety. Only by eliminating your anxiety can you stop these scary thoughts from occurring, and reduce the stress you experience when you have them.

    • YES! It’s just that “controlling” is still another stress state. It won’t work because you end up fighting against something…which just puts energy into the unwanted thing.
      Nonresistance is completely different. Awakening to free yourself from anxiety is entirely different from controlling the anxiety. The first one is effortless, and brings you into the awareness that there is nothing to fear; you are always well. The latter (controlling it) is a life-long journey of strife and never leads to freedom.
      It’s a little tricky! We’re taught that we CAN control things…when really that’s an illusion and will always require effort.
      When we allow life to be effortless, we can finally receive all we have been longing for. THAT creates ease, joy, abundance, and fulfillment.

    • It certainly can seem that we need to control things, and that controlling anxiety is the key….but it’s impossible.
      That’s because “controlling” is a stress state. It creates more of the hormones, brain states, and chemicals that create anxiety and keep it cycling.
      Try it. Try to control the anxiety or force yourself to stay “positive.” You may initially get somewhere, but inevitably, since you’re battling your own body and mind, you will lose.
      Instead, see if you can come into HARMONY with all that is: the anxiety, the struggle, the challenges you’re having…
      When you stop controlling and resisting it, there’s nothing to keep it going and it will fizzle out.

      Let me know how that goes!
      -Dr. Kim


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