Updated: Jan 30
Author: Glyndora Condon MS MFT NCC LPC CTMH CCTP CEMDRIA and Brainspotting Practitioner,
Anxiety is the leading mental health issue with women while substance abuse and addictions are the leading issues with men, with anxiety following as a second. Since 2020 this issue has grown to an epidemic level; but research has shown increases especially within the last 30 years-and the huge responsibility for this increase appears to be globally attributed to the increase of technology. This mode that mankind believed would connect us; has also brought the biggest disconnect to mankind while we are continually subjected to threats, comparisons, terrorism, disease, hate, greed, political propaganda, and control, with women and children-as well as; those in the minority- more objectified and abused than before, and while our very core beliefs are tossed aside-leaving us with little or no concern for our soul. Our social world is most unsocial. Those considered as minority shifts from one population to another as harm continues to show prejudice and bias and anxiety grows. Further, families are attacked due to the obsession with the screens and the negativity that is consumed which divide and skew priorities.
We get 24/7 negativity with this connectivity which consumes our time and focus; while stealing us from spirituality, productivity, family, community, and from the inner most self and from even our own health. Pleasure and being entertained has trumped over self-management, perseverance, being responsible, dependable, honorable, or having integrity. Our moral compass has lost heart as we turn inward instead of loving our neighbor. With misguided attempts and methods to accept all people-we find this drives more diversity and angst as the majority becomes the minority; with the same hate treatment and exclusion continuing to occur, simply because they may have different views, faith, color, or other than those now who are now protected. Equality is not a pendulum change from one population to another. It is the acceptance of differences without judgement or ill treatment for all people, as all people respect laws, regulations, and/or rules that are applied the same to all of mankind. As all are mindful to comply with these rules then all are more likely to suffer less from others, regardless of differences. None of us are qualified to determine who is worthy of better treatment, since we are all human and in such-we all are fallible. Screens has poisoned us further to believe that we are entitled, at any cost, to be better than others while saying these are attempts to be equal. We cannot ignore the devastation that this forum is costing mankind. At one time, what was going on across the world was not as quickly accessed- but now we are bombarded with toxifying and crippling negativity.
However, we have more factors that are raising the level of anxiety, of which screens magnifies confusion and fear. We have disease, pandemics, catastrophic events with the weather, fire, governments, the threats of war and terrorism, political, inflation, rumors of takeovers, losses, sex-trafficking, global warming, our health issues, the earth’s issues, emotional reasoning instead of any consideration of facts and/or science, as well as, loss of respect for life, liberty, or justice. Those once respected are subject to labels and threats of harm. All of these issues are inescapable if one watches the news broadcasts or enters into a social media forum. Social anxiety and general anxiety cases are on the rise as screen addiction is claiming one or more members in each household who has the ability to connect to the internet. Mankind has no place for refuge as mankind is subjected to a steady diet of emotional abuse. With lowered motivation to persevere and the delusion of freedom which has entrapped us via the use of screens-we experts are witnessing anxiety at levels never witnessed before we each had an IPHONE or like gadget. It is interesting to note that this is when (approximately 2007 and beyond) most all households in areas where technology was more available and when people were more able to purchase and to begin using the internet; as being the same time that anxiety began to rise. Let’s move onward however to consider other information that may also provide clarity regarding anxiety and how each person responds differently to major events.
Prior to Covid-19 and the huge political unrest of 2020, about 90% of mankind experienced some type of major catastrophic event during their lifetime with some people hardly scathed emotionally-once the event had passed; while others suffered with great mental and emotional harm. Since Covid-19, we have heard of ½ million or more deaths in the past 2 years. At first, we listened as Asia and Europe were hit and were suffering great losses as we questioned what and how this was happening. The fear began to consume us in the USA. David Clark, a mental health expert has termed this as a “learning vulnerability” which basically means that we begin to fear distant threats. People believe that it will come here to them. Those “what if’s” become formidable and safe spaces become small and narrow as walls appear to be closing in upon us. People restrict and reside within those small spaces that are choking and suffocating them, sapping their hope and energy. The anxiety that consumes them tightens its grip and narrows the appearance of any resources for them. People become a source of anxiety and often then transmit this anxiety to others abroad; using social media.
