Through my years in practice as an osteopath, working in the natural healthcare field I’ve noticed more and more of my patients are taking antidepressants and other medication for anxiety.
One of the commonest questions I get about CBD is whether it will help a person who is experiencing anxiety and panic attacks.
Therefore, I thought I’d take a quick look at WHY so many people are suffering with this problem.
I suspect our modern world is actually completely out of sync with what we need to live a fulfilled, simple life. The western world runs at a very fast pace, governed by the clock. Yet our body works according to nature’s rhythms – the seasons, the rising and setting of the sun and of course throughout the year this is always changing.
So we have a modern world demanding our attention whilst our body may be asking us to rest. We’re still expected to function at the same pace in the short winter days as in the long summer days.
Artificial light throws off our circadian rhythms, the natural rhythms that govern our sleep and wakefulness, as does the need to be at work or at an appointment when our body is craving rest.
Perhaps all this out of kilter activity is disorientating to our body. We also have complex modern stresses such as debts, threats to our job security or relationship problems. The primitive stress response of our body cannot be fully expressed towards these type of stressors (our body demands ‘fight or flight’) so we have a subtle build up of stress hormones in our body which can start to cause bizarre physical symptoms such as skin problems, chronic pain and a myriad other problems. Of course, none of this shows up on scans or blood tests so whilst you are experiencing dis-ease the medics find no obvious causes. This is because your body is not functioning correctly but is not in any structural way damaged or broken.
With all this going on, along with the modern pressures of how we have to look, big chests thrust forwards to the world regardless of gender, one of the first problems that is often unnoticed is a change in our breathing pattern.
We start to breathe using our shoulder and neck muscles instead of our diaphragm, and our breathing rhythm increases so we take faster, shallow breaths.
This kind of breathing can lead to a panic attack which may be a one off event in a person’s life or may settle into an incredibly distressing vicious circle, crippling the sufferer with fear, phobias and a sense of dread and feeling of being ill at ease.
The two areas I always suggest people begin to address when they have such problems are their breathing patterns and ensuring they are exercising their body regularly. Neither of these changes can fix you overnight but in time they begin to help your body adjust and find it’s balance point again.
There are lots of breathing exercises out there, many of which can be off putting in complexity but I have found one simple one that is easy to do and effective:
When you practice this exercise you may find yourself getting light headed to begin with. If this happens then simply stop. Return to the exercise later and bit by bit you will find this sensation fades away.
All you have to do is take a deep breath in then slowly breathe out through pursed lips (almost as if you are whistling) for as long as you can. When you run out of breath, pause for a second then inhale. Do not worry about the inhaling part, your body will make sure you breathe in! Then repeat the breathing out through pursed lips. To start with only do this five times, gradually increasing to be able to do it 30 times without getting light headed. At this point you will be retraining your breathing muscles to a more healthy pattern of movement. Using pursed lips gently encourages the main breathing muscle (your diaphragm) to reactivate.
There are plenty of useful supplements they may also help anxiety and panic attacks – and CBD may have a role to play here since scientists at the University of San Paulo in Brazil and King’s College in London have done research into CBD and the neural correlates of anxiety. They have found that CBD may well have an anti anxiety effect. Fortunately it is very safe to take and so is a low risk strategy for potentially getting good gains.
Please keep an eye out for more information about this distressing area in future blogs. I wish you all well for 2018.