Physiology of stress, anxiety and depression
When experiencing stress or emotional pain we automatically tense up our body and restrict our breathing. This is a natural and unconscious defense mechanism we learn from early childhood. The tensing of muscles and insufficient breathing results in less blood flow = less oxygen in the body. When this goes on for extended periods body uses all available oxygen primarily for vital body functions, and non vital functions get second place. The lack of oxygen disturbs our digestion, circulation, metabolism and all normal body functions, which leads to physical illness, chronic pain, head aches and so on. The latest findings show that insufficient oxygen significantly reduces production of serotonin, the 'feel good hormone', which leads to even more tension and restricted breathing. The effect snowballs and the vicious cycle is ready. Breathwork therapy reverses this cycle.
Stress is a normal and natural part of life. All humans and animals experience mental, physical or emotional stress from time to time. It's the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, the fight or flight or adrenaline response. The questions is how do we process and release it, or do we hold on to it and store it in our body? Do we enter stress states momentarily, or do they become chronic?
Animals and young children naturally release stress and emotions through natural and automatic mechanisms of the body; different breathing patterns, sounds, shaking, crying and so on. As we grow up we learn to literally swallow down our feelings and to suppress these release mechanisms in order to hide our stress from others - hence stopping this natural releasing from happening. Outside we may seem calm and collected but inside we hold on to the stress, emotional pain or anger. The state of stress becomes more and more chronic and habitual; the neurological feedback loops of stress are reinforced again and again.
E-motion is Energy in motion: It needs to move, otherwise it becomes stuck , accumulates and becomes dense and stagnant.
Un-dealt with stress and 'negative' emotions can develop into anxiety, depression or chronic pain / illness over time.
Breathwork provides effective release from stress, using the natural release mechanisms or the body. It is not just a way to 'manage' stress but to actually let go of it for good.
Anxiety and panic attacks?
Anxiety and panic attacks are essentially a state of accumulated and unprocessed fear in the system. Anxiety has been labelled a medical condition, but actually it is just an accumulation of emotion (energy-in-motion) which can easily be released and cleared, for good.
When experiencing stress and fear we have two (or three) possible survival mechanisms: 'Fight or flight', or 'freeze'. Anxiety is a result of ongoing or chronic fight or flight response, a state of high adrenaline and increased heart beat. Other symptoms include hypertension, hyper-vigilance, inability to relax, restlessness, insomnia, hyperactivity.
During the stresses of birth baby's heart rate and adrenaline levels are high. When the baby is put to mother's chest soon after birth the warmth and beating of mother's heart calms down the baby and make heart rate and adrenaline levels drop. If this for whatever reason doesn't happen, our adrenaline levels may stay high permanently. This is a common root of anxiety. Fear can also accumulate in the system later on in life. We learn to be in a constant state of high alert, ready to flee or fight. Panic attacks happen when the internal pressure gets too much for our system to handle, and the figurative lid blows up.
Anxiety affects half of the population at some point in our lives. One in six people suffer from chronic anxiety or panic attacks. Breathwork therapy is scientifically proven to offer significant and permanent relief from anxiety and panic attacks.
Depression often follows long term chronic anxiety.
It is a result of the 'freeze' or 'collapse' stress response (opposite of 'fight or flight'), becoming chronic. This is the primal survival mechanism of playing dead when running away or fighting is not an option. We literally leave our bodies and internally go somewhere else. Physiologically speaking this is the opiate response. Externally we seem lethargic and empty, but the stress hormone levels are still very high in the body. We have just become numb to their effect.
A depressed person's breathing is insufficient and body is deprived of oxygen, which results in disturbed serotonin levels and a snowball effect of depression. The worse we feel, the less we breathe. And the less we breathe the worse we feel.
The opiate response has the characteristics of: Feeling down or numb, leaving the body, disassociation, low heart rate, low blood pressure, isolation, lack of motivation, lack of energy, lack of enthusiasm, or literally feeling dead inside.
Pharmaceutical depression and anxiety medication often offers little or no help, yet they come with many undesirable side-affects. Breathwork therapy can offer significant, permanent relief from depression even for chronically depressed individuals who have found traditional talk therapy and medication ineffective or insufficient.
Emotional pain and trauma?
No-one goes through life without experiencing trauma, be it gross and obvious or subtle and more difficult to notice. It is part of human life.
Gross trauma is caused by things like accidents, natural disasters, war or physical / sexual abuse -something "big" and obviously traumatic. Gross trauma can sometimes be easier to deal with because it is more obvious, providing that we remember or at least are aware of the event. Even then our conscious mind can often minimize the effect the event has had on us emotionally, yet we carry the imprints in the physical body for years to come. Good axample of this is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Subtle trauma is often emotional in nature and can be more difficult to pinpoint. It may be as simple as unmet love needs (mum takes a few minutes to get to a crying baby - which feels like eternity to a newborn child) or hearing mum and dad fight when we were little. Incidents that may seem insignificant to an adult can often leave strong imprints in the emotional body, which we then carry around as unconscious memories and core beliefs for years to come. Examples of these are "I'm not good enough", "I'm bad." "There is something wrong with me."
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