Why is Everybody so Anxious?

In ancient Egypt, the medical solution for anxiety, or what the Greeks would later call hysteria, was to spend a time floating down the Nile River, drawing pictures, and pursuing other personal interests.  Emotional disorders at that time were a spiritual matter, and were mainly treated by priests.  (Back then the doctors were priests!)  Dream interpretation was part of the treatment as well.

The medical solution now for anxiety is typically a pill.  It’s interesting — these medications are supposed to correct a chemical imbalance in the patient’s brain, but there are NEVER any tests done to assess the patient’s current chemical levels.  Think of it this way:  if a doctor prescribed thyroid medication for everyone who was fatigued, but didn’t actually check their patient’s thyroid hormone levels, they would probably be charged with malpractice at some point.

Everyone is anxious.  I have concluded that at least 70% of our population in the U.S. (kids included) are nervous, worried, and emotional .  I am not immune to the dis-ease, either.  I have had panic attacks (over 20 years ago, but still) and have been diagnosed as “depressed” at one point in my life.

I’m sure there as many causes as there are solutions to this problem.

Cause #1:  Lack of proper nutrition.  (B-complex and trace minerals deficiency; too much sugar and junk food, etc.)

Cause #2:  Lack of exercise. 

Cause #3:  Fright.  A tiger is chasing you through the woods, or your house is burning down, etc.  Also, a frightful situation (like abuse) that continues for a while can create an adrenal gland imbalance that can lead to long-term anxiety even after the original cause of the fright is gone.

Cause #4:  Loss of touch with our purpose in nature.  I am prone to think that this is the primary cause of most people’s anxiety.  Preoccupation with daily life directs our “qi” away from our bodies and into our minds.  In Chinese medicine, we call this “Heart fire.”  When our hearts have an excess of energy, we feel restless and have a hard time sleeping.

According to the 5 Elements theory of Chinese medicine, a balanced Heart (I’m talking Chinese medicine “Heart,” which embodies the concepts of the biological heart plus other things such as seasons, flavors, emotions, etc.) is associated with the emotion Joy and the element of Fire.  Fire is created by Wood in the 5 Elements cycle and it creates Earth.  It looks something like this:

acupuncture and herbs to treat anxiety

You will notice that earth corresponds with worry and wood correlates with irritability or anger.  The connection between Earth / Worry and Wood / Irritability is Fire / Joy

The Heart is known as the “king of the organs.”  A happy Heart and strong spirit is a better predictor of a long life and recovery from illness than anything else.  There’s an old Chinese saying that if someone has a sparkle in their eyes, their spirits are high and their chances of making a full recovery are good.  If there is no shine in their eyes, the chances of them making a recovery from illness is low. 

If you can focus on what you enjoy, like the ancient Egyptians did to treat their “hysteria” and go boating and painting, you may find yourself less preoccupied with anxieties.  What things make you feel really great?  Make a list of your top 3 things:  gardening, playing with your dogs, babysitting the grand-kids, talking to your friends, going shopping, reading, planning a trip, etc.  Try it and let me know how it goes. 

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