Anxiety

ANXIETY

 

Teenage Girl Visits Doctor’s Office Suffering With Depression

An anxiety condition is a medical condition characterized by excessive and persistent worrying and fear. Anxiety, as an emotion, plays and important role in helping us get safely through everyday life, and can be a helpful early warning system in a variety of different experiences. People suffering from an anxiety disorder however, are plagued by persistent, intense, and sometimes irrational worries and fears on a daily basis.

Anxiety is very common, affecting 1 in 6 people in Australia. It can occur at any time of life and is common in any age group, with women more often affected than men.

 

There are multiple different types of anxiety disorders. These include:

  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD): While most people can feel worried or anxious from time to time, especially when facing stressful situations such as exams or interviews, people suffering from GAD experience these symptoms the majority of the time. These anxious, worried feelings are often intense, persistent, and can interfere with a person’s everyday lives.
  • Social anxiety/phobia: With this disorder, it is common for a person to feel excessively worried or nervous about interacting with other people in social situations, whether they’re strangers or people they know. People suffering from this disorder may fear being criticized, judged, or humiliated by others during the most ordinary everyday situations. Social anxiety can be triggered by anything from public speaking, to having to interact with people in general. This disorder often starts in childhood or adolescence.
  • Specific phobias: This is when an individual is worried or fearful over certain situations, activities, objects, or animals. While this is not uncommon, people with this disorder often irrationally exaggerate the danger of the phobic stimulus and even the thought or sight of it can cause a reaction. This disorder is often associated with panic attacks. Specific phobias are often categorized as following: Animal (i.e. a fear of dogs), Situational (i.e. fears of situations such as elevators, flying, or driving), Environmental (i.e. heights or thunder), fear of blood, injury, or needles/injections, and other (includes any other type of specific phobia such as choking etc.). Symptoms of this disorder often appear during childhood or early adolescence.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): This occurs when anxious thoughts become obsessive and repetitive, influencing unhealthy behavioural patterns which can cause difficulty functioning on a daily basis. Symptoms of OCD include: excessive cleanliness, obsessions over order/symmetry, continual counting, hoarding, and excessive checking of things that may result in the harm of themselves or others (i.e. checking doors and windows are closed/locked).
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD caused by a traumatic event that threatened a person’s life or safety, or that of others around them. Sufferers of this disorder are known to experience feelings of intense fear or panic, similar to that which they felt during the traumatic event. They often have to relive the traumatic event through recurring memories and dreams.
  • Panic Disorder: This disorder is characterized by recurrent and debilitating panic attacks, which can often occur out of the blue.
  • Agoraphobia: This disorder is characterized by an anxiety about being in situations which may cause panic attacks, and from which escape may be difficult or embarrassing if one was to occur. In extreme cases, some individuals believe that their home is the only safe place for them, and become unable to leave the house.

Flow chart showing the anxiety cycle

http://healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Anxiety-reversing-the-vicious-cycle

 

SYMPTOMS:

A person suffering from an anxiety disorder, particularly GAD usually has most, if not all, of the following symptoms:

  • Persistent, excessive worries
  • Unrealistic worries
  • Inability to stop worrying
  • Easily drained and tired
  • Constantly on edge
  • Avoidance of certain situations
  • Compulsions and obsessions over which an individual has no control (OCD)
  • Intense worries over social situations (social anxiety)
  • Excessive blushing
  • Stammering when trying to speak
  • Panic attacks
  • Perceptions of situations being worse than they are
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irrational fears/phobias
  • Irritability and moodiness
  • Insomnia/difficulty sleeping
  • Inability to function in everyday activities
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Racing heart
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Upset stomach, nausea, and gas
  • Muscle tension (e.g. sore jaw or back)
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Sweating
  • Feeling faint
  • Shakes
  • Panic attacks
  • Restlessness

 

CAUSES AND TRIGGERS:

  • Genetic and biochemical makeup/personality
  • Family history of mental health conditions
  • Environment
  • Trauma such as bullying, harassment, assault, sexual assault, and deaths of loved ones
  • Stressful situations such as school, exams, family issues, work stress, or job change
  • Pregnancy
  • Disturbance of brain activity
  • Poor upbringing
  • Grief
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Discrimination
  • Low self-esteem/body image
  • Physical health problems, especially chronic illnesses
  • Loneliness
  • Lack of socialization
  • Change in hormones

 

DIAGNOSIS:

A person suffering from an anxiety disorder, particularly GAD, must have the majority of the symptoms for more than 6 months, and on more days than not.

If anxiety symptoms are present a doctor will begin assessment by asking specified questions, examining medical history and the medical history of parents, and performing a physical examination. There are no laboratory tests available to detect anxiety, but some tests may be performed to rule out other causes or diseases.

If there is no other medical illness found, the doctor may refer the patient to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or another mental health professional specially trained in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses.

