30 Natural Remedies for Anxiety and Depression Herbs, Nutrients and Lifestyle Changes.
Natural Remedies for Anxiety
Stress, anxiety and depression affect millions of people every day. They are often hidden and viewed as a sign of weakness or source of shame. Often we feel pressured to just "suck it up" and deal. The result of this limited thinking is people who need help managing the effects of their anxiety and stress, but having no idea where to start. This hub provides insight into the many multifaceted ways to conquer stress and depression and improve the quality of your life.
Anxiety can be triggered by many factors, including mental fatigue and exhuastion, stress, and depression. Understanding the causes and triggers of your anxiety is important for figuring out how to manage it. Remedies are good for helping to ease the symptoms of anxiety, but there is no “quick fix” to remove or cure it.
Anxiety is a complex issue that needs to be addressed on many fronts: mental, physical, emotional and even spiritual. It can manifest in a variety of symptoms, including insomnia, headaches, gastrointestinal upset, forgetfullness, difficulty concentrating, panic attacks and more.
What follows is a comprehensive set of tools to help you deal with the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression. Often, a few simple behavior modifications and some simple coping mechanisms can make all the difference. Other times, it is important to get professional intervention in order to lead a more fulfilling life. The tools here are provided for information purposes only and are not intended to diagnose or cure any psychiatric illness.
Herbal Remedies for Anxiety
- Those who suffer from periods of high anxiety or chronic anxiety disorders are more vulnerable to free-radical damage which can lead to cancers. Bilberry, Ginko Biloba, and Milk Thistle contain flavonoids that actively combat this free-radical damage. They can be taken in supplement form or in teas.
- A Siberian Ginseng supplement can help the body cope with the added demands of high stress levels. It increases energy and promotes alertness.
- Herbs that promote mild relaxation and may help to prevent panic attacks are Chamomile, Kava Kava, Passionflower and Skullcap. Kava Kava may cause marked drowsiness in some individuals so caution should be used. Chamomile should be avoided by anyone with a ragweed allergy.
- For upset stomach caused by anxiety, Fennel, Ginger, Lemon Balm and Willow Bark can soothe stomach distress and relax the large intestine. Ginger is very good for nausea and safe enough to use during pregnancy. Lemon balm tea can elevate the mood while settling the stomach.
- Feverfew and Valerian can both help to relieve migraines and tension related headaches.
- If anxiety causes you to lose sleep, Valerian root and Skullcap can both be taken at bedtime to treat insomnia.
Aromatherapy for Anxiety, Depression, and Mental Fatigue
Aromatherapy, when properly applied, can be a great way to ease anxiety and reduce stress. Unfortunately, the term “aromatherapy” is not regulated and as a result many manufacturers label products as “aromatherapy” when they have no essential oils or any true aromatherapy benefit.
Aromatherapy is about much more than something that smells good. Genuine aromatherapy influences the brain, triggering different responses, much in the same way the plants do in nature. For example, flowers have different properties and odors that attract pollinators and defend against predators. This is the natural property of that plant and it is not man-made or altered chemically. In aromatherapy, the true essence of various plants, via genuine essential oils, are used to trigger different responses in the body. This practice goes beyond just “that smells good” - and actually works subconsciously on a deeper level, to trigger different brain activities and responses.
Aromatherapy Oils for Mental Fatigue
Rosemary has a gentle stimulant property and is great for those times where you are overworked or overtaxed mentally, but need to keep a clear head to complete a task. A few drops of Rosemary essential oil can be applied to a tissue and directly inhaled. In the bath, add a few drops of Clary Sage oil for a similar effect.
For Anxiety due to Stress
Use oils that promote relaxation such as Lavender, Neroli, Chamomile, Sandlwood, or Ylang Ylang. Add a few drops to a tissue for quick inhalation, or at night try a blend in the bath. Add a couple of drops each of Lavender, Sandalwood, and Chamomile to relax the muscles and clear the mind.
For Anxiety due to Depression
Use oils that are both normalizing and uplifting such as Mandarin, Clary Sage, Lavender and Geranium. Mix a few drops of 2 or more of the oils into a carrier oil and have someone massage your back and shoulders to ease tension and help elevate the mood. Add a few drops each of Sage and Ylang Ylang to the bath to help uplift and relax. Sandalwood added to a vaporizer also works well.
The beauty of essential oils are that they can be put into blends that are multi-purpose. For example, you can use a blend of bergamot and mandarin in an aromatherapy lamp to reduce stress, clear the mind, and boost energy levels simultaneously. Tense, but don't want to induce drowsiness? Try a blend of Rosemary with Lavender.
Dietary Changes to Help Ease Stress and Anxiety
- Calcium and magnesium are vital nutrients for those with anxiety. They naturally relieve tension and nervousness. Calcium is also a natural mild sedative.
- Iron deficiency can also increase the likelihood of panic attacks.
- B vitamins are energizing and calming simultaneously and are great for anxiety caused by mental stress/exhaustion.
- Vitamin C is vital to the proper function of the adrenal glands.
To get all of the above nutrients in your diet include fruits like apricots, bananas, and figs. Vegetable sources are asparagus, avocado, broccoli, and dark green leafy vegetables. Choose complex carbohydrates over simple carbohydrates, including brown rice, quinoa and other whole grains. Raw nuts and seeds, legumes, and yogurt are also excellent choices.
Reduce your intake of animal protein and avoid refined sugar and simple carbohydrates. Caffeine should be eliminated in those with extreme anxiety or who are prone to anxiety attacks. Chronic stress leads to adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is heightened by over-consumption of caffeine and other processed foods. Often times, adopting a diet for adrenal recovery goes a long way in easing chronic anxiety and stopping panic attacks.
