If you've been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder then you're probably looking for any way to get relief. Anxiety disorders can have a severe impact on our ability to function normally due to symptoms such as excessive worrying, racing thoughts, panic attacks, and the urge to isolate. Luckily there are many ways of dealing with anxiety. Learn how to cope with anxiety in this article.
Standard anxiety treatments can be helpful but may not always be effective for taming these symptoms. As such, many people are beginning to explore alternative treatment options. Neurontin for anxiety is one such treatment. Neurontin is a medication that is sometimes prescribed off-label for symptoms of anxiety when other treatments have failed.
Other alternative treatments, ranging from supplements to new age healing, are touted by some as being effective for anxiety. So what is good for anxiety? Let's explore these different potential anxiety solutions to see if there's any evidence to back up their claims.
Signs of an Anxiety Disorder
Everyone feels anxious from time to time. It's a normal response when faced with a nerve-wracking situation, such as a first date or speaking in front of a large crowd. Occasional anxiety is not a sign of an anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder is defined by a near-constant worry that doesn't go away. If you have an anxiety disorder, even if you know your worries are excessive or aren't helping, you can't stop having them. An anxiety disorder can significantly impact your quality of life and ability to function.
Symptoms of an anxiety disorder include:
Anxiety can cause an increase in stress hormones throughout the body. High cortisol and anxiety, as well as increased norepinephrine and adrenaline, have all been linked.
There are many other types of anxiety disorders, categorized by the trigger for the symptoms. These include Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and other subtypes. A doctor can diagnose you with a specific type of anxiety disorder.
What Causes an Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety can be caused by many things, from genetics to life circumstances to negative experiences to nutritional deficiencies. Multiple causes may be at play. Sometimes, no cause can be identified. As such, the treatments for anxiety are broad and may involve a process of elimination to find what works for you.
You should seek treatment for your anxiety when you recognize that the symptoms are interfering with your ability to live your life. Anxiety usually doesn't go away on its own, and the sooner you get help, the faster you can regain control of your life.
Standard Anxiety Treatment
Best Antidepressants for Anxiety
Research has shown that the most effective antidepressants for anxiety are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which include Lexapro and Zoloft. However, these medications only relieved depression in a little over half of patients and have a tendency to have side effects. This has led to the search for other, more effective treatments with fewer side effects.
Some people respond to short-term therapy using benzodiazepines, including Xanax and Klonopin. Due to their addictive nature, however, it's recommended that these drugs can only be used for a limited time.
Mood stabilizers for anxiety are usually only reserved for those who have bipolar disorder. These drugs, such as lithium, are effective for mania and some episodes of anxiety.
Therapy for Anxiety
Research has shown that therapy, particularly Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), is the most effective current treatment for anxiety. Most types of anxiety disorders, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder, and PTSD, respond very well to this type of therapy. CBT has been extensively researched for many years and shown to be effective.
CBT teaches techniques to manage anxiety, as well as guides the patient to identify their triggers and negative thought patterns and slowly replace them with healthier ones. Benefits of this type of therapy usually take a few weeks, but the skills that are taught can last a lifetime.
If you haven't been successful using CBT in the past, other forms of therapy also exist to help you manage and reduce your anxiety. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) teaches you methods of coping with uncomfortable and unpleasant thoughts while simultaneously changing your behavior. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) combines some methods from CBT with mindfulness skills and distress tolerance.
Neurontin is an anticonvulsant medication currently only approved by the FDA to treat seizures and nerve pain. Neurontin is also sometimes prescribed off-label to treat mood and anxiety disorders, restless leg syndrome, and tardive dyskinesia. Neurontin is the brand name, but the medication is also available as a generic, called gabapentin.
There have not been many studies performed to assess the ability of Neurontin to effectively treat anxiety. Some research has shown it to work for certain patients to reduce their anxiety symptoms.
Generally, the starting dose for Neurontin is 300 mg by mouth before bed, once a day. The dose is gradually increased until the desired effect is reached.
Are There Side Effects or Possible Drug Interactions?
When starting Neurontin, monitor closely for side effects. Report any side effects promptly to your doctor, but do not stop taking the medication abruptly unless directed to do so. Possible side effects include:
Drug interactions with Neurontin include hydrocodone, valerian root, and clobazam. You should always discuss any medications you are currently taking with your doctor before starting Neurontin.
If Neurontin is not an option for you, there are many vitamins and supplements that can be used to manage an anxiety disorder.
Vitamins and Supplements for ADHD
Vitamin D and Anxiety
Low levels of Vitamin D have been linked to anxiety and depression, among other conditions, particularly Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Vitamin D is derived mainly from sun exposure and, to a lesser extent, your diet. It's thought that over one billion people around the world are Vitamin D deficient. People with darker skin tones are particularly at risk for Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient that is needed throughout the body to function properly.
