Ep #06 Better Than Wellbutrin? The Benefits Of Somatic Coaching For Anxiety

by | Dec 7, 2023 | SCA Podcast

SCAP - DFY 6 | Anxiety Wellbutrin

It’s crazy to think about how anxiety is one of the top two causes of seeking medication in the US. The numbers may be staggering but when you really think about it, it makes sense considering the fast-paced, uncertain world we live in. But while anxiety drugs like Wellbutrin have done wonders for some, it also causes worrying side effects, dependence, withdrawal issues and other negative consequences. In this episode, Ani Anderson and Brian Trzaskos dig into the science behind how Wellbutrin works. They explain how our body is already equipped to do what Wellbutrin does, only in a much better, much safer way. They also discuss the benefits of somatic coaching on anyone suffering from symptoms of anxiety. Tune in and learn more!

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Better Than Wellbutrin? The Benefits Of Somatic Coaching For Anxiety

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I want to take a minute before we get rolling and thank everyone for all the support that we’ve gotten with launching the show. It has been so amazing to get your emails and to see your reviews. Thank you so much for being a part of this community. It means a lot to us to be able to finally bring these conversations that we’ve been having behind closed doors with our students in classrooms and stuff throughout the years, finally to the Somatic Coaching Academy show.

It’s been great. Thank you so much.

Thank you for being a part of it and sharing that with us. Before we get rolling, I want to let people know that it’s cross-mapping season. Cross-mapping is an amazing tool to help yourself and your clients rewire your nervous system. Cross-mapping is open for enrollment. Whether or not you want to get started on your complete somatic coach training program or you’re just wanting to get started with cross-mapping, now is the time to call our team. It’s episode six. I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic. I’m excited about it.

What’s better for Anxiety Wellbutrin or Somatic Coaching?

We have a lot to say about anxiety, but this one in particular I’m excited about.

We actually want to preface and start this show by talking a little bit about pharmacology, Anxiety Wellbutrin, and relationships. Those sorts of things because anxiety is a huge topic. We have lots to say about anxiety.

A lot of people are suffering from anxiety. The numbers keep going up. They’re not going anywhere.

If it’s not the number 1 diagnosis in the United States that people receive medication for, it’s number 2. Anxiety and depression are number 1 and number 2 for the most popular reasons for seeking medication, which I think is crazy. The numbers are staggering on that.

Anxiety and depression are the top two most popular reasons for seeking medication in the US. The numbers are staggering. Click To Tweet

It’s astounding, but I’m remembering something that you and I were talking about that I thought was wise because I’ve had a little anxiety going on recently too. We’ll talk about that a little bit later. I don’t know that our nervous systems are made for the level of technological consumption that we’re in all the time. The phone is ringing, the text messages, the notifications. It’s like a constant barrage. I think you’re right. That’s one of the things that we take whatever is going on with us very personally a lot of the time. That’s contributing to what’s going on with us as a collective. Our nervous systems are maxed out.

What’s the wisdom around that? Technology and AI are exploding. It’s running away right now. There’s so much stuff going on and it’s going to be to see what happens. As humans, how do we manage this? How are humans going to manage their mental health their capacities, their capabilities, their joy, and their joy for life?

I’m hopeful. One of our graduates was talking about how hopeful she is around the emergence of AI because she believes that one of the benefits of it is it will allow us to take better care of our bodies and use our somatic coaching tools. It’s because we’ll have more time and space to be able to do that. Right now, a lot of us don’t have a lot of time and space and that can be one of the causations of the anxiety stuff.

Most definitely. Let’s talk about this Anxiety Wellbutrin relationship and how it compares to somatic coaching.

I’m excited about what you’re going to say right now because if you don’t know this, we joke that Brian is a squirrel and the nuts that he collects are facts and information nuts. I think Brian’s going to have a little squirrel moment right now.

