|An Energy Based Treatment Model for Panic and Anxiety Disorder|
New England School of Acupuncture
Objectives: To address the lack of a single well understood mechanism to account for a wide range of symptoms and to determine the root causes for Anxiety and Panic Disorder.
Treatment: A successful treatment of a patient with a history of Panic and Anxiety Disorder using an Energy Based Treatment Model. This case suggests the theory that this condition is a result of a progressive structural energetic misalignment.
Conclusion: An energy based treatment model points to a unified mechanism that may trigger onset of Panic and Anxiety disorder.
Anxiety and Panic Disorder is characterized as a mental disorder in the DSM Diagnostic Statistical Manual issued by the American Psychiatric Association. The onset of symptoms can be acute or slow. Clinically, the condition is manifested as an uncomfortable feeling of fear, uneasiness, or concern that something bad may happen. Because it can cause a wide range of physical symptoms such as insomnia, rapid heartbeat, nausea and abdominal distress, severe headaches, feeling dizzy or faint, patients often seek separate treatments for individual symptoms, presenting them as unrelated “main complaints.” They may seek treatment for heart palpitations from cardiologists, abdominal distress from gastroenterologists, and headaches from pain clinics. This often results in a delayed diagnosis of the condition. While the symptomology of the condition has been widely studied, the mechanism that triggers those symptoms is not well understood, which often makes proper diagnosis more difficult. This case report illustrates a theory that the Anxiety and Panic Disorder, with all its underlying symptoms, develops as a result of a progressive structural energetic misalignment.
This case report illustrates the challenging but important task of identifying root causes of underlying clinical and physical symptomology. Root imbalances can give rise to many seemingly unrelated symptoms. It is ultimately a goal for both conventional and alternative medicine to adhere to the principle of attending to both the “root” causes for a condition as well as the “branch” – the specific symptom for which the patient is seeking treatment.
This paper highlights the problems that exist in treating Anxiety and Panic disorder in the absence of a unified mechanism for tying together the root causes and the branching symptoms. This paper argues that focusing on the single or most recent symptoms will do little to reflect the broader clinical reality of the condition.
Energetic Structural Displacement
The notion of a displacement is widely accepted as a psychological term of Depersonalization. It is placed in the category of a Dissociative Disorder as a Depersonalization Disorder. It is described in the DSM-IV manual as a “persistent or recurrent experience of feeling detached, as if one is an outside observer of one’s mental processes or body.” The DSM-IV also states that depersonalization is a frequent symptom that occurs during the course of other disorders, such as Panic Disorder and acute Stress Disorder.
Furthermore, according to DSM-IV, “depersonalization is a prevalent experience. In many religions and cultures experiences, depersonalization is voluntarily induced as part of meditative and trance practices. A transient experience of depersonalization develops in nearly one third of individuals exposed to life-threatening danger and in close to 40% of patients hospitalized for mental disorders. At some time in their lives, approximately half of all adults may have experienced a single brief episode of depersonalization, usually precipitated by severe stress.” This data strongly suggests that there is an underlying mechanism that triggers this condition, but the specifics of this mechanism have not been studied.
This case study illustrates the hypothesis that the causes and progression of symptoms for panic disorder can be explained in terms of an energetic structural displacement model and that depersonalization corresponds to an advanced state of such a displacement.
The energy field based structural model proposed below explains symptoms and progression of the generalized anxiety disorder and accompanying panic attacks. It describes states of upward displacement of the energy field in relation to the “energy gates” in the body. These “energy gates”, as we’ll show later, are closely related to the concept of tantiens and energy gates, as used in Chinese Energy Medicine
There are four energy gates that regulate the energy field alignment within the physical body and correspond to anatomical points in the body that functions as diaphragms. They are located in areas where energy gets stuck and where according to medical literature people report most of the physical problems.
These four areas corresponding to the energy gates are:
Base of the scull – at the Sphenoid bone
Base of the neck - a group of muscles responsible for spasm reflex in the throat
The chest area - the solar plexus
Base of the coccyx - the pelvic diaphragm.
The gates function in the following manner: in a grounded person, the energy field is aligned with the physical body and the concentration of energy present within the body keeps the gates/diaphragms open. When a person becomes very scared or physically unsafe in any way, there is a reflective reaction of gasping as one inhales an holds one’s breath, and from the energetic perspective in this moment the energy field retreats upwards. As the energy retreats, one or more of the gates close behind, thwarting the reintegration of the energy field back with the physical body.
We can understand anxiety disorder as analogous to a safety release mechanism in mechanical systems, for releasing extreme pressure – a natural and built in human response to deal with situations of extreme overwhelm, after which the system needs to be reset. The human system wisely creates these states of displacement in order not to overwhelm itself when trauma occurs. It is analogues to a safety valve mechanism. We can hypothesize that if energy were not displaced, the body’s physical and psychological systems would overload, leading to a more serious system wide breakdown. Then having the energy escape through the gates protects the body, however only short term. This displacement creates a state when the nervous system never rests, and it will eventually result in a burn out not only of the physical, but the emotional, mental and spiritual parts of us as well.
