I have Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder. One horrible facet to this disorder is anxiety
In the past, the VA has put me on drugs, but I
don’t like the side effects and I’ve had to work my way off of them.
Personally, I do qigong/tai chi, meditation, and breathing
exercises, and up until my injuries, I played tennis 20 hours a
week. Now, I go to the gym and workout.
Friends have asked me for more things they can
do, natural things, so they don’t have to put their bodies out of
whack with drugs, and this page is my response. I will start with
the things I do to avoid/handle anxiety.
Live In the Moment
Anxiety comes at us out of the past or the
future. It terrorizes us in the moment, but it’s not from the
moment. It’s from the past or the future.
What you have to do (what I do) is grab onto an
ounce of rational thought and “realize” that the attack is not real.
Quickly take inventory and find out what happened
to cause it, to bring it on. It’s usually something very tiny;
something quite insignificant.
takes a rational mind. When anxiety attacks you, you are most likely
not in a rational state of mind. So the following things can be done to
bring you there so that you can be in the moment.
There is a yoga breathing exercise in which you
stand or sit relaxed, and then breathe in to the count of 4, hold it
to the count of 7, and then breathe out slowly to the count of 8.
Breathe in through the nose, exhale out the mouth.
In less than a couple of minutes, the anxiety can
start to dissipate.
Anything. Jumping jacks, jump rope, go for a
Story: I had a friend who was disabled with
depression and intermittent anxiety attacks. I taught her to play
tennis. Never, in my experiences with her, had she been happier than
when she was on the tennis courts. Never.
But there is one thing about humans that is
puzzling: we sabotage our own recovery.
The hardest thing to do is what you need to do at
Internally, intellectually, we might know exactly
what we need to do, but when we are in our funk, the last thing we
are going to do is what we need to do. This is a weird but common
One solution? FIND A PARTNER!
Find someone who can shake you out of your
lethargy and into your sanity. Find someone who will grab your hand
and take you for a walk.
A twenty minute walk just lights up the happiness
centers of your brain.
The photo posted here is of a brain after a 20
minute walk, but Dr Ramsey’s research points to a 21 minute
threshold: "If you're really anxious and you hop on a treadmill, you
will feel more calm after the workout," he says.
And if you don’t exercise regularly or you don’t
have equipment or a home gym or you don’t belong to a gym, Dr Ramsey
recommends the exercise that the father of medicine, Hippocrates,
felt was the best exercise of all: Go for a brisk walk.
Dr Ramsey co-authored The Happiness Diet.
He says, “Almost universally, people get more anxious and irritable
when they are hungry,” and that many anxiety attacks start when
blood sugar is dropping. Almost anything will do, but the best is a
piece of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is healthy and helps fight
anxiety. If you don’t have dark chocolate available, a handful of
almonds, walnuts, or raisins will do.
Diet is very important for people who battle
anxiety. Toss out your white sugar, white salt, white flour. The
only thing white that should be in your kitchen is cauliflower.
Celtic Sea Salt,
Dead Sea Salt,
Alaea Salt, or Himalayan Salt. Avoid high fructose corn syrup
and white sugar and especially artificial sugars that destroy your
colon bacteria: 80% of your serotonin is created in your gut. Find a
good probiotic to supplement and build your good bacteria. (I use
Eat yogurt, Kimchi, real sauerkraut; foods naturally fermented that
contain probiotics. And eat foods that feed your good bacteria, like
Use Sucanat, Honey, Stevia, or
Eat whole foods, and possibly avoid wheat. Many
people sensitive to wheat and/or gluten suffer from anxiety attacks
when eating these things.
Lots of leafy greens like kale (more nutrition
found in kale when steamed rather than raw), and fresh vegetables,
because phytonutrients (especially folate) help fight anxiety.
And do NOT skip breakfast. At least have a
poached egg. One egg contains choline, which is a nutrient that
fights anxiety. Fresh farm eggs are best, and avoid scrambled eggs
or omelets, as you are oxidizing the wonderfully healthy fats in the
yolk. Sunny side up is the third best way to fix an egg; soft boiled
is the second, poached is the first. Do not harm the yolk.
Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
They are good for your heart, and they protect
against depression. Getting them from your food is best. I take
Omegasentials daily (it’s a
Minnesota product). There are hundreds of studies on essential fatty
acids and anxiety/depression. You can get them from fish too, cold
water salmon being the best form. Then there are sardines,
anchovies, and mussels. These are closer to the bottom of the food
chain, so they are less likely to be brimming with mercury.
The last advice Dr Ramsey has for us is…
Mark Twain once said, “I am an old man and have
known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.”
Most of the things we worry about have two things
We have no control over them
They’ll never happen.
The problem is it is only a rational mind that
knows this. When you are in the throes of an anxiety attack, you are
less than rational. This is why you must:
AND THEN: step into the moment and stop
many of you who experience debilitating anxiety attacks, most of the
above is impossible unless you are drugged up. So, to get to a stage
where you can actually reach your “rational mind” when you need it
most, you might need assistance. The following will help you get
Herbal Remedies for Anxiety (and supplements)
A cup of chamomile tea does the trick for some; it is very soothing
and calming. There are compounds in chamomile that bind to the same
brain receptors as drugs such as Valium.
