Anxiety is a tool of the human body that is meant to be a healthy response to stresses in life or even to a dangerous situation. When we are afraid, our metabolism speeds up, our muscles tighten, and our adrenal glands produce extra quantities of adrenaline (a hormone that makes our hearts beat faster).
Anxiety becomes a troublesome response only when we can't burn up the nervous energy it creates. When a meeting, a deadline, or a family problem sets us on edge, our bodies signal "danger"-but physical action is rarely appropriate. Instead, we endure the unpleasant sensation of a rapid heartbeat and tensed muscles; often while having to smile at the opponent who sits across the desk or dinner table. We are all able to handle occasional bouts of unreleased anxiety, but if the anxiety doesn't go away, or if it recurs frequently, it can lead to serious health problems. People who are exposed to prolonged anxiety-those who are going through a divorce, for example, or who are subject to intense pressures at work-often suffer from high blood pressure, insomnia, digestive problems, skin disorders, mood swings, depression, and many other conditions. The effects of anxiety can also make any existing health problems worse.
Sometimes people feel the symptoms of anxiety even when they're not facing a serious challenge or danger. Anxiety disorder is the name given to an excessive amount of worry that lasts longer than six months. What's excessive? Any nervous response that's out of proportion to its cause. A new job or a serous illness should naturally produce more anxiety than, say, planning a party. And if people cannot pinpoint the source of anxiety, or if it constantly changes, there's a good chance that they suffer from anxiety disorder.
People with anxiety disorders are vulnerable to the same health problems as anyone else with prolonged anxiety. They may also experience extreme states of nervousness and worry, called panic attacks. During a panic attack, the heart pounds and breathing becomes rapid or difficult. Sufferers may break into a cold sweat, experience tingling in the extremities, or feel dizzy and weak. Although panic attacks rarely last long-they can take anywhere from a few seconds to half an hour-they are quite frightening. People may feel certain that they are having a heart attack or a stroke or may simply feel overwhelmed by intense terror.
If you suffer from prolonged anxiety, whether as a result of an anxiety disorder or from a major unresolved source of tension, you can take certain steps to ease your symptoms. Bodywork and stress-reduction techniques will give you immediate relief but can also help out work on the root of your problem. Dietary changes and herbal therapies can have a calming, stabilizing effect on your mood.
As you employ these complementary healing strategies, it's also important to rule out any underlying physical causes. Disorders like low blood sugar, thyroid problems, heart problems (mitral valve prolapse), and clinical depression can lead to symptoms of anxiety, as can nutritional deficiencies. Certain substances can also create anxiety or make it worse. Caffeine is perhaps the most notorious tension-inducing chemical, but sugar and other food allergens, nicotine, alcohol, environmental toxins and allergens, and other cause can all be just as potent.
** All of these prescriptions below have been proven effective; level of effectiveness depends on the individual. Please consult your doctor when taking any and all supplements.
The top 7 vitamins and supplements shown to help Anxiety:
Prescription for Natural
Cures by James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.M.D.
Super Prescription # 1 Stress & Anxiety Relief - LifeSource Product
Take 2 Caps of this synergistic stress relieving formula daily. This combines numerous nutrients to help balance your system.
Super Prescription #2 5-HTP - LifeSource Product Take 50 to 100 mg two to three times daily. Note that 5-HTP increase serotonin levels, which have a calming effect on the mind. Note :Do not take in conjunction with a pharmaceutical antidepressant or an antianxiety medication
Super Prescription #2 Kava Kava – Herb Pharm Product
Take as directed on bottle. Kava can significantly relieve a panic attack, as well as the symptoms of generalized anxiety. If you're using a pharmaceutical tranquilizer, you should talk to your doctor about making the switch. Do not, under any circumstances, take kava at the same time you're taking a medication for anxiety, depression, or Parkinson's disease. Do not use Kava while consuming alcohol or if you have elevated liver enzymes. This supplement should be used with a doctor's supervision.
Super Prescription #4 Calcium / Magnesium – LifeSource Products - See All of our Cal/Mag Products. See all of our Calcium / Magnesium products by clicking the above link. Take a combination of 500 mg of calcium and 250 mg of magnesium twice daily. These minerals help calm the nervous system.
Super Prescription #5 Passionflower (Passiflora incarnate)
Take 250 mg or 0.5 ml two to three times daily. Passionflower relaxes the nerves and is gentle enough to use during the day.
Super Prescription #6 B - Complex – Vitamin B - LifeSource Product
Take a 50 mg complex one to two times daily. B vitamins help combat the effects of stress and will balance your brain chemicals. Vitamin B6 is especially important.
