The primary cause of sleeplessness in half of insomnia patients is stress-related anxiety, highlighting a need for effective treatments for anxiety disorders. Though some treatment options for people with anxiety are medicinal, with different medications for stress and panic disorders, depression, and social anxiety disorders, they are often addictive with moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms. In addition, their positive effects have not been shown to persist after discontinuation of the treatment program. There are, however, a number of ways to treat anxiety which work by using the body’s physical processes to relieve the symptoms of these conditions at their source: the autonomic nervous system.
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Generalized anxiety disorders (GAD) are a cluster of different conditions, including anxiety and depression, panic attacks, and phobias that manifest through recurring thoughts or concerns and physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness, or rapid heartbeat. Anxiety treatment plans range from talking treatments to prescription medications.
While several non-pharmacological treatment approaches have shown long-term efficacy at reducing symptoms of anxiety, the positive effects of prescription treatments of patients do not persist after discontinuing their use. However, studies have demonstrated that relaxation therapy, both on its own and alongside medications, can be an effective treatment for GAD that manages anxiety and produces a long-lasting reduction in symptoms.
Relaxation therapy, in a variety of forms, can be an effective anxiety disorder treatment, as well as a supplement to other treatment methods such as medications.
Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is the gold-standard for measuring anxiety, panic, and stress. As anxiety increases, the heart beats faster and with a more steady rhythm. During relaxation, the heartbeat slows and beats with a more varied rhythm according to the body’s changing need for oxygenation. By focusing on one’s breathing in a 5-seconds-in, 5-seconds-out pattern, HRV can be increased alongside a reduction in physical symptoms of anxiety.
Mindfulness, in its clinical form, describes “metacognitive capacity”--an individual’s relationship with their own thinking. Studies have shown that engaging in meditative practices that focus one’s thoughts on the present, rather than future or past events which can cause anxiety and stress, not only reduces stress in the short-term but also provides a long-term resilience to the incursion of stressful thoughts. Similarly, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) works by recognizing and identifying thoughts that can increase anxiety (“I will not be able to sleep tonight.”) and replacing them with more amenable, open-ended thoughts (“I am having trouble sleeping tonight, but I will fall asleep soon.”). Even this reframing of the language with which we talk about ourselves and the world around us has been shown to greatly reduce anxiety-caused sleeplessness.
Guided imagery is another useful technique that has been used as a treatment for anxiety and related disorders. By listening to a description of a safe, relaxing place, the mental space required for ruminative thoughts is taken up by, for example, thoughts of a warm day at the beach. The dissonance between the current, stressful environment and the imagined, relaxing environment has been shown to greatly decrease stress. Similarly, “autogenic training,” derived from clinical hypnosis, guides the patient through progressive muscle relaxation and tries to induce comforting sensations like warmth or heaviness, with a similar effect to guided imagery.
These different relaxation techniques are all clinically proven methods of easing anxiety that you can try at home. In the short-term, they are highly effective in the treatment of “state-based anxiety,” the experience of severe anxiety in situations such as being in a crowded public place, produce physical symptoms of anxiety. Over time, however, practice with them can cause a reduction in the average level of anxiety an individual feels regardless of environmental conditions, also known as “trait-based” anxiety.
The same features that Pzizz uses to help people with insomnia can also help people overcome their anxiety. Our researchers survey work in the fields of neuroscience, psychophysiology, and psychoacoustics to determine how music and audio narration can help to relax the mind and offer a natural treatment for the heightened activity of the sympathetic nervous system — stress — that keeps people from sleeping.
The musical dreamscapes which form the core of the Pzizz app work by using rhythms which help induce a 5-seconds-in, 5-seconds-out breathing pattern shown in clinical studies to increase heart rate variability and decrease symptoms of anxiety. Pzizz also has dozens of narrations that use guided meditation and autogenic training to replace maladaptive thoughts with images more amenable to relaxation. There are even short gratitude and mindfulness exercises that aim to turn the relaxed state produced by Pzizz into long-term relief from anxiety and other stress-related conditions.
If you need to manage chronic anxiety, depression, panic attacks, or social phobias, consider using Pzizz. When you feel your anxiety acting up, just put on Pzizz, close your eyes, and relax.
Download for a FREE 7-DAY TRIAL and discover that Pzizz can change your life.