The active ingredient in chamomile is apigenin
and if you are not a tea drinker, you can take this in
supplement form. However, you must take it on a regular basis if
you are going to recapitulate the studies that have been done on it
that showed that those who took it for eight weeks had significantly
decreased their anxiety symptoms (compared to the control group).
Green Tea Extract:
has been shown in studies to curb rising heart rate and blood
pressure, as well as alleviate anxiety. The active ingredient, the
amino acid L-theanine, seems to be responsible for this and the
dosage is 200 milligrams.
Inositol: is part of the
B-vitamin complex, and is also remarkably effective against
depression, panic attacks, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
in several studies. The effective dose was 12 grams per day for four
weeks. Inositol has no side effects and is as effective as
There is a good article here:
Inositol - The Nervous System's Pony Express that talks about
studies and how high a dose you have to be on to work. You might see
results right away, or after two weeks, or after four weeks. The
amount is quite high, so finding a powdered form and putting it in a
smoothie might help, besides taking pills (4 - 5 times a day). There
can be reactions, but they are rare. And you should be aware that at
12 grams per day, you gut might have some difficulties. However, as
she points out in the article, it's very promising, even for those
who don't respond to traditional medications.
I've found a variety of sources for inositol:
Inositol Powder, 5 kg (11 lbs): GL
(yes, that's 5 kilos of it), or
NOW Foods (800mg), and finally
NOW Foods 4oz Powdered Inositol. These are the best prices I've
found on the web.
Hops: are very
bitter, so you’ll have to take them in a
pill form or add them go your tea. It is often used as a
sedative and promotes sleep just like the next herb:
as a sedative and can help promote sleep. In Germany it is
prescribed by physicians as a sleep aid. It is nasty tasting, so
most take it in a capsule. There are supplements that contain
valerian, along with other sedative herbs such as chamomile,
hops, and this next herb:
has been used since the Middle Ages to reduce stress and anxiety,
not to mention as a sleep aid. The dosage is about 600mg of a
standardized extract. Again,
Lemon Balm is backed by studies and is considered generally
safe, though too much has been shown to work in the opposite
direction, causing anxiety.
has nothing to do with love, unless you can’t love while anxious.
The Germans (they are quite ahead of us in some ways) have approved
it for nervousness, and it is often recommended for insomnia.
You should be careful not to mix Passionflower
with any of the above herbs, or find a
brand that has already been mixed for you. Never take
Passionflower for more than a month.
loved by all. Its
essential oils are often used in massage therapy and applied to
burns. Just the smell of lavender is soothing to most people, and
one really neat study out of Greece showed that when a waiting room
was scented with lavender oil, dental patients became less anxious
than the control group (who got some store bought air freshener). In
a Florida study [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19258850],
students who inhaled lavender essential oil prior to an exam were
less anxious: however, some reported that it made their brains a
SAMe: is another dietary supplement that has
been used in treatment of anxiety.
A French study published in the
British Journal of Nutrition showed that probiotics
[Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum], in both rats
and humans, decreased stress-induced gastrointestinal discomfort,
overall levels of stress and anxiety, and cut cortisol levels quite
NONE OF THE ABOVE SHOULD BE TAKEN IF YOU ARE
ALREADY ON A PRESCRIPTION SEDATIVE OR ANTI-ANXIETY DRUG. (With the
exception of probiotics.)
Finally, cut out those things that are making you
anxious. Caffeine, alcohol, and all those sugary things mentioned
above. To cut caffeine, do it slowly mixing decaf in with your
regular coffee, and take about 200mg of magnesium daily.
Proper Support of Your Neurotransmitters
The nutrients that contribute to proper health
and function of the nervous system, as well as support your
calcium, magnesium, and a B complex (though B-12 is a must).
Many people have trouble absorbing B-12, so take it in the form of a
Methylcobalim is the BEST form of B-12 your brain. And never
forget that the first symptoms of a B-12 deficiency are depression
and anxiety. People who have English/Irish roots are often deficient
in B-12 since they lack “intrinsic factor” which aids in absorption
(hence the sublingual lozenge).
Once you’ve gotten the proper nutrition, along
with, perhaps, a few herbs and supplements, living mindfully will
There is a STOP meditation I perform once in a
while: No matter what I am doing, I stop, for just one minute and
heighten my awareness of everything around me: the humming of my
computer, the birds outside, the sun, the trees, everything, for
just one minute.
The Japanese have this thing they call
Shinrin-yoku, or literally “forest bath." It’s basically a walk in
the woods. I am lucky in that I actually live in the woods (and let
me tell you, it has saved my life), but to city dwellers, the woods
are a long way off. So find a park. We have them everywhere. Go find
one and spend at least 20 minutes a day walking and enjoying the
sights and smells and sounds. Researchers have measured bodily
changes, hormonal changes, in people who do this, and there is
hardly anything better to calm a person.