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You Can Destroy Anxiety with This Instead of Drugs, say Doctors

You Can Destroy Anxiety with This Instead of Drugs, say Doctors

Science Caught up With the Gurus

We have an anxiety problem, collectively, according to a U.S. health task force. Our top worries sound familiar:

  • Political and racial unrest
  • Climate change
  • Inflation and the economy
  • Handling the “end” of the pandemic

If any of these issues bother you deeply, you’re not alone. A shocking 40 percent of women and 25 percent of men will experience an actual anxiety disorder at least once in their lives.

Up to now, there’s been two schools of thought as to how to handle this.

  1. Some choose pharmaceutical drugs to alter the chemical composition of the body and force the mind to feel “happy.”
  2. Others choose behavioral changes, namely slowing down the pace of modern life and finding peace through inner work like mindfulness meditation.

We hear about “mindfulness,” but what is it, really? It’s a form of meditation that emphasizes focusing on what’s happening in the present moment and dismissing intrusive thoughts. The practice can include breathing exercises, “body scans” and learning to acknowledge yet let go of negative thoughts.

“It changes the relationship people have with their own thoughts,” said lead author Elizabeth Hoge, director of Georgetown University’s Anxiety Disorders Research Program.

The first head-to-head “battle” of drugs verses meditation

A recent study flipped the script on doctors who only push drugs to treat anxiety. It turns out, basic mindfulness meditation is just as effective as a leading anti-anxiety drug, Lexapro.

After two months, severe anxiety declined by about 30% in both groups and continued to decrease during the following four months.

However, the drug’s active ingredient (Escitalopram) may cause the following side-effects, according to doctors:

Possible side-effects of the drug:

  • Headache and nausea
  • Diarrhea and dry mouth
  • Sweating, nervousness and restlessness
  • Fatigue, or having trouble sleeping (insomnia).
  • Sexual side effects, such as problems with orgasm\
  • There are also “rare/serious” side effects including low sodium blood levels, teeth grinding, changes in vision and serotonin syndrome where the symptoms may include fever, seizures, and death.

For me, worrying about such side effects would cause enough anxiety without even pondering the world’s various issues… But maybe that’s just me.

The point is, who knows what other problems may lurk when we try to fix issues by treating the symptoms instead of root causes.

Next, let’s look at the side effects of mindfulness meditation, which goes to the root cause of anxiety by addressing our reactions and perceptions.

“Side effects” of mindfulness:

  • Better sleep and digestion
  • Increased immune function
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Increased experience of intuition
  • Better attention, clarity and focus
  • Feeling connected, calm and internally still
  • Appearing younger than your age (according to Harvard)

Thus, not only does mindfulness meditation go to the root cause of anxiety, but its “side effects” are often fringe benefits.

One caution: too much of anything is bad (even water) and mindfulness is no different. Studies have shown that if we overdo mindfulness, we can actually become too sensitive and have issues. Also, mindfulness isn’t for everybody. Some in the study saw an increase of anxiety, though far more saw a reduction.

So, everything in moderation, even your meditation.

In the end, there’s no question that the side effects of drugs are worse than meditation. In fact, of the 200 adults who volunteered in the study, 10 patients on the drug dropped out because of side effects while none dropped out of the mindfulness group.

All in all, next time a doctor offers you a prescription for a mental issue, you may want to consider mindfulness meditation instead.

How to live more mindfully:

  • Keep your thoughts in the present moment rather than the past/future.
  • Focus on your breath when anxious. This is a great way to stay in the present moment because your breath is happening now.
  • Do exercises that mix breathwork and meditation like Qigong.
  • Make a radical change many are doing with the Slow Living Lifestyle.

Joe Moody is the author of the new book, “The Art of Slow Living: A Guidebook”

Standard disclaimer: None of the statements on this page should be construed as dispensing medical advice and/or making claims regarding the cure of diseases. You should consult a licensed health care professional before starting any supplement, dietary, or exercise program.