Natural Anxiety Cures
Anxiety, or “generalized anxiety disorder,” is an affliction that can be debilitating. We all feel anxious on occasion, but when there is no apparent reason for worry or anxiety, or if the condition is chronic, then a medical approach may be necessary.
Symptoms vary from person to person but often include tension, restlessness, irritability, and an inability to concentrate. Physical symptoms can include fatigue, tightness in the chest, sweatiness, headaches, insomnia, and indigestion. Before embarking on any course of treatment, it is best to consult with a doctor, who will be able to recognize other possible medical conditions that may be related to anxiety or that may point to other problems.
Traditionally, doctors have prescribed various medications to alleviate generalized anxiety disorder. Such prescription medications, generally known as tranquilizers, include well-known drugs such as Valium and Xanax; these slow down the central nervous system and often bring fast relief, particularly when the patient is suffering from a panic attack. More recently, antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft have been prescribed to alleviate anxiety; these work by regulating the level of serotonin in the brain, but they require much longer to take effect.
Unfortunately, the use of tranquilizers can lead to numerous side effects, from simple drowsiness or dizziness to disorientation, impaired thinking, memory loss, and depression. Also, continued use of tranquilizers can lead to physical dependence, and combining the use of tranquilizers with other substances such as alcohol, painkillers, or other prescription medications can be dangerous and even fatal. Antidepressants are also associated with side effects such as nausea, dizziness, headaches, and drowsiness; and, although not physically addictive, sudden withdrawal from antidepressants can lead to more serious complications such as depression.
While they can be helpful, these prescription medications are not always the ideal solution for anxiety disorder, and are often just a short-term solution. Are there any natural remedies for anxiety that are just as effective as medications, but without the side effects and dangers of addiction? Simple improvements in one’s lifestyle can be a good start. If you feel tremendous stress — at your job, for instance — consider scaling back your responsibilities, at least for the short-term. And take breaks — even just 15 minutes away from your desk, in which you focus on pleasant, easy topics rather than your work at hand, can work wonders. Regular exercise provides a wealth of benefits — it’s not only great for relieving stress, but also helps you feel better about yourself and your physical condition, and improves your outlook on life. And a healthy, balanced diet helps the body cope with external stress.
To better understand effective remedies for anxiety, understand the physiological cause is rooted in unstable hormonal activity. As such, diet, thinking and lifestyle habits – all of which impact our hormones, will impact anxiety.
There are various herbal remedies that may help alleviate anxiety. Passionflower has been commonly used as a home remedy for anxiety as well as insomnia; studies have found the results of passionflower treatment to be similar to using benzodiazepine, a prescription drug. These studies have indicated improved job performance with passionflower, and less drowsiness. However, side effects may include nausea, and the use of passionflower may not be safe for persons with liver or kidney ailments.
Valerian is an herb most commonly taken to treat insomnia; it is available in capsule form, but can also be consumed as tea or liquid extract. The use of valerian is suggested for cases of mild anxiety, and studies have compared results with those of Valium, with no statistical difference between valerian and Valium use. It takes longer — up to three weeks — for valerian to be effective, and side effects include dizziness, mild indigestion, and headache. Consultation with a health practitioner is recommended.
Various other herbs, minerals, and natural substances have been used in the treatment of anxiety, among them kava, chamomile, magnesium, calcium, and B vitamins. For many of these cures, studies have been inconclusive, but a health care practitioner should be up-to-date on the latest research on a specific herbal or natural cure.
Another natural remedy for anxiety that is increasingly popular is aromatherapy, particularly using essential oils from lavender but also bergamot, chamomile, jasmine, sandalwood, rose, cypress, and others. Chamomile oil can be mixed with bath water in the tub (8-10 drops); sandalwood and other oils can be massaged directly into the body, again in small quantities. The calming aromas of these oils help dispel tension and anxiety, and bring on a refreshing feeling.
Bodywork, too, is an effective way of offering immediate relief from tension. Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing all serve to relieve stress, and to “teach” the body to remain calm even during periods of activity. Most communities have studios offering classes in these techniques, and a sustained regimen is recommended from sufferers of anxiety. Deep breathing, in particular, has a direct effect on how our bodies function. We tend to breathe from our chests, taking shallow breaths that contain only a teacup of oxygen. Deeper breaths, from the abdomen, contain as much as a quart of oxygen, improving circulation and also the function of the nervous system. Lie on your back on a firm mat on the floor, and take long, slow breaths: make sure that your belly is rising and falling with each breath, not your chest. Focusing carefully on each breath also serves to clear your mind of clutter and stressful thoughts.
Massage therapy is another option: there are various techniques that serve to relax tension in the muscles, and calm the central nervous system.
It is important to remember that the mind and body have a interconnected relationship, each affects the other. Often times, prolonged anxiety can build up in the body which further worsens the mental anxiety, after all, anxiety is a form of stress and therefore releases the same hormones into the body. Alleviating the physical stress through exercise and massage will also help clear the mind.
Generalized anxiety disorder affects many people, but many of us have simply learned to live with it. The above natural remedies may help alleviate our tension, and improve our quality of life.