Anxiety Disorders and Best Natural Remedies for Anxiety
What is Anxiety
Anxiety is a chronic, complex mental disorder in which a person experiences extreme fear and continuous apprehension of doom or disaster. Feeling anxious due to a stressful situation like appearing for an exam or public speaking is quite normal, but when the symptoms persist without any reason for a long time and interfere with daily activities it can be a disorder and has to be treated. I suffered anxiety for a considerable period in my life. I guess the anxiety disorder started due to workplace stress as a professional and a working mother. Added to it was my being a perfectionist. I had to get everything right, at the workplace; I had to do my work thoroughly, with dedication, loyalty, and integrity, resulting in working late hours, lack of sleep, no proper diet, addiction to coffee and a sedentary lifestyle. It was only natural that I ended up with stress, anxiety disorder which later led to hypertension. In retrospect, I feel I should have made some lifestyle changes and taken better care of my health, earlier itself and avoided so much suffering. So this is a call out to all those young professionals, and working moms who struggle to maintain the work-life balance, to not forget to care for their own health and not become a victim of stress, anxiety and the other complications associated with them. What then is this anxiety disorder that I am talking about and how can we take some simple steps to manage stress and avoid this disorder. So here we go:
Types Of Anxiety
Anxiety attacks are a period of extremely high levels of stress. An increase in stress hormone increases heart rate, causes rapid breathing, increased blood flow to skeletal muscles, intestinal muscles to relax, pupils to dilate, an increase in blood pressure in arteries, and an increase in blood sugar. Stress also increases gastric refluxes, palpitations, and diabetes, drains the energy and causes fatigue, headaches, frequent infections due to low immunity. Anxiety if left untreated can lead to depression and its associated complications. Anxiety may be classified as:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Unnecessary fears about simple, everyday things like work, money, family, and health when there is no need to worry about anything and everything is going fine is not normal. And when this goes on for months on end leaving one tired, irritable and unable to cope, it is termed Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Treatment may include counseling and medications like anti-depressants.
- Social Anxiety Disorder-When a person is terrified of humiliating or embarrassing himself in social situations so much so that it affects the person’s social, professional and personal life, it is called Social Anxiety Disorder. Therapy and medications mainly anti-depressants are recommended. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors are prescribed in certain cases.
Other Types of Anxiety
- Panic Attack is a sudden surge of intense anxiety which seems to come from nowhere and for no reason. It can happen anytime, even in your sleep. Symptoms like difficulty in breathing; trembling, sweating and feeling of impending death usually occur and generally subside after some time. The body’s fight or flight response is awakened. It usually subsides within 20 to 30 minutes. SSRI antidepressants are prescribed to treat this disorder and the patient is advised to recognize the triggers and avoid them/
- OCD or Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a chronic, anxiety disorder where a person gets recurring unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations called obsessions which drive them to do something repetitively called compulsion. It is often confused with perfectionism and personal hygiene but it is much more than that. They have the fear of danger lurking everywhere and can be painful for the sufferer. A combination of medication and therapy helps relieve this condition.
- PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder- Stress caused when a person experiences or witnesses a terrifying event such as a natural disaster, war, a serious accident or any other violent personal attack and is not able to overcome the trauma. It continuously brings back the anxious memories in the form of nightmares, flashbacks and uncontrollable thoughts causing severe anxiety affecting the person’s day to day life. The main treatment options are psychotherapy and medications
Phobias-Unusual fear of certain things like heights, spiders, elevators, and dentists causing severe anxiety, is called a Phobia. Psychotherapy, exposure therapy, and cognitive behavior therapy, SSRI’s and sometimes benzodiazepines are the treatment options for phobias.
What Causes Anxiety?
