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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi guys.

I have a bit of an issue with anxiety that flares up every so often, and though it's not the worst, it definitely is not great and messes with my ability to like...be a normal person who interacts well with people and can get her work done.

I'm not interested in medication at this point, because honestly it's not that bad and I tend to get some weird reactions with meds, but I was wondering if anyone had any experience with natural anxiety remedies.

I've heard kava is the way to go. Has anyone tried it? Any specific recommendations?

Anything to stay away from?

Edit: It's really not that bad, and I think right now it's flared up in part due to PMS, but I mean if there's like a vitamin or supplement out there that's known to help your body to deal with stress and anxiety a bit better, that's kind of what I'm looking for. Nothing major, I just want to be doing everything I can to be proactive about it because I hate when it just becomes an excuse.
 

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I used to have really bad anxiety problems when I was a kid, though its calmed a lot now, and it basically under control. All medication and therapy free.


When are you experiencing this anxiety? What is going on around you when it happens?


For me, it used to stem from a place of lacking security and being exposed to too much outside stimuli.
 

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I've tried kava kava. I don't recommend it.

I strongly recommend these things, as much as is possible for you:


  • Sunlight or tanning.
  • Aerobic activity.
  • Eating mostly fruits, vegetables, and meats.
  • Avoiding all refined sugars and processed foods.
  • Laughing regularly.
  • An active social life.
  • Prayer.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
When are you experiencing this anxiety? What is going on around you when it happens?
There's nothing specific that I can pinpoint; that's part of the problem. My job is quite stressful and I'm living by myself for the first time, both of which have exacerbated things a bit, I think, but neither of which is something I could (or should necessarily) change.

Nothing in particular is going on when it happens. I just start thinking and it spirals.

I've tried kava kava. I don't recommend it.

I strongly recommend these things, as much as is possible for you:


  • Sunlight or tanning.
  • Aerobic activity.
  • Eating mostly fruits, vegetables, and meats.
  • Avoiding all refined sugars and processed foods.
  • Laughing regularly.
  • An active social life.
  • Prayer.
Any particular reasons why you don't recommend kava kava? I've had a couple friends tell me it worked wonders for them.

And I do all of the bottom on a very regular basis. :) I eat well, regularly practice yoga, have a wide and close group of friends that I spend a lot of time with, am close with my family, and am deeply spiritual. I have a very full life that I'm extremely thankful for, which is why I've found myself in a bit of a quandary. The anxiety is not a matter of anything 'missing' from my life as far as I can tell, nor is it a matter of not living healthily.
 

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Any particular reasons why you don't recommend kava kava? I've had a couple friends tell me it worked wonders for them.

And I do all of the bottom on a very regular basis. :) I eat well, regularly practice yoga, have a wide and close group of friends that I spend a lot of time with, am close with my family, and am deeply spiritual. I have a very full life that I'm extremely thankful for, which is why I've found myself in a bit of a quandary. The anxiety is not a matter of anything 'missing' from my life as far as I can tell, nor is it a matter of not living healthily.
Glad you've got some of those things I recommended going on! :) Don't forget the UV, though! That's such an enormous boost. UV has gotten a bad rep for a few years because of skin cancer and such, but the reality is that we really need sunlight very much. You just don't want to broil yourself bright red.

As for the kava kava, I found that I felt drugged and groggy. It didn't help me sleep, either. I just had very weird dreams when I did sleep. It's a narcotic. You may as well drink alcohol, for all its worth. Heck, many people say booze helps them relax, too. ;)

If you wanna take something, I highly recommend magnesium and vitamin B supplements. Take the B in the morning and the magnesium in the evening (you can take a little in the morning, too, if need be). You could also try GABA, but I wouldn't take it without seeing someone who can professionally monitor you, like a naturopath. Or maybe just take it for a short period and see how you go.
 

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Glad you've got some of those things I recommended going on! :) Don't forget the UV, though! That's such an enormous boost. UV has gotten a bad rep for a few years because of skin cancer and such, but the reality is that we really need sunlight very much. You just don't want to broil yourself bright red.

As for the kava kava, I found that I felt drugged and groggy. It didn't help me sleep, either. I just had very weird dreams when I did sleep. It's a narcotic. You may as well drink alcohol, for all its worth. Heck, many people say booze helps them relax, too. ;)

If you wanna take something, I highly recommend magnesium and vitamin B supplements. Take the B in the morning and the magnesium in the evening (you can take a little in the morning, too, if need be). You could also try GABA, but I wouldn't take it without seeing someone who can professionally monitor you, like a naturopath. Or maybe just take it for a short period and see how you go.
Thank you! This is really helpful. :) I'd heard good things about vitamin B and magnesium as well and I'll probably pick some up this evening.
 