True calm is the supplement I use to help with anxiety that leads to insomnia. It produces a nice, mild euphoric feeling as you drift off to sleep. When I wake up; I feel refreshed and not groggy at all. I highly recommend it to those who just need a bit of help relaxing and don't want to risk dependency on medications.
Meditation and Self-Hypnosis for Anxiety
Meditation takes practice, but it is a habit that will work wonders in your life if you are prone to anxiety and the racing thoughts that accompany it. Meditation is a process of quieting the mind and bringing more conscious awareness to your thought processes and where they are going.
Meditation can be approached in a variety of ways, from focusing on a mantra – a word or phrase that you repeat, to fixing the eyes on a candle flame, or even listening to a guided meditation or self-hypnosis recording.
Many forms of self-hypnosis are similar in results to meditation. Guided hypnosis for relaxation can help soothe nerves and reprogram the mind to better handle stressful situations. There are a wide variety of guided hypnosis programs and meditations with different focuses, including boosting self-confidence, overcoming fears, tapping into the subconscious and enhancing intuition.
With meditation, you give your brain something to focus on, aside from worry. Meditation is also beneficial because it triggers more self-awareness. During meditation, you will become more aware of your thought processes, emotions and how you respond to them. It is a great way to start gaining control of your thoughts/emotions, so that they don't control you.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
Emotional Freedom Technique or “EFT” for short, is a form of therapy that is actually a blend of techniques for managing anxiety and fear. It embodies several different areas including Accupressure, and Neuro-linguistic programming. It is used to help with anxiety, depression and has even been used to help overcome phobias.
EFT focuses on energy centers in the body and administering a series of finger taps, while focusing on a mantra or affirmation that counters the source of anxiety. I have used this technique very successfully myself and it is something you can learn to do for yourself quickly and easily. With continued practice, EFT can help make difficult emotions manageable.
The beautiful thing about EFT is that it can be self-administered and does not require the use of a therapist, unless you decide you need professional assistance with it. Learn how to do basic EFT techniques on yourself for free with these free tutorials.
A long, truly informative discussion on integrative medicine and how it works to improve health and well-being.
Yoga for Anxiety and Stress
Yoga is a great way to merge physical exercise with meditation. It is calming to body, mind and spirit while increasing strength and stamina and improving your overall health. Yoga's breathing practices and movements help to lower the blood pressure and ease respiration, which in turn helps the body to relax and ease out of the chronic “fight or flight” response triggered by anxiety.
As your body grows stronger, you will become more energetic throughout the day. Yoga has the added benefit of teaching conscious “full and present” awareness, which is the key to overcoming anxiety. An uncontrolled mind can be a dangerous place for those with depression and/or chronic anxiety.
Exercise A "Triple Whammy" for Anxiety, Depression, and Stress
Any form of physical exercise that you enjoy will have anti-stress benefits. Exercise increases blood flow, improving circulation and the oxygenation of the blood. The result is a reduction in physical stress – looser muscles, clarity of thought, more energy. Exercise is useful for treating depression due to the release of feel-good endorphins like dopamine. As you push your body harder, these mood enhancing chemicals are released, resulting in elevated mood, an increased sense of self-worth, and reduced anxiety.
For the best effects, engage in exercise that you enjoy so that you'll have more incentive to stick with it. Don't do the same activity for long periods, change up your routine so that you continue to enjoy the benefits. Once the body becomes too used to a routine, you'll need to push yourself harder or do something different in order to get the same “runners high”.
Homeopathic Remedies for Anxiety and Stress
Homeopathic remedies vary depending on conditions. For example, a panic attack brought on by a sudden loss or stressor would call for a different remedy than facing stage fright or milder everyday anxieties.
Homeopathic remedies consist of a tablet or granules that are placed in the mouth and left to dissolve. They should be taken in a clean mouth and not swallowed whole like a pill. Do not eat or drink for at least 15 minutes after taking a remedy.
There is much debate around Homeopathic remedies and their effectiveness. I have tried remedies that I thought did nothing for me and I have used remedies that were absolutely effective.
One example I can give is before delivering speeches in my public speaking class, I took a “natural calm” remedy a friend gave me and indeed, several minutes after taking it I felt much more at ease and prepared mentally to give my speech than I had after several hours of preparation the day before. Meditation did not even calm me as much as this remedy did and I subsequently delivered my best speech of the semester.
There are also Homeopathic remedies on the market for anxious pets. I use these remedies before travel and pet bathing and have had good results. A pet can't produce a placebo or "wishful thinking" effect.
Here is a website with a great list of anxiety remedies. Choose the remedy that most closely matches your current symptoms and conditions for the best results.
Other Tools for Healing from Depression, Anxiety, and Stress
Words have immense capacity for influence in our lives, beyond what many realize. Everything you read influences you, from menu choices at your favorite restaurant to the news headline that caught your attention and prompted you to read a full story. Words can be powerful motivators -for better or for worse. For this reason, journals are amazing tools for healing in life, from addiction recovery, to coping with loss, or facing our fears in a comfortable, non-judgmental environment.
Sometimes we all need a little support and one of the greatest things to happen with the popularity of the internet, is the vast ability for human connection. There is no shortage of places to find support and encouragement – often for free.
You can keep a sense of anonymity, which allows most of us to open up and share more. Sometimes, hearing the stories of others who have faced similar circumstances can comfort and inspire more confidence and optimism. From grief recovery to dealing with divorce or simply managing everyday sources of stress and anxiety, there are resources available.
How do you treat stress and axiety?
Have you tried these techniques?
© 2012 Christin Sander