We’re going to go nuts here. I do want to say at the Somatic Coaching Academy, we’ve been credentialed by the American Association for Drugless Practitioners. We just want to put that up upfront and at the same time say we’re not against pharmaceuticals because oftentimes, they’re the one thing that people need exactly to save their lives. That’s important. Saving lives is critically important. The next thing is when someone needs to help them get through a difficult patch of illness and moving them back towards wellness. That’s important too.

When I think about pharmaceuticals, again, we’re not against pharmaceuticals, we’re proponents of holistic natural processes that tap into what we talk about the body’s inner medicine cabinet. The body has its own medicine cabinet. If someone is taking Wellbutrin for anxiety, depression, or any other pharmacological substance, what it’s doing is activating a process within a person’s body that they could do anyway. If those chemicals interact with the cells in someone’s body, it means we are already producing something within you that interacts with those cells in that way. That’s how we’re designed.

When we think about pharmacology, a lot of people consult with us and say, “I don’t want to take this medication. I’ve got this problem. What am I supposed to do about this? I feel morally conflicted around it.” We say, “Listen for a second. First of all, we’re all in charge of our own journey around this. We all have the capacity to use Western medicine, indigenous medicine, Eastern medicine, or whatever we want to use in the way that suits our own course of life or our own choices. We should never feel hamstrung into doing anything by anybody. We should be able to advocate and self-empower ourselves through that process and through that journey.

When it comes to using pharmaceuticals, people have a moral quandary around it, my take on this is if we think about how indigenous cultures used chemicals. They were used a lot, ceremonially, but let’s not talk about that. Not because it’s not fun to talk about, it’s just not for this episode. Let’s talk about what would happen if someone got sick and then they used chemicals indigenously. Use of the chemicals is always a part of a holistic plan.

You also met with the shaman or the village elders and talked about what was going on. You were also given exercises to do. You’re also giving breath work to do. You’re taking walks down by the river and by the street. You’re out in nature. It was a whole complex of things that happened along with the chemicals that you were using. There was an expectation that, at some point in time, when you come back into a state of wellness, you don’t use the chemicals anymore.

I was talking with one of our graduates who is certified in using plant medicine. She was talking about this. One of the things she’s seeing is because plant medicine use is becoming more popular. She’s seeing the same thing that people have been doing with pharmaceuticals, where they get on them and they’re on them for a long time. People are doing that with plant medicine now, too. She was proposing that that’s not what we’re supposed to be doing with it. Use them as a tool and then look at how you can get off of them, basically. It doesn’t become a lifestyle that you’re using whatever kind of substance.

It’s any pharmaceutical experience to go see a doctor for. This idea of Anxiety Wellbutrin relationship to go into the doctor. If you’re prescribed something like Wellbutrin because you’re having a tough time, I ask the doctor this question myself when the doctor suggests that I take something is, “What do I need to show you or what do you need to see for me to not need to take this anymore?” I’m always looking at moving back towards the state of homeostasis to balance where I don’t require some chemical to keep me occupied, balanced, and whatever it is anymore.

What’s missing when we think about the Western medical framework is the use of pharmaceuticals and the use of chemicals. We don’t have an expectation or a plan to do something in order to balance our own nervous systems and our own chemical systems so that we don’t require something from the outside in order to help us do that.

I’ve been thinking back to all the people that I’ve seen over the years who have had anxiety and have asked us to do things with anxiety. One of the things that people do ask about with somatic coaching is getting off their medication. I love it when they ask about that. The other thing that happens is sometimes I don’t even know what medications people are on or anything. They’ll report to me that through the process of using somatic coaching, “Just so you know, I was talking with my doctor and I started to get off some of my medication.” I didn’t even know that that was something I could look forward to. I love that we’re opening up this conversation because I think that a lot of people would like to think they could get off their medication.

