In April I started dealing with anxiety. I began getting panic attacks all of the time, and my adrenals were constantly running. This resulted in me being tired all of the time and extremely moody. I began avoiding doing simple things, like going to the store, because every time I would go anywhere, I would get a panic attack. Things that I used to do without a single thought, I felt like I could no longer do . Even when I was not having panic attacks, i had lingering physical symptoms like headaches, eye pain, leg cramps, leg twitches etc. Do not get me wrong, I would still go and do things, but it often had to be on my own terms, I was usually in a rush while doing it and I was very selective of what it was- which was not a good way to be living.
I began to just stay in my comfort zones and created routines that I felt comfortable with (mainly avoiding public places and sticking to doing the same things daily) The problem with this is that the more and more you avoid, the harder it becomes to stop avoiding, and the harder to break the cycle of anxiety. After going to the doctors and being diagnosed with Panic Disorder in July, they gave me klonopin (also known as clonazepam) and cipralex. They told me that this would be the best way to jumpstart my recovery and get me out of the rut I was in. While Drugs can be very helpful for some people, I felt that they would not be right for me.
I decided the better route for me would be therapy alone (cognitive behavioral therapy + counseling) It was very hard at first because In order to break the cycle of anxiety i HAD to go out and do the things that I had been avoiding for so long (because they caused panic attacks) – which is quite intimidating, and not an easy task. But with the techniques they gave me, I was able to slowly do it. Through therapy, I have learned to change my negative thoughts into positive ones.
Along with therapy,I have used some natural anxiety remedies that I feel have also helped in my recovery process. For anyone who is currently going through anything similar and does not want to take medication, I would suggest checking these out. Obviously, everyone is different but I just want to share what I found effective.
NOTE: I was taking all of these things for a couple of months and did notice a difference but things got drastically better for me when I paired it with weekly therapy.
1) Bach’s Rescue Remedy- This is a blend of five flowers that relieves occasional anxiety and stress. At the peak of my anxiety when I was really avoiding doing certain things, I would use this. If I did decide to go somewhere that would normally give me a panic attack or anxiety (going to a busy place, driving etc.) I would spray this as directed.
2) Magnesium – After deciding not to take medication, I went to the naturopath for some natural alternatives. Because I was always tense and cramping from my anxiety, she gave me magnesium to help with that and also calm me down. She gave me magnelevures (which you mix into water and drink 2x daily). I found that it really did help to calm me/my system down and made it easier for me to go places/do things. Even now that I am feeling better I take it because I love what it has done for me/ I think it’s an important vitamin to take regardless.
3) Passionflower (tincture)- Passionflower is a natural sedative, so it is a good alternative to the drugs that are usually given to people with anxiety. Most people take it before sleeping, but I cut the dose down and took it during the day if needed.
4) Omega 3 (EPA/DHA) – Again, my naturopath suggested this. If taken properly it can help with mood and concentration, and I feel better when I am taking it. I still currently take this one as well.
5) Vitamin B-12- Again, another vitamin that has been proven to help with anxiety. I take this everyday and find it to be effective.
6) Adrenal response and Ribes Nigrum- My naturopath suggested both of these to me because my adrenals were so worn out from constant panic. Taking these helped with my adrenal fatigue and gave me more energy.
Adrenal response that I used: http://www.innateresponse.com/product-p/40119.htm
Ribes Nigrum that I used: http://www.rockwellnutrition-canada.com/Ribes-Nigrum-Gemmotherapy-by-Unda_p_771.html
7) Diet- Diet also played a huge role in me getting better. When I was eating like crap, I could feel myself getting more tired. With my anxiety, I was already feeling tired constantly, so eating poorly made me feel worse. I did not realize, until I made a considerable effort to change my diet, that what I had been eating before was playing a huge role in how I was feeling.
On top of these natural remedies some tips I have gotten from CBT is:
1) Breathing- It is important to practice breathing techniques and if I am ever getting a panic attack one of the first things I will try to do is deep breathing
2) Mind over mood workbook- my CBT counsellor suggested this workbook to me and it is a really helpful workbook. There are sections where you can write down your mood/feelings and then exercises that you can do.
3) Distract yourself- This one is pretty simple but very helpful. If I ever feel a panic attack coming on I will try and distract myself. For example, going on the computer, calling a friend, watching tv, just focusing on ANYTHING ELSE, finding a hobby etc. This one is helpful because when you distract yourself and feel the panic going away, it is a reminder that it is possible to get better.
5) Exercise- any form of exercise is really important because it is not only a distraction but it releases endorphins, which helps with mood. I started to really get into yoga to help with my anxiety because it is calming and gives me time to reflect. After my workouts, if I was anxious beforehand, i would feel better right after. This is obviously easier said than done, because when you are feeling so down it is hard to find the effort, but start out small and work your way up (go for a 5 minute walk, then the next day try to go for 10 mins, and then 15 mins etc)
Anxiety is a very difficult thing and can be very challenging to get through. It takes a considerable effort but it is possible. For me, I think it will always be there to some extent, but I now have the methods to handle it better. I really hope that this helps anyone who is going through something similar.