Arguably there is an appropriate place for fear. But fear and anxiety have a way of accelerating beyond proper bounds, so that many suffer from irrational anxiety or panic.
The following is for those looking for a way to short circuit their anxiety disorder – perhaps even bouts with panic–and who also prefer natural means if possible rather than pharmaceutical drugs. Natural anxiety relief options may be classified into therapies, nutritional elements, and more broadly, practical methods. Probably one or some combination is right for each person.
I. Therapies for Anxiety Relief
While not holding to a rigid definition of “therapy,” the following rely on procedures, exercises, and sometimes physical devices like a diary book or visual scanner to focus on behavior and the control of thoughts in order to heal or re-balance emotions.
While therapies can be expensive due to professional oversight, accountability to, encouragement from, and guidance of the professional can be very effective, depending on the professional’s wisdom and skill. Going it alone can be cheaper, but either way, patient responsibility is vital to the outcome.
Also worthy if note is that therapy sessions normally need not be multiplied for a long time to be effective. EMDR (below), for example, requires eight sessions. If expenses and sessions go on and on without facing emotional pain and emotional improvement, change tactics.
A. Cognitive Behavior Therapy
A relatively expensive and traditional treatment typically supervised by a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, or doctor who often simultaneously prescribes drugs–though the therapy itself may be considered natural, and is sometimes used without drugs. Often a diary of feelings is kept, with specific exercises prescribed to aid in controlling morbid thinking.
B. Exposure Therapy
Under professional supervision, a patient is asked to experience a situation that raises fear. Usually the experience is via memory recall at first. Of course the ability of the patient to handle the situation and the therapist’s expectations as to what the patient can handle both vary. Exposure may thus be incremental, sudden and complete, or something in between. Exposure therapy has a reputation for effectiveness, and may be applied in conjunction with Cognitive Behavior Therapy.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) integrates various approaches, but its most notable marker is that the patient focuses visually on a laterally-moving object or light, moved back and forth, while simultaneously focusing on what has been identified as emotionally problematic areas. Laterally moving auditory or tactile stimuli are also used in place of the visual. Eight phases are used. While causes of patient improvement are not well understood, the net effect as measured by patient response and MRI’s is statistically significant and positive.
D. Emotional Freedom Technique
Emotional Freedom (or Freeing) Technique (EFT) practice includes tapping with finger tips on various nerve nodes on the upper body while simultaneously and vigorously making positive affirmations contrary to identified negative and problematic ones. A therapist may be helpful in identifying problematic areas and in guiding patient exercises, but independent patient practice is encouraged, as is also true for example of Cognitive Behavior Therapy.
E. Linden Method
A proprietary protocol developed by Britain’s Charles Linden addressing the amygdala in the brain, the area most active when fear sensations are present. The method is less expensive than others partly because the patient masters training material independently and receives professional counseling remotely (usually) and only as needed. (EFT can be even less expensive if the patient merely reads the material and practices entirely independently without any trained counselor.)
II. Nutrition for Anxiety Relief
While usually not a panacea, nutrition-based improvement to anxiety symptoms suggests an aspect of anxiety may be chemically caused or influenced. Especially worthy of note here is that certain nutritional materials may conflict with certain pharmaceutical drugs, whether the drugs are used to treat anxiety, depression, or anything else. Thus consultation with a supervising doctor is advised–in some cases strongly–prior to use of such nutrition for sedating or calming influences.
Also worthy of note is that stresses (as well as pharmaceutical drugs) can deplete the body of specific and needed nutritional elements, hence the increased need for supplementation. And as always, nutritional needs vary with the individual, so what works for one may not produce noticeable results in another. Some trial and error may be needed, and perhaps professional advice regarding selection or dosage may help.
And if the nutritional material makes one feel drowsy, one must be careful driving or operating heavy equipment and the like.
B vitamins come to mind, or a good brand of probiotics so as to improve B vitamin production in the gut. B vitamins are useful for many metabolic functions, notably here for nerve cells. Vitamin C may have an effect also.
B. Amino Acids
Amino acids like GABA (with improved function in the presence of B vitamins Inositol and Nicacinamide), tryptophan (and 5-HTP), and tyrosine may be helpful.
C. Alpha-linolenic acid
Many are low in Omega 3 essential fatty acids, and some studies suggest one of the effects of supplementation with alpha-linolenic acid may help with anxiety.
Mineral deficiency can contribute to anxiety symptoms. Magnesium, calcium, potassium and sodium levels should be optimal, for example.
Various herbs have been known to have calming or sedating influence. Among these are Kava Kava, Lemon Balm, Passionflower, Chamomile, Hops, Valerian, Skullcap, Holy Basil, and Rhodiola Rosea. Some people may have a negative reaction especially to prolonged use of some of these herbs.
III. Miscellaneous Methods for Anxiety Relief
An assortment of possible other methods may help reduce anxiety or panic symptoms.
A. Avoid and Get Rid of …
Persons with a heightened sense of anxiety should probably avoid caffeine, alcohol, and sugar. Caffeine may be hidden in soft drinks.
Others may have heavy metal poisoning (cadmium, mercury, nickel, lead, and so on) which may be chelated with materials like chlorella, spirulina, and cilantro.
B. Lifestyle changes
Regular exercise boosts mood, as may proper diet. Perhaps a change from a stressful job, a toxic housing environment (e.g., mold, formaldehyde in wood products), and a change in relationships (e.g., repentance, forgiveness) may help.
C. Breathing Exercises
Breathing problems are surprisingly common among those suffering from anxiety problems or disorders. Slow, controlled, nasal breathing from the diaphragm is often surprisingly helpful. Anxiety tends to make people hyperventilate, which in turn often increases anxiety symptoms.
Hopefully something in the above will aid anxiety or panic disorder sufferers in coping with and overcoming their distressing and treatable condition.
Next, for more help and information on how to stop panic attacks, be sure to sign up for a free report and email mini-course at Panic Attack Relief. The author is a long time health enthusiast interested in helping people overcome anxiety and panic attacks.
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