This is a continuation of the first Mastering Fear and Anxiety article. Read the post here first before reading this one.
In Part 1 of the article (as linked above), I really wanted to emphasize the importance in first recognizing anxiety for what it is, maintaining a healthy and proactive attitude towards it, and also stress how important just getting in basic needs are (i.e. proper sleep, proper diet, exercise, proper lifestyle). Seriously — it’s no joke. These are the most important core things to cover in treating anxiety.
In this section though, I want to cover some of the ways you can treat anxiety naturally on top of these. After 10+ years of anxiety and different medicinal treatments (including being on an anti-depressant for the majority of the time), I would still argue that in many cases, despite how uncomfortable and terrifying anxiety can be, you don’t actually need to be on an anti-depressant. The availability of natural remedies out there is plentiful and they can help balance your brain chemicals. That in combination with healthy eating, exercise, and sleep, can cure it all together.
If your case is severe enough and you need something as strong as an anti-depressant, then that’s one case you’d want to go for it. Sometimes you need to take something stronger and fast-acting in order to function at work or school. Trust me, I’ve been in those shoes. That’s another case where anti-depressants can help. The problem is, it’s easy to get psychologically dependent on them.
The real difference is that doing it the natural way is more work and can take longer to see the results. Healthy eating requires work, consistent exercise requires work, getting enough sleep requires discipline. Watching your mind and how it bubbles up thoughts that create anxiety is work and discipline. But you will be so much healthier and feel better all around, and you’ll also feel stronger and more motivated to overcome anything! The payoff is huge and much longer-lasting. It will ensure that you can deal with these things properly in the future, and your brain will also be better chemically equipped to deal with anxiety and stress.
Doctors will be quick to put you on an anti-depressant when you might not need to be. They typically don’t specialize in natural remedies, so it’s just not going to be suggested as the main course of action. Research online and trial and error with different natural remedies is really what it’s going to take.
Below is an article paraphrased from thecalmclinic.com that will explain and introduce some natural remedies.
What “Natural” Means
There are many different types of natural anxiety treatment options. The term “natural” simply means “without chemical medicine,” and this opens up hundreds of different doors that you can choose from to reduce and prevent your anxiety.
Natural Medicine is Still Medicine
The most important thing to understand is that the most “natural” way to treat anxiety is without any type of medicine at all. Many people turn to herbal supplements, for example, because these supplements are not made from manmade products, but medicine is still medicine, herbal or not. The safest possible way to cure anxiety – and the most natural way to treat anxiety – is with some type of therapy or exercise that does not involve any type of herbal or medicinal treatment in any way.
Keep that in mind as you consider alternative options to prescription anxiety medications. While an herb or mineral may improve your anxiety, they still affect your body, and are not truly as natural as learning new coping mechanisms and ways to control stress.
The Non-Medicinal Therapies
For those that are willing to commit to some type of treatment that isn’t plant or medicine based, the following are the most common and effective treatment options:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Psychodynamic Therapy
- Gestalt Therapy
- Yoga/Meditation/Deep Breathing/Other Relaxation Exercises
- Holistic Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is the type of therapy with the most research and the one that is highly recommended for anxiety and depression. But the other therapies may also have some benefit. Others prefer similar, but otherwise “alternative” therapies, including:
- Sound Therapy
There are also some unusual therapies, like laughter therapy, that can help some people with their anxiety. These types of therapies have considerably less research support, but many swear to their ability to reduce the effects of anxiety and other mental health problems.
Remember, these types of anxiety treatments are completely natural in a way that not even herbal medicine can provide. In addition, you should never take any type of supplement or medication without combining it with some type of long term coping treatment, like therapy. All types of medicines only provide temporary relief, and in the end you need to make sure you are committed to some type of treatment that will help you cope with anxiety for years to come, not just for the day.
Herbal Therapies for Anxiety
Of course, when most people think of natural anxiety treatments, they think of herbal medicine, because herbal medicine is considered a natural way to “treat” different disorders. The good news is that there are many different herbal medicines for anxiety. However, always talk to your doctor before taking any type of herbal medicine, as some of them may interact with other medications. Never take any herbal medicine with alcohol. The most common types of herbs for anxiety include:
Kava is the king of natural anxiety treatments, and the only herb that has been favorably compared in scientific studies to some of the most well-known prescription anxiety treatments.
Kava has an active ingredient known as kavalactones, which is believed to improve GABA levels and prevent epinephrine from overwhelming the body while leaving serotonin and other important neurotransmitters untouched.
