Naturally, everyone gets anxious occasionally.
Whether you have a big presentation at work, a blind date, or an IRS audit, chances of anxiety is a part of life, but an anxiety disorder is different. People who have an anxiety disorder often have fear that does not go away. Anxiety can interfere with work, school, and relationships.
Anxiety disorders are common. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 40 million adults in the United States have an anxiety disorder, which is roughly 18 percent of the population. Although the disorder is treatable, only about one-third of affected people seek treatment.
Different types of anxiety disorders exist, including generalized anxiety, social anxiety, and panic disorders. Symptoms of anxiety disorders may be a little different for everyone. Typical symptoms may include muscle tension, feeling on edge, and sleep difficulties.
People who have panic attacks may also experience shaking, shortness of breath, and an increased heart rate. Social anxiety often causes feelings of self-consciousness, difficulty speaking in public and fear of being embarrassed.
Causes of Anxiety Disorders
The exact reason to why some people develop anxiety disorders is not fully understood. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, researchers think it may be a combination of environmental factors and genetics.
Certain experiences may trigger anxiety in people who are genetically prone to the condition. For example, childhood trauma or abuse is a risk factor for developing an anxiety disorder, but not all people who have had a traumatic childhood develop anxiety. The theory is that certain individuals who are genetically predisposed may develop the disorder depending on their life events.
Conventional treatment for anxiety often includes psychotherapy and medication. Both medication and therapy can be helpful, but medication may have side effects, such as drowsiness, dry mouth, and decreased libido. It may be helpful for people with anxiety disorders to consider various treatment approaches including a combination of conventional and natural remedies.
Naturopathic Medicine for Anxiety Disorders
Natural remedies can be an important component in treating anxiety disorders. For example, natural remedies including herbs, vitamins, and minerals may ease symptoms in some people. Naturopathic medicine to treat anxiety disorders may include:
Vitamin B- 12: If the nervous system is not working properly, it may lead to restlessness and contribute to feelings of anxiety. Vitamin B12 is important for a healthy nervous system. Foods high in vitamin B12 include eggs, fish, and poultry.
Chamomile: Chamomile is an herb which may help promote feelings of calmness. The compound in chamomile may bind to certain receptors in the brain, the same way some anti-anxiety mediations do.
L-theanine: L-theanine in a naturally occurring amino acid that is thought to improve feelings of well-being. It might affect chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine that play a role in mood.
Valerian: Valerian is derived from the herb Valeriana officinalis. It is used to reduce restlessness and improve sleep. It is available in teas, extract, and capsules.
GABA: Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter in the brain. It decreases the effects of another brain chemical called glutamate, which may increase anxiousness. GABA is also sold as a supplement to decrease anxiety.
Natural remedies usually do not cause the same side effects as anti-anxiety medications. Still, it is important to speak to your healthcare provider before taking any supplements since they may interact with some medications.
Lifestyle Changes to Treat Anxiety
In addition to naturopathic medicine, lifestyle changes are often an effective way to decrease symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Although lifestyle changes alone, may not be enough to eliminate anxiety, it can help. Plus, the changes recommended to curb anxiety are good for a person’s overall health. The following lifestyle changes may help reduce symptoms of anxiety:
Exercise: The physical benefits of exercise are well documented, but exercise is also thought to improve emotional well-being. Regular exercise burns off excess energy that may contribute to nervousness. It might also increase chemicals in the brain that induces feelings of calmness. Whether you run, walk, or bike, try to exercise at least three to four times a week for 30 minutes.
Limit caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant that can trigger restlessness and anxiety in people that are sensitive. Consider swapping your morning java for herbal tea.
Decrease alcohol: Although alcohol may seem like it would decrease anxiety, some people self-medicate with a cocktail, which can make anxiety worse in the long run.
Quit smoking: Smoking, especially if started early in life, is thought to increase a person’s chances of developing anxiety. Some research also indicates that nicotine in cigarettes may change certain pathways in the brain associated with anxiety.
Get enough sleep: Sleep deprivation places added stress on the body and mind. Often, it is more difficult to cope with stressful events when you are sleepy. Most people need about seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
Learn relaxation techniques: Practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation can decrease heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiousness associated with anxiety.