Anxiety is now the number one mental health diagnosis in the United States.
Over 30% of American adults are expected to experience clinical levels of anxiety at some point in their lives. Right now, it is estimated that 30% of Americans between 13 and 18 years old are experiencing clinical levels of anxiety. These numbers seem to get worse every year and the rates of anxiety around the world only seem to go up despite access to the best medications and the most well-developed therapy techniques the world has ever known.
Why do so many people continue to struggle with anxiety throughout their lives?
We now know that after the first episode of anxiety or depression, we are 50% more likely than those without a history of anxiety to have another serious episode of anxiety at some point in our life.
If anxiety takes root early in life or even in childhood, it can become a lifelong struggle to just feel okay and try to live a “normal life.” Modern neuroscience has shown that once we have experienced a clinical level of anxiety or depression, our brain creates dedicated neural networks that carry these negative thoughts and make it easier for us to experience anxiety or depression in the future.
Research has also shown that the human mind has a “negativity bias” where the brain tends to focus on and reinforce negative thoughts and emotions far more easily than positive ones. Our brains do these things naturally and without any input from us, and it’s often why we feel like we’re swimming upstream with anxiety.
Even after going through therapy or “getting past” anxiety in the past, we can easily fall back into anxiety with very minor triggering events. We have tried so hard to change our lives and not be an anxious person, but it happens to us anyway without any clear signal or inciting event sometimes. It can be traumatizing since it completely changes how we feel about ourselves and our lives.
We thought this was over and in the past, but now it’s back like an unwelcome house guest crashing on the couch.
While traditional talk therapy or even CBT can be helpful with anxiety in the moment, the long-term studies find similar outcomes where people are more likely to fall back into clinical anxiety in the future. Many well-meaning therapists simply move immediately to talking about the anxiety without any formal assessment, understanding of the client’s particular reaction pattern, and sometimes without even a proper diagnosis procedure. Simply talking about anxiety doesn’t change it or make it go away.
We have to address anxiety with a long-term approach in mind to make sure clients know what to do if or when it strikes again. These well-meaning therapists often miss the underlying causes of clinical anxiety, and they do not equip clients with the tools they need to fundamentally change how they experience anxiety as well as having a plan of action about what to do when anxiety strikes.
How We Approach Anxiety
Gearing Up’s clinical treatment programs for anxiety understand all of these facts and fundamentally approach anxiety treatment in a very different way.
Our clinical team understands that it does not take much for the brain to revert back to anxiety, and even a single bad day can unravel the mind back into a permanently anxious state
Anxiety is the number one diagnosed condition in the US / the world
Thoughts and emotions shape our reaction patterns
Once the brain has created these neural networks of reaction, they don’t just disappear
Because of the negativity bias (brief explanation), those neural networks are easily triggered by even extremely minor events even when we’re doing well
People relapse so easily even when they’ve worked so hard to get back to where they want to be
Through no fault of their own, this is how the brain works
It can be traumatizing at times, we may feel like it’s “over” or at least managed… but slowly it gradually builds
After the first episode of anxiety or depression, 50% chance of falling back into it (across the life span)… and the earlier it begins in life, the more likely you are to relapse
It sets up the way we process emotions from here on out
Our program is different
A lot of therapists don’t know how to diagnose what is happen, understand the patterns of reaction, and they just jump into standard talk therapy (they just start talking)
We build a plan for recovery
Once you’ve been anxious, your brain knows how to get you there again… and it doesn’t take much to get there
If you have trauma or are prone to feeling vulnerable, you’re especially prone to anxiety
The brain will keep you anxious due to how the brain works, the brain thinks it is protecting you… but once the emotional parts of our minds (the limbic system, the amygdala, etc.), they will trigger the stress and anxiety chemicals like coritsol so quickly and we may not even know it’s happening
The part of our brains that create perspective and bring wise decision making (the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, etc.) are literally muted by the stress chemicals
And once it starts it just gets louder and louder and grows and grows
We can’t just tell ourselves to not have a thought or emotion. We have to know how to deal with them since they will be here anyway.
The way Gearing Up is fundamentally different from others in Texas is that we assess and diagnose so specifically – we want to know how your brain’s reaction pattern works so we know what skills and strategies to implement so you know what to do when anxiety hits
These are automatic reactions that are just simply not our fault
We tell ourselves (or other people tell us) that we can control things if we just try harder
We have to basically change how we experience these anxious thoughts to truly create lasting change
Talking about anxiety doesn’t change it – you can tell your therapist that youre anxisou but it doesn’t change anything
You have to change your state of mind, you have to put in the work – the only way to change the reactions for good is to change how you experience your life. A pill or a venting session isn’t going to change the underlying cause.
The skills that we teach create real change that disrupts the cycles of anxiety before they can even get started