Why Most Anxiety Treatments Don’t Work
Before you read this chapter make sure that you read What Causes Anxiety so that this all makes sense!
So if you are suffering from anxiety for any length of time you will probably have started to look for a solution.
Maybe you have been to see your GP or maybe you have tried some alternative treatment or therapy. And seeing as you are here reading this, I can hazard a guess that it either didn’t work, or it didn’t last or you were not comfortable with the approach.
You see, as you will now understand (if you’ve read; What Causes Anxiety (if you haven’t – go do it now first!)), there are three pathways that anxiety is created in the body and the mind; the conscious pathway, the subconscious pathway and the bio-feedback pathway (known scientifically as amygdala based anxiety, neo-cortex based anxiety and physiologically based anxiety). Most in the medical or therapeutic fields are unaware that there are 3 pathways and attempt to treat your anxiety with only one tool, whatever that tool might be that they have at their disposal, be that the prescription drugs that your doctor prescribes or the latest fashionable therapy that someone has learned on a weekend course.
Don’t Get Me Wrong
Now don’t get me wrong, although I never recommend prescription drugs for treating anxiety because of their unbelievably poor record and their disastrous list of side effects, I do believe that some therapies are very good at tackling some of the anxiety pathways.
But here’s the problem, they don’t and can’t shut down all of the pathways creating your anxiety.
Because you have to learn a different set of skills and tools to shut down each of the different pathways. The skills and tools that shut down the conscious pathway, do not work for shutting down the subconscious pathway or the bio-feedback pathway. If you try to use them to shut down the wrong pathway it won’t work.
This is why you will hear people saying: “I tried meditation or I tried counselling but it didn’t work for me”. Because if the tool you are using is not designed to shut down the pathway your anxiety is being triggered it won’t work.
Here’s a real practical example. We can use breathwork, that is breathing in a certain way to shut down our subconscious pathway. There is a scientific and neurological reason that this works for shutting down our subconscious pathway. But if our anxiety is being triggered via our conscious pathway, breathwork is useless, it will not work no matter how hard you try, how good you get at it or how many fancy techniques you’ve learnt – it just isn’t going to happen.
It’s like trying to eat soup with a fork. Yes, a fork is a great tool but it’s not designed for eating soup, it doesn’t do the job and it makes a mess.
And not only do you need to be using the right tools for the right pathway you need to shut down all three of the pathways in order to permanently eliminate your anxiety.
How Many Holes are in Your Boat?
Just like a boat with the 3 holes in it.
If your boat has 3 holes in the bottom of it and you only plug up two of them, your boat is still going to sink. This is the same with your anxiety. If you are doing something that is designed to shut down the conscious pathway, but isn’t designed to shut down the subconscious pathway or the bio-feedback pathway your anxiety will not be permanently eliminated. You may get some temporary relief or if whatever you’re using is specifically targeting your primary pathway, that relief may last for a bit longer.
But it will eventually return through one of the other pathways, like the water eventually sinking the boat through the hole that was left unplugged. Even though it took longer for the boat to sink because some of the holes were plugged – it still sinks.
And if you are using the wrong tools for the wrong pathways or you are not shutting down all of the pathways, you will be left frustrated because you will falsely believe that whatever you were doing to treat it has stopped working and you will stop doing it.
And now you are worse off than you were before because now you have tried something and it hasn’t worked, so you start to think things like; “My anxiety is really bad” or “I’m not capable of being fixed or being helped”.
And what does this do for you, it makes you even more anxious because not only is your anxiety back, but it looks like it is permanent.
And the more “therapies” and “treatments” that we try the worse that it can get because each time we aren’t matching the tools to the pathway and as a result we aren’t closing down all three of the pathways meaning that we are working hard but getting nowhere.
This is the same when it comes to medication. You might feel like you are getting temporary relief from your anxiety but then when it stops working for the same reason, what usually happens? Your doctor either changes your medication or ups the dose. And you are back to square one again.
It’s a vicious circle that keeps you trapped and stops you from getting proper lasting help.
What To Do?
So if you want to permanently get rid of your anxiety click on the image in the sidebar to take the next step or skip to reading the chapter: How to treat anxiety