Your heart is racing, you break out in a cold sweat, your thoughts are racing and the fear grows deep in the pit of your stomach. Anxiety. The dreaded fear that arrives for no reason, at any time and can be ongoing. Whether you experience it frequently or it’s your first time no one wants to feel like this ever again. But how do we stop it? What can we use for relief? Are we doomed forever?
Drs may prescribe anti-anxiety medicines or ant depressives like SSRI’s and MAOI’s but these aren’t for everyone. There are alternatives that you can try before you trying prescription medications. Some you can even use alongside prescription meds for added benefit.
Why I recommend Vitamins, supplements and herbs
Rather than start out on a strong medication that may have terrible side effects I think it is defiantly worth a try to start out on natural products first. Some may work and some may not just as prescription medications do but it’s easier to swap and change between supplements to find a good fit then it is between anti-anxiety meds.
They also have fewer side effects then prescription drugs; they can still make changes within the human body but in a gentler way. They are not addictive so unlike prescription meds you won’t have to taper off them and have the dreaded withdrawal which is a massive advantage over prescription medications.
Here is a list of supplements that can help to fight back against anxiety and live your life again.
Herbal supplements are the most common type of supplement for treating anxiety. They can act in the same ways as anxiety medications but have fewer side effects. They are also usually available over the counter.
Kava has received the most scientific research compared to other herbal supplements on it anti-anxiety properties making it the most popular choice by far. I would suggest that you try this first however it can interact with other prescription medications and with alcohol so you need to be careful when trying it out. It is also linked to liver damage- especially if you drink alcohol regularly- so it is not a long term fix.
Passionflower is a lighter version of Kava but it does not interact with alcohol. It is beneficial for low anxiety but won’t really help with more severe anxiety.
Valerian root is traditionally a sleeping aid. But due to its relaxation effects it can help with anxiety and improve the symptoms.
St John’s Wort is another very popular choice and has been used for hundreds of years to teat mental health. This supplement actually works quite fast with some results seen in as little as a week. It is considered a powerful medicine though and should be taken with care, it also reacts badly with SSRI’s and the two should not be taken together. However it is very helpful to those who choose it as long as it taken carefully.
The plants Latin name is Hypericum Perforatum although it sometimes displayed as Hypericum which comes from the Greek name meaning ‘greatest health.’ The active ingredient is called ‘hypericin’ which should be displayed on the package telling you the dosage in the tablet or capsule. It also contains hyperforin which has antibiotic properties.
Coffee and teas containing caffeine should be steered clear from when you suffer from anxiety as the caffeine actually makes it worse. There is however some delicious herbal teas out there that having anti-anxiety effects and are good for your health too.
Chamomile is my favourite, I love the flavour and I do get quite a calming effect from it. There is scientific evidence to suggest that it actually does help to relax you.
Peppermint tea also has calming effects and can really help to relax you if you are having a mild panic attack.
Vitamins and minerals
This is another very common choice for anxiety. Many vitamin and minerals deficiencies can cause anxiety and its accompanying symptoms, so sometimes supplementing with vitamins can help. Because everyone’s diet is different you won’t really know how much you can benefit from supplementation until you try it but regardless vitamin and mineral supplementation is healthy and is worth the try.
Omega Oils are essential fatty acids (EFAs). These ‘good fats’ are essential in maintaining physical and mental health. Taking omega supplements may decrease the strength of the body’s flight or fight response.
The B vitamins are essential to nerve function, removing lactic acid which can also contribute to panic attacks and they also play an important role in regulating mood. The body does not store B vitamins so it is essential to get them through diet or supplementation every day. B vitamins are best taken in a B complex and even better when taken in a multi vitamin.
- Vitamin B1- controls blood sugar levels which affect those who have panic attacks.
- Vitamin B3- plays a role in the process to promote serotonin which promotes calm and sleep.
- Vitamin B5- helps adrenal functioning, which is especially important in panic attack sufferers.
- Vitamin B12- can help improve depression. Since there is a link between depression and anxiety it may be beneficial.
Magnesium affects nerve health and more, so it is believed that low levels can contribute or even be responsible for anxiety and its symptoms.
GABA is an amino acid that has strong evidence that it aids in relaxation. Unfortunately it is not very strong as it is believed that GABA supplements cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. So any effect will be a mild one.
5-HTP is an amino acids and it helps to synthesize both serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin is the hormone responsible for mood and relaxation and melatonin promotes sleep.
Finding a Long Term Cure
It is important to understand and remember that supplements will work like prescription drugs in that they cover up the symptoms of anxiety but when you stop taking them the symptoms can start all over again. So either way it is recommended to talk to a Dr first to find the root of the problem, certain disease can also cause anxiety so its good idea to rule them out or get treatment for them before trying things yourself. Therapy is very important when dealing with anxiety and it will defiantly help you to overcome it in the long term. It’s also important to ensure there won’t be any interactions with any medications and supplements taken together.
Don’t let anxiety control you anymore, take a deep breath, shake it off and take back your life!