North Face Mt Shasta
ANXIETY,fear, anger, and depression seem to have reached near epidemic proportions in our society today, and people try all sorts of methods, in an effort to control the resulting negative symptoms that the above emotions produce.

But most seem to be caught up in a never ending cycle that continues to drag them down in life, and all sorts of labels have been coined in order to describe the above. Terms such as "Manic/Depressive (Bi-polar)" "Agoraphobia (Social Anxiety)" "Depression" and so on, dominate the discussion of today's psychological problems Now the symptoms may vary, but in the end, it all boils down to uncontrolled fears that end up producing unwanted symptoms.

DISCLAIMER: Now before I get started, I just want to throw out this disclaimer. I am not a doctor or psychiatrist, or even a licensed counselor. And I am not recommending that you disregard your doctors instructions in any way. What I am presenting here, is information from the experience of my brother Chris and others who went through the pains of severe anxiety, and got well. So that being said, let's get started.



SYMPTOMS OF SEVERE ANXIETY One or more of the following symptoms are common during a severe anxiety of panic attack. They can be mild or severe at times. They include;

  • dry mouth;
  • tension in the stomach, chest, neck or shoulders;
  • increase heart rate;
  • lightheaded or dizziness;
  • trembling hands, legs or voice;
  • weakness; numbness;
  • feeling faint;
  • shortness of breath;
  • tiredness;
  • difficulty swallowing or lump in the throat;
  • difficulty concentrating;
  • confusion;
  • blurry vision.


  • FEARFUL THOUGHTS THAT I MAY HAVE

  • fainting in public;
  • losing control;
  • developing severe physical conditions;
  • having a heart attack;being trapped or unable to get home;
  • dying;
  • causing a scene;
  • unable to breathe;
  • becoming mentally ill.
  • PLACES I MAY AVOID BECAUSE OF THE ABOVE SYMPTOMS AND FEARS
  • stores;
  • restaurants;
  • theaters;
  • churches;
  • barber's, hairdressers;
  • lines in a store;
  • crowds;
  • prolonged conversations in person;
  • trains, buses, planes, subways, fast lanes on the freeway, traffic, tunnels, bridges;
  • being far from home;
  • any situation that gives me a feeling of being trapped;
  • can I get well by avoiding the above places? Answer: No............(keep reading)


  • WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?

  • the body and mind are intimately connected together;
  • what effects one, effects the other;
  • the mind is a key component when it comes to the release of chemicals in the body;
  • when the mind reacts to negative thoughts such as uncontrolled fear, and/or stress, it puts the body into a panic situation);
  • when the body goes into this emergency state, blood will rush to the core (such as the heart, lungs, stomach, etc;
  • the above can cause numbness in the fingers and toes, lightheadedness, a pounding heart, rapid shallow breathing, etc;
  • the end result, is that you feel terrible, or even like you are dying.


  • WHERE DID IT ALL START?
    No one can say for sure, but here are some very likely places.

  • as a child with an abusive parent;
  • being told you are no good, or fear of being harmed either physically and/or verbally;
  • other long term abusive relationships can have the same effect as the child/parent one;
  • the loss of a loved one;
  • long term stress such as in the case of combat (shell shock) or the stress of being imprisoned;
  • unresolved fears and/or uncontrolled negative thoughts.


  • CONSCIOUS vs SUBCONSCIOUS

    To understand how the subconscious works, you have to think about a plane being on autopilot. The plane flies in a way that it was programmed without any intervention. It just plays back what was recorded in it. Now when you invoke the conscious part of your mind, that is when you take the plane out of autopilot, and take over the controls.

    The difficulty here, is that most of the time, you are operating in the subconscious mode. Some researchers out there put it as high as 95% of the time you are operating in the subconscious realm. You just do things, or say things, because most of the time they just come automatic. A lot of this comes from childhood, when you were very impressionable.

    TYPICAL SCENARIO:

    You go to the store, and because your mind is full negative thoughts and fears, you have a panic attack.your mind now sees the store as a place to fear, so you do not go there anymore.you then go to a social gathering and end up having a panic attack there. Your mind now tells you that being in social gatherings is dangerous for you and you need to avoid them.bit by bit, your options for going out begin to dwindle, and you finally end up house bound.but even there you experience fear and panic, and you feel like your world is closing in on you. You begin to think that there is no escape from your troubles.