Social media also pounded us with constant hate of President Trump, while also imposing constant fear of the pandemic. We experienced the unthinkable as our Constitution was ignored, laws were trampled upon, and we witnessed braising hate attacks of our freedom and rights; and we felt helpless while also suffering the inability to be with our loved ones, to earn wages, to travel, to go on vacations, to eat out, to go out of our homes, to get our education, to speak of our political affiliation without fear of reprisal, to speak of our faith without condemnation, and even to breathe the air. We were told numerous mixed and false messages as to the pandemic and how to stop it. We still are being subjected to more and more government over-reaches with fear tactics and deception. We find more unrest amongst the parties and with the people. Those vaccinated and with boosters can and do develop serious illness and are still able to get Covid, or its variances; flu, and other germs-and they can transmit them to others while thinking that they are safe. The vaccinated people are also at risk of dying when they contract the diseases. The unvaccinated are treated as if they are heartless and cruel people by many who are vaccinated and by the government. Little is being said about natural immunities of those who did survive diseases such as Covid, flu, pneumonia, or other contaminates. We are told to mask, double mask, distance, to bathe in disinfectants and to clean constantly; while others tell us the benefits of building natural immunities. Others tell us that wearing masks brings us risks. In addition, our ability to work to provide for our families, to travel, and to be provided resources are at risk by the government.
Many come into counseling due to the continued chaos and fear imposed with these factors and others. These factors and others have forced people to take refuge in their homes. Some can utilize screens within their homes for their income, education, and health while others do not have the resources. Sometimes as people are restricted to their homes then they find added peril within their very homes due to domestic violence, drugs and alcoholism, and the isolation of that restriction and from normal outside activities are causing higher levels of depression, anxiety, higher suicidal risks, and relational distress. This isolation has driven many to the very technology which has been attributing to addictive neural pathways that lower motivation and that increases depression, fear, anxiety, suicides, and negative behaviors; with concentrated and long durations of exposure fear and as people attempt to escape real world life events. This chronic stress has driven the average of 3.5% of those exposed to a life catastrophic event to begin to show PTSD symptoms-to an approximated increased 26% within only 2 years.
For Christians and those of other faith, we find that belief in God, or other entity can bring peace even during all of these toxic issues, evidencing the need to include spirituality in the treatment for healing in mankind. It is an important adjunct to include spirituality in treatment for higher efficacy yet here we have another problem. Those of faith are now stereo typed as vicious, bigoted, hypocritical, terrorizing, hate filled people by governments and by social media which leads to many who opt to omit the resource that could aid their healing. Without a superior creator or being to believe in, then many face their crippling anxieties and fears alone. They will attempt to escape into work or activities which may not be dependable these days since they can be shut down. They may attempt to self-medicate which exacerbates the anxiety and depression as it adds more dysfunction and harm. They may attempt to rely on their performance, money, others, or self which are all at risk of changing expectations, loss, and shut downs. Without a supreme being’s constant resource regardless of circumstance, then the person is forced to depend upon humans, government, health, intellect, or another forum which are fallible.
A well-known Christian author, Max Lucado; refers to the need to understand that God’s healing utilizes the many tools that experts in the field of mental and emotional health provide. God tells us to take charge over every thought. Cognitive Therapists educate us how to capture, challenge, and then to reframe or change the thought, which will indeed provide relief and empowerment with a new perspective regarding life’s events. This aids the ability to seek to learn and to grow- regardless of what we find ourselves within. In God’s word we are taught to laugh more, see the positives, accept the good news and the many positives. We step into service, we pray more, and feed more from God’s Word. God knows His creation; mankind. Those of us who practice in the field of mental health prescribe for our patients-the very same remedy to lift them from despair. Many of the very tools that we learn in the Universities apply the same methodology and teaching to help others. They teach that spirituality is an important component in healing and to respect all culture and faith. Therefore, we expand to work with our client’s core belief and faith towards their healing-and not from our own.