 

 

*A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing, preventing, and treating mental illnesses. They are trained to differentiate mental health problems from other underlying medical conditions. They are also authorized to write prescriptions.

*A psychologist has a doctoral degree in psychology (the study of the mind and behaviours), and are qualified to perform counselling, psychotherapy, and psychological testing, and to provide treatment for mental disorders. As they are not medical doctors however, psychologist cannot provide prescriptions or perform medical procedures.

 

TREATMENT:

  • Exposure therapy: This treatment involves a psychologist guiding a patient through a series of real life or imaginary scenarios in order to confront specific fears. Due to prolonged exposure, the patient will learn to cope more effectively with these fears and decrease their anxiety response.
  • Psychotherapy: This type of counselling addresses the emotional response to mental illness. It involves a trained professional helping patients and talking them through strategies for understanding and dealing with their disorder.
  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy: This is a particular form of psychotherapy where a person learns to recognize and change thought patterns and behaviours.
  • Behavioural therapy: Unlike cognitive behavioural therapy, this treatment doesn’t attempt to change beliefs and attitudes, but rather focuses on encouraging activities that are pleasant or rewarding, to reverse patterns or worry and avoidance.
  • Medication: Certain drugs are used to reduce the symptoms of anxiety disorders. These can include: antidepressants, anticonvulsant medicines, low-dose antipsychotics, and any other anxiety-reducing drugs.
  • Dietary and lifestyle changes: This may involve stopping or reducing the consumption of substances such as caffeine, alcohol, tea, sodas or sugary drinks, tobacco, energy drinks, and any type of recreational drugs.
  • Support groups: Some people have found that sharing their story and experiences helps them to overcome their condition and lessen the symptoms.
  • Stress management techniques
  • Meditation and relaxation: Many people suffering from anxiety find it difficult to relax. Relaxation techniques such as meditation and progressive muscle relaxation have been found to be effective in managing and treating anxiety.
  • Mindfulness: This theory involves the patient focusing on the bodily sensations and thoughts that arise when they are anxious, and instead of avoiding, or withdrawing from these symptoms, they remain present and aware of them. This results in the individual becoming more used to and aware of these symptoms, therefore allowing them to cope with them better.
  • Exercise

 

HERBS AND SUPPLEMENTS THAT TREAT ANXIETY:

  • Passionflower: This herb is used as a sedative and is used to treat anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
  • Lavender: Lavender has a highly calming effect, and is used to treat stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, indigestion, headaches, nervous disorders, and exhaustion.
  • Brahmi: This herb improves impulse transmission between the nerve cells in the brain, improving concentration, while also increasing serotonin levels, resulting in reduced anxiety.
  • Ginseng: This herb is known to induce an alert, but relaxed state, making it popular for treating stress and anxiety.
  • Gingko biloba: This herb has been proven not only beneficial for memory-enhancing benefits, but also for treating anxiety. It is known to increase levels of dopamine and serotonin, while decreasing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
  • St John’s Wort: This herb is helpful in treating anxiety and depression because it increases the levels of certain ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters, particularly serotonin, resulting in a balanced emotional state.
  • Ashwagandha: This herb is an adaptogen, meaning it aids people in adapting to environments and situations, including stressful ones. It also works by increasing the levels of the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter serotonin, while decreasing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
  • L-theanine: This is a water-soluble amino acid found mainly in green and black tea. This amino acid can calm rising heart rates and lower blood pressure. It is also beneficial for increasing concentration. It also helps to reduce negative responses to stress.
  • L-lysine: This is an amino acid commonly found in meat, fish, and beans, which is essential for brain health. L-lysine is one of the building blocks needed for the formation of the brain’s neurotransmitters.
  • Scullcap: This herb has the ability to relax nervous tension and muscle tension in the body. It is used to treat hysteria, anxiety, and depression.
  • Valerian: This herb is often used as a non-addictive alternative to Valium as it effectively treats stress, anxiety, and insomnia. This herb has also been found to increase the levels of the calming brain chemical GABA.
  • Chamomile: Certain compounds in chamomile have the ability to bind to certain brain receptors, resulting in an effect similar to that of Valium. Studies show that patients with GAD showed lower levels of anxiety symptoms than those taking placebo. It is also a mild sedative.
  • Kava kava: This herb is used to treat anxiety due to its sedative-like effect. It also aids in treating anxiety due to its effect on the brain chemical GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). Kava increases the levels of GABA which is a relaxing neurotransmitter which aids with calming an overactive mind.
  • Gotu kola: This herb is thought to restore balance to the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
  • Arctic root: This herb works by increasing the activity of ‘feel-good’ brain chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, and therefore alleviates the symptoms of anxiety and depression. It is also an adaptogen.
  • Hops: This herb also has a sedative-like effect.
  • Omega-3: This fatty acid has been proven to ease anxiety symptoms and lift moods due to its ability to lower the levels of stress chemicals such as cortisol and adrenalin.
  • Holy basil: This herb effectively reduces anxiety levels by decreasing levels of stress hormones, particularly cortisol.
  • Magnesium: This supplement is beneficial for soothing tight, sore muscles, and for lowering blood pressure and reducing stress.
  • Rhodiola: Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb which aids in increasing the body’s resistance to various stress factors. Use of this herb has been seen to increase the levels of serotonin, and stimulate the release of other ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. It also prevents the breakdown of these chemicals by regulating the enzymes responsible.
  • Mulungu: This herb is also a sedative, and is used to treat a wide range of ailments including insomnia, pain, hysteria, anxiety, stress, depression, hypertension, restless leg syndrome, and panic.
  • Damiana: This herb is beneficial due to its sedative and calming effects.

