There are various effective treatments available for anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders can be successfully treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), medications or natural therapies. Lifestyle modifications and relaxation techniques are also very helpful.
The main goal of CBT for anxiety is to recognize and change maladaptive thinking patterns and behaviors of people with anxiety disorders. Exposure therapy is part of CBT in which a person is faced with feared objects or situations in order to overcome fears related to anxiety disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be conducted individually or in groups of people with similar anxiety problems. There are also some computer programs and self-help books based on CBT that may be very helpful.
There are different kinds of anxiety medications including antidepressants, anxiolytics (anti-anxiety medications) and beta-blockers. Your doctor will determine which medication is right for you. Anxiety medications are usually not used for long term treatment because of unwanted side effects and their potential for addiction.
Natural (herbal) treatments for anxiety disorders
Herbal remedies have been used in treating anxiety disorders for centuries. It is advised to consult your health care provider prior to use.
Valerian (Valerian officinalis)
Valerian extract is prepared from roots of the perennial plant and acts as a gentle sedative inducing mental and physical relaxation. It has been used for centuries in treatment of anxiety, stress, cardiac arrhythmia and palpitations, insomnia, high blood pressure and gastrointestinal disturbances. Valerian is widely recommended in the treatment of mild insomnia and scientific evidence suggests that it is more effective when taken continuously. Valerian is used by itself or in combination with other herbs in tincture, capsules, coated tablets and infusion. There is no evidence that valerian is addictive. There is need for more studies to determine its long-term safety and effectiveness in the treatment of anxiety. It is not recommended during pregnancy or nursing.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnate)
Passionflower is a plant with beautiful flowers that bloom during the summer and has edible fruit. Passionflower has relaxing, calming, anti-anxiety and antimicrobial therapeutic properties. It is usually used in combination with other herbs in treating insomnia, anxiety, nervousness, neuralgia, palpitations, menopausal complaints and back pain. Passionflower is not recommended during pregnancy and nursing.
Scullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
Scullcap is a perennial herb of the mint family that flowers from July till October. It is a mild sedative or tranquilizer that might help relieve the nervous tension and exhaustion, insomnia, neurological and PMS complaints. Scullcap is not recommended for pregnant and nursing women and children under the age 18 due to lack of scientific evidence.
Damiana (Turnera diffusa)
Damiana is a small shrub that is a native to Mexico, Central and South America. It is used in the treatment of mild depression and anxiety. Damiana is known as an aphrodisiac and a nerve tonic with sedative and restorative properties.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm is a perennial plant from mint family that grows in North America, Europe and Middle Asia. Its has smell and taste like lemon. Lemon balm is a gentle sedative that is used either alone or in combination with other herbs.
Rhodiola rosea is known as a strengthening tonic that is native to Arctic, Central Asia and Europe. It stimulates nervous system and may reduce depression symptoms and improve sleep. Rhodiola also may increase sex drive and reduce fatigue. It is also known that rhodiola is useful for people working shifts and during winter darkness.
L-theanine is a derivative of L-glutamic amino acid commonly found in the green tea (Camellia sinensis). L-Theanine crosses blood - brain barrier and may reduce stress and anxiety producing feelings of relaxation. It increases production of serotonin, dopamine and GABA (gamma - aminobutyric acid). L-theanine also increases immunity, confidence and a sense of well-being.
GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid)
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that reduces anxiety and promotes relaxation and sleep. GABA supplements are used in treatment of anxiety and mood disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland that regulates sleep-wake or circadian rhythms. Melatonin is available as a dietary supplement that may help in treatment of insomnia, jet lag, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and immune disorders.
Verbena (Verbena officinalis)
Verbena is perennial herb that has been used for centuries as a tonic in the treatment of nervous disorders and insomnia.
Withania (Withania somnifera)
Withania or Indian Ginseng is also called Ashwaganda in Ayurvedic medicine. It is a mild sedative and tonic that may be helpful for people with anxiety and nervous exhaustion.
Ginseng is a widely used tonic that strengthens and balances the whole body. It boosts immunity and stamina. Ginseng also improves adrenal function helping to reduce fatigue and mental and physical stress. There are Asian ginseng (Korean or Chinese ginseng) and American ginseng. Siberian ginseng or eleuthero is not the true ginseng and doesn't have the same active chemical components as Asian and American ginseng although all of them have similar healing effects.
St. Johnís wort (Hypericum perforatum)
Healthy eating and reducing intake of refined sugars, alcohol and caffeine, regular exercising and practicing of relaxation techniques are valuable in relieving anxiety. Supplementing with vitamins and minerals is very important and useful, especially with B vitamin complex, calcium, magnesium and Omega-3 fatty acids that are involved in the functioning of the nervous system and production of neurotransmitters.