posted in: Stage 1, Stage 1: Step 1



The ability to process anxiety in a healthy way is critical to maintaining your quality of life. It is even more important for someone who is experiencing chronic pain. Anxiety is a reflection of your body chemistry changes when you are in an arousal state. Your senses are heightened and your perception of pain is heightened. (1)

There are several principles I have learned from my own experience and working with my patients:

  • Untreated disruptive anxiety always gets worse. It will NEVER get better on its own.
  • Anxiety is the pain. It is simply indicating, “danger” whether it is real or perceived.
  • Anxiety is highly treatable if it is acknowledged and treated as a physiological problem and not psychologically.
  • Anxiety is both normal and necessary–it will never disappear. Every living creature is programmed to avoid situations that would potentially affect its survival.
  • It is important to separate the threat from the chemical reaction (anxiety).
  • Mental pain is more disruptive to people’s lives than physical pain.
  • The harder you try to suppress fear, the stronger it will become. (2) White bears
  • Avoiding anxiety becomes its own stressor.
  • It is necessary to learn to live with anxiety; is it not solvable.
  • The way to decrease anxiety is to utilize methods that lower the stress hormones. The ultimate answer is to learn to switch over to “play” chemicals. It is a set of learned skills and not “mind over matter” or “positive thinking.”

I think that unrelenting and uncontrolled anxiety is intolerable and the one of the worst aspects of being a human. It will infiltrate every corner of your life. I find it tragic that such a treatable problem is so often not adequately addressed because of the incorrect perception of what it represents. It is actually your gift of life.




  1. Chen X, et al. “Stress enhances muscle nociceptor activity in the rat.” Neuroscience (2011); 185: 166-173.
  2. Wegener DM, et al. “Paradoxical effects of thought suppression.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1987); 53: 5-13.