Karen Thomas Mind Coach

The Ugly Truth and Positive side to Anxiety

10th January 2022

Anxiety is something we do not something we have….

Our western culture has always been led to believe that anxiety is some sort of illness, something that you had, a malfunction of the brain, lack of serotonin or an affliction, disease even. However, having trained as a psychologist and psychotherapist and having worked with thousands of people who had been diagnosed with ‘having anxiety’ the truth is that it is not the case.

Most people if they are anxious or depressed will go to the doctor to obtain anti-depressants in order to get better because society tells us that this is the best route.

How did this come about?

For more than a century, the biomedical model — derived from Louis Pasteur’s germ theory of disease — has been the dominant force in Western medicine. It was suggested that all disease is a product of a biologic defect often caused by a biologic pathogen. The biomedical model was hugely successful in eliminating the leading causes of death in the beginning of the 20th century which were tuberculosis, and diarrhoea. This success increased the life expectancy from 47 years in 1900 to 77 years in 2000 and this model was applied to mental health. What has been learned over the past 50 years is that people are now dying from chronic diseases such as stroke, heart disease and cancer where the biomedical model is clearly not working. George Engel proposed a new medical model called the Biopsychosocial model back in 1977 and it is only recently that people have begun to take notice.


Health care in western societies remained entrenched in the biomedical model until very recently. Several factors have contributed to the current paradigm shift occurring in medicine…….


Disadvantages in taking medication

  1. People think it is a quick fix but it actually takes weeks for the medication to work –
  2. One of the down sides is the lack of studies that show the long-term efficacy (Gelenberg et al, 2000).
  3. It is evident that the ideal antidepressant has not been found as three key problems of intolerance, delayed therapeutic onset and limited efficacy persist.


Medication can cause in a recent systematic review of clinical trials, Fava et al. found that up to 40% of patients reported new-onset symptoms after abruptly discontinuing SSRIs.

Antidepressants such as the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are widely used to treat major depression.

Although they have reasonable efficacy, they also produce adverse effects, of which the best known include headache, changes in sleep pattern, changes in gastrointestinal function, and changes in sexual functioning. 

 Worsened anxiety and agitation may be seen in the first few days of treatment.


Advantages in using psychological and psychosensory techniques in trauma as opposed to medication.

Neuroscience with PET and MRI scans shows evidence of brain resilience

  1. There are no side effects
  2. Feel immediate effects and benefits
  3. Teaches Coping mechanisms
  4. Creates empowerment for an individual
  5. Relaxation techniques to help slow down heart rate
  6. Breathing techniques to increase motivation
  7. Your Brain is a deleting machine and can let go of traumatic events
  8. Alters brain landscape to build resilience……According to research done by psychologist and author Richard Davidson and others, resilience is marked by greater activation in the left prefrontal cortex part of your brain. In fact, he says “the amount of activation in the left prefrontal region of a resilient person can be thirty times that in someone who is not resilient
  9. Calming practices like hypnosis, havening, meditation and mindfulness can help you reduce reactive responses, making you better able to cope with adversity and boosting your resilience. They can help you engage with and work through negative emotions instead of running from them, which rewires your brain for resilience.
  10. Cold water therapy research has shown that this helps combat depression too by elevating the dopaminergic system




Gelenberg AJ, Lydiard RB, Rudolph RL, Aguiar L, Haskins JT, Salinas E. Efficacy of Venlafaxine Extended-Release Capsules in Nondepressed Outpatients With Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A 6-Month Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA. 2000;283(23):3082–3088. doi:10.1001/jama.283.23.3082

Penn E, Tracy DK. The drugs don’t work? antidepressants and the current and future pharmacological management of depression. Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology. October 2012:179-188. doi:10.1177/2045125312445469



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