Relieving Anxiety: A Real Struggle

When it comes to psychological disorders such as anxiety, emotional instability or a simple and comprehensive fear at life, the exit solutions are limited for us. Solutions are limited for the sole reason that contemporary science & medicine has not been able to find the root of all these problems. Eventhough science is close to the answers, for the instance it seems to rest permantly asymptotic to them.

One fact that the psychiatric domain does not want to popularize is that the number of patients with mental health disorders is steadily increasing, and furthermore, drugs are not helping them in any viable way. According to the extensive research done by Robert Whitaker on his book Anatomy of An Epidemic, in 1987 there were 16,200 children receiving disability payments for mental health reasons. In 2007, the number was 561,569. Every day 850 adults and 250 children are added to the disability rolls for mental health reasons. Adding to this, the psych drug market is the range of 40 billion dollars a year.

It is true that the population of The USA in 1987 was about 242.3 million, which means that on 2007 it had raised about 24.3%. Eventhough there was an increase in the population of The USA, we cannot contribute this to the increase of children receiving mental health treatments. The number of children receiving disability payments for mental health reasons augmented 3366.4%. There is clearly something wrong with the prevention, interpretation and treatment of mental disorders. Beyond that, there is a problem with the way society evolves.

In a great article written by the founder of Psych Central, Dr. John Grohol poses himself the question: “How do you cure mental illness?” After some extensive rodeo around the subject he came to a simple conclusion:


“Which brings me back to the question — how do you cure mental illness? The answer — you don’t. You help people understand what it is, learn and engage new ways of coping with its symptoms, and help them do the best they can with the resources they have available. Right now, there’s no “cure” for mental illness. I hope within my lifetime, I can answer this question in a very different way.”


Mental illness is a real problem. It is a concurrent epidemia that is taking over our society. One common misleading believe is that mental disorders are only those which are related to heavy psychological implicatons. We might think that only those with insane chemical, behavioral and cognitive problems are who enter to the mental health patient’s list. Even worse, it is generally thought that psychriatic patients are a small marginal group in medicine. Far away from being the truth, mental disorders are found in a broad spectrum of diseases and syntoms. Common things such as depression, mental breakdown, overthinking, anxiety, bipolarity or any kind of phobia, are mental disorders which can drastically influence our daily lifes at any given moment.

One of the most common and untreated psychological disorders is depression. The website made a great info-graphic on Unhappiness by the Numbers: 2012 Depression Statistics, where they took all the major aspects and valuable information on depression and represented it on a great visual graphic:

Depression statistics infographic

Another great info-graphic that highlights the implications of disregarding mental disorders is the following made by Ontario York Region and shared by Paradigm Malibu, an Adolescent Treatment Center:

Teen Mental Health

As it resembles, the problem rests in the light and its solutions hidden under its shadow. Mental disorders are real current problems, and without the need to further demonstrate, it is increasing and propagating.

The question that all of this data and analysis throw over the table is, Why is this behavior spreading? Without much thinking it is easy to identify the source of the primitive problem, it only takes returning to the most basic gut feelings. The Human Game, as Alan Watts calls it, is our urge to control, survive and find purpose in our lifes. In his famous lecture Learning The Human Game, Alan Watts expresses an incredibly well fundamented thought:

“So if you go to be human, you just have to trust yourself to have bowel movements, go to sleep, and digest your food; of course if something goes seriously wrong and you need a surgeon that’s another matter. But by and large, the healthy human being doesn’t right from the start of life need surgical interference. And he lets it happen by itself. And so with the whole picture that is fundament, you have got to let go and let it happen. Because if you don’t, you’re going to be all clutched up. You’re going to be constantly trying to do what can happen healthily only if you don’t try. But we have a strange anxiety in us; that if we don’t interfere than it won’t happen. Now that’s the root of an enormous amount of trouble.”

Outside of all cultural and social factors. Outside of all external determinism and empiricism, the human being seems to be as one single struggle in space and time. The human urge to protect itself or to flee from what it faces is giving nature to emotional claustrofobia. Our consciousness, which is characterized by its ability to save memories and predict the future, makes us fall into a pendulum between past and future. We never find ourselves in the unique present moment, something which gives us an advantage over other beings but also gives us a whole burden to carry. This ability, or shall I say, this illusion of controlling, determining and surviving, gives nature to many psychological problems. Outside of genetics, chemical disorders and traumas, the most simple and present mental disorders come from a fight with the past or the future.

As Alan Watts once noted, “Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.” Our seemingly great understanding of the universe teaches us one humbling thing, how purposeless The Universe is. The simple fact that the laws of physics appear to not unify as a whole teaches us that all the patterns we find in The Universe are no more than the chances of creation. A simple example is how quantum physics oppose to relativism, showing that the universe does not follow one single determined behaviour.

What is being searched in here is to demonstrate that lots of our basic psychological imbalances are product of a search of purpose (where we clearly fail), and desire to control the past and future. We have to realize that the universe is a whole spontaneous cosmic dance. We are growing, evolving and functioning as part of it, in it. Just as one laughs from something funny, spontaneously and uncontrollably, the universe surged and gave origin to all we see and more. What we call as oneness is the realization that we are part of this “one”. Once this is comprehended much of our anxiety, fear and lack of understanding will vanish into a spontaneous and constantly evolving choreography.

Surely many psychological problems need and can be treated with medicine, yet we know that we are not attacking the root of the problem but we are cutting the baby branches which keep growing out. The increasing pressure that our society puts on us is worsening our problem. Our surroundings demand so much that we are not able to assimilate all the stimuli. We rest anxious and overloaded, with no way out but a vicious circle of drugs and doctor visits. If we invested more time into the reshaping of our perspective, society functions and introspective abilities, many of the most burdening yet natural psychological disorders would dissolve into mere faith in life.


José Arvide

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