Many people swear by calming tea blends that are purported to deliver relaxing results. Teas such as peppermint, chamomile, and passionflower for anxiety have been shown to have a calming effect and ease nervousness. Green tea, in particular, may aid you in clearing your mind and lowering mental anxiety.
Magnesium Oxide for Anxiety
Does magnesium help with anxiety? It appears so. Magnesium deficiency may be responsible for anxiety symptoms, particularly if you're experiencing heart palpitations and difficulty sleeping. Magnesium is also involved in many bodily processes and research has shown that supplementation may reduce anxiety symptoms. How much magnesium for anxiety? Typically, it's recommended that women take about 300 mg a day and men take about 400 mg. Consult your doctor or dietician for specific recommendations.
Nicotine and Anxiety
A lot of smokers claim that nicotine lowers their anxiety, but research has found that this is only a temporary effect. Nicotine has been shown many times to increase anxiety symptoms.
Does Melatonin Help With Anxiety?
Melatonin is a hormone your body produces to make you feel relaxed and sleepy, which is why melatonin is often recommended for insomnia. Melatonin can be helpful for reducing anxiety symptoms, but due to its drowsy effect, it should only be taken around bedtime.
Rhodiola Rosea for Anxiety
Rhodiola Rosea is an herb that is known as an adaptogen, meaning it works with your body's natural stress response to lower your symptoms of anxiety. Rhodiola Rosea has been shown to improve anxiety symptoms and fatigue without significant side effects.
Many other supplements, such as niacin and turmeric for anxiety, may manage symptoms for some people. Treatment depends on each individual's unique biochemistry. Never begin a supplement without first speaking to your physician.
Other Alternative Treatments
Aromatherapy for Anxiety
Aromatherapy involves inhaling the fumes of different types of essential oils, which is thought to have an effect on your central nervous system. Commonly used essential oils are basil, lemon balm, jasmine, and lavender for anxiety. Studies on essential oils for anxiety have shown the most effective use involves therapeutic massage.
Biofeedback for Anxiety
Biofeedback is a somewhat controversial treatment that is used for ADHD, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Biofeedback involves attaching electrodes to a person and monitoring their brain waves while performing a series of electronic tasks. The person is guided to change their brain wave patterns consciously, which could theoretically allow you to better manage anxiety. Research is limited but some improvement has been demonstrated for symptoms of GAD and PSTD.
Other alternative treatments, such as healing stones for anxiety or using a fidget spinner for anxiety, have less evidence to support their ability to reduce symptoms. Some people have found binaural beats for anxiety played while they're working to help them maintain focus. Games for anxiety can help you reduce your stress level while doing something you enjoy.
Dietary changes can also assist you in managing your symptoms with steps such as reducing caffeine and refined sugar intake. Sugar and anxiety may have a link, since sugar can increase your body's overall response to stress, elevating your mood before causing a crash. Speak to your doctor about steps you can take to improve your diet if you believe this could be contributing to your anxiety.
There are many treatments for anxiety, but the end goal is always the same: reducing your symptoms and helping you cope so that you can regain control of your life. It's not always easy to find a therapist you connect with or to make time in your schedule to attend appointments. BetterHelp offers affordable online therapy that can be accessed conveniently on your own terms.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the 54321 method?
The 54321 method is one of the most popular grounding techniques for coping with anxiety. When you’re in the grip of an anxiety attack, this strategy invites you to reclaim control of your mind by relying on your 5 senses: sight, smell, touch, sound, and taste. So, start by identifying 5 things you can see at the moment. Next, think about 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. The purpose of this technique is to help you stay present in the moment and stop your mind from spiraling into an anxiety attack.
How can I kill anxiety naturally?
Many people prefer to treat anxiety with natural remedies. So, if that’s something you want to try, there are a variety of resources you can access. For example, many people find that chamomile tea helps to take the edge off. In fact, a study at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center even tested the effectiveness of chamomile supplements in patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The study found that patients who took chamomile supplements for eight weeks had a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms compared to patients who took placebo pills. So, chamomile tea is definitely an option for treating anxiety naturally. Many people also prefer to make changes to their lifestyle and diet by increasing their amount of exercise and restful sleep and eliminating substances such as caffeine and alcohol.
What are some good coping techniques?
