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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What natural remedies are used to treat anxiety?

    I would like to treat my anxiety disorder and prescription medications are my last resort. Are there any vitamins, supplements or exercises I can engage in to make the anxiety subside?
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    Damien Haines

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Damien Haines is a registered Clinical Psychologist who brings a warm and empathetic approach to therapy. He emphasises engagement in the world and encourages clients … View Profile

    There is nothing that you can take (prescription or otherwise) that will get rid of your anxiety. At best they will mask your anxiety. Your brain will still experience it, however, it will be reduced due to the anxiolytic properties of the drug you take. To actually reduce or remove your irrational anxieties (you cannot stop anxiety as it is part of the normal human experience) you need to confront the fears you have so that they no longer create the irrational fear that they currently do. Then you would not need to take medication/a remedy as you would not need to reduce anything.

    However, diet and lifestyle can play a major role in anxiety. A poor diet such as one with highly palatable food (ie Macas, chips, biscuits, softdrink etc) will in the short term reduce your cortisol levels(stress hormone) however is shown to exacerbate anxiety in the long term due to the poor nutrional content and possible health complications. Foods that help are those high in Tryptophan (dairy, soy, bananas, sesame and poultry). However for it to be useful and turned into Serotonin you need to be physically active and socialise.If you add in complex carbs with the mix then you'll get more tryptophan into your system, and you'll have a stready flow of sugar rather than short sharp bursts from more simple sugars. Other dietary concerns are around ensuring caffeine, nicotine and alcohol consumption are minimised or cut out. They can all lead to higher levels of anxiety. The number of people I have sen who have a breakfast of a ciggie and a coffee promptly followed by a panic attack is extraordinary. Those same people who change that breakfast to include food and to delay the ciggie and coffee often no longer experience panic first thing in the morning. They still may later in the day, but it does demosntrate to them the improtance of diet.

    Time management strategies are also important, and they include problem solving, goal setting and maintaining or setting appropriate boundaries. The other lifestyle concern is making time for yourself, something most of us nowadays are really poor at.

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