    SUMMARY:

  • the subconscious is very powerful when it comes to how you live your life;
  • the conscious part of your mind programs the subconscious;
  • the subconscious is more than capable of pushing the panic button;
  • the subconscious can send you into a tizzy if it has been negatively programmed;
  • this can lead to the avoidance of countless places that you may have enjoyed in years past.


  • THE ROAD TO RECOVERY -WHAT DO I DO?

  • face the things you fear. "The truth will set you free;
  • realize that you are not crazy, and that it is possible to get completely well;
  • check with your doctor, if he or she has given you a clean bill of health, and you know that you are suffering from anxiety, (and not from a true heart condition or other real physical ailment) you need to face your fears and go back to the store or other location where you experienced a panic attack and struggle though it;
  • when the mind sees that you are OK, and that you didn't die or suffer some other fateful consequence (even though you felt absolutely miserable), then little by little the conscious mind will reprogram the subconscious so that it knows that going out and doing things is safe;
  • Next, I CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH. The mind has to recognize that it can endure these outings and that you will be OK once the attack subsides. If you fall off the horse and run out of a social gathering, or run off and leave your grocery cart full of food at the store (because you went into a full blown panic attack), then go back and try it again. Get back on the horse a thousand times if necessary. Things will get better, and success will come if you persevere;
  • it takes great effort to reprogram the subconscious through the conscious once it has been programmed with fears and negative thoughts over years of time. And this goes for any addiction;
  • learn to "take every thought captive" (2nd Corinthians 10:5). That means when Mr. Negative comes knocking at the door, don't answer. Rather concentrate on "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable; if anything is excellent or praiseworthy; think about such things." (Philippians 4:8);
  • don't play the blame game. Take responsibility for getting your life back on track. This means hard work in controlling your thoughts and actions. If need be, team up with your spouse, a friend, or get professional help to hold you accountable. Most importantly, take your burdens to the Lord, and let Him carry them for you.











    Well that's about it for the readers digest version on anxiety, depression, etc. It is both myself and my brother Chris's prayer that it has been a help to you. Lastly, I would also like to extend a special thanks to my brother Chris for helping me with this articleFor those of you who would like to dig a bit deeper, and do not mind reading some more on the subject, I have included the below text written from both a mountaineering, and far more importantly, a Biblical frame of reference. Thanks be to God for the council of His everlasting Word.


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    FURTHER READING
    Timberline Trails is mostly a site about backpacking and mountaineering I will use many analogies from the mountains to demonstrate how fear and anxiety work out there in the wild. And I will use Biblical principles to shed light on the answers to our problems.I have to say, that one of the many amazing things about mountaineering, is that you can see the effects of emotions played out in a very short period of time. Fear, anxiety, and other negative emotions have such a terrible effect on performance and bodily function, that people who say that the way they think does not have any effect on how they behave, live, or function in this life, both physically and/or mentally becomes....well....at the very least, laughable.  It is absolutely amazing how many chemicals and hormones are released in the body simply by the way we think.To begin, lets look at the word anxiety. When I was taking psychology in college, anxiety was described as a vague fear. But I like the Biblical definition of anxiety much better. In the Greek, it is described as a divided or disunited mind. Now this gets to the root of the matter, and it makes perfect sense. Because when you think about it, the reason why psychologists describe it as a vague fear, is because you just can't seem to put your finger on it. And the reason or this is because your thoughts are disunited (or divided). This creates that uncontrolled feeling that gives rise to the old butterflies in the stomach syndrome (flight or fight).

    On the health side of things, imagine this. Your cells are mini-factories that are busy, repairing, building, producing, and doing a whole host of other activities. Your immune system is very dependent on their proper functioning. Now if you tell your cells that there is a bomb in the factory, they run for shelter, and very little of the above work is getting done until the all clear signal is sent. The reason that very little work is going on is because the cells are in a state of emergency. They hold back on their normal work so that they can deal with the impending disaster when it comes. But if the disaster does not come in a timely manner, then the all clear signal is delayed or never comes. This creates a real problem, and what do you think all this is going to do to your health. As you can see, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to come to the conclusion that your health is going to suffer if you remain in a state of anxiety for any significant period of time.