Cognitive-behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Mindfulness/Centeredness, 12-step programs that include spirituality, and also other tools provide the “how” answers towards the way for healing. Mankind attempts to self-medicate with work, power, money, control, substances, porn, sex, screens, entertainment, pleasure, and more which will lead them further into distress and negativity. Christians believe that the further we stray from our center in Christ, the more hopeless, empty, and closed off we become. Science shows connection with what we focus upon and our own mental, emotional, behavioral, relational, and spiritual health. If one focuses upon negatives then one spawns negativity, while increasing stress, anger, doubt, fear, and pain-and while lowering energy, the ability to sleep, changes in diet, strength and our immune system. Stress increases health problems and overall dysfunction mentally and physically. If one focuses upon pleasure, then one will fall prey to an ever-consuming appetite for pleasure without fulfillment. If one focuses upon being perfect then one is comparing to others and feeling as if they are not worthy.
For the unbeliever and one who only trusts in their own strength to overcome; then the tools that experts can teach and guide with, also provide insight as to how to take charge over one’s thoughts and heart-thus providing empowerment and a break from a negative pattern that cycles. Alone, they can overcome many poor choices and negative strongholds of the mind with therapy. Although research does speak to the higher efficacy for one who embraces the spiritual component of therapy so that they are not alone in their walk towards healing; research does show improvement can be achieved although at a lesser degree for those who walk it alone. It will be important to learn about nutrition, to greatly lower the use of screens, phones, technology, and to continually feed upon positive information. We are social creatures who need to socialize with positive other human beings. We will find that providing nurturing and healing services to others is a powerful tool that can help with growth within.
Humans will benefit with regular exercise that naturally increases dopamine and serotonin. Humans need to breathe deeply since oxygen increase will also help to regulate the chemicals of the brain and to increase social skills, communication skills, conflict resolution skills, empathy training, and learn how to discern healthy relationships that are mindful of healthy boundaries between others and you; while you respect theirs. If something or someone causes you to pause or to be uncomfortable-then take note and pay attention. Do not reject or deny your inner being that has sounded an alarm. Understand that you can walk away or you can lean into the issue with respect of the other’s right to have their perspective-but at no time do you or they have the right to force you with lies, manipulation, force, or other-to change for them or for you.
Regardless of faith or being one of no faith in a supreme being-experts have tested and tried tools that are reliable and helpful to aid during this pandemic of anxiety which is gripping all of mankind globally in some way. We counselors are stepping up to meet the need of all people, and we invite you to seek help from we experts who are standing ready to assist you wherever you are in life. There are many excellent Counselors who will respect your choices and your path-as they walk alongside you towards healing in whatever capacity that you embrace. We of faith believe that these tools enlist God’s word and wisdom and those tools will love and help the unbeliever and also the believer. We have an added responsibility to reflect the love of Christ with the grace that we bestow to our clients, when applying therapy modalities to aid each client.
Even with the best of intentions, uncontrollable situations arise-and anxiety can arise. Sometimes anxiety and outside or inside forces seem to be much like a fierce storm raging. We can learn how to respond with a firm, gentle, and powerful tools as we discover our anchor, broaden our space of resources, and acceptance of what we cannot change, and learn to apply assertiveness with healthy boundaries with things that we can control or change; knowing the difference as to what we can and what we cannot change or control in the process. We can learn how to be a gentle calm regardless of the circumstances as we seek calmness with the knowledge that we can find this peace within. We can learn from the past, forgive the past, and yet to not live in the past. We also can learn to give room and to allow the emotions and the bodily sensations with each transition or situation without causing harm to ourselves or to others as we all respect emotional, physical, and social boundaries-while discerning with wisdom, what is truth and what are the many options and resources available to us.