Alternative Treatments for Anxiety Disorder – Are They Effective?

You might have felt these sensations before: the rising panic that you’re trying to stave off, but can’t effectively manage. The rapid breathing. The heart palpitations. The seeming impossibility of concentrating on anything positive. While the exact causes of anxiety are sometimes unknown, this condition is generally characterized by apprehension, unease, panic, fear, terror, dread, uncertainty and worry – and it can be downright debilitating.

Anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental health issues worldwide. In the US alone, more than 18 percent of adults are affected by anxiety disorders each year. Anxiety presents in many forms, including generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder and panic disorder.

More serious problems usually take place when your feelings of nervousness, agitation, tension and racing heartbeats become excessive, persist indefinitely or start to interfere with normal daily living. In this case, alternative treatments for anxiety can absolutely help.

What are the Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder?

If you find yourself getting jitters, sweating, experiencing shortness of breath, feeling chest pains, getting nauseous or even experiencing a decrease in sex drive, you might be suffering from the physical signs of anxiety. On one of the more extreme ends of the spectrum, if you begin to feel a sudden and intense bout of panic, fear or dread combined with a feeling of looming death, you might be having a panic attack.

Other physical symptoms of anxiety disorder can include:

  • Muscle tension
  • Chest tightness
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Digestive problems
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating
  • Inability to socialize
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Compromised immune system

 

It can be frustrating to think that the exact causes of anxiety and panic attacks are usually unknown, though they usually include stress, thyroid problems, hormone imbalance and serotonin dysfunction.

Ordinary life circumstances and transitions, such as health diagnoses, accidents, divorce or death can absolutely play a role, as much as heredity or diet. What’s more, if you’re using certain types of drugs (whether prescribed or over-the-counter) or even ingesting too much caffeine, these factors can also contribute to anxiety.

Alternative Treatment Options for Anxiety

Generalized anxiety disorders can be difficult to treat effectively, because 40 to 60 percent of people with anxiety also experience signs of depression. Research has shown that without proper treatment, anxiety cannot successfully achieve short- or long-term remission. Holistic approaches take your entire life into account and offer recommendations for lifestyle management that you can actually sustain, rather than viewing treatment as a one-and-done process.

Natural Medicine

When first seeking out alternative treatments for conditions like panic attacks or generalized anxiety disorder, many people initially turn to natural medicines. Anti-anxiety herbs like kava kava, valerian root and St. John’s Wart tend to be a first step before moving to prescription drugs. But it’s important to note that you should consult with a natural medicine practitioner to avoid using the wrong herb, in the wrong dosage. Natural remedies are powerful and still carry the potential for negative side-effects if used improperly.

Nutritional Interventions

Experts also recommend making adjustments to your lifestyle, starting with food. You can try eliminating caffeine and alcohol, reducing your intake of sugar, eating more whole foods with fewer additives or chemicals or drinking herbal teas (chamomile, passionflower, skullcap, lemon balm). If you’re lacking all the nutrients your body needs, your therapist might also recommend vitamins and mineral like calcium, magnesium, vitamin B complex and other nervous system-supporting supplements that enhance your brain function.

Fitness Therapy

Many people lead sedentary lives, so exercising more regularly and practicing mindfulness techniques like meditation or yoga are also extremely helpful. Cardiovascular exercise is especially beneficial, because it burns lactic acid while producing mood-enhancing chemicals (endorphins) and improving the flow of oxygen in your body. Increasing research shows that yoga, tai chi, spiritual meditation and prayer are all effective in alleviating anxiety.

Are Alternative Treatments for Anxiety Disorder Effective? 

Every individual’s experience of anxiety is different – and your path to healing is unique, too. The caring, compassionate and knowledgeable team at The Sanctuary can help you find the right type of treatment for you.

For more information on the dangers of prescription anxiety medications, see our article: Why Barbiturates and Other Sedatives Can’t Cure Anxiety.

If you’re ready to begin an alternative healing journey, call us at (877) 710-3385 or email us at info@sanctuary.net today.