Stress and Anxiety 101: What is Anxiety? Natural Remedies

It is normal for every person to experience anxiety attacks,..

Stress and Anxiety 101: What is Anxiety? Natural Remedies

It is normal for every person to experience anxiety attacks, especially during stressful situations and traumatic events in life.

As health experts say, anxiety is a typical response of person’s body that signals possible dangers ahead.

However, when anxiety becomes extreme to the point that it prevents a person from living the normal life that he intends to have, that person may possibly be suffering from anxiety disorder.

Defining what is anxiety disorder

Anxiety disorder is generally a term that covers different types of extreme pathological phobia, fear, and anxiety.

A person suffering from an anxiety disorder may experience abnormal feelings of anxiety even without knowing the cause or he may also have intense and sudden panic attacks.

The attacks may be in the form of unwanted obsessions or compulsions and uncommon social inhibitions.

Even though anxiety disorders have different forms, they are all the same in one thing – extreme and persistent worrying or fear.

This condition becomes alarming as the intensity and frequency of the said responses can disrupt or undermine an individual’s everyday routine and productivity.

Anxiety 101

Below are the three characteristics of anxiety disorders:

1. Consistent, all-consuming, and continuous.
2. Interferes social interactions and activities.
3. Causes emotional withdrawal and isolation.

Enumerating the factors leading to anxiety disorders

There are a number of factors that can lead to the development of anxiety disorders.

These factors are categorized according to personality, environmental, hereditary, and brain chemistry.

1. Personality

According to medical studies, differences in personality can significantly affect the development of anxiety disorder in an individual.

It is common in individuals with extreme anxiety condition to view the people and environment around them as threatening.

People suffering from anxiety disorders also have inferiority complex, thinking and believing that they are powerless towards other people or situations.

2. Environmental

The environment is also a very strong contributing factor in the development of anxiety disorders in individuals.

Traumatic situations such as separation of parents; death; weak support system; as well as conflicts with family members and friends can definitely lead to abnormal anxiety condition.

3. Hereditary

Studies proved that anxiety disorders are also hereditary. This means that these psychological conditions run in the family.

Those who are found to be suffering from anxiety disorders have family members who are also experiencing extreme anxiety conditions or mood disorders.

Recent studies also claimed that there are certain generic factors (such as vulnerability to stress) that contribute to a person’s susceptibility to anxiety disorders.

4. Brain chemistry

The occurrence of imbalances on a human brain’s neurotransmitters can also lead to the further development of anxiety disorders.

As such, the medications commonly given by doctor or health practitioners are meant to readjust the chemical imbalance in the brain.

Apart from the four main factors enumerated above, chief life stressors such as marital problems and financial difficulties can also trigger the development of an anxiety disorder.

However, it is important to remember that anxiety disorders cannot be triggered by only one cause or factor. The life stressors and the four main contributors to anxiety disorders are oftentimes interrelated.

Anxiety 101

Natural Remedies for Anxiety

Chamomile

If you have a jittery moment, a cuppa chamomile tea might help calm you down. Some compounds in chamomile (Matricaria recutita) bind to the same brain receptors as drugs like Valium.

You can also take it as a supplement, typically standardized to contain 1.2% apigenin (an active ingredient), along with dried chamomile flowers.

In one study at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, in Philadelphia.

Patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) who took chamomile supplements for eight weeks had a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms compared to patients taking placebo.

L-theanine (or green tea)

They say Japanese Buddhist monks could meditate for hours, both alert and relaxed. One reason may have been an amino acid in their green tea called L-theanine, says Mark Blumenthal, of the American Botanical Council.

Research shows that L-theanine helps curb a rising heart rate and blood pressure, and a few small human studies have found that it reduces anxiety.

In one study, anxiety-prone subjects were calmer and more focused during a test if they took 200 milligrams of L-theanine beforehand.

You can get that much L-theanine from green tea, but you’ll have to drink many cups—as few as five, as many as 20.

Valerian

Some herbal supplements reduce anxiety without making you sleepy (such as L-theanine), while others are sedatives. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is squarely in the second category.

It is a sleep aid, for insomnia. It contains sedative compounds; the German government has approved it as a treatment for sleep problems.

Valerian smells kind of nasty, so most people take it as a capsule or tincture, rather than a tea. If you want to try it, take it in the evening—not before you go to work!

Valerian is often combined with other sedative herbs such as hops, chamomile, and lemon balm.

Exercise

Exercise is safe, good for the brain, and a powerful antidote to depression and anxiety, both immediately and in the long term.

“If you exercise on a regular basis, you’ll have more self-esteem and feel healthier,” says Drew Ramsey, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University, who blogs at www.DrewRamseyMD.com.

“One of the major causes of anxiety is worrying about illness and health, and that dissipates when you are fit.”

Passionflower

In spite of the name, this herb won’t help you in love. It’s a sedative; the German government has approved it for nervous restlessness.

Some studies find that it can reduce symptoms of anxiety as effectively as prescription drugs. It’s often used for insomnia.

Like other sedatives, it can cause sleepiness and drowsiness, so don’t take it—or valerian, hops, kava, lemon balm, or other sedative herbs—when you are also taking a prescription sedative.

Be careful about using more than one sedative herb at a time, and don’t take passionflower for longer than one month at a time.


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Daniel Messer, RNutr, CPT

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