Do Supplements For Anxiety Help?
By Julia Thomas
Updated June 12, 2019
It seems that the more common a problem is, the more solutions are proposed to deal with it. The same is true of anxiety. The most common form of mental illness, anxiety affects over 40 million adults in the U.S. every year. It's a disorder that has a very wide range of possible solutions. Many people want to treat their anxiety naturally. For them, natural anxiety supplements make perfect sense. The question is, do they actually help? Here's a partial list of anxiety supplements that work for some people.
Types of Anxiety Supplements
If you're searching for a natural cure for anxiety, you're in luck. There are several different types of natural supplements for anxiety. Most of them fall into one of three categories: herbal, homeopathic, and nutritional supplements like vitamins and minerals. There are also OTC anxiety medications that may or may not include natural ingredients.
Natural Herbs for Anxiety
Anxiety herbals come in many varieties. Some of the most common herbs that help with anxiety and have been used for centuries in the Americas include:
- Holy basil for anxiety
- Lemon balm
Other herbal remedies for anxiety may be less known in the U.S., but they've been used for a long time in other parts of the world. These include:
- Kava kava
Herbal anxiety remedies can be very helpful, often approaching the same effectiveness as prescription medications. At the same time, it's crucial to remember that they have their own chemical properties just as prescription meds have theirs. So before you take one of these or any herb for anxiety, check with your doctor. Medical supervision is especially important if any of the following are true:
- You're on prescription medications for a physical or mental disorder.
- You're over 65.
- You're pregnant or nursing.
- You're planning to give it to a child.
Anxiety Supplements and Natural Vitamins for Anxiety
Vitamins can improve your overall health and might improve your body's ability to deal with stress. In most cases, taking more of a vitamin than you need does nothing to improve your condition. However, if your blood level of that vitamin is low, getting it back up to a normal level may help you feel better.
Some of the vitamins that help relieve anxiety include:
- Vitamin A - Many people with anxiety are low in this vitamin.
- B-Complex - Essential vitamins for a healthy nervous system.
- Vitamin C - Prevents oxidative stress in your nervous system.
- Vitamin D - Helps your body absorb all the other vitamins.
- Vitamin E - An antioxidant that your body uses quickly in times of stress
There are also some mineral supplements that can reduce anxiety. The most commonly used is magnesium. If your magnesium is too low, you may be more prone to anxiety. Phosphorus is used for social anxiety and is often suggested by homeopathic practitioners. Silica is another mineral that homeopaths use for people who have social fears.
Other nutritional supplements are also available to help with anxiety and other conditions. Here are some of the most popular natural anti anxiety supplements.
- Omega-3 Supplements - Fish oil supplements with Omega-3 may help with anxiety.
- GABA - An amino acid and one of the brain's neurotransmitters, GABA can help reduce anxiety when you have the right amount.
- L-Theanine - Another amino acid, L-theanine can calm you and reduce anxiety symptoms.
- 5-HTP - This neurotransmitter is a precursor to serotonin. Some evidence has shown that 5-HTP can sometimes help with anxiety.
Homeopathic Remedies for Anxiety
Another type of natural anxiety supplement is homeopathic remedies. Homeopathy is a special complementary medical system that uses mostly plants and minerals to help the body heal itself. Some of the homeopathic anxiety remedies include:
- Aconite - often used for panic attacks and fear.
- Argentum nitricum - most often used for people who have anxiety due to uncertainty.
- Arsenicum album - may be used for people who fear loneliness or the dark.
- Calcarea carbonica - recommended for people who have anxiety when they need to break out of their usual routine.
- Gelsemium - may be used for agoraphobia or fear of being inadequate.
- Ignatia - most often suggested for people suffering from bereavement.
- Kali arsenicosum - for anxiety that's related to health problems.
- Kali phophoricum - this is one of the natural supplements for anxiety and stress.
- Lycopodium - helps people who are anxious because they lack confidence.
- Stramonium - may be suggested for people who have anxiety due to nightmares.
Over the Counter Medication for Anxiety
Besides herbal remedies, vitamins, and minerals, people often use over-the-counter medications for anxiety. These medications aren't typically labeled as a cure for anxiety. Instead, they're antihistamines, cough syrups, sleep aids, or pain killers. It's not the labeled use that people are interested in. It's the side effects of sedation and drowsiness that they feel will ease their anxiety. These medications are often used by people who think natural anxiety supplements aren't strong enough but don't know how to get anxiety medication from a doctor.
