It is amazing how many people are on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications nowadays. What is even more surprising is how many of them are teens and young adults who get diagnosed and put on drugs for the long haul.
After antibiotics, the most common prescriptions are for antidepressants, and it is believed that depression is caused by low levels of chemical neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, or norepinephrine.
While many studies contradict the chemical imbalance theory of depression, and have questioned the effectiveness of the drugs used to raise neurotransmitter levels, what is clear is that antidepressants come with a variety of side effects, including anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, drowsiness, tremors, fatigue, headaches, low libido, confusion, hostility, and suicidal thoughts.
Antidepressants and Anti-Anxiety Drugs: a Catch-22?
Anti-anxiety medications are tranquilizers that relieve anxiety by relaxing the central nervous system. When the brain functions slow down, over time so does your ability to think clearly, react quickly, and remember things. Depending on your susceptibility, being on anti-anxiety drugs for a while may sedate you enough to feel as disoriented as you would after a few drinks. Plus, a side effect of these types of drugs is depression, so doctors tend to prescribe them along with antidepressants, which can easily become a catch-22.
When you feel that you cannot cope with the stress in your life and simple things become overwhelming, especially if you are young, you are not likely to think about how a chemical substance can affect your ability to feel or think, block your sexual and creative energy, or distort your sense of self. You just want to feel better! So these intense drugs may be useful at times, and as long as you understand that they represent a band-aid and not a solution to your emotional states, they can bring enough balance to help you recover the ability to address the real issues underlying your depression and/or anxiety.
Disrupting the Soul-Mind-Body Continuum
From a spiritual perspective, any psycho-physiological dysfunction is the result of a disruption of vital energy; depression and anxiety are no exception. The physical body is the grossest layer of our soul-mind-body continuum; it is the vehicle of the mind. So even though we may experience symptoms through the physical senses, these are just expressions of a disruption of energy (an imbalance) on a subtler layer. Just like a light source can be blocked or diminished by a screen or a shade, your vital energy gets disrupted or zapped by stress, trauma, and your environment, eventually affecting the functioning of your body-mind complex..
Energy is governed by Consciousness. Whether we are talking about the energy required to move a muscle, that of a thought, or the energy that a neurotransmitter needs to do its job, it is all the same vibrational energy created and activated by Consciousness. It is the same intelligent spark that animates each cell and gives it purpose, creates a planet or a galaxy, or makes us self-aware. It is divine energy with the creative potential to shape the Universe as well as our reality.
We may not be aware of how much energy we use to do the things we do, or how much energy actually gets sucked out of us through the interaction with others, traumatic or difficult situations, and daily doses of stress, as well as unresolved emotional issues from the past. We actually carry these internal emotional “black holes” through which our vitality, clarity, and enthusiasm get drained.
If we don’t have a way to replenish ourselves—on the physical, mental, and emotional levels—sooner or later the drainage starts manifesting on a psycho-physiological level. And the physical body is very good at expressing what the imbalance is related to, if you are willing to pay attention and listen to it. It’s one of the means your soul uses to communicate with you and make you aware of how disconnected or aligned you are. But that’s material for a future article…
Are You Aware of Your Energy?
We are continuously dealing with and exchanging energy. From the energy of our thoughts and actions to the interactions with others, we find ourselves consciously and unconsciously mismanaging energy on a regular basis, without really being aware of it. The general perception is that we exchange time, money, work, love, attention, ideas, and so on, but behind all of it is the energy that motivates everything we think, feel, say, and do.
By the same token, the energy that we absorb through the physical senses and the body (in the form of food, mental and emotional impressions, objective and subjective information, subliminal messages, etc.) may be conducive to energize or deplete us. Haven’t you experienced how being in the presence of certain people leave you feeling exhausted? You either require extra energy to cope with them (or hold your tongue), or they are irritating, controlling, and disempowering, thus unconsciously sucking up your energy.
