Psychological & emotional problems: Are drugs the only solution?

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There has been a considerable rise in the diagnosis & treatment of psychological problems over the past few decades, increased work disability, increased prescription of psychotics with no noticeable change in this trend. This has become a serious burden for the individuals and society. It is proposed this is primarily due to increased stress of modern living, or more precisely the individual’s response to such stressors.

Stressors trigger the Fight/Flight Response One of the physiological results of this response is increased respiratory rate, increased volume of air breathed per minute. When this stress response is followed by increased physical activity the increased respiratory rate matches the increased oxygen demand and increased carbon dioxide production.

However modern man tends not to “Flee or Fight” or in fact do much to increase physical activity when subjected to stressors. This leads to loss of carbon dioxide that becomes a serious chronic problem if there are repeated similar incidences.

Receptors in the brain then begin to accept this lowered carbon dioxide level as the norm and the individual’s breathing is then controlled to maintain such a lowered level.

The individual is now locked into chronic hidden hyperventilation (CHHV) with all the associated health problems. Below is a bar chart of the breathing rate of normal healthy individuals over the past few decades to support this the Common health problems associated with CHHV include: asthma, anxiety, allergies, breathlessness, cardiac problems, gut problems, lethargy, depression, panic attacks, IBS, hay fever and many more.

These problems arise from or are aggravated by three main physiological effects of CHHV, namely:

1. Impaired oxygenation of tissue due to the Bohr effect.

2. Spasm of smooth muscle wrapped around blood vessels, airways, gut and other hollow organs.

3. Impaired biochemical reactions throughout the body due to a shift in the acid/alkalinity or pH towards respiratory alkalosis.

Most people can learn to normalize their breathing (with all the associated health benefits) with just a few hours of training. The Buteyko Method is a tried & tested ways of achieving this.

Michael Lingard BSc DO BBEC