We can conclude that when trauma is registered deeply, the system cannot self-correct and we do not know how to reset it back, because the prevailing methods of treatment for this condition lack a thorough and cohesive understanding of the exact mechanism. Because the system does not always automatically reset as the gates get blocked, it needs to be reset explicitly through energy medicine practices such as energy healing therapies. The case study in this paper describes how such an energy therapy was applied to correct the displacement.
Understanding Levels of Displacement
The initial displacement happens in the lowest gate that is related to a sense of physical comfort. It particularly relates to fear and responds to a sense of physical un-safety experienced by a person. As a result of a traumatic event or a stressful experience, the energy retreats and the first gate shuts down. This is done as a coping mechanism to diminish painful or scary physical sensations brought by a situation. When a reaction to a threat is particularly strong, whether it happens abruptly, or builds up over time, the energy field lifts up, energy retreats from the first gate, and the gate closes behind. A person, now disconnected in the first gate, has a diminished energy field. Therefore such a person becomes ungrounded, gets disconnected from the body’s physical sensations, and becomes prone to anxieties and fears. In treatment of panic attack disorder it is imperative to discover the cause of this initial displacement since it points to the “root cause” of the condition. Consequently, only when root causes are successfully identified, addressed and healed, can the treatment of anxiety and panic condition be successful. The condition is finally healed when the first gate gets opened which leads to full reintegration of the energy field back to its baseline.
As fears and anxieties build up over time, at some point a particularly stressful or traumatic event can push up the energy field even further, now crossing the chest area, and causing the second energy gate at the solar plexus diaphragm to close. Usually this event will be reported by the patient as a probable reason for the attack because this is the point when he/she became alarmed by the experience of their heart racing and loss of control over regulating their emotional and physical state of discomfort. In reality such an event is the cause of the secondary displacement, and is simply the latest event in the chain of events that advanced the displacement and triggered the attack, rather than being the sole reason for it.
To understand why the symptoms of the panic attack occur once the energy field is pushed pass the second gate, we need to examine how the seven charkas are structured within in the body. The three lower chakras relate to the functioning of the physical body, whereas the three higher charkas relate to the spiritual realms. The heart chakra is in the middle. Once the energy field crosses over the energy gate associated with the heart chakra, one becomes in a way disconnected from the physical aspects of the body. Symptoms of this disconnection include altered digestion and fluctuations between chills and hot flashes. Also, moving above the second gate causes the energy field to be more then half way out of the body. The physiological response of the body to such a displacement is a panic with all the related symptoms: rapid heart beat, fear of dying, dizziness. Note, that at each level, many of the symptoms of the previous levels persist as well.
Once the panic attack starts, the addition of associated symptoms increases the level of accumulated intense fear and anxiety. Living in this state continues to push up the energy field past the neck gate. When the energy field displaces beyond the third gate, the heart palpitations often subside since the energy is now displaced so much more out of the physical body and beyond the chest area. Many patients mistakenly interpret this as an improvement of their condition. However, this next level of displacement results in most of the energy field being gathered around the top of the head. This creates strong pressure on that area of the body causing severe headaches, tension in the neck area, clenching of the jaw, fixated thoughts. It is at that level, or at the next fourth level, when most of the patients report symptoms of dissociation and depersonalization. They see themselves looking at other people and the world, as if they were outside of everything around them.
Chinese Energy Medicine Perspective
The concept of Energy Gates has been passed down from the ancient Taoist traditions of China. Energy is regulated through energy gates. Energy gates function as relay stations regulating alignment and flow of the subtle energy field within the physical body. There are over hundred gates, however Chinese energy medicine distinguishes three main energy gates, called tantiens, and these are most important places to clear energy blockages.
The lower tantien is located at the pelvic diaphragm, the middle tantien is located around the center of the sternum and the solar plexus, and the upper tantien is located at the “third eye” at the location of the sphenoid bone.
The downward reintegration of energetic displacement through the tantiens is an important concept in Eastern spiritual practices. According to Taoist teaching, it is common for people whose energy is concentrated in the upper parts of the body to experience a wide range of health problems. It often happens because displacing the energy into the higher centers is creating more energetic pressure then the body can handle. The reasons for the energy displacement are not necessarily trauma based. It is also common for people who are highly developed psychically, as a consequence of prolonged spiritual practices and meditation. Prostration practices in Tibetan Buddhism as well as various energetic practices were developed to avoid risk of such health problems. For this reason many of the beginning energy and meditation practices ranging from chi-gang to the martial arts, pay particular attention to the area called “lower tantien,” located at the pelvic diaphragm. Concentrating energy in this area counteracts the upwards displacement that happens in the course of more advanced practices and results in balanced distribution of the energy throughout the energy centers.