Unless there’s a plan for that, it actually doesn’t get more likely that you’re going to come off it. It gets less likely that you’re going to come off it. Can we talk a little bit about this Anxiety Wellbutrin relationship and how it works, neurochemically?

Yeah, here we go.

It’s squirrel time. Here we go. I did a bunch of research around Wellbutrin. Again, I’m not trying to hammer down on Wellbutrin because it’s what we’re talking about here in terms of anxiety and comparing it to somatic coaching.

Also, physiology, because as you were describing to me what’s going on with the body in terms of Wellbutrin, it’s fascinating. We do a lot with physiology. I think we forget sometimes that neurology and physiology mean that a lot of things, including chemical interactions are going to the body. We forget about that.

We think about what Wellbutrin when you take it. Some interactions in your body with certain hormones. It’ll uptick a couple of hormones and it’ll downtick a couple of hormones. Two of the hormones that it upregulates are norepinephrine and dopamine. What’s norepinephrine? Norepinephrine is like adrenaline. It’s what happens when you have a stress response. Norepinephrine increases your heart rate, increases your blood pressure, your breathing gets more shallow, and your muscles get tighter and contracted. All that occurs because of that norepinephrine output. That’s one thing that happens when you take Wellbutrin.

The other thing that happens is you get a dopamine hit. It upregulates dopamine. A lot of people talked about or heard about dopamine. It’s the pleasure hormone. Every time our phone dings, we get a dopamine hit. Every time we’re playing video games, we get a dopamine hit. Foods will give us a dopamine hit. Sex gives a dopamine hit. All the stimulating drugs create a dopamine hit. That’s one of the things that Wellbutrin is doing. It’s giving this rush of dopamine. Dopamine has a relatively short half-life in the bloodstream. It’s like you get a hit of it, and then the dopamine will trail off, and then we’ll feel like we’re in lack. We’ll feel understimulated or bummed out. We’ll feel like we need another hit.

Think about it with phones for instance. How many times can people put their phones down? They put their phone down and they’re like, “Where’s my phone?” They feel lost. It hits something you hear a dinging because that gives you another dopamine hit. This is going to feel like a little bit of a sidetrack, but I want to talk about this. Some cool research is coming out about dopamine in particular. There’s a part of the brain where dopamine interacts with. That part of the brain is a balanced or homeostatic part of the brain where every time we get a dopamine hit, the brain will automatically also release hormones that give us the opposite of dopamine.

It’s like the pleasure pain’s teeter-totter because the brain is always trying to maintain homeostasis. If we’re like dopamine, then immediately the brain is like, “I got to balance that out.” It gives us a shot of pain chemicals in the body to keep it balanced. Bigger dopamine, bigger pain chemicals. What it makes it feel like is the more dopamine we’re engaging in, effectively the harder, deeper, and more difficult withdrawals we go through with that. A lot of the work that they’re talking about is how important it is to begin activating the other side of the lever. When you consciously activate the pain side of the lever, the body naturally creates dopamine to balance it out.

This reminds me so much of cross-mapping.

Exactly. That’s why that’s such an amazing conversation because that’s what we do with cross-mapping.

That is so cool to balance it out. With cross-mapping, we’re doing it consciously, but what we’re doing with cross-mapping reproduces. We knew this anyway, but this gives further confirmation that the body’s doing it naturally and we can use processes to stimulate the production of that happening more naturally.

To balance out the dopamine and anti-dopamine or receptors in the brain so that we’re not experiencing anxiety or depression because depression and anxiety are both imbalances in our physiology. That’s what they are. We’re just sensing them that way. That’s the two hormones that are upticks by Wellbutrin. Norepinephrine, in other words, we start getting a little buzzy. Dopamine, we get a pleasure rush that doesn’t last very long, so then we’re looking for the next hit to lift us up again.