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Marijuana is the best remedy for anxiety (and it eliminates nightmares), but it is still illegal where I live. I'm patiently waiting for the laws to change so I won't have to suffer from debilitating nightmares anymore. Meanwhile, I have had to find other remedies. Of the more readily available options that you wouldn't be risking your freedom for, there is Valerian root, which is potent enough to make a person drowsy and relaxed. Chamomile tea is nice, even just to smell for aromatherapy purposes, or if you can't afford it, pineapple weed grows wild and is therefore free. L-Tryptophan is good for creating a mellow calm. GABA is good for calming. Melatonin helps with sleep, but does not eliminate nightmares.

There are also certain songs that inevitably help relax me as long as I am able to tune out all other background sounds. Here are some entire albums that have actually worked for me.

Stranded Under Endless Sky - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (This is the one I use now to help me sleep, although once I am asleep, I am still at risk for nightmares.)

sample song from album:



The Moon and the Melodies - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (This is the one I used for years, which helped me sleep, but which likewise did nothing to prevent nightmares.)




http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_(The_Devin_Townsend_Project_album) (This one helps with getting to sleep, but causes an increased risk of nightmares.)




One important thing I noticed about my anxiety was that it can build up gradually as a result of being overstimulated. If you feel tense but don't know why, sometimes removing yourself from noise and movement, isolating yourself and taking a break from your surroundings can help. Also, earplugs are wonderful. Sometimes even when the anxiety has nothing to do with outside noise and movement, finding a private place to recover can help. I have been known to discreetly slip off to the restroom with my earbuds and iPod where I could listen to something soothing after having overheard a conversation that disturbed me, and in at least a couple of cases, doing so likely prevented a panic attack.
 

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I separate my anxiety into two categories: body-anxiety, and regular mental anxiety.

Most of what you described happens to me when its body-anxiety, which means that my blood sugar is low, I'm dehydrated, or I didn't get enough sleep. Anything that can mess with my health can cause that type of anxiety in me. It becomes regular mental anxiety though because I have a health-phobia of sorts. When I feel a bit -off- from the strange thoughts that low blood-sugar or lack of sleep can cause, I can panic at those odd thoughts or sensations and work myself into a full panic attack.

I have learned how to -not- do this.

Firstly I think its worth experimenting a little to see if your health is exacerbating your anxiety. See if eating something helps, think about how much sleep you had.. etc.. You could also get your thyroid checked out. Thyroid problems can cause what seems to be generalized anxiety.

Head types should understand what I call garbage thoughts. Someone once showed me a better term for it, but I can't remember it. This is something that I figured out on my own, then I discussed it with others. I can have a flash go through my mind of something absurd/scary/horrible/silly, but its no more meaningful than the random thoughts that pass through in dreams. For example, I'm sitting there focusing on something, and suddenly I will have a thought arise to jump up, lunge at someone, and stab them in the neck. Now, I don't actually want to, and I know I won't. Its an absurd thought. I had to learn to not worry about those, but rather just brush them off. When I am sleep deprived or have low blood-sugar, they get worse - more frequent, and they are easier to rattle me.
Another issue for the anxious heady types is sometimes
depersonalization/derealization. I read a study that explained how the part of your brain that you're accessing during meditation is the part thats inadvertently accessed during these derealization episodes. When I have one now, I just recognize the physical process, and know it will pass. I don't allow myself to work myself into a fit about it, or the garbage thoughts. I just tell myself whats going on, and I -know- its ok, normal, physical, and will indeed pass.

Not recognizing that is what could make one of these minor things not just startle me, but get my anxiety looping.

Monitoring. That is the term for what we do when we get anxious about the body-anxiety sensations and start paying attention to them. Perfect way to make it worse. 'Oh shit my breathing is weird.. oh now my head feels weird' -- and you can actually feel more physical effects that will begin to feel like a serious problem simply because you 'want' to.

I went into the er once having a panic attack (having a few glasses of water calmed me down this time), but the doc there showed me something. He said "hold out your hand, and extend your finger, look at it. Can you feel your heartbeat in it?" Well of course you can't.. then he told me to -imagine that I could- and sure enough, I could. Though its really not possible. Lol. And thats how this monitoring that people begin to do in anxiety makes them think they have a really serious problem. For example, people usually think a serious panic attack is a heart attack at first. Eventually you learn its not.

Adrenaline. This is the nasty thing that causes a full-on panic attack. Some little thing like a garbage thought, weird physical sensation, derealization - or whatever it may be for you, startles you.. well your adrenaline gets pumping and you become very vigilant. Your senses become sharper, but you aren't focusing this vigilant adrenaline dump on a tiger you're about to kill, in order to know the enemy, and use up the adrenaline in a reasonable way.. the anxious turn it inward. You become afraid of your own body and mind. Oh fuck!

I can not possibly stress the importance of exercise enough for -anyone- who suffers from anxiety. These days we sit in office cubicles and get our adrenaline pumping over our boss's attitude, or the phone call with the significant other.. something horrible we saw online perhaps. The anxious have this anxiety they experience from these little things just build up all day long, and our bodies are just pickled in adrenaline.

Exercise will burn it out, so you will experience less random adrenaline dumps. When a person has a 'random' panic attack, thats what that is. Its your body finally dumping that adrenaline you have been storing up all day. Get some regular exercise and keep it used up. Exercise also produces endorphins which is good for your mood in general.