However, there are a few problems with using this type of OTC for anxiety. First, these medications are intended to be used only in the short term. If you take them longer, you'll end up needed more and more to get the same effect. You may even overdose. Then if you decide to stop taking them, they can have a rebound effect that makes your anxiety symptoms worse than ever.
Using home remedies for anxiety is never a simple thing. However, in certain instances, it's even harder to choose the right anxiety home remedies to use. Here are some tips for dealing with some of these more complex situations.
Natural Anxiety Medication for Children
If you're looking for a natural anxiety supplement you can give your child, there are a few things you can do. First, you can ensure that they eat healthy foods and get enough of the vitamins they need. Taking a multivitamin might be necessary for this. Giving them a cup of herbal tea may help them relax. However, before you give them a strong dose of an herb for anxiety, talk to their pediatrician. Their doctor will help you choose the safest anxiety medication for your little ones.
Depression and Anxiety Medication
If you have depression, anxiety medication may also be needed to help you recover. When you're managing two conditions at once, it's important to get help dealing with them. Your doctor can help you choose the natural anxiety medication that works best with your depression medication if there is one, or they can help you with a prescription anxiety med.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder Medication
When you have generalized anxiety disorder, your anxiety permeates every part of your life. This is a serious condition that can stop you from enjoying life and may even make it hard for you to carry on with your usual daily activities. Medications for generalized anxiety disorder need to be monitored carefully, whether you're using a natural home remedy or a prescription medication. If you have severe GAD, you should only use natural supplements for anxiety under your doctor's care. Herbs for severe anxiety may help, but they probably won't be your total solution.
Anxiety Medication With Weight Loss
Some anxiety medications have been associated with weight gain. For those who are already overweight or have a medical condition that gets worse with weight gain, it makes sense to use an anxiety medication that helps with weight loss. While most often a natural supplement for anxiety will have little or no effect on weight, there are some prescription anxiety meds that may help. They include Effexor, Pristiq, and Buspirone.
Social Anxiety Disorder Medications
Social anxiety can inhibit your ability to speak to and socialize with others, but it can also affect your ability to work and pursue hobbies and activities that are enjoyable to you. Natural supplements may help you, but the best thing you can do is talk to a doctor and therapist to get a comprehensive treatment plan.
Once you know you have social anxiety disorder, medications may be recommended for you. Medications for social anxiety include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and beta blockers. Experts generally agree that SSRI antidepressants are the best medications for social anxiety in most cases.
So What Is the Best Medication for Anxiety?
The best supplement for anxiety depends on many factors. Your genetic and physiological makeup plays a part. The types of symptoms you're having may be better treated with a certain medication to treat anxiety that's different from what works best for someone else. And the best anxiety supplements that work for you today might not work for you at another time in your life. The bottom line is that there is no one best anti-anxiety treatment that works the same for everyone at every time. Working with someone who's knowledgeable about anxiety treatment, then, is one of the best things you can do.
Why You Need an Anxiety Medications List
If your doctor is giving you medications to treat anxiety and you're also picking up your favorite popular anxiety medications and herbal supplements over the counter, it's critical that you keep a list of anxiety medications you use. Keep the list with you wherever you go in case it's needed in a medical emergency. Then, whenever you have an appointment with any doctor, let them know you have the list to be added to your record. This can help you avoid adverse effects and interactions with other medications.
Anxiety Treatment without Medication
What's it like dealing with anxiety without medication? Using natural anxiety supplements can help you stay calmer and manage better. However, the effects typically last only for as long as you're using the supplement. The same may be true of many prescription medications. Therapy can provide a more long-term solution.
Talking to a counselor can help you decrease your vulnerability to stress. It can teach you how to calm yourself naturally through mindfulness, meditation, or guided imagery. Your therapist can guide you as you challenge your worries and negative thoughts. They can teach you techniques for diminishing fear. The more you learn, the less you will need to rely on medications or even natural supplements to relieve your anxiety. You can talk to a counselor at BetterHelp to get yourself on a path to better functioning, easier socializing, and more enjoyment at home, at work, and in your community.