Kava is powerful enough that medical experts strongly advise avoiding any other type of herbal supplement or medicine for anxiety while taking kava, because the effects may become too strong and cause significant drowsiness and other side effects. Kava also interacts very strongly with alcohol in a way that can damage the liver, so no one that uses kava should consume any alcohol while on a kava supplement.
Not all kava is created equal. Grocery story kava teas and droplets are unlikely to be powerful enough to provide you with the benefits you are looking for. Kava is fat soluble, meaning it needs to be taken with food or butter, and doses range anywhere from 150 to 300 kavalactones per day (far more than are generally supplied in grocery story varieties).
But kava is also not believed to have any side effects when taken as directed, has no addiction risk, and no withdrawal symptoms. It’s a great way to combat anxiety without the long term implications of benzodiazepines and other prescription anxiety treatments, and something you and your doctor may want to strongly consider.
Valerian root is unlike kava, in that it doesn’t have anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects necessarily, but it does provide relief from the symptoms and is believed to have fewer interactions than kava does.
Valerian root is used as a sleep aid, and is generally not considered a natural treatment for anxiety. But the effects of valerian root are ideal for the type of symptoms that those with anxiety deal with, including muscle tension, a sense of agitation, and active thoughts. Valerian provides a level of relaxation that can help those with anxiety sleep more restfully as well. Since sleep is an incredibly important part of dealing with anxiety, this gives valerian additional benefits.
Never Just Take a Supplement!
Remember, never focus just on supplements alone. They’ll only help you manage your anxiety. Cure it by partnering them with effective coping strategies.
Passionflower is a very light version of kava, and recommended for those that are either not ready to commit to kava or do not experience that much daily anxiety and would prefer something less powerful.
The ingredients in passionflower are said to have a very mild anxiolytic effect and sedative effect, which is believed to come from its role in GABA production and regulation. Passionflower has seen less research than kava and other available natural options, but it’s used worldwide as an effective natural anxiety treatment option.
Magnesium is not an herb, but a mineral that is present in many foods. Unfortunately, millions of people have a very low level of magnesium intake, because it has been essentially stripped from most modern diets – especially in the United States and developed countries, where farming and food production practices eliminate the vital mineral from most food ingredients.
Low levels of magnesium are rarely responsible for anxiety itself, but may be responsible for some of the physical symptoms of anxiety. Not only do low magnesium levels cause issues like unusual feelings throughout the body, but anxiety can actually decrease your magnesium levels (magnesium is burned up during times of stress).
So taking magnesium at your doctor’s discretion is a smart idea for many people that may find that their most distressing physical anxiety symptoms disappear, thus making it easier to cope with the mental part of anxiety.
Other Natural Treatment Anxiety Options
The above herbal supplements are not the only natural options available. There are many other types of alternative anxiety options as well. A brief rundown includes:
- Homeopathic Remedies – Homeopathy is an often misunderstood alternative treatment. It’s the belief that a very, very diluted amount of elements that cause a condition like anxiety can cure it. Homeopathic experts believe that diluting things like arsenic and nicotine, among other things, to the point where only the smallest amount of the element remains will cure it. There is little evidence that homeopathic remedies work, but they remain popular nonetheless.
- Reflexology – Reflexology is the belief that pressure to certain points on the hand can relieve stress in the rest of the body. Reflexologists utilize these pressure points in a way that many believe has a very calming effect for all types of stresses.
- Magnet Therapy – Another interesting form of therapy is magnet therapy, also known as magnetotherapy. Magnet therapy believes that placing various magnets on your body will move elements around and provide you with therapeutic properties.
Other natural treatment remedies include aromatherapy, acupressure, Reiki, and more. There is no limit to the number of natural treatments that currently exist in the world today.
Many of these natural treatments for anxiety have never been researched. Generally, it is best to commit to a well-studied treatment, because your anxiety is not something to leave to chance. Nevertheless, many people support the use of the above treatment types, and so those that want to try an alternative treatment have their pick of many interesting and unique therapy options.
Partnering With An Anxiety Cure
It’s important to remember that the term “natural anxiety treatment” refers to anything that doesn’t involve prescription medication. It’s not just herbal remedies and alterative medicinal solutions. It’s crucial that you recognize that those types of treatments are only quick fixes. You always need to commit to some type of treatment that prevents and cures anxiety, not just manages it.
Article source: http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/treatment/naturally