The other side, what’s inhibited with Wellbutrin is serotonin and acetylcholine. Most people like to think, “What’s the difference between dopamine and serotonin?” Dopamine is like a pleasure hormone. When we experience dopamine, it’s like the body is saying, “That feels good. I want more.” Serotonin is more like a happy hormone and it lasts longer. It has a lot longer experience in the bloodstream. What serotonin basically is like the body is saying, “I feel good and I’ve had enough.”

It’s a contentment.

There’s a lot of contentment associated with serotonin where it’s like, “I’ve had enough. I’m full. I’m going to enjoy how I feel right now.” It’s not like gluttoning.

Dopamine is like, “More.” Serotonin is like, “Good. I feel really great.”

That gets downregulated actually with Wellbutrin. That decreases the output and uptick.

As you’re saying that, I’m thinking to myself, that sounds to me more of like the experience of anxiety. I think what you said, as I’m trying to track with you, is serotonin helps us to feel that grounding that we so desire when we have anxiety, but that’s not being stimulated.

You’re actually getting more of a rush and less contentment.

I’m getting anxiety just thinking about it.

The last part of it is acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is an opposite interaction. Not totally, but we think about it like this in terms of the Cholinergic nervous system versus the Adrenergic, otherwise, adrenaline-based or cholinergic-based. Adrenaline-based nervous system is the fight and flight. It’s the heart racing, the pounding, and that stress response. When we have healthy levels of acetylcholine in the system, we have better nerve transmission and better communication between nerve cells. If there’s too much acetylcholine can end up with cramping activation in the muscles.

We’re talking about healthy levels of acetylcholine. We’ll feel on purpose, connected, communicated, present, or centered. When I read that, I’m like, “Wow. We’re seeming to do things that would throw people further out of balance certainly for anxiety.” I could maybe see depression, Wellbutrin being. I’m not a doctor or physiologist. I’m just looking at what I’m looking at through a somatic lens.

Even for depression, it’s still a short-lived boom. Essentially, we’re talking about, with the whole dopamine lever, if we’re going to give people a shot of dopamine, and then they’re going to tip the other side of that scale and have more depression, it almost seems to me that the more Wellbutrin that you’re taking, the deeper hole that you dig yourself in.

SCAP - DFY 6 | Anxiety Wellbutrin

Am I going to get you off track to talk a little bit about the chemical interactions with somatic coaching? What chemicals are released when we’re doing somatic tools? Can we talk about that?

Totally. Let’s segue into there. There’s a lot of great research around somatic practices. What you do is you get a regulation of serotonin, dopamine, and acetylcholine. You get a downregulation of norepinephrine. Definitely, stress hormones and cortisol drop. You have an increase in DHEA, which has to do with longevity. Norman Shealy is a doctor who does a lot of work with energy medicine.

What he said is that if he only had to measure one hormone in the body, that would determine how long you would live without any chronic disease, it would be DHEA. DHEA does get upregulated with somatic practices. When you start looking at things like Tai Chi and Qigong, and have this in our minds of these old people practicing Tai Chi and being healthy for long periods of time. Could there be some interaction between DHEA and somatic practices? We certainly know DHEA upregulates when you do somatic practices.

I’m so glad we’re having this conversation because I think a lot of times, like you said, watching old people do Tai Chi, we see these things online on social media. We read about it and see it in movies. Not very often do we think, “There are chemical things that are going on in my body when I do those things.”

Having this conversation about the pharmaceutical stuff and the somatic coaching stuff and looking at how there are similar chemicals at play when we decide to utilize some of those things, one of the things that I like about the Somatic Coaching Academy is it’s so practical and it brings it down to real practicality. You started talking about pharmaceuticals and morality. We go through all of these things when we think about it very practically. There are practical chemicals that are being stimulated in our bodies with whatever we choose.

This is our inner medicine cabinet. This is what we’re talking about. You have a medicine cabinet inside of you right now. We’re not against pharmaceuticals, especially if they are needed acutely to help rebalance your physiology so that then you can do something to help keep yourself in balance versus taking them forever because that’s going to knock us further out of balance. With that said, if you’re tuning in to this, don’t get off your medications or don’t jump off them. Talk to your doctor. Have these conversations.

