It is normal to feel anxious, worried or scared whenever we encounter problems. But when these emotions take their toll on your well-being, to the brink of a mental breakdown, you may have anxiety problems.
Anxiety, defined by Merriam-Webster, is “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one's capacity to cope with it”. According to Sally Winston, Psy.D., co-director of the Anxiety and Stress Disorder Institute of Maryland in Towson, the distinction between an anxiety disorder and normal anxiety is whether one’s emotions are causing a lot of suffering and dysfunction. It may be panic disorder (sudden feeling of terror and disorder), social anxiety disorder or social phobia (fear around other people and social situations), specific phobias (e.g. fear of heights, fear of the dark, fear of crowded areas, etc.), and generalized anxiety disorder (excessive anxiety for days or months). Aside from the mentioned, anxiety can also be a factor or a symptom to some underlying health problems like heart disease, asthma, sleep apnea, stroke, etc.
Remedies for anxiety
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
This daisy-like flower is used to treat fever, colds, stomach cramps, stomach problems, hemorrhoids, skin inflammations, and anxiety. A study conducted by researchers in the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia, showed that patients who took chamomile supplements (220 mg of pharmaceutical-grade chamomile extract) daily for 8 weeks showed a significantly decrease of anxiety symptoms compared to patients in placebo therapy.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia or Lavandula officinalis)
Lavender oil is used as a remedy in anxiety, depression, insomnia and fatigue. It is also used for digestive problems like flatulence and stomach upset, loss of appetite, nausea & vomiting, pain such as headache, nerve and joint pains, acne, hair loss and as a mosquito repellant. Several studies suggested that massages using lavender oil may help improved sleep quality, lessen anxiety and even lowered systolic pressure (top blood pressure number) that associated with stress. You may also want to try putting few drops of the oil on your pillow, in your bath, in your cup of tea, or dab on to your skin.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, namely ALA (alpha-linoleic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are “essential” fatty acids that promote heart health and good cholesterol, boost immunity system, reduce risk of cancer, improve skin health, enhance mental ability, and help lessen anxiety, depression and other psychological problems. Our body cannot produce these fatty acids, therefore, we need to eat foods rich in omega-3 to obtain these. There are several studies conducted and have shown results that low intake of omega-3 is linked to these psychological complications and also in poor performance on cognitive and memory.
L-Lysine and L-Theanine are some of the building blocks of neurotransmitters, our brains’ chemical messengers. Studies shown that L-Theanine has the ability to reduce mental stress, improve cognitive performance and boost mood in the same manner with caffeine. A study conducted by Japanese researchers found that L-Lysine, along with L-Arginine can reduce chronic anxiety (trait and stress-induced state anxiety) and lower levels of stress hormones.
Vitamin B-complex and Magnesium
We need vitamins and minerals to keep our body healthy from head to toe, and inside out. They can boost our physical, mental, and emotional state. Vitamin B-complex and minerals like magnesium helps lessen anxiety by their involvement in serotonin synthesis in our brain as they help modulate anxiety, stress and depression, including fear, nervousness, irritability and restlessness.
If your anxiety attack is chronic or severe, seek medical help. Drugs such as antidepressants, benzodiazepines and SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are prescribed by doctors to treat certain types of anxiety disorders. Psychotherapy, a type of patient counselling conducted by a psychiatrist, can help you find and manage what triggers your anxiety.
Don’t let anxiety run your life. Talk to your family or close friends when you feel like you need someone to listen to your problems and worries, help you fight your fears, bring your social life back, and remember to relax.