The causes of anxiety are various like, traumatic events in life, stress due to work, personal relationships, financial difficulties, serious medical illness, bereavement caused by separation or death of a loved one, stress from school for children and side effects of certain drugs and genetic predisposition. Anxiety can trigger major health complications like diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, Parkinson’s disease, respiratory problems, thyroid problems, and if already suffering from any medical illness, anxiety and stress can aggravate the condition. Certain people are more prone to anxiety than others due to their mental frame. Drug and alcohol misuse or withdrawal can also cause anxiety. Studies have shown a direct link of anxiety to serotonin and cortisol. Prolonged stress can impair the production of serotonin which influences mood, appetite, and sleep among other things. Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone is vital in the body’s functioning like proper glucose metabolism, regulation of blood pressure, and immune functions. But higher levels of cortisone can increase anxiety, sap energy and can even lead to depression. Anxiety and depression have lower levels of serotonin in the brain and higher levels of cortisol in the blood. But there are methods to naturally increase the serotonin levels in the brain and decrease the cortisol in the blood. For more on Serotonin and Cortisol please read my hub:
Professionals and Stress
- Professionals and Stress
Stress faced by professionals is a serious cause for concern in a highly competitive world today as it is a threat to their physical and mental health. Stress leads to many lifestyle diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, at a very
Natural Anxiety RemediesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Best Natural Anxiety Remedies
Though medication is a popular means of treatment of anxiety and in some cases it is necessary also, there are many ways to beat anxiety naturally. There are fewer side effects and very beneficial in the long run.
- How we think and feel affects the body: There is a mind-body connection and vice versa. Pay attention to what you are thinking as negative thoughts cause anxiety. We should practice having positive thoughts and be honest and truthful always. Keeping our conscience clean helps us to maintain a calm countenance.
- Avocado and Spinach: One Avocado and 150 grams of spinach every day in the morning is advised, as they contain magnesium and potassium which are good for anxiety.
- Face your fears and think the right way: Self-talk is known to be helpful in conquering fear. Instead of avoiding the cause of your fear, face it and get over it. Don't let fear restrict your life.
- Vitamin B-Vitamin B is greatly involved in the correct functioning of the body, deficiency of Vitamin B can cause anxiety. so take supplements of Vitamin B after consulting your physician.
- Aswagandha- A herbal medicine used in Ayurveda, a holistic healing system of medicine practiced in India, which has its origin in the ancient Vedic culture of India, and is known to lower the stress hormone cortisol.
- CBD oil- Studies on social anxiety show CBD oil has a beneficial effect. Get a good brand. It is known to help with cognitive problems, anxiety, and depression.
- Practice Positive Thoughts: The subconscious is like a tape recorder. All the experiences that you go through the whole day get recorded in the subconscious. Have positive thoughts throughout the day so that the subconscious tapes only good things.
- Running is the best exercise for anxiety-It Increases Serotonin and dopamine levels and also helps in neurogenesis (growth of new nerve cells)-Running 3 to 5 times a week is sufficient as too much exercise is also not good as it increases the stress hormones. Start slowly and build up.
- Practice Deep Breathing: Deep breathing reduces stress and anxiety. So whenever you feel the stress getting too much, take deep breaths and feel instant relief from stress and regain a calm mind.
- L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea, supplements are also available-increases serotonin and dopamine but always consult with your physician before taking any drug supplements on your own for possible interactions with other medicines and side effects
- Avoid coffee, alcohol, sugar as too much sugar can cause spikes in the dopamine level and affect the normal functioning of the dopamine receptors leading to anxiety.
- Zinc helps our body deal with stress: Foods rich in zinc are oysters, eggs, cashews, poultry.
- A Diet Rich in vitamin C is known to calm the body
- Do Not Be Ashamed of Yourself when you interact with people. Keep your head up and spine straight and practice an open posture. This helps build confidence and removes anxiety.
- Stay consistent; Write down what you are going to do, stay motivated. Whenever worried ask yourself, what’s the worst thing that can happen and then be willing to have it happen mentally.
- Disturbed Dopamine Secretion directly linked to anxiety. Spending more time on social media, high stimulating computer games, and alcohol affect dopamine secretion. So avoid these stimulating methods and maintain the dopamine level in the brain. For improving dopamine naturally please refer my hub on dopamine the link of which I have given below:
Importance of Dopamine and Methods to Improve Dopamine Naturally
- Importance of Dopamine And Methods to Improve Dopami...
Dopamine is a powerful neurotransmitter in the brain which is responsible for motivation and focus. Deficiency of dopamine can lead to debilitating disorders like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and dementia. The good news is that dopamine can be increased
Find A Purpose in Life
Finding purpose in life is important. Write down your goals and every night make a mental note of what efforts you have taken to get nearer your goal. Don't be disheartened if you cannot achieve your goal fast. Take one step at a time, don't rush, give it time. The joy you feel when the goals are achieved initiates the secretion of more dopamine which helps in relieving anxiety.