You have a medicine cabinet inside of you right now. Click To Tweet

They’re decisions to have with your healthcare practitioners.

Definitely also, look into somatic practices and look into somatic coaching. When we do these somatic practices, we have all of these hormone cascades that occur in balance. Here’s a little saying that we have. You have your own inner pharmacy or your own inner medicine cabinet. There are a few great reasons for using your own inner medicine cabinet. One thing, there’s never a drug interaction. You don’t have to worry about me taking Anxiety Wellbutrin relationship, but I’m also taking something else for my cholesterol. What will they do together?

We don’t have to worry about that because your inner medicine cabinet always has it figured out. There’s never a drug interaction. There’s never a drug overdose. You never, inside of yourself, make too much of something versus outside, you can take too much of it in, but your body is never going to make too much of it.

That’s something that concerns me sometimes being a smaller woman. I know that some chemicals or pharmaceuticals are created not with me in mind. I get concerned about how much I’m being dosed if I’m taking something. I love the idea that my body is always going to know exactly what the right dosage is. I don’t have to worry about that.

We’ve already talked about no drug interactions. You can never get an overdose. The pharmacy is always open. There’s never a copay for your own medicine.

We live in the woods and the pharmacy is rarely open when you actually need it. If the in-town pharmacy is closed, we have to drive 45 minutes to go there.

Your own pharmacy is always open. Anyway, let’s talk about like side effects. Again, this Anxiety Wellbutrin relationship. There are all kinds of side effects that happen with this.

Your own pharmacy is always open. Click To Tweet

We know. It’s been many years since they’ve been able to advertise drugs on television.

There’s now nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and even things like suicidal thoughts, and depression. All these things that seem like what the medicine’s supposed to be for are actually also associated with the side effects that occur along with it. What is going on with that?

Let’s be honest. There are side effects to somatic coaching too.

Let’s talk about those. Are you ready?

Better relationships. Better health. Inexplicable joy.

Humor. Outbursts of laughter.

Calm. I was going to say tolerance, which I do mean tolerance. The ability to deal with difficult situations. Less reactivity. We could go on and on. Every once in a while, we have a fun ha-ha in class about it because it’s true. One of our students will be like, “This unexpected thing that I wasn’t trying for or looking out for happens.” Of course, those things happen.

Do you want to tell us a little bit about some cross-mapping? Any experience with cross-mapping for anxiety? We’ve been talking about Wellbutrin for a while here so let’s segue a little bit into somatic coaching and anxiety.

As we’ve said before, we could talk about different stories around anxiety a lot, but I’ve been having some anxiety in the middle of the night specifically. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night. Characteristics of anxiety can differ from person to person and from episode to episode. One of the things that we do is identify where in our bodies we feel something and what it feels like. To me, there’s been this very chesty increased buzzy. It’s like it’s going to come up and choke me. I think that’s a characteristic of anxiety that we see all the time as the energy rises. It’s in the middle of the night that it’s been happening, so I’m a little dazed.

It took me 2 or 3 nights to remember that cross-mapping was a tool in my toolbox because I had to wake up enough to remind myself of that. I was awake and I remembered. I did some cross-mapping. What was interesting for me about it was, of course, I’ve used cross-mapping for years to help me with all kinds of things. It’s routine for me. I didn’t have to think too much about it. I just popped right into the practice. What I did was I started to automatically think about how I could cross-map the energy to go down in my body because it was so high up.

What was interesting is it took me maybe 2 or 3 nights to identify what I needed to do in order to resolve what was going on. I needed to cross-map feelings of safety. It totally did. It was great. There’s a lot going on in the world. There’s a lot going on in my life. We’ve got kids who are transitioning to college. We’re growing businesses and relationships. All the regular life stuff. There’s a lot going on in the world. I think as a more empathetic person, when things go on, I can feel a lot. I feel vaguely. I know you know that about me.

