WALTHAM, MA—Potentially offering hope to millions of Americans struggling with psychological and emotional problems, a study published this week in The New England Journal Of Medicine found that test subjects were capable of fully resolving their anxiety by thinking about it very intensely.
The study, which followed 1,200 adults suffering from mild unease to chronic anxiety, confirmed that focusing continuously and exclusively on one’s own specific sources of distress to the point that one’s mental and physical health began to suffer was associated with the complete elimination of anxiety from patients’ lives and their subsequent return to happiness and emotional well-being.
“Of the hundreds of individuals we studied, those who thought about their feelings of dread and apprehension at every moment of every day—including throughout their workdays, at home, and in social outings—were able to effectively cure themselves of anxiety in 100 percent of cases,” said psychiatrist and lead researcher Rajiv Menon of the University of Virginia. “Whether someone is feeling overwhelmed at the office or constantly pondering whether their relationship might be falling apart, it appears that incessantly agonizing over this source of stress is all that’s required to eliminate your feelings of tension about this subject altogether and leave you feeling untroubled and fully satisfied with your life.”
“The results are clear,” Menon continued. “The more you obsessively worry about something bad that has already happened or about something bad that may happen in the future, the better you’ll feel.”
According to Menon, research participants who focused all their mental energy on fretting passed through three distinct stages as their feelings of angst were systematically eradicated. First, subjects frantically overanalyzed each detail of their particular anxiety, after which they mentally tormented themselves regarding every single thing that could possibly go wrong. Finally, and most crucially according to the data, subjects beat themselves up over their stresses to such a degree that they became virtually paralyzed, rendering themselves too impaired to function in most aspects of their lives.
After completing these three stages, Menon confirmed that every subject was found to be completely free of anxiety and immediately went forward leading a normal life.
“The key to beating anxiety is to let yourself become totally consumed with intrusive, irrational thoughts until you actually raise your pulse and blood pressure,” said assistant researcher Dana Kelley, who said that blinding stress headaches were a crucial indicator that one’s anxious feelings were disappearing. “If you can get to a point where you legitimately feel short of breath and begin to perceptibly tremble, that means you’re progressing. In fact, the more tense your neck and shoulders are, the closer you are to moving past your anxiety altogether.”
“Lying awake in bed for hours every night due to your singular, debilitating focus on your insecurities is a great start, but ideally you want to get to a point where you have horrible nightly anxiety dreams that persist throughout your few fitful hours of sleep,” Kelley added. “That’s a clear sign your anxiety is almost entirely gone.”
Kelley warned individuals, however, not to attempt to take a step back and distance themselves from their angst issues or try to gain a rational perspective on their fears, as such efforts caused immediate spikes in their overall levels of anxiety, setting their treatment back weeks. In addition, she urged friends and family members of those suffering from anxiety to be as dismissive as possible about their loved ones’ conditions, noting that hearing frequent belittling and condescending remarks about how their fears were “not valid” and “nothing to worry about” was correlated with markedly enhanced and expedited recoveries among test subjects.
One of the study’s participants, April Willis, 41, praised the research for resolving deep-seated insecurities about her appearance and competence, citing in particular the effectiveness of a technique in which she mentally replays her most anxiety-inducing thoughts and memories over and over in her head at all hours of day and night.
“After years of struggling with anxiety, I found that the cure was as simple as mentally torturing myself over every last shred of disquiet in my life until I became so riddled with doubt and unease that I was unable to eat or sleep,” Willis told reporters. “Once I obsessively worried to a point that I was effectively debilitated and felt that I barely even wanted to go on, then, poof, the anxiety went away for good.”
“So now when I sense any anxiety, no matter how minor, I just allow my intrusive, anxious thoughts to take over and take me wherever they choose—it’s that simple,” added a smiling Willis. “If I can do it, so can you!”