 

CAUTIONS:

Some of these herbs may interact with other herbs, supplements, or medicines. These herbs may also have various side effects so always research the herb and consult with a doctor prior to taking them.

 

CRYSTALS USED FOR TREATING ANXIETY:

 

  • Blue-lace agate
  • Lepidolite
  • Jet
  • Black tourmaline
  • Shungite
  • Danburite
  • Amethyst
  • Haematite
  • Amazonite
  • Aquamarine
  • Kunzite
  • Smokey quartz
  • Howlite (particularly white)
  • Turquoise
  • Rose quartz
  • Blue calcite
  • Chrysoprase
  • Lapis Lazuli
  • Bloodstone
  • Carnelian
  • Lithium quartz
  • Azurite
  • Moonstone
  • Fluorite
  • Celestite
  • Malachite
  • Tiger’s eye
  • Clear quartz

 

REFERENCES:

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/what-causes-anxiety

https://www.sane.org/mental-health-and-illness/facts-and-guides/anxiety-disorder

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/anxiety

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/types-of-anxiety/gad

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/types-of-anxiety/social-phobia

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/types-of-anxiety/specific-phobias

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/types-of-anxiety/ocd

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/types-of-anxiety/ptsd

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/types-of-anxiety/panic-disorder

http://au.professionals.reachout.com/anxiety

http://au.reachout.com/all-about-anxiety-disorders

https://www.youthbeyondblue.com/understand-what%27s-going-on/anxiety/signs-of-anxiety

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/guide-to-psychiatry-and-counseling#2

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/guide-to-psychiatry-and-counseling#1

https://www.psychology.org.au/publications/tip_sheets/anxiety/

http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/mental-health-anxiety-disorders?page=2

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml

http://www.foodmatters.com/article/5-herbs-to-calm-anxiety-without-being-drowsy

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20669377,00.html#hops-1

http://happyherbcompany.com/herbs-depression-and-anxiety

http://naturalsociety.com/7-natural-anti-anxiety-herbs-to-reduce-stress/

http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/natural-herbal-remedies

http://reset.me/story/natural-alternatives-to-xanax-ativan-and-anti-anxiety-drugs/

http://happyherbcompany.com/herbs-depression-and-anxiety

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/generalized-anxiety-disorder/expert-answers/herbal-treatment-for-anxiety/faq-20057945

http://www.tranquilitylabs.com/7-best-herbs-for-anxiety-and-panic-attacks/

https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/our-services/anxiety-information/guide-to-herbal-medicine/

http://www.anxietyunravelled.com/herbs-for-anxiety-2.html

https://bebrainfit.com/natural-remedies-anxiety/

http://www.rd.com/health/conditions/natural-anxiety-relief/

http://bembu.com/anti-anxiety-herbs

https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/herbs-for-anxiety.html

http://www.energymuse.com/blog/calming-crystals-anxiety/

https://www.davidwolfe.com/4-crystals-that-combat-anxiety/

http://hippiemumma.com.au/2015/07/crystals-for-anxiety.html

https://exemplore.com/healing/Seven-Healing-Crystals-to-Ease-Anxiety

http://thespiritscience.net/2016/08/07/feeling-overwhelmed-5-crystals-for-stress-anxiety-and-how-to-use-them/

http://www.ourbodybook.com/4-crystals-for-anxiety/

http://www.ethanlazzerini.com/crystals-for-anxiety/

https://www.powerofpositivity.com/4-sacred-crystals-that-relieve-anxiety/

http://askronandsue.com.au/Crystal-healing-stress-and-anxiety/

https://shop.atperrys.com/blogs/healing-crystals-blog/10-astonishing-ways

https://cauldronsandcupcakes.com/2015/11/24/crystals-to-soothe-anxiety/

http://www.higherperspectives.com/crystals-anxiety-aura-1429984015.html

http://askingangels.com/healing/crystals/soothing-stones.php

http://naturesforyou.com/the-best-healing-stones-crystals-for-anxiety-stress/#.WMZ6YPLdWq0