    A very common theme after reading on the subject is that when it comes to the issues of negative behavior and negative emotion, in the end, it all boils down to what's going on in the mind. And the mind operates in both a conscious and subconscious state. Does this mean that you blame yourself for everything? No, not at all. I know there are some people out there that kick themselves everyday for things that are not their fault. But this is also part of the false thinking syndrome.

    So, what do you do if you are suffering from general anxiety, social anxiety, depression, panic attacks, etc? You need to reprogram the subconscious with truth (as opposed to false negative thinking). And this is done through the use of the conscious mind. But this is not easy, because the subconscious can be likened to a very powerful computer, and the conscious mind a much less powerful one. It will take a lot of reprogramming if things are in a bad state of affairs. But how does this work? How do you reprogram the subconscious? God's word gives us the answer. Here is what God says: "be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2) You catch that, God says you can BE TRANSFORMED by renewing you mind. You need to use your conscious mind to reprogram the subconscious. This is done little by little, bit by bit. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, or the old "what if's" you need to stop.

    The Bible says "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5-6)

    Let's say that again "TAKE EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE" That means that you have to stop false thoughts and negative thinking right in it's tracks. But this takes concentration and a focused effort. It's hard work. But if you are going to get your life back on track, you have to JUST DO IT. Otherwise, you will live a life of pain and one of just existing. You really have no choice. You have to battle those "what if's" the "I'm no good" "I'm ugly" "I can't do anything right" "I'm going to die" etc, etc, etc. You have to put a stop to it. I have to say, that I have stood there and listened to people with no impending danger "what if" themselves right into the grave in a matter of minutes. And with the uncertain times were living in, more and more people are doing just that, "what if-ing" themselves right into oblivion.

    If you program your subconscious with negative thoughts, then no wonder your life is in a state of misery. If you think properly, the way God tells you to think, then you will find your fears and anxieties will slowly fade away. Remember, you are infinitely valuable in the sight of God. Your mental outlook is huge. If you take a defeatist attitude, then you will sap your strength and set yourself up for failure.

    I have to say that the above statement reminds me of a late afternoon hike I went on with my 9 year old son. We started out fine, but then he began to drag to the point where I didn't think we were going to make it back to the trailhead before dark. I asked what was wrong, but he told me that he was just tired and nothing else. But after a bit more probing, I found that he was upset with his mom for making him take an extra swimming class at the local park. After talking it through, and convincing him that it was for his own good, he got back on track. We then finished the hike in fine time. The experience served as a vivid example of how negative emotions can drain your physical strength in very dramatic ways.

    We have to realize that God puts us through many trials in life, and it is for our own good. He is preparing us for bigger and better things. That is why James tells us to "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." You see, in the final analysis, good comes out of trials. So rather than taking a "woe is me" attitude, and miss the blessing, why not endure without complaining and get God's best from it. When the trial has ended, and you later look back on it, you will then be able to see the blessing that came from it. You will become a stronger person, and prayerfully, draw closer to God. And if you do not think this advise has any value, then consider the alternative and ask yourself........ If I cry around and sink myself into depression (as a result of the trial), will that make things better? I think not.

    But how do you handle things when fear comes knocking at the door. Well, one thing I learned in mountain climbing is that when fearful thoughts begin to creep in like, "look how high up I am" or "what if I fall" or "I am never going to make it to the next ledge," then I need to narrow the focus. Now what do I mean when I say "narrow the focus?" I mean this. When I begin to look around at my difficult circumstances, I need to narrow my thoughts down to the business at hand. Instead of looking down the side of the cliff, and think about the possibility of falling, I need to concentrate on my next handhold or foothold. I need to put in an extra piece of climbing protection, have my partner give me a little extra tension on the rope. That's what I mean.

    When I think of keeping a narrow focus in Biblical terms, I think of the Apostle Peter when Jesus invited him to walk on water. As long as Peter kept his focus narrow (on Jesus) he did just fine. But as soon as Peter began to think about the wind, the waves, and his fearful circumstances, down he went. This is the way it is with us in everyday life. We need to keep a narrow focus on the business at hand. We need to keep a positive attitude no matter what our circumstances. But most importantly, we need to focus on Jesus. For He is the Foundational Rock, a sure anchor, no matter how slippery things get. If we fail to do the above and let ourselves dwell on anxious and fearful thoughts, then down we go, right into the depths of fear and depression. And yes, this will result in a chemical imbalance. That's the way the body works. The body is preparing for a disaster.

