Emergency Herbs for Anxiety and Depression

While you are still depressed and stressed it is very difficult to think clearly. Sometimes, you should consider using a bit of external help. Even if you detest antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication, there are still other natural remedies that could be of help.

For depression your best option would be St John’s Word, otherwise called Hypericum Perforatum. This is a herb that has been used in Greece for millennia with astonishing results. Several psychiatric studies have proven that the plant is superior to placedo and that it really helps patients who suffer from mild or moderate depression. It also has far fewer side effects than the standard antidepressants you will find in the market. It is used widely in Germany but you can find it also very easily in UK supermarkets, such as Tesco or Sainsburys. You do not need prescription to use it but, I would advise you, to inform your GP about it. Take 300 mg three times daily. It will take around six weeks before you see positive results. Continue taking it for no more than six months, during which time I would expect you to try to resolve your psychological problems also with the help of other methods.

Another excellent supplement you can take for depression (Unipolar or Bipolar) is Omega 3.It has been proven that in large dosage it stabilises the mood. The pills have to be high in EPA and DHA (up to 1000 mg). Ordering online is generally cheaper but make certain that the product is organic. You should take it at least for 4 weeks before you see positive results. Once it enters your system, it will help you also with heart problems.

Bear in mind that Lemon Balm Tea is excellent for depression and grief. Other supplements that could help with depression are Folic Acid and/or Vitamin B Complex. Also, if you are suffering from S.A.D. you should consider taking Vitamin D.

With regard to anxiety, I would highly recommend Kava Kava. This is a plant that grows in the Pacific Islands and has been used by the local for centuries. A minimum dosage of 60 kavalactones per day would alleviate the stress and will help you sleep in the evening. The problem is that you cannot buy it in Europe. There have been a few instances of liver failure, because of the prolonged usage of the pills (more than 3 consecutive months) and because the product was distilled in alcohol. You can easily order it online, though, from US, New Zealand or Australian pharmacies. Even if pharmacies in Europe are not allowed to sell it, the usage of the plant (and its products) is perfectly legal. Make certain that it is distilled in water and do not take it for more than 3 months. Again, you should inform your GP.

Other herbs used against stress are: a) Valerian root. Order it in liquid form and take around 30 drops per day before you go to bed. It will help you sleep. b) Linden Tea also helps relaxing but you should not drink more than two cups per day. c) Chamomile tea is soothing and also it is excellent for those who suffer from IBS. Be careful, though, because if you drink too many cups per day, you may get light diarrhoea.

Other supplements you can take are Vitamin B Complex and Vitamin C.


Anxiety: The Battle of the Stressors

The first action you should take is battle stress. Trying to solve the individual problems may not help in the long run. The bills will keep arriving every morning, the children will keep screaming when they get tired, your loved ones may die (as this is the nature of man) and relationships will go through rough patches. Do not despair, though. Balance can be achieved if you learn how to manage your stress. Just follow the advice below:
• Identify the stressors in your life. Life is not easy for any of us. However, some cope better than others. Try to find out which aspects of your character cause daily stress. It may be procrastination or perfectionism or a sense of duty towards others. Accept the responsibility for your thoughts and actions, if you wish to control stressors. In order to identify the problem, write a journal or talk to your friends.
• Identify the ways you cope with stress. There are positive and negative ways to manage stress. The negative ones are: drinking, smoking, partying hard, vegetating in front of the tv or surfing the internet for hours on end. Believe me, I tried all of them but none was especially helpful. Instead, you may try the ways I will describe below.
• Avoid the stressors who stem either from situation or from specific people. If you are not comfortable with an assigned task, say No. If people around you are too stressed, avoid them. If the environment feels poisonous, either change it or keep yourself at a distance. Try to engage yourself in pleasant activities, instead.
• If the situation cannot be changed, then take control of your time and space. Prioritise your tasks, manage your time in a more effective way and do not despair if you do not finish everything on time. After all, we are only human!
• Do not bottle up things! Share your feelings and ask for help, if necessary. Probably a lot of your friends and relatives are facing similar problems. There is no reason to go through an unpleasant situation alone.
• A healthy lifestyle is especially important. Add in your routine a time for regular aerobic exercise: running, walking, swimming, dancing. Do not touch, sugar, caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, coca cola etc) or chocolate. I know, I know. Chocolate is one of the best pleasures in life, albeit the consequences of eating it are grave. Eat fruit and vegetables.
• Relaxation should be your ultimate goal. First of all, you should remind yourself of the pleasant things in life. Go for a walk in the countryside, even if it is freezing cold. Put your favourite music on. Use aromatherapy oils in an oil burner. Clean your house from clutter. Take a long bath. Light up a few aromatic candles. Ask your partner to give you a massage. Work in the garden. Go for dancing a few nights a week. Go swimming at the local gym. All in all, find some pleasure in life and pursuit it!

Anxiety: Acceptance and Action

By now you are aware that you are suffering from Anxiety. I can assure you that you are not the only one. Most of people, at one or another point in their life, will have to face up to the situation. There is no reason to panic (especially if you are the victim of a panic disorder) or fret over it. Whenever there is a problem, there is always a solution. I will provide in a series of posts with a list of the treatments that are available at a minimal cost.