The areas demarcated by the tantiens are called jiaos, or burners. The Taoist perspective holds that these burners are responsible for the health of the organs within that area. Various specific exercises and practices strengthen and balance energy within as well as in relationship to other burners to ensure proper functions of all organs.
The lower jiao begins below the lower tantien and extends down to the floor and primarily affects the functioning of the legs and pelvis, urinary-genital systems, the large intestines.
The middle jiao extends from the lower tantien to the middle tantien at the solar plexus, are where majority of the organs are located, and is responsible for the health of the small intestine, kidneys, spleen, pancreas, liver, stomach, and gall bladder.
The upper jiao extends from the chest to the top of the head, and is responsible for the health of the heart, lungs, and brain.
The grouping of the organs empirically observed in our model closely mirrors the Chinese system. The main difference between our model and the Chinese medicine model is that we split the upper jiao into two separate areas at the neck gate. The three major gates with the addition of the neck gate are the four empirically significant gates studied in our displacement model.
Summary of levels of displacement
The symptoms associated with the Anxiety and Panic disorder can be grouped in relationship to the four energy gates and analyzed according to the model of energy field displacement. Following is a brief summary of how physical symptoms develop and progress along with the displacement of the energy field through the gates.
At the coccyx- sense of not being grounded, spacey. Diminished vitality, loss of energy. Possible onset of a depression
At the heart - strong heart palpitations is an indication of the field crossing the heart. Development of irritable bowel syndrome, flashes of hot and cold, sleeping problems. Increased loss of energy, depression, anxiety, panic.
At the throat - At this level the heart palpitations may subside. Intense headaches, pressure in the head especially in the back of the head at the base of the neck, tension in the neck area, fear of dying. Beginning of agoraphobia. Sleeping disorder. Depression, anxiety, panic. TMJ and neck tension related to energy field displacement will not respond in a lasting way to chiropractic, or any other treatments, until the displacement is corrected.
Above the sphenoid – state of de-realization. Not feeling the body. Everything feels scary and foreign. Intense headaches and pressure in the head. (In addition, all the previous symptom categories are cumulative too.)
The main focus of this paper is to demonstrate that initial progression and subsequent reversal of the symptoms as a consequence of energy field realignment and downward reintegration, is consistent with the proposed above grouping of symptoms.
That is re-integration happens most naturally progressing from the 4th to the 1st gate – from the higher to the lower levels because this is the structure of the energy system.
The details of the energy therapy treatments that lead to downward realignment of the energy field, which would further illuminate the structure of the energy field, are unfortunately outside of the scope of this paper.
Presentation and History of Presenting Condition
In this case report we describe a 48 year old man who came to my private energy healing practice presenting two complaints – lower back area pain and tremendous loss of energy, both of which had persisted for two years. The pain came from the 5th lower lumbar to the sacral, on the left side. His tiredness was constant – if he started to do anything physical, he got tired right away. He characterized his sensation as if some negativity, something that one could not control, was coming from the outside taking his energy. He requested a shamanic healing to free himself from that influence. Trained in medicine and biological sciences, he admitted that prior to this symptoms, he would never have sought an alternative treatment.
Upon further investigation, the client reported that he suffered from a larger set of symptoms. The patient complained of persistent frontal headaches causing pressure in the eyes mostly in the morning upon waking up. He also was suffering from disturbed sleep. When stressed, he felt a lump in his throat and had difficulty speaking. He saw a psychologist to address those concerns
He also experienced racing heart, elevated blood pressure and anxiety and saw a cardiologist to address those symptoms.
He saw a neurologist to address hypothermia – cold extremities, hands and feet.
He saw his internist to address his lack of energy, loss of sexual drive, as well as an intestinal disorder – sensitivity to cold and spicy food.
He saw a urologist for bladder problems of pain and frequent urination.
The visits to the specialists did not reveal any etiology for the symptoms.
The patient’s symptoms were consistent with the anxiety disorder diagnosis. Clinically, the condition is manifested as an uncomfortable feeling of fear, uneasiness, or concern that something bad may happen, as well as a wide range of physical symptoms such as insomnia, rapid heartbeat, abdominal distress, severe headaches, and a lack of circulation to the extremities. With such diverse symptoms, being considered by multiple individual medical professionals, finding the correct diagnosis may present a challenge, particularly in the absence of a unified model that could explain the condition.
The patient underwent a 10 session treatment – the first three sessions were on consecutive days, then two sessions a day apart, two sessions two days apart and the rest twice a week. The improvements cited below are self-rated by the patient.