Children and Anxiety:
Adapting to new situations and experiences like joining a new school, separation from a loved one, can cause anxiety in children but when the anxiety gets prolonged and interferes in the daily activities, and academic development of the child, it is a cause for concern as it may be an anxiety disorder. Often the disorder can go unrecognized as the symptoms may be mistaken for normal anxiety which a child faces as part of growing up and adapting to new situations. Therefore it is important for the parents to recognize the symptoms early and get the child treated because if left untreated these disorders can, not only affect the developmental activities of childhood but prolong into adulthood and cause depression or substance abuse by the person.
The obvious signs of anxiety in children are, not wanting to go to school, clinging, crying, nail-biting, being very scared, and upset, not wanting to talk or to play their favorite game or sport, sleeplessness, refusing to eat. It may also result in breathlessness, sweating, trembling and fainting spells during panic attacks.
The anxiety disorders in children can be Generalized Anxiety disorder, Separation anxiety disorder, Social phobia, Specific phobia, Selective Mutism to name a few.
Steps To Calm Anxiety In ChildrenClick thumbnail to view full-size
Steps to Calm Anxiety In Children
- Talk to the child and listen to the child when he or she talks about or narrates any incident.
- Yoga and breathing exercises are known to be very effective in reducing anxiety in children.
- Find a good therapist and take the child to all the sessions, and discuss with the therapist the things you need to practice at home to help the child.
- Cognitive Behavioral therapy and talk therapy are the popular methods of treatment of anxiety disorders in children and have proved to be very successful.
- Art therapy helps children relieve stress, anxiety, and depression and improves their self-esteem and confidence.
- Play therapy helps children in reducing their anxiety by expressing their emotional and social difficulties and getting over them.
- Music therapy is used in children who face anxiety due to medical illness, trauma, loss, and grief.
- Help the child to face his or her fears and encourage the child to get over it.
- Encourage positive thinking. Respect their feelings and don’t push them to do things.
- Practice what you want the child to do: Children often observe and learn from their parents and caretakers. So practicing good habits and a disciplined lifestyle by the parents and caretakers can instill confidence in the child to imbibe their good habits.
Children need a warm, caring, positive, nurturing atmosphere to grow and develop cognitive abilities and for overall good physical and mental health. Studies have shown that good childhood experiences have life-long effects on the mental health of a person.
I was won over by one particular verse of the Kathopanishad, one of the thirteen main Upanishads and tried to follow its principle all along. Upanishads are the end part of the Vedas, the ancient spiritual texts of India, the teachings of which are applicable even today though they were compiled thousands of years ago. I always believed that one gets to choose between that which is good, and that which gives mere pleasure and which is transient in nature, at every turn in one’s life and by choosing the Shreya or good and right path one can lead a better and meaningful life and gain true happiness and eternal peace.
The beautiful verse in the second chapter of the first cycle of Kathopanishad in which it is said – “The good and the pleasant come to a man and the thoughtful mind turns around them and distinguishes. The wise choose out the good from the pleasant, but the dull soul chooses the pleasant rather than the good. (Kathopanishad, 1.2.2, translated by Shri Aurobindo)
śreyaśca preyaśca manuṣyametastau samparītya vivinakti dhīraḥ |
śreyo hi dhīro'bhi preyaso vṛṇīte preyo mando yogakśemādvṛṇīte ||
Anxiety is difficult to live with and some people actually seem to work better when they are stressed, but anxiety and stress are harmful in the long run, and if unrecognized and left untreated can be potentially dangerous as they can lead to physical and mental disorders. Special care has to be taken with children having anxiety disorders as it not only affects their childhood and impairs their academic and cognitive development, but can prolong into their adulthood to cause serious illness like depression, addiction, and other disorders. For me, the natural methods worked. I practiced positive thoughts, started writing a journal. Whenever I had a negative thought like- 'this life is terrible', 'I can’t do it anymore', I would try to replace it with positive thoughts like I have so much to be grateful for, my wonderful children, so many books yet to read and so many places still to visit. Aswagandha and vitamin B supplements helped as did yoga and deep breathing exercises. At the same time I started paying attention to my diet, I cut down on coffee, sugary items and started eating more spinach and avocado. A spiritual bend of mind sure did help me get over this difficult phase in my life.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 VIDYA D SAGAR