5 Herbs that Treat Anxiety and Depression

5 Herbs that Treat Anxiety and Depression

There are many synthetic medicines on the market today that treat anxiety and depression.  Doctors are quick to prescribe these medicines and we as consumers, are quick to take them because anxiety and depression can be so overwhelming.

Anxiety can make a person feel out of control and keep them in a constant state of worry, even if there is nothing to worry about.  Out of the blue it can hit you, your brain telling you to worry or have fear, for no reason.  You try to control the thoughts of worry but it is a useless attempt.  Anxiety then takes over and can hinder your social activities, your work life and can even make you scared to leave your comfort zone.

Depression can cause a person to have sadness and lack the motivation to leave the house or worse, even get out of bed.  When depression sets in you can find yourself isolated and crying for no reason other than you feel like you have an extreme case of the blues.  Depression can take away your appetite, your desire to be social, and your desire to engage in life.

If you have experienced either of these then you know how debilitating they can be.  But you do not have to live with these disorders anymore.  There are many ways to successfully treat anxiety and depression, with medicines and with therapeutic techniques.  Another way to treat these disorders is through a combination of anxiety treatment or depression treatment along with the use of medicinal herbs.  Yes, there are herbs that can be grown naturally or purchased that can help you escape anxiety and depression and live a happy and mentally healthy life.

Scientific American reports that people are turning to more natural medicines due to the high cost of prescriptions, the side effects associated with prescribed medicines, and the fact that the prescribed medications do not work the same for every person.  Medicinal herbs such as lavender, saffron, passion flower, ginseng and chamomile are being researched and are showing they can have a positive impact on someone struggling with mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.  While it sounds simple, using medicinal herbs is not a quick fix but over time, can positively impact your mental health.

Lavender

Lavender sachets, soaps, sprays, and oils can be found in big box stores as well as online and in specialty stores.  There are even essential oil companies that have created multi-level marketing programs to promote oils such as lavender and its benefits.  The National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health states lavender has a long history in the Mediterranean and has become very popular in the United States in the last decade or longer.  It has many positive side effects such as boosting mood and relieving anxiety.

The Natural Medicine Journal reports lavender can be beneficial in treating both anxiety and depression.  There have been numerous research studies with findings of lavender being very effective in improving mental health.  Evidence Based Complimentary Alternative Medicine concluded through three separate studies that lavender had a great impact on those with anxiety when used orally or through odors.

Dr. Galloway explains how to use lavender oil and why it is important in the use of decreasing anxiety in this video. The University of Maryland Medical Center provides further information on lavender and how to use it, claiming the essential oils from lavender are taken from the flowers and can be used orally, topically or through smell.

So whether it is taken orally through liquid droplets or supplements, or sprayed on the body, or rubbed in like lotion, or even stuffed in a sachet and put under your pillow, you can be assured that lavender will have a calming effect on you and when used regularly can enhance your overall well-being.

Saffron

Saffron, the herb, comes from the plant saffron crocus and the cost of this spice is compared to that of gold. It is quite expensive and highly sought after. Watch how it is made in this video where they travel to Morocco to see just what goes into cultivating saffron.  Many reports state that saffron is a very expensive herb, often used as a sweetener, but because it is still hard to cultivate, the price to purchase it can be higher.  It can take 75,000 saffron bulbs to make just one pound of saffron spice.

The results of different studies have proven that saffron is effective in treating mental health disorders.  Healthline reports on studies that test the herb Saffron to ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.  It was found that when compared to a placebo group, the saffron users reported fewer symptoms. University Health News claims saffron can be just as effective as Prozac, a commonly prescribed medication for depression and to back this claim up, The Psych Congress Network shared results of one study that showed saffron was equally effective as prescribed medicines in treating depression.

To be happy, people have to increase levels of serotonin in the brain.  Plants such as saffron contain serotonin.  So it only makes sense to use plants containing serotonin to increase serotonin levels in the brain.  It has often been said to eat salad at night because lettuce leaves have a calming effect.  The serotonin connection may be present here as well.  Similar to other herbs, saffron can be taken in a supplement or liquid form or used in perfumes.

Chamomile

Because anxiety and depression can come from being overstressed, it is important to implement herbal remedies to counteract our body’s reaction to stress. Chamomile is suggested as one of the best ways to fight stress. Chamomile is defined as being one of the most ancient herbs used to treat medical issues due to its many terpanoids and flavonoids which can aid in healing.

Everyday Roots suggests depression and anxiety can go hand in hand with not getting enough sleep or not getting the right kind of sleep.  Chamomile can help significantly with getting proper sleep. Using chamomile tea can be a great way to ingest chamomile and allow the body to slowly adjust to its calming effects.  Apparently, chamomile works on the same brain receptors as does an anti-anxiety synthetic drug often prescribed to you by a doctor.  However, chamomile is much safer to use than the synthetic drugs, with less side effects and less addictive traits.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac also recommends the use of chamomile for relaxation and offers a recipe of one ounce of chamomile to every two or three cups of water.  It can be used internally or externally.

Passion Flower

Passion flower has been known to have an almost hypnotic like effect on some people.  When taken properly, it can calm a person and allow them to get a deep sleep so their mind can rest.  It is best when taken as a tea.  Calm Clinic explains that passion flower decreases anxiety due to having a large number of chrysin and benzoflavone flavonoids, which are the chemicals that can affect our bodies and create the relaxing feeling.

Extra Happiness gives us a better look at passion flower and its sedative like traits.  Passion flower can work for a range of disorders including narcotic withdrawal, anxiety, panic attacks, pain relief, mood swings and even menstrual cramps.

Dr. Andrew Weil states passion flower can calm you down without giving you total sedation.  He urges us to try passion flower for anxiety before trying any synthetic drugs.  However, he also notes that if you are pregnant or on a blood thinner, it is important not to take any herbs or medicines without the approval of a medical doctor.

People today are super busy and over-stressed with work and personal responsibilities.  Passion flower will allow your mind to relax so that you are not constantly thinking about what you have to do tomorrow at work or at home.  It allows your mind to be calm