"The leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 to 44 is Depression, and it affects 16 million Americans." Nearly half of all people diagnosed with depression also have anxiety disorder.(1) Having suffered from Depression a few years ago and presently working daily to keep anxiety at bay, I am very eager to hear of non-medical options since I suffered from many side-effects of the various medications tried at that time.
In reviewing basic biology, we can see the effects of what happens to us when we worry and feel stressed out. When we are highly stressed, our body's "emergency" mode is triggered, whether its perceived (like worry) or a real danger. Our fight or flight response kicks in when the brain signals our adrenal glands to release a surge of adrenaline and cortisol to prepare our body for fighting or running away from the "danger". The adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain's use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. (2)
If your body is constantly being flooded with these hormones due to prolonged stress, you may suffer an impaired memory, suppressed immune function, weakened muscles, high blood pressure, stroke, arteriosclerosis, abdominal obesity, inflammation, arthritis, disrupted sleep and more. With disrupted sleep comes a rise in your stress hormones, causing a vicious cycle of ill health.
Did you know that the Old English word for "worry" is "strangle?" Really, that is perfect. When I am worried, I feel choked with fear. I am often worrying about the future of my "kids" and this becomes a habit.
How do we break the destructive cycle of long-term stress? As parents of special needs kids and adults, this is our life! My worry and constant stress over the years caused me to suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and I eventually suffered from two TIA's (transient ischemic attacks or mini strokes).
I learned a fascinating secret from the medical community, as well as the Bible, that may pave the way for how to escape our stress, and lead us to the path of health. Over the last decade, the scientific community took a keen interest in studying the brain while people of faith "spoke in tongues" (glossolalia). From the scientific studies I perused, I saw that most of the studies involving brain scans of people speaking in tongues revealed less activity in the prefrontal cortex (the boss of the brain). Scientists discovered that when our spirit is communicating directly with the spirit of God through the speaking of tongues, we are not actively using the "thinking" mode, our brains are "at rest." Profound! (3)
"Recent neurobiological research has shown that glossolalia may be a more directed activity than previously believed, and may play a direct role in defusing stress reactions." Further, talking about another study within this same article, biological anthropologist Christopher Lynn defined glossolalia as "an embodied pattern of religious behavior with biological outcomes," and he went on to say the results "tentatively demonstrated that one of those outcomes may be the reduction biological stress." (4) This parallels what the Bible says.
Reading the Bible in Isaiah 28:11-12, we see, "...very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues, God will speak to this people to whom He said, "This is the resting place, let the weary rest," and "this is the place of repose," but they would not listen." The word "repose" means a state of rest or tranquility. Speaking in tongues is a resting place, a place of tranquility and will restore the body and mind to health.
We see in Acts 2:26, "Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also will rest in hope." In Psalm 16:9, it says, "Therefore my heart is glad, and My glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope." Speaking in tongues surrounds you in God's glory, His presence. Our bodies are the temple of God. Entering God's temple, being in His presence (glory) restores your body, mind and spirit and instills you with hope through this rest.
Once you have become a Christian you begin to transform into a new creature, and you begin to display spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:8-10; Romans 12:6-8). One of the spiritual gifts a Christian can receive is speaking in tongues (Mark 16:17). Speaking in tongues does not always appear after you pray for it. For me, it was about ten years before this gift was given to me. We may pray for certain gifts, but we need to trust the Holy Spirit for what we'll receive, just as He determines (1 Corinthians 12:11).
A pure form of rest is found when we are speaking in tongues. I also find exquisite refreshment when I meditate on His lovely Words. When this deep rest is found, we are restored once again to a life of hope. Our strength is renewed like the eagles, so we can fly above the storms of stress, maintaining our peace and health.
(1) Anxiety and Depression Association of America, "Facts and Statistics" by Janelle Haider, MD., www.adaa.org. (See my Resource page.)
(2) Healthy Lifestyle, "Stress Management" by the Mayo Clinic Staff, www.mayoclinic.org.
(3) Slate, Science, "Thinking in Tongues, What can we learn from a babbling brain?", Brain Imaging on Speaking in Tongues, by Daniel Engber, Nov. 17, 2006, www.slate.com.
(4) Dana Foundation, "Speaking in Tongues: Glossolalia and Stress Reduction," by Dirk Hanson, October 23, 2013, www.dana.org.