According to the National Institute of Mental Health around 18% of the adult population in the US suffers from some form of anxiety disorder in a given year. Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder and phobias.
Anxiety and panic disorders can wreak havoc on your daily life. The smallest task to complete can appear like a mountain to climb, sapping you of energy and making you feel worthless and incapable of functioning effectively.
Anxiety disorders can also lead to worse conditions like agoraphobia and depression.
Although there are many anti-anxiety medications on the market, people are concerned about the possible negative side effects these medications may induce. In this article we look at various natural remedies that aid in treating anxiety and panic disorders.
Recent research indicates that abnormalities in the alignment of the spine can have a negative effect on the nervous system. Being out of alignment may contribute to anxiety and panic disorders.
Dr. Matthew McCoy is a chiropractor and public health researcher. He is also the editor of a journal that published a study on the supporting role of chiropractic in anxiety related disorders.
He says, “The seat of human emotion is the Limbic System and we know that this system extends all the way down the spinal cord. By normalizing interference there, things like anxiety and a sense of well-being are affected.”
Chiropractors correct any nerve interferences – called vertebral subluxations – which garble the messages between the spinal cord and the brain. These are caused by abnormal position or movement of the spinal vertebra.
The study which Dr. McCoy edited reported on a 49-year-old woman who had been suffering from anxiety and panic attacks for a period of eight months. After just six weeks of chiropractic care she experienced a distinct improvement in quality of life and fewer panic attacks. After fourteen weeks of care her anxiety disorder was resolved.
Our bodies contain receptor sites that are filled with endocannabinoids. This is a naturally produced compound that is remarkably similar to the cannabinoids (like CBD, or cannabidiol and THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol) found in marijuana.
Exposure to excessive trauma reduces the amount of naturally-occurring endocannabinoids in the brain. The use of cannabis oil can replenish the deficiency, resulting in a balancing effect that can help to control anxiety.
Treatment with cannabis oil is a complex process of trial-and-error to find the correct dosage that will not increase anxiety or cause paranoia in the patient. Marijuana strains high in THC are likely to induce these symptoms. However, there are strains that are low in THC and high in CBD which effect a significant improvement in anxiety sufferers.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT focuses on dealing with the current problems you are facing, rather than rehashing past events. This form of therapy aims to arm you with the tools necessary to face life’s stressors and stimuli and the feelings of helplessness that go with them.
CBT therapy involves sitting down with a counselor and focusing on pinpointing troubling circumstances in your life. During the session the therapist will help you to identify harmful and inaccurate thoughts, restructuring adverse or inaccurate thinking.
CBT sessions often include learning as much as possible about your condition to bring about a better understanding of how it works and the potential it has to get you down. The sessions are also instrumental in teaching techniques to help you avoid anxiety or panic situations in future.
Essential oils and aromatherapy
The wonderful part about using essential oils for anxiety is that they are entirely natural, made from the extracts of flowers, roots, bark and leaves of plants. Be sure to use pure oils that don’t contain any chemicals or harmful additives.
The best essential oils for anxiety disorders include
- Ylang ylang and
Aromatherapy is a popular way to get the most out of essential oils as our sense of smell can trigger powerful emotional responses. The simplest ways to use aromatherapy is to pop a few drops into your bath, or to buy an aromatherapy diffuser.
Exercise increases the levels of endorphins in your body. Endorphins are known as the “feel good” hormone. By releasing these during exercise you gain confidence and your self-esteem improves, your sleep quality improves and inflammation is reduced.
Other forms of exercise such as tai chi and yoga are also great for keeping anxiety at bay. Even the simple act of taking a daily, fast-paced walk around your neighborhood can help to improve your mood. The added bonus is that you also get some sunshine to increase your vitamin D levels.
Follow a healthy diet
Food plays a vital role in the way we feel on waking, during the course of the day and also when trying to fall asleep at night. A blood sugar dip for example can trigger a low moment, resulting in an emotional outburst or anxious feeling. You can gain relief from anxiety by adding the following foods to your diet:
- Foods rich in B vitamins like grain-fed beef, leafy green vegetables and poultry
- Foods rich in magnesium such as avocados, sea vegetables and nuts
- Omega-3 fatty acids found in wild-caught fish
- Dairy and other foods rich in calcium, for example unsweetened yogurt
- Fermented foods such as fermented vegetables to increase your gut health
Foods to avoid include alcohol and caffeine, sugary foods and processed and refined flour.
Consider taking an Omega-3 supplement such as fish oil, vitamin B-complex, magnesium and calcium supplements. Remember to always consult your physician before taking any supplements, particularly if you are already on medication for anxiety.