Symptoms of Anxiety:
Long term severe worry, tension, irritability or
depression, for no clear reason. Plus some of the following:
- Heart palpitations
- Sense of impending doom
- Inability to concentrate
- Muscle tension; muscle aches; trembling or twitching in the
- Chest pain
- Dry mouth
- Sweating or hot flashes
- Excessive sweating
- Undereating or overeating
- Fatigue, headache
- Breathlessness; hyperventilation
- Loss of sex drive
- Being easily startled
Call Your Doctor If
- You feel uncontrollably anxious and cannot function
- Along with anxiety, you have lost weight and your eyes seem
to bulge. (You may have thyroid problem or some other physical ailment.)
Treatment of Anxiety
Psychotherapy, psychoanalysis and behavior modifications
are the principal drugless therapies employed.
Medications are used to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety.
It is often prescribed with other therapies. The most prominent of antianxiety drugs are
those known as benzodiazepines. More than 2000 different benzodiazepines have been
produced in the laboratory. More than two dozen of these are commercially available. They
help control stressful emotions by dampening the electrical activity in the brain.
To relieve temporary stress induced anxiety, your doctor
may prescribe benzodiazepines such as temazepam (Razepam, Restoril) or flurazepam
(Dalmane, Durapam). For problems such as panic attacks, high potency benzodiazepines such
as lorazepam (Alzapam, Ativan), or clonazepam (Klonopin) may prescribed. One of the
considerations your doctor will use in determining what drug to prescribe is how much time
they remain active in the body. For example, if you operate a machine or drive heavy
equipment, a drug such as diazepam (T-Quil, Valium, Vazepam) is not suitable as they cause
prolonged sedation. On the other hand, prescription drugs such as alprazolam (Xanax) work
quickly and is not especially sedating and may be more suitable in this instance. Another
advantage of this drug is that it is completely eliminated from the body in 12 hours. You
can take it before going to bed and still can be assured of being fully alert the
following morning. Benzodiazepines sometimes cause drowsiness, irritability, dizziness,
memory impairment and dependency.
There are several other types of drugs that can help
relieve anxiety. Buspirone (BuSpar) is an example. It has fewer side reactions compared to
benzodiazepines. It is also less likely to lead to addiction. Do not take this if you are
suffering from liver or kidney disease or if you are pregnant or is breast feeding.
Prescription drugs such as beta blockers targets the
symptoms of anxiety. (See angina for an
It is important to realize that these drugs does not cure
anxiety. It is important that you attack the causes of the stress and take corrective
actions. Counseling, relaxation and a number of alternative therapies help you in
Care for Anxiety:
- Daily exercise is one of the most potent treatment for
anxiety symptoms. Take brisk walks or participate in an active sports you enjoy.
- Magnesium supplements are useful, especially if you suffer
from muscle spasms.
- Avoid alcohol, coffee and sugar or soft drinks that has
- Avoid, as far as possible, the activities you find less
- Be sure to get adequate rest.
- Use breathing exercises to manage an acute attack.
- Learn a relaxation technique and practice it.
- Simplify your life by making your schedule less hectic.
Medicine Aids for Anxiety:
St. John's Wort, a popular herb for low
depression is also good for controlling stress.
Kava Kava - useful for the treatment of
nervous anxiety, insomnia, and restlessness. It is a natural tranquilizer.
Ginkgo biloba - improves circulation to
the brain. It elevates the mood for those depressed.
For a soothing tea, blend lavender, oats,
linden flower, catnip, and lemon balm. Mix 1/2 ounce of each of these herbs in dried form,
use four teaspoons of this mixture per quart of boiling water. Pour the water over the
herbs and steep for about ten minutes. Strain and drink while the tea is still warm. You
can take upto six cups of this drink per day after meals.
Chamomile, lemon balm and linden flowers
are all considered mild relaxants. Lemon balm is especially well suited for the digestive
problems that are associated with anxiety. Skullcap, valerian, hops, and passionflower
have strong effect on the central nervous system. They help control insomnia. Do not use
hops if you are suffering from depression.
Motherwort is useful in cases when anxiety
is associated with palpitations. On the other hand, if the anxiety is connected to high
blood pressure, use cramp bark and linden blossoms.
Nutrition for Anxiety:
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugar. They worsen anxiety.