Alcohol is horrible for someone who suffers from anxiety. It will knock the anxiety out but then it will come back with a roaring vengeance a thousandfold. It basically screws with all of those processes that can create anxious episodes. Very bad.
Stay away from benzodiazepines (xanax, klonopin, atavan. etc..) Unfortunately they work so well, people think, eh, why not keep taking them. Well, they are extremely addictive. If you take them regularly, and people will usually want to after experiencing this wonderful quick fix -- you -will- get addicted. I was addicted to them twice, and w/d from those things can last a year. It is utterly hellish. They can also cause very bad psychological side-effects like agoraphobia, strangely, and a slew of other awful things. Try everything you possibly can before ever swallowing one. Google benzo addiction before you try it too.

I mentioned blood sugar a few times. Eating a healthy balanced diet doesn't seem like something important to most in our culture, when we observe most people around us getting by on mcdonalds every day, but each person has their own unique nutritional needs. You might need to change your diet up a bit. Do some research on what ratios you need. I have known of a lot of people to not eat -too- much, as the american stereotype goes, but I have known a lot of college-aged people to not eat nearly enough -- and yes that can cause anxiety in some people.
 

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I've heard that vitamin B and st.john's worth tea help calm anxiety down.But as a personal advice,i find chocolate+loud music+headbanging=instant happiness :D
 

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If no one has suggested it, what about meditation? Will certain smells or fragrances calm you down in the form of a candle or inscent or something? Maybe creating a better environment in your apartment could improve your mood. What about colors? I prefer the quiet or very light music in order the clear myself, but someone people prefer lively music in order to feel better.

A big one for me, is sun light. I can think better if an apartment is dark and quiet, but I feel alive when the sunlight hits my skin through the window. This is especially comforting with a blanket as well. Fresh air, and solitary walks are good, though it might be harder if you live in a city.

Another thing that gets me sometimes, is light. I prefer very soft lights and cant stand white light, fluorescent or overhead lights. It doesn't consciously annoy me, but I know my mood improves when I remove those forms of stimuli.
 

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Another way I manage my anxiety is by making sure I never go anywhere without a portable art kit. Mine consists of a sketch pad, a water brush, a pencil sharpener, and a little tin of Inktense pencils. When I start to feel anxious, but can't remove myself from the situation for some reason, having my art supplies handy can help. Just knowing they are there is sometimes enough.

Here are some examples of paintings I made exclusively for the purpose of getting out my anxious or tense feelings, to prevent panic attacks or to keep from blowing up at people. As you can see, I use this approach on a regular basis. It is highly effective.








 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks guys. This is a lot of helpful information and ideas. :)

@Promethea - I didn't even think about the effects not eating enough could have on anxiety. I'm wondering if that played any role in my little anxiety overload last night; I hadn't eaten since early in the morning as I'd been busy and not terribly hungry. It might actually explain a lot as that's something I tend to do. I'll monitor it more closely - it's something I hadn't even considered!
 

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Thanks guys. This is a lot of helpful information and ideas. :)

@Promethea - I didn't even think about the effects not eating enough could have on anxiety. I'm wondering if that played any role in my little anxiety overload last night; I hadn't eaten since early in the morning as I'd been busy and not terribly hungry. It might actually explain a lot as that's something I tend to do. I'll monitor it more closely - it's something I hadn't even considered!
Yeah when the glucose in your brain gets low it freaks out.
 
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I second the recommendation of Mindfulness Meditation, but that's something that takes consistent, long term practice to really make an impact. I have GAD but since I've been practicing mindfulness meditation for the last year and a half, I haven't had a single panic attack. It's only in the last 3 months that I've been in a really, regular, ongoing practice.

I won't say too much more about it, but some good authors to look up are Cheri Huber, Jon Kabat-Zinn, and Dr. Jeffrey Brantley (specifically the book Calming Your Anxious Mind).
 

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Magnesium deficiency is sometimes associated with PMS symptoms, including anxiety. I seem to fair a little better, anxiety-wise, when I'm on a magnesium supplement. I don't get as worked up emotionally, overall, and my PMS symptoms are much more subtle.

Alternatively, there is also meditation. There are lots of Internet guides. Learn how to meditate, guided meditation CDs, free audios, podcast, blog, instructions is an excellent resource.

Tom Kenyon recordings are claimed to assist with psychospiritual healing...I dunno about healing, but they are very soothing. He has a few on YouTube. Good stuff.
 

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Oh! you know what else is amazing? Pure lavender essential oil massaged on your third eye and the back of your neck. Almost instant relief from overwhelming emotions.
 
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Oh! you know what else is amazing? Pure lavender essential oil massaged on your third eye and the back of your neck. Almost instant relief from overwhelming emotions.
Ah yes, I have a bottle of that. I sometimes put a few drops in a spritz bottle with some water, then spray it all over myself. (undiluted, it is too strong for me.) It works wonders for certain kinds of emotional tension, and it seems to aid in physical relaxation.
 
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