Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in America, affecting 40 million adults in the U.S. over the age of 18. Anxiety disorder can develop from a wide variety of factors including genetics, brain chemistry, and life events. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable but only 37% of people suffering from it receive treatment.
Different Types of Anxiety Disorders
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Specific Phobias
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Many people with an Anxiety Disorder will have a co-occuring disorder or a physical illness.This can make their Anxiety symptoms worse and recovery harder. That is why it is so important to treat all disorders. Some related illnesses to Anxiety include:
- Eating Disorders
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Chronic Pain
- Substance Abuse
- Sleep Disorders
There are a few different ways that the treatment of anxiety disorder is approached.
- Complementary and Alternative Treatment
In this article we will focus on the Complementary and Alternative treatment of Anxiety.
Natural Remedies to Help treat Anxiety:
Regular exercise has been shown to improve your emotional and physical health and reduce anxiety and depression. These improvements are proposed in part to be the result of exercise induced increased blood circulation to the brain. Exercise also can increase serotonin levels in your brain, boosting your mood and overall sense of well-being.
Reduce or Stop Caffeine
Research has shown that caffeine may worsen anxiety disorders. Studies have reported higher anxiety levels in moderate and high caffeine consumers in comparison to people who abstained from consuming caffeine. It can also cause jitters and nervousness which can accelerate the feeling of anxiety.
Diet can play a big role in anxiety symptoms. Low blood sugar, dehydration and chemical additives can trigger or even mimic anxiety symptoms. It is important to prevent hypoglycemic states to combat anxiety symptoms. Hypoglycemia is a condition in which your blood sugar levels are lower than normal. One experiencing hypoglycemia can feel weak, shaky, light headed, irritability, anxiety, sweating and fatigue. A well balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meats and healthy fats is ideal for people suffering from anxiety. It is important to avoid processed and high sugar foods so the body experiences less high and low blood sugar levels, which will reduce feelings of anxiety. A sugar rush can trigger panic attacks. So basically sugar is one of anxiety’s worst enemies. There are some helpful guidelines when it comes to diet and anxiety including:
- Cut back or eliminate caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes.
- Significantly reduce or eliminate processed foods and sugar.
- Eat a healthy and balanced whole foods diet similar to the Mediterranean diet.
- Eat foods rich in zinc like, whole grains, nuts, kale, broccoli and legumes.
- Eat foods rich in vitamin B like avocado, asparagus, and leafy greens.
- Eat foods rich in magnesium like fish, avocado and dark leafy greens.
- Eat foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids like flax seeds, chia seeds walnuts, algae and fatty fish like salmon.
- Eat probiotic rich foods like yogurt, kefir, and fermented foods.
Practice Deep Breathing
Anxiety can cause shallow, fast breathing. Which can lead to dizziness, panic attacks or lightheadedness. Most people do not take enough deep breaths as it is. Deep breathing is very important to allow your body to fully exchange incoming oxygen with outgoing carbon dioxide. Deep breathing also lowers blood pressure, slows the heartbeat and reduces stress. Reducing stress is very important in managing anxiety symptoms. A simple guide to practicing deep breathing exercises can be found here.
Meditation can be an effective practice in clearing the mind of chaotic thoughts, being more present and mindful and bringing about a sense of calmness. It is known for reducing stress and anxiety. Research done at the John Hopkins School of Medicine suggests that 30 minutes of meditation a day may improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. If you are not sure how to meditate there are many sources that can guide you through a meditation session like this youtube channel here.
Chamomile has long been a home remedy for calming nerves and promoting sleep. Chamomile is one of the most widely used herbal remedies in the world. The use of chamomile as an herbal remedy dates back to ancient Greece and Rome. There is substantial literature suggesting that chamomile (and several of its flavonoid components) may have anxiolytic and antidepressant activity. In a randomized clinical trial, they found a significantly greater reduction in mean total anxiety symptom scores for chamomile versus placebo. Most people consume chamomile through camomile tea but it is also available in a capsule supplement form if tea is not your thing.
These natural remedies can be a great tool in combating symptoms of Anxiety. These are all great things you can do for your mind and body regardless if you have anxiety or not so give it a try! If you have severe anxiety it is best to consult with your doctor before replacing your anxiety medication with natural remedies.
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Uma Naidoo, MD. “Eating Well to Help Manage Anxiety: Your Questions Answered.” Harvard Health, 14 Mar. 2018, http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/eating-well-to-help-manage-anxiety-your-questions-answered-2018031413460.