I feel big. It was wonderful to be able to cross-map for safety and not take that personally like I wasn’t actually safe, but that my body didn’t feel safe. It didn’t allow my nervous system to settle. Yes, it did eliminate the anxiety I was feeling at night. I’ve slept for a number of nights now without it, and it’s fine. This is the complete human intelligence. This intellectual understanding that what was going on with me at the time was real and it mattered. I can tap into that throughout my day, which of course happens when we’re sleeping, things that we’re not dealing with during the day pop up. I can tap into that during the day and remind myself that, “I’m safe here” and have that intellectual capacity to help myself out through it, which was great.

Something that occurred to me as you’re talking is that we’ve been doing cross-mapping for over a decade now. We developed cross-mapping for decades so we’ve been practicing for a long time. I have had experiences of anxiety in the past, but that’s not my go-to. My go-to is more like depression. I’m more of a slowdown character and you’re more of an anxiety character.

I’m more of an anxiety character.

My experience is that I’ve done a lot of cross-mapping over the years for depression or for feeling depressed, not usually for anxiety. What I can say is that over the last several years, my outside life has gotten a lot more complex than it was 15 to 20 years ago. The threat multiplied by, I don’t even know, exponentially more complex, but I experienced lesser depressive symptoms than I did many years ago. I’m sure that’s because I do cross-mapping regularly. This is the difference again between taking medication, doing somatic coaching, or using somatic tools.

When you use somatic tools, I used to have this little saying, I would make an investment in my well of calm. It’s putting money in my calm bank in my body. Medication doesn’t do that. Medication makes a little deposit, and then you spend it right away. You’re not creating savings that way. I’m wondering about your experience of anxiety. Is that true for you from anxiety?

Doing somatic coaching is like making an investment in your well of calm. Click To Tweet

I don’t remember having experienced anxiety in the past. We totally need to talk about this in another episode, but it’s been my impression with clients and myself that anxiety tends to crop up when I’m being called to live life more openheartedly in certain aspects of my life. Because I do cross-mapping on a regular basis, this thing with having anxiety while I’m sleeping took me a day or two and it resolved itself. I can have bouts of something and because of the well of calm or the bank account, for me, it’s like there’s muscle memory. There’s muscle memory or nervous system memory that I know because I use these practices regularly that my nervous system snap in and snap up to that new expansion that I’m meeting myself with.

For me, it’s one of my favorite things about somatic coaching versus somatic therapeutics. In somatic coaching, we’re consciously looking at the expansion evolution of growth. Not just the healing aspect of where we are now, but the conscious evolution of our growth. Somatic tools, I can take them and use them when I’m growing, evolving, and expanding. Because I’ve used them in the past, it helps me to do that. You’re right. The pharmaceuticals are not like you have any lagging effects that are helpful.

SCAP - DFY 6 | Anxiety Wellbutrin

When you’re taking pharmaceuticals, it’s like you’re living paycheck to paycheck and you’re not putting any savings in the bank. That’s what somatic coaching helps you do. It helps you put savings in the bank so that you feel more solid as a human being on this crazy planet that we’re living on.

Somatic coaching helps you put savings in the bank so that you feel more solid as a human being in this crazy planet we're living on right now. Click To Tweet

It’s a crazy planet we’re living on. We have a lot more topics to talk about in terms of anxiety for sure. Some of my favorite client stories are anxiety client stories, so I look forward to sharing those in future episodes. You can look forward to that. Thanks for joining us for these important conversations. If there’s ever a conversation that you would love to hear us having on the Somatic Coaching Academy, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Info@SomaticCoachingAcademy.com and ask. We would love to talk about the topics that matter most to you. In the meantime, we’ll see you on the next episode.

Thanks so much.


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