Now think about being with a loved one who loves you too and openly expresses their affection. It’s effortless and enjoyable; it doesn’t require much energy and it actually energizes you: it makes you feel important, appreciated, unique, and special. It allows you to exchange love for love, as opposed to time for money, emotional needs for attention, work for security and stability, and so on.
The Qualities of Nature: Sattva, Rajas & Tamas
We are vehicles of energy. According to yoga philosophy, there are three qualities of matter that are continuously interacting and shaping life: they represent the forces of creation, preservation, and dissolution. They are aspects of our inherent creative potential, so they also color the tendencies of our mind and the reality we co-create. These are the energies of sattva, rajas, and tamas.
Sattva is purity, right action, and spiritual purpose. It gives clarity, concentration, love, insight, and devotion. As a state of balance, it is responsible for health and healing.
Rajas is the principle of movement, change, and excitability. From it comes the false idea that the external world is real, which makes us seek happiness outside of ourselves. It creates desire, ambition, mental activity, and emotional upsets. Anxiety arises from excess rajasic energy.
Tamas is inertia, darkness, and confusion. The ignorance that veils our true nature and weakens our power of discrimination comes from this quality. Laziness, lethargy, and lack of determination or purpose are created by tamasic energy, which in excess promotes depression.
Although we each have all three qualities and experience different combinations and proportions of them throughout the day (and also according to the events in our life), in general our individual mind tends to be predominantly colored by one quality. To have sattva as the main quality in our nature is the key to good health, creativity, self-growth, and spirituality.
It is easy to understand that we are constantly exchanging energy, but what may not be evident is that the quality of energy we exchange has as big or a bigger impact in our life than the quantity of energy we exchange, especially when we are not aware of it so we can find ways to counteract or balance it out.
Energy Management for Depression and Anxiety
So for instance, to counteract the tamasic energy of depression, you’d need to consciously bring more rajas and sattva into your experience: more exercise, a cleaner and lighter diet, and meditative and mindful habits. You’d also have to become aware of how your environment is affecting your predominant mental energy. Is it constantly reminding you of past hurts, wounds, resentment, and trauma? Then you may have to cut some toxic ties, move to a more uplifting environment, and redecorate your home to get rid of your attachment to the past (along with the mental and emotional cobwebs it weaves).
To counteract the restless energy of anxiety, you’d need to bring in more grounding (tamas) and focused (sattva) energies: a daily meditation practice, regulated meals and activities, and techniques to manage your mental energy such as EFT and breathing techniques. You’d also have to become aware of your relationship to the environment and all the ways you scatter your energy around. Is it through multitasking, talking too much, rushing, constantly dealing with people, or buying into fear-based news or conversations? Then it would serve you to keep clear schedules and prioritize tasks so you can focus on each one at a time while you remember to breathe slowly through it.
Aside from the aspects mentioned above, here are some guidelines to both counteract and prevent depression and anxiety:
- Work with a holistic practitioner to help with any symptoms: Homeopathy, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine provide non-chemical, effective ways to restore balance.
- Keep your living and working spaces clean and uncluttered.
- Cultivate a more sattvic diet and general lifestyle.
- Develop a spiritual practice such as meditation, to connect to the flow of your life.
- Break free from toxic environments that reinforce a sense of disconnection.
- Find a purpose in life that keeps you motivated, focused and connected.
A sattvic diet consists of food that is easy to digest, nourishing, and promotes clarity and purity of mind, such as grains, vegetables, dairy, fruit, and nuts. A sattvic lifestyle includes mindfulness, self-discipline, spiritual practices like prayer, yoga and meditation, and cultivating virtuous qualities such as love, honesty, non-violence, compassion, contentment, service, and selflessness.
Even if you don’t suffer from depression or anxiety, balancing your energy requires an emotional effort, discipline, self-awareness, and the strong determination to get you to a better place, because the mind will always try to keep you where you are by creating resistance in the form of fear of doubt. So contact me today and get the clarity, motivation, support, tools, and soul-guided direction you need to gain control of your mind and your life!
© 2013. Yol Swan. All rights reserved.