There are a few positive coping mechanisms you can implement to decrease your anxiety. If you feel as though you’re faced with an immediate threat (like preparing for an important phone call), finding something to laugh about can reduce stress and focus your mind in a positive direction. So, even if you’re just laughing in your own head, thinking about a funny meme or a joke from your favorite TV show can calm you quickly. You can also employ some deep- breathing exercises to center yourself and decrease your heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety levels. For maximum effectiveness, try using the rule of four: count to four, hold your breath in to a count of four, breathe out to a count of four, and hold empty to a count of four.
What is the 333 rule for anxiety?
The 333 rule is a smaller version of the 54321 rule for anxiety. In this exercise, you start by naming 3 things you see and 3 sounds you hear. Then you move 3 different parts of your body. This exercise can help to distract your brain from the onslaught of anxiety and empower you to take control of your thoughts.
Can drinking more water help anxiety?
Yes! Drinking water won’t cure your anxiety completely, but a 2014 study found that people who are very well hydrated on a regular basis feel more calm, more content, and less anxious. When the study asked those same people to cut back on their water intake, they reported a regular spike in anxiety. And a 2018 study found that, after studying a group of 3,000 participants, those who regularly drank lots of water had a lower risk of developing anxiety and depression than their counterparts who drank less water.
How do I train my brain to stop anxiety?
A combination of anxiety medication and therapy can be helpful for treating anxiety. People who are interested in “training” or “rewiring” their brain to stop anxiety may be especially interested in cognitive behavioral therapy (or CBT). Cognitive behavioral therapy is the leading form of therapy for anxiety. CBT is helpful because it allows you to play an active role in your own treatment process by replacing negative thought patterns and coping mechanisms with positive ones. CBT can help you control your thought process, learn positive coping skills, and develop a sense of confidence and control.
What should I drink to calm my nerves?
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a drink that will instantly calm your anxiety. But some herbal teas-- such as peppermint, chamomile, and green tea-- do have soothing properties that may take the edge off of your anxiety. Research also shows that eating healthy, well-balanced meals that include lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed foods can promote mental and physical wellbeing. Many people with anxiety are tempted to self-medicate with alcohol because it might make you feel better for a moment. However, studies show that alcohol can actually increase anxiety and make your symptoms worse over time. So, if you’re looking for drinks that help your anxiety, say goodbye to cocktails and hello chamomile tea!
Can you rewire your brain from anxiety?
Yes! That’s because of something called “neuroplasticity.” Neuroplasticity means that the neural networks in your brain have the ability to grow and change with the introduction of new stimuli. So, with therapy, you can learn to literally rewire your brain and reduce your fear responses to your anxious thoughts.
Can anxiety go away for good?
When it comes to anxiety treatment, no one can promise you a fully symptom-free recovery. That’s because anxiety is a feeling just like any other feeling we experience. It’s highly likely that you’ll feel anxious in some situation at some point in your future, but the good news is that therapy can keep anxiety from controlling your life. So, if your anxiety is currently preventing you from doing things you enjoy, it is absolutely possible to reach a place where anxiety no longer has a paralyzing hold on your life.
How do I stop overthinking anxiety?
If you can’t stop overthinking, it may be time to seek the help of a qualified mental health professional. By using therapeutic techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a therapist can help you get to the root of your anxious thoughts and show you how to reclaim control.
Which exercise is good for anxiety?
There are a variety of therapeutic exercises that are helpful for anxiety. But physical exercise can be very helpful as well. Studies from Harvard Medical School have shown that aerobic exercise may be the most beneficial type of physical activity for reducing anxiety.
How do you relax your mind?
The answer to this question will be different for everyone. And if you have anxiety, you may need a little more help relaxing than someone who doesn’t have anxiety. But generally speaking, slow, deep breathing can help you to relax your mind. You may also benefit from mindfulness or meditation exercises. And if you choose to seek help from a therapist, your therapist can equip you with therapeutic strategies to quiet your anxious thoughts.
Why do people get anxiety?
It’s tough to identify a singular cause of anxiety because a variety of factors can make some people more anxious than others. For example, some experts believe it may be hereditary. If people in your family struggled with mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety, you may develop social anxiety either as a learned response to your environment, because of hereditary factors, or both. In fact, you are more likely to have just about any mental disorder if someone in your family has a mental illness. However, anxiety can also be caused by traumatic experiences. For example, if you were bullied as a child, or experienced abuse at the hands of a parent or romantic partner, you may develop social anxiety.
What is the root cause of overthinking?
Everybody overthinks sometimes; every human being is equipped with innate problem- solving abilities and thinking through our problems helps us find a solution. But if you’re overthinking and you can’t stop, it’s a sign of a mental health disorder like anxiety or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. We can’t quite pinpoint a specific malfunction in the brain that leads to overthinking, but we do know that both OCD and anxiety are characterized by overthinking.