Healing starts with Acceptance. I am not saying that you have to become best friends with your disorder. Neither should you treat it like an enemy. Instead, it would be advisable to accept it and embrace it in a way that will allow you to get over the initial shock of the diagnosis. Once you establish the fact that you are suffering from a mental disorder, you should start looking at the root of the problem. In a sense, you should treat the situation as a wake up call that will get you back on the right track. Anxiety does not come out of the blue. It develops over a period of a few months or years and it is the result of extreme stress. So, it is time that you start questioning the causes, instead of moaning about the outcome. What stressors do you face on a daily basis? What displeases you in life? What pleases you in your surroundings or your situation? Do you wish something was different? Is there room for change? Once these questions are answered you can start devising an action plan. The problem will not disappear overnight. You need to prepare yourself for your healing and act on it. And this is what I call Active Acceptance.

Being passive is not advisable and I am the living proof of that. When the psychiatrist diagnosed my Panic Disorder, I accepted my fate and started preparing for a life with continuous panic attacks that would have been controlled only by medication. I could not have been more mistaken. The result was the trading of the Panic Disorder for a Generalised Anxiety. Only when I decided to take the situation in my own two hands, have I started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

One piece of crystal advice here. In all issues of acceptance the best crystal to facilitate the process is chaolite.

Anxiety Disorder: Categories

In the previous post I described the commencement of panic attacks and a mild agoraphobia. Panic and phobias are only some of the anxiety disorders that someone may be suffering from. There is a list of disorders that may be, in fact, comorbid with each other. This means that someone may suffer from more than one of these or that one disorder may be replaced by another later in life. In today’s post I would like to describe the different types of disorders and their symptoms. Sometimes putting a label in an existing problem may help you find a solution.

• Generalised Anxiety Disorder. The main characteristic is excessive worry about everything (job, relationship, health, the neighbour’s dog… everyting). There is a continuous feeling of being on edge. The result of this restlessness is fatigue, insomnia, lack of concentration and physical symptoms, such as trembling, sciatica or muscle pains.
• Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. As implied by the title the main characteristics are obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. The thoughts are recurrent, insistent and cannot be suppressed; so, they cause anxiety. In order to cope with these thoughts, you may develop ritualized behaviours, e.g. cleaning, washing, counting, checking or collecting repeatedly. Do you remember Jack Nicholson in As Good As it Gets? This is a typical person who suffers from OCD. Common fears are contamination, making mistakes, causing harm, asymmetry, doubt.
• Panic Disorder. Panic attacks come without warning (sometimes while the person is asleep) and they are characterized by extreme terror. The symptoms are physical and, thus, intensify the fear of death: trembling, dizziness, inability to breath, palpitations, hot flushes alternating with cold bouts, diarrhea, chest pains. They last 20-30 minutes until the serotonin is replenished but, to my experience, it may take a couple of days to recover fully from the ordeal. If panic attacks happen often and for prolonged periods of time, sometimes the person develops a “fear of fear” and this way she/he is caught in a vicious circle.
• Phobias. The panic disorder may or may not be accompanied by agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is the fear of open spaces (or closed spaces) from where a quick escape seems impossible. Such places may be a football stadium, an underground train, a concert hall, the shopping mall, etc. The fear is so intense that it may lead to a panic attack. If it happens often the person eventually stops going out of the house, where she/he feels safe. On the other hand, social phobia refers to the avoidance of social situations, e.g. going out for a drink with friends or speaking in public. These people suffer from the fear of embarrassment or humiliation. Other types of phobias include fears of heights, animals, bugs, closed spaces, blood, flying, water, needles, or anything… Bear in mind that all types of phobias are not based on logic. They are an intense mental and physical reaction to a danger that does not really exist.
• Traumatic Stress Disorder. These are of two types: 1) Acute and 2) Post-traumatic. They occur after the person experienced a highly stressful situation, such as a car crash, the violent death of a beloved one, rape or any other type of violence. The main characteristics are sleep disturbances in the form of nightmares or insomnia, stress and disturbing flashbacks. This disorder is common among soldiers.

The above categories are clearly distinguished according to the symptoms and their development. All of them, though, share some common characteristics: sleep disturbances, extreme stress, fear and physical problems. Facing them and eventually solving the problem is possible but it takes a lot of work and commitment.

Depression and Anxiety: Lifestyle and Mental Illnesses

The end of the twentieth century saw an upsurge of emotional and anxiety disorders in Europe, the United States and Australia. According to the latest research more than one fourth of the population will suffer from depression at some point in their lives. Whether it arises from situations such as divorce, unemployment, the death of loved ones e.t.c. or it is a hereditary chemical imbalance is largely irrelevant. Modern lifestyle will always play a predominant role in the development of the disease. The same is true for anxiety. The fast pace of life, the increasing responsibilities we undertake, the pollution of the atmosphere and other factors could cause extreme stress. If the person is predisposed towards anxiety, then daily stress could turn into a full blown disorder. Unless we radically change the way we live, mental illnesses will not disappear. And, since social patterns cannot change from one day to another, the people who suffer are forced to seek other solutions. Because of the complexity of the issues and the variety of complementary and alternative therapies, I will dedicate several posts on the causes, symptoms and treatment of emotional and anxiety disorders.
At this point I should note that I am not a psychiatrist or a medical doctor. Nevertheless, I have suffered from both depression and anxiety in the past. As I am an adventurous person, I have tried a number of alternative therapies. I have also read extensively on the subject and I even ventured into studying complicated psychiatric reports. So far, I have managed to remain healthy and I would like to share this knowledge with the rest of you. I would also like to state that what is good for one person may not suit the other. You will have to decide for yourselves which path to follow. And this is why I intend to present here all of the available options I am aware of.