Super Prescription #7 Gaba - LifeSource Products Take 500 mg two to three times daily between meals. This amino acid has a calming effect.
Super Prescription #8 Homeopathy
Take a combination anxiety homeopathic remedy, as directed on the container. Ask your Doctor as always when taking any Homeopathy remedies.
- Restlessness and tension
- Heart palpitations
- Dry mouth
- Sweaty palms
- Lump in the throat
- Mood swings
- High blood pressure
- Sleep disturbances
- Appetite disorders
- Chest pains
- Muscle tension and/or spasms
- Panic attacks
- Alcohol and street drugs
- Prescription medications
- Disturbed sleep
- Food allergies
- Environmental toxins
- Poor nutrition
- Thyroid problems
- Mitral valve prolapse
- Low blood sugar
- Adrenal disorders
Some foods can create anxiety, and others soothe it. If you're a victim of prolonged or frequent tension, a good diet can significantly-and sometimes completely-alleviate your symptoms.
An anxiety-healing diet starts with a good base of nutrients. Plan well-rounded meals of basic, clean foods. To keep your blood-sugar levels stable, eat smaller meals through-out the day, rather than three large ones.
Complex carbohydrates contain serotonin, a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect on the brain. Have some whole grains, like brown rice or oats, at every meal.
Make sure you get enough B-vitamins by increasing your intake of brewer's yeast, brown rice, and leafy green vegetables.
If you have a bowel disorder, fibrous foods will regulate your digestive tract. The whole grains and vegetables that were suggested earlier are an excellent source of fiber. For further suggestions, see the entry that addresses your particular problem.
Calcium and magnesium calm the body. Good sources include sea vegetables, green leafy vegetables (except spinach), soybeans, nuts, molasses, salmon, oysters, sardines (with the bones), broccoli, and unsweetened cultured yogurt.
Foods to Avoid
Caffeine and alcohol cause anxiety or the symptoms of anxiety. Wean yourself off black tea, coffee, and alcohol, even if they seem to comfort you when you're stressed. Ultimately, these substances just put a further strain on your system.
Refined sugars are another enemy of anxious people. Whole fruits and naturally sweet products are fine in moderation, but candy, cake, cookies, refined flour products, and soft drinks will cause blood sugar to spike and then plummet. The resulting low levels of blood sugar produce feelings of irritability, tension, and depression.
A response to food allergies can lead to trembling, dry mouth, heart palpitations, misbehaving bowel, and other symptoms that mimic anxiety.
If you suffer from anxiety, chances are that you are short on B vitamins. Since refined flour and processed foods deplete your body of nutrient, cut them out of you diet.
Stress can be a result of toxins, and stress itself is poisonous to your entire system. Consider doing a three-day supervised juice fast. Be sure most of your juices are made from vegetables, as too many fruit juices can give you unwanted sugar shock. A fast is also an ideal time to rest up and enjoy various types of therapy, like a massage or a hot bath, that combine detoxification with relaxation.
If you suffer from anxiety, it's wise to have a repertoire of stress-reduction techniques you can call upon. Any of the techniques discussed in the Exercise and Stress Reduction chapter can help, but following are some specific suggestions.
General Stress-Reduction Therapies
Use prayer to alleviate and prevent anxiety. The Bible contains many scriptures that address anxiety. It is also prudent to seek help from a counselor who specializes in anxiety disorder.
Positive mental imagery and meditation are useful. Whenever you feel your mind racing ahead to upcoming deadlines or unpleasant situations, try to bring it back to an awareness of the present. Focus for a moment on something beautiful: the sound of a bird, the color of the sky, the steam drifting up from your cup.
Many people with anxiety have cold hands and feet, because the panic response pulls blood away from your extremities. Thermal biofeedback can help you use this symptom to your advantage. During a thermal biofeedback session, you'll be asked to try to warm your hands. As you learn this technique, you'll actually learn to control the nervous-system arousal mechanism that is set off by anxiety. Soon you'll be able to ward off a panic attack just by mentally warming your hands.
If you suffer from severe anxiety, consider EEG biofeedback. This form of biofeedback can be expensive, but it does have an excellent track record of helping people calm their brainwaves.
Don't let stress management itself become a source of stress. You're not a failure if you have a panic attack or an episode of anxiety; no one can manage anxiety perfectly. Just keep practicing tension-relieving techniques daily, and try to accept whatever comes your way the best you can.
- Exercise is still one of the best anxiety-relievers. A daily walk is enough for many people, although most methods of exercise will reduce the effects of stress and anxiety.
- Acupuncture is helpful in controlling anxiety for some people.