Anxious patients, with or without the guidance of medical practitioners, often formulate their own methods of how to reduce their anxiety. Many of these people have been prescribed various anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants in the past with little to no help. Perhaps they really don’t need pharmacologic treatment or they just haven’t explored the right therapy for them.
Do I have an anxiety disorder?
In order to know if you have an anxiety disorder, you need a diagnosis from a psychiatrist. He or she will also design the right treatment plan for you. Note that you may be worried or feel anxious, such as when you lose your keys, before an important event, during an exam or a performance, even if you don’t have a mental illness. If you stop feeling anxious when the stressor is gone or if you can easily calm yourself when facing a stressful situation, you are probably dealing with normal anxiety or every day worries.
Why is it important to reduce anxiety?
Some people breeze through their problems, others can’t seem to cope after a major life stressor. But the resilient ones refuse to back down and instead will look for the path to recovery. It may be through self-management (deep breathing exercises, CBD oil, supplements, aromatherapy), by seeking professional help (prescription drugs, psychotherapy), making lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, smoking cessation), or exploring alternative treatments (acupuncture, massage).
It is important to for you to learn how to reduce an anxiety diagnosis because it is often associated with medical conditions and other mental disorders. People with anxiety are also prone to developing depression, cardiovascular problems, and gastrointestinal disturbances, among others.
Depression is even worrisome because it is linked to suicidal behavior. To make matters worse, antidepressants (commonly given to patients with anxiety) may also lead to increased risk of suicide in children and adolescents. In fact, the FDA mandated antidepressant manufacturers to carry a black box warning on their packaging, informing patients and practitioners that these drugs can increase suicide risk among the age group.
Are there non-medication treatments for anxiety?
Due to the alarming side effects and risks associated with common anxiety and depression medications, many people turn to over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbal supplements, and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). While we do encourage people to be resourceful in dealing with their mental health problems, we strongly believe that you should stay away from miracle cures and quick fixes, whether in the form of a supplement, self-help books or subscription-based workshops, that promise to get rid of your symptoms completely. Especially if they claim that “this is the only treatment you will ever need.”
The first-line treatments to reduce anxiety are traditional prescription medications and psychotherapy.
They are backed by research studies and used by mental health professionals with extensive knowledge in the field. While there are various products that can alleviate anxiety symptoms, they are meant not to replace but complement conventional treatments. Do you want that ultrasonic aromatherapy diffuser? Sure, but don’t stop taking your medications unless instructed by your doctor. When looking for treatments online, make sure these products are based on reliable facts (scientific evidence) rather than personal accounts (anecdotal evidence).
Emerging Treatments for Anxiety
Cannabidiol (CBD) — many studies have shown that cannabis products exert a wide range of effects on emotional regulation. The two most abundant phytocannabinoids in cannabis species are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD. The latter plays a role in the regulation of behavioral effects of cannabis and lacks the psychoactive effects of THC. Preclinical evidence supported the potential of CBD as a treatment for anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, OCD, and PTSD. The use of CBD oil capsules for the treatment of adult anxiety disorders are currently being studied.
Aloradine — is a neuroactive steroid being developed by Pherin Pharmaceuticals as a nasal spray treatment for social phobia. The initial clinical study showed that it was able to improve anxiety symptoms among patients with GAD within 30 minutes, and lasted for about an hour. It is currently under Phase III clinical trials in the US.
Ketamine — in a randomized placebo-controlled crossover trial, ketamine was found to be possibly effective in reducing anxiety. In multiple controlled studies, it produced a rapid antidepressant effect in unipolar and bipolar depression. The drug was previously approved as an anesthetic but is increasingly being used to treat mood disorder, anxiety disorder, PTSD, and treatment-resistant depression.
Melatonin — is a naturally occurring hormone that is being used for years as an OTC supplement for sleep problems. Current research studies are exploring the benefits of melatonin for improving anxiety symptoms. In a 2018 study, melatonin was found to be more effective than oxazepam in improving anxiety symptoms and sleep quality among patients who had just been operated for myocardial infarction (heart attack). While melatonin shows promising effects for reducing anxiety before a surgical procedure, it is not clear if it will have the same benefits for other forms of anxiety.
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