The first session of the treatment addressed his fear of something negative from the outside taking his energy away. Upon further investigation, it was determined that the energetic drain was related to his connection with a close elderly relative who died two years earlier, under suspicious circumstances, shortly before these symptoms manifested. Shamanic ritual was used to stop the energetic drain and restore the balance of this energetic connection. This treatment reintegrated him down the 4th towards the 3rd gates. He reported considerable reduction in severity of headaches and the fear of someone taking away his energy was resolved. His concentration improved considerably. He also reported 20-30% percent improvement across a range of symptoms - better sleep, improved circulation – warmer extremities, better concentration. The decreased intensity of heart palpitations lead to reduction in the level of anxiety and panic.
The lack of overall integration suggested that we were treating a secondary displacement rather then an initial displacement. This patient was a successful businessman, who had also held political influence. Five years earlier, he lost his business when a new government in his country took over many lucrative private businesses forcing owners out of the country. As a result of expatriation, he lost money, social status, and the political power he held as well as his connection to the people and land that he loved. To clear the condition and the rest of the symptoms, the following sessions were geared to address the root cause – the loss of his business, his country and the connection to his people and overall loss of power to those who took it all away from him.
After the second session the client reported cessation of headaches, as well as all the pressure in the head that caused pain in the eye balls.
His concentration improved 75%.
His high blood pressure improved significantly down to 135/82 (his normal range 120/75)
There was 50% improvement in his energy level and heart palpitation intensity.
There was 20-25% improvement in his sexual energy and urinary discomfort.
After the third session there was a further 10-20% improvement in the above symptoms.
Blood range almost normalized (130/72)
Racing heart – 60% improvement
Energy levels 50% -“-
Sexual energy 40% -“-
Bladder, urination 40% -“-
By the 6th the session, when this aspect of treatment related to the root cause of his problem was resolved his heart palpitations stopped and with that the symptoms of panic.
At this point, first symptoms related to the higher gates, i.e headaches, problems with sleep, concentration, elevated blood pressure and dizziness stabilized. The symptoms related to lower gates – sexual energy, overall energy and bladder discomforts, started improving and stabilizing.
In the remaining sessions we addressed his psychological fear of being permanently changed by what happened to him. That helped to reset his nervous system to the pre-trauma level and cleared all the remaining anxiety. The following is the description of those fears expressed in the client’s words:
“I have a fear that I will not be the same again.
But that is because I got really scared when what happened changed me so much.
It was a shock, because I did not know that I could be affected to this degree.
Before this happened I always could stretch my limits in difficult situations.
But this time something happened that was beyond my limits, beyond my ability to cope with it, and I never experienced that before.
But now I know that I do have limits, I know that they exist, and that other people experience in the same way. So I do not have to be so shocked any more.
I can be aware that things like this may happen, and that there is a way to get out of this state, by reintegrating back. I do not need to try to do this on my own any longer. My new lesson from this is that I can get supported and healed by others.”
At the end of treatment, as far the final outcome, the patient considered himself cured based on the following four-point Criteria for Therapeutic Effects:
Cured: The symptoms disappeared with concomitant return of stable emotions.
Markedly effective: Clinical symptoms relieved with occasional emotional fluctuations.
Improved: Clinical Symptoms improved with some emotional fluctuation.
Ineffective: The symptoms did not improve.
The treatment method used is based on the Rosalyn Bruyer’s “brain balancing” technique used for treatment of autism (citations.) It was adopted to treat anxiety disorder and panic conditions.
The brain is responsible for managing all aspects of our state of health or disease. If there is a "problem" somewhere in the physical or emotional level, there exists an imbalance in the corresponding part of the brain. This imbalance is detected as a particular change in brain chemistry, and can often be mistakenly regarded as proof of an organic dysfunction or a “genetic” root cause for the condition. The modified brain balancing technique utilized in this Energy Therapy treatment can help to pinpoint the connection between the imbalance in the brain chemistry and the emotional or physical problem that caused it. It can point to both the secondary and the root causes of the condition; outcomes that otherwise could be difficult to do using standard western medicine. Modified brain balancing technique allows the practitioner to clear the trauma associated internally with each gate that caused initial gate closing; this leads to a re-setting of the gate and restoring brain chemistry balance, at which time the many health related issues associated with the corresponding level of displacement will resolve themselves.
This case report describes an energy based therapy treatment based on the observation of energetic displacement along the four gates that led to complete, rapid recovery from the entire range of symptoms. Success was made possible by determining accurately the underlying etiology and adjusting the energetic displacement. This case report presents a treatment model that should be considered in cases of Anxiety and Panic Disorder, cases in which conventional treatment has not helped. Additional, controlled studies are needed to support this approach, so that professionals treating such cases can consider energy based therapy, and the energy displacement model specifically, as an option for these and similar conditions, such as eating disorders, sexual addictions and many other anxiety related disorders.