Anxiety can be a normal part of life. Depending on the problems faced in the day to day a small amount of anxiousness for a certain event is considered completely normal. However, with an anxiety disorder this can evolve into something much more than temporary worries and fears. The anxiety does not disappear once the problem has been faced or solved and actually gets worse over time. Daily life is effected, such as job performance, school, and relationships. For the afflicted they must meet every day with fear and terror beyond control.
Several different anxiety disorders exist, with a range of symptoms. Sufferers of generalized anxiety, for example, display symptoms of excessive anxiety and worry for months to years on end for no particular consistent reason. They may feel restless and on edge, easily being fatigued, difficulty concentrating, irritable and tense, and having several sleep problems such as insomnia or unsatisfying sleep. Social anxiety is another common form of an anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, which causes the afflicted to suffer massive fear of social and performance situations where they constantly feel judged and embarrassed without any real outside cause. These sufferers feel highly anxious around people they do not know, to the point of not being able to talk and highly self-conscious of themselves and fear judgments and being out-casted by others. They may worry for days or even weeks before going to an event where others will be and have consistent problems making and keeping friends due to these issues.
A more extreme example of an anxiety disorder is that known as Panic Disorder. People with this issue find themselves suddenly and unexpectedly in a fight or flight situation of extreme fear and a feeling impending doom for no apparent reasoning. Many things can trigger this, but what is happening is the body is taking any stressor and immediately jumping into overdrive mode to protect itself. Symptoms for those suffering from this include pounding heart beat with palpitations, sweating and shaking, and a sudden shortness of breath where one feels they cannot breathe. Intense fear overcomes them and they may feel out of control, and when it finally ends they fear the next one and what may trigger it which can cause a feedback loop of intense fear and paranoia.
Effective treatments for anxiety vary, with many finding success with a combination of psychotherapy and medications. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, for instance teaches the patient different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to situations that cause them fear and worry. They also must confront their fears in a variety of ways to help them deal with the exposure in the future. This is done either in a group, with others that have similar problems which can be highly effective, or on a one on one basis. Homework is often assigned to the patient that they must accomplish before the next setting. Medications are prescribed commonly as well, the first-line in treatment for generalized anxiety disorders is that of the benzodiazepines which can help reduce stress greatly by reducing the symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks or extreme fear and worry. The caveat to these is that they are indeed highly addictive and mimic much of the same side-effects as alcohol when taken long term. Withdrawals are severe and can be life-threatening if not weaned off properly in a medical setting.
Still, beyond the standard treatments there are many natural alternatives to help reduce anxiety that are easily available and have been shown to help for many years. One of these is that of Chamomile, which has certain chemicals in it that bind to the same receptors as anti-anxiety drugs such as Valium. It is available in tea form, which allows one to slowly sip and inhale the vapors reducing stress or as a supplement. Studies comparing patients taking chamomile supplements versus a placebo showed a marked reduced stress rate in those receiving the chamomile after eight weeks. Chamomile is known for causing drowsiness, which can be good at night, but may not be the best solution for day-time anxieties.
Another tea that is highly beneficial to anxiety prone sufferers is green tea. A special amino acid found in high quantities in green is known as L-theanine. L-theanine has been shown to curb rising heart rates and blood pressures, two of the major symptoms of anxiety itself. By battling these major symptoms it helps patients from experiencing tough stressful symptoms and helps them calm while still staying alert unlike chamomile. To get the recommended dosage of L-theanine for high stress, however, supplements are recommended as the quantities in green tea vary significantly from needing as few as 5 cups up to nearly 20 at a time.
Hops, the bitter herb found in beers, ha
s been shown to be highly useful as an aromatic or in tinctures for reducing stress due to a volatile oil found in the plant. It is often used to promote sleep and sedate oneself during times of stressfulness. Like, chamomile, this plant can cause serious drowsiness and is not recommended to be used during the day or alongside other sedatives and tranquilizers.
A close relative to hops is Cannabis, which has also been shown to help reduce anxieties in patients. Though Cannabis has a reputation for increased paranoia and anxiety in certain patients, much of this is due to the incorrect use of the plant and the wrong strain type. For many, strains high in Cannabidol (CBD) have been shown to greatly reduce anxiety and stress. However, in strains with high Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) it is a bit more complex depending on the patient as it can help relieve some symptoms but may cause the brain to overreact and enter a panic-like stage. For those suffering from intense anxieties, it seems CBD is the way to go as it calms the brain without the psychoactive effects of THC. It has been shown to alleviate nearly all symptoms of anxiety, such as pounding heart, shortness of breath, and heart palpatations.