    It doesn't know the difference.Great performance begins with razor sharp focus, positive emotions, and a bright picture for future success in life. "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11-12. Sounds pretty good don't you think? Setbacks and failures result from worry, doubts, tension, and uncertainties that are born from letting ones minds dwell on failure and ruin. Therefore, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6 "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" Matthew 6:27

    Far too often, we place burdens on ourselves that God never meant us to carry. We get all wound up in trying to impress others with our wealth, power, appearance, and a whole host of other things. Our human nature very often looks to impress and please those around us. But when our "Self-Image" becomes dependent on performing for others in order to make ourselves look good, we set ourselves up for failure. This is because it has to do with the fear of man, and God says "The fear of man is a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe." We feel and act and put pressure on ourselves not because God has put a burden on us, but because we feel that we have to perform in some way or another in order to please some fictional or man placed goal that has nothing to do with what God would have for us.

    We then get stuck in negative emotions that disable us from venturing out and doing the things that please God. Sin usually follows this unhealthy addiction to self-image. Sin says we have to do whatever it takes to improve this warped concept of self image. This many times leads to all sorts of addictions and other types of destructive behavior. Advertisers capitalize on this big time. Many people go into debt or become addicted to all sorts of things in order to maintain this so called "positive self image."

    Pressure to perform can also affect children when parents put unreasonable burdens on them. In this situation, a parent transfers his or her shortcomings onto the child. The child then gets trapped in a downward spiral of blaming themselves for their parents problems. This can continue on for many years, or even a lifetime. And it does not always have to be the parents. This destructive type of image transfer can come through just about any negative person in your life. God on the other hand says your true self-image comes from Him. You already have infinite worth in His sight. You are made in His image. Not mans. You belong to God, not man.

    So, erase all those negative thoughts of the past or fears of the future. The Lord tells us that "today has enough troubles of its own." You can only live in the present. Dwelling too much on the past or even the future robs you of the present. Again, eliminate that ball and chain focus on undesirable events from the past. There is no benefit in pondering bad memories or failures from days gone by. Negative thoughts of the past and the future negative "what if's" are the enemy of the present. Refocus and engage the present moment. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

    Next, eliminate that critical voice inside of you. You know the saying "I'm my own worst critic." Why waste precious time getting down on yourself. If something is wrong, in God's power, work to correct it. And while you are doing it have an attitude of gratitude. Concentrate on all the blessing that the Lord has bestowed upon you. If you have food for the day, clothes to wear, clean water, and a place to sleep, you are better off than most of the worlds inhabitants that live in filth. Many around the globe must toil day and night just to keep from starving. You are infinitely blessed. So "why so downcast O my soul? Put your hope in God." That's the answer to depression, "put your hope in God"

    Be joyful, regardless of your situation. "Rejoice in the Lord, and again, I say Rejoice." Far too often, we play the role of the Grinch. We are only joyful if things are going our way. But being content and joyful takes effort, and it is a learned process. The apostle Paul puts it this way "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:11-13.

    I know that there are many of you out there reading this that do not believe in the Bible. You may not even believe in God. But whether you believe or not, God's ways work. Just give it a try and you will see. God is the author and creator of all things, including you, and He wrote the book (the Bible) on the human condition.

    But how about you Christian? We have little excuse for not taking to heart what the Lord Jesus tells us. When we walk through life in a state of fear, anxiety, anger, depression, and so forth, what we are telling God is that we do not trust Him. We are relaying the message that we do not believe that He is able to take care of our needs. If God is more than able to keep the entire universe in check, don't you think that He will be able to care for you? May we never forget that God has limitless resources, unlimited power (both in heaven and on earth), unquestionable authority, He is able to control and deploy people to help you in time of need (not that He needs any help to do anything, but He loves to use people). He also has total knowledge of the future. As you can see, God has unlimited power and capabilities. He is infinitely capable of taking care of you. So remember "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" Luke 12:25-26 NIV The Lord is saying here, "because you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?"


    Finally, I would like to end with this passage from the Bible. It says it all when it comes the subject of worry and anxiety.


    "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:25-34 NIV



    May the God of this universe, and His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, guide, protect, and bless you as you travel the dusty trails of this life here on earth.

    Dave French

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