The Mental Health Solution . com
"The entrance of thy words giveth light (Psalm 119:130)."

Anxiety

Anxiety symptoms vary a lot. Symptoms may include your heart pounding, feeling like you're going crazy, sweaty palms, dizziness, "growling," pain or tightness in the chest, restlessness, feeling like you want to "jump out of your skin" and just feeling so nervous that it's painful.

Unlike stress, these feelings—which vary in intensity—seem to "just come out of the blue," are in excess of what can be explained by stress alone, are a problem regardless of circumstances and/or are just always present.

Before continuing, I should mention that I have written a separate article on panic attacks.

To understand and reduce your anxiety, it is necessary to first get saved.

It is suggested that you also read the following articles before continuing: Spiritual Warfare, Anger Management and Stress Management. The material in these articles is fundamental to reducing anxiety. And necessary information is not repeated in this article.

Before proceeding, it is important to note that sometimes there are physical causes for anxiety. First, have your doctor rule out medical causation (blood sugar, thyroid, etc.). Also, recognize that the use of drugs (legal or illegal), herbal preparations, energy drinks etc. may cause anxiety. Consult your doctor and pharmacist in regard to these issues.

Toxin exposure can also be an issue. If your job involves say, working in a furniture factory, discuss this issue with your doctor.

Finally, caffeine. Figure out how this drug affects you. If avoiding coffee, tea, caffeinated soft drinks etc. markedly reduces your anxiety (after a withdrawal period), you should probably avoid caffeine or minimize your intake. This is true of many people. Other people find that caffeine relaxes them. For them, I see no reason to stop drinking coffee.

Normally, if your doctor is unable to find a physical cause for your anxiety, he will tell you that you have a "chemical imbalance" and prescribe drugs.

There are changes in brain chemistry (Serotonin etc.) associated with anxiety. In this sense, there is a "chemical imbalance."

However, these changes in brain chemistry are themselves the result of negative thinking and spiritual footholds (Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV). And medical science does not understand spiritual footholds.

The Bible provides a healthy alternative to drugs in terms of reducing anxiety.

Anxiety, except as mentioned earlier, is the combined result of three related factors: Negative thinking, maladaptive behaviors and spiritual footholds.

First, negative thinking. Focusing on negatives produces anxiety for three reasons: 1) These conscious thoughts themselves create anxiety. 2) You are conditioning your subconscious mind to focus on those same negative thoughts 24 hours a day! And your subconscious mind will generate more anxiety as it dwells on these negatives and dutifully tries—unsuccessfully—to solve these problems. 3) Negative thinking results in the creation and strengthening of spiritual footholds.

Second, maladaptive behaviors. You will be unable to avoid negative thinking unless you are assertive, set boundaries and take steps to prevent abuse. These items were discussed in my article on Anger Management.

Third, spiritual footholds. These footholds give Satan the power to create emotional distress and anxiety. The level of distress—and its timing—vary in accordance with the will and purposes of demonic forces who are empowered by the foothold. Demons are deceivers by nature and will attack you wherever, whenever and however they believe they can do the most damage.

Demonic forces seek to maintain existing footholds, strengthen them and acquire new footholds, whenever possible.

Notice I said maintain existing footholds. If, for example, your anxiety is caused by unforgiveness, this foothold does not typically remain in existence indefinitely. To maintain the foothold, Satan will need to bring up thoughts about people who have wronged you from time to time. Each time one of these thoughts come up, the foothold will be either strengthened or weakened depending on your response. If you make an effort to forgive from your heart, then briefly and genuinely pray for the person—and then think about something else—the foothold will be diminished. If you dwell on the issue and/or nurse your grudge, the foothold will be strengthened.

Now, what are these footholds that are responsible for your anxiety. Here's the most common.

First, anger (Ephesians 4:26-27). Unforgiveness is a major cause of anxiety. This issue has been discussed, at length, on other articles on this website. I would refer you to my articles on Anger Management, How to Forgive and Getting Rid of Anger.

One reminder: To reduce anxiety, you need to forgive others—from your heart—every time angry thoughts come up. There is no substitute for doing this.

Second, fear and worrying. These certainly cause stress. However, they can also result in a spiritual foothold which causes anxiety. When this happens, you will have to really struggle to keep your mind off of your fears.

Christians are told to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). And the Bible states emphatically and repeatedly "do not worry" and "do not fear." These are commands—not recommendations. You cannot trust God and worry at the same time.

Third, habitual sin. Sin is a big cause of mental illness in general and anxiety in particular. Remember, God does punish our emotions when we choose to rebel against Him. Read my article: God and Discipline for more information.

Success in dealing with any of these footholds comes one thought at a time. The more consistent you are in resisting the Devil, the sooner that foothold will be diminished.

Fourth, feelings of restlessness can be a sign that there is an issue that needs to be addressed. For example, you may need to express displeasure about another person's behavior. As a general rule, you do have to express your feelings or you will always be messed up.

Fifth, feelings of restlessness can also be a sign from God that you are about to make a mistake. Pray and/or seek wise counsel if you think this might be the case.

Sixth, recognize that any major unresolved problem— something you feel strongly about but are not dealing with— can cause anxiety. Pray and seek wise counsel—and then address the issue.

Seventh, focusing on your anxiety—and fearing that it will never go away—is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Don't spend excessive time dwelling on your anxiety or trying to figure out how to get rid of it; this is self-defeating. The anxiety will gradually diminish as you make progress on the issues that are causing it. This happens automatically.

Eighth: It is not realistic to expect that you will come to a place where you never experience any anxiety. Be sure to read my articles on When Satan Gets a Foothold.

Finally, recognize that peace is the natural state for Christians. I recommend that you read my article entitled How to Walk in the Spirit.

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Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.
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