- Include in the diet apricots, asparagus, avocados, bananas,
broccoli, blackstrap molasses, brewer's yeast, brown rice, dried fruits, pulse, figs, fish
(such as salmon), garlic, green leafy vegetables, legumes, raw nuts and seeds, soy
products, whole grains, and yogurt. These foods supply valuable minerals such as calcium,
magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. These minerals are depleted under stress.
- Keep a diary of foods you eat and your anxiety attacks. Food
allergies and sensitivities may trigger panic or anxiety attacks.
- Eat small, frequent meals rather than the three big meals we
Therapy for Anxiety
Take 750 milligrams of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) three
times a day after meals. This amino acid reportedly helps in anxiety.
Calcium (2,000 mg daily) is a natural tranquilizer
Magnesium (600 to 1,000 mg daily) helps to relieve anxiety,
tension, nervousness, and muscular spasms.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)- 50 mg 3 times daily) - helps reduce
anxiety and has a calming effect on the nerves.
Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine) - 50 mg 3 times daily with meals -
A known energizer that also exerts a calming effect on the nerves.
Vitamin C - 5,000 to 10,000 mg daily in divided doses -
Necessary for the proper functioning of the adrenal glands and brain chemistry. In large
doses, Vitamin C can have a powerful tranquilizing effect and is known to decrease
anxiety. It is very important for dealing with stress. (Consult a physician before you
start any mega vitamin therapy.)
Zinc 50-80 mg daily (Do not exceed a total of 100 mg from
all supplements in a day) - Has a calming effect on the central nervous system.
Remedies for Anxiety:
Aconite is the medication of choice if your anxiety is the
result of a sudden fright or shock. If you are grief stricken (such as when one of your
loved ones die), the homeopath may give you ignatia. In situations such as stage fright
and other anticipatory and performance anxiety, gelsemium is recommended. If you have
anxiety accompanied by diarrhea, gelsemium is the preferred choice.
Aromatherapy: Essential oils of lavender, jasmine, geranium, ylang-ylang,
bergamot, melissa or blue chamomile are believed to be very effective for anxiety. It may
be more effective when used in combination.
Bach Flower Remedies: Agrimony and aspen are useful for mild to moderate anxiety. For
severe cases, use cherry plum or red chestnut.
Therapeutic Touch is believed to reduce anxiety as well as relieving pain.
Biofeedback is useful in helping the patient develop strategies to control
anxiety and stress.
Hypnotherapy is useful to overcome specific phobias such as fear of flying,
state fright, fear of examinations or sports contests. It also helps in the general
Yoga and breathing exercises are very good way to control anxiety and stress. Lie on your back
in a comfortable place. Breath slowly through your nose. Use your diaphragm to such air
into your lungs. Allow your abdomen to expand at the same time. After the abdomen is fully
expanded, continue to inhale as deeply as possible. Reverse the process when you breath
out. Contract your abdomen while exhaling slowly and completely. Repeat this exercise
Meditation and other Mind/Body
Medicine: Progressive muscle relaxation,
autogenic training, relaxation response, transcendental meditation and oriental exercise
techniques such as tai chi and qigong are all useful in controlling anxiety and stress.
Acupressure: A number of acupressure points are reported to be helpful in
calming the body and quiet the mind. The effectiveness of the particular pressure points
is believed to depend on the underlying reasons for the anxiety.
Hydrotherapy: If you are anxious or irritated, the neutral bath has a balancing
and soothing effect. Fill your bath tub with water slightly cooler than body temperature,
around 94 degrees to 97 degrees. Submerge as much of your body as possible. Add more water
to maintain temperature. Stay in the bath for at least 20 minutes.
Imagery: Imagine that you are lying on a beach. As each wave splashes on the
beach, it rolls up to your neck, and as it recedes, it pulls more and more tension and
fear out of your body.
Massage: A 15 minute Hellerwork self massage will ease tightness in the
muscles that are stressed when you are anxious.
Reflexology: Work the diaphragm reflex on your feet, spine, the pituitary,
parathyroid, thyroid and adrenal gland reflex points.
Sound Therapy: Sit quietly in a comfortable chair. Listen to music with slow,
steady beat for 20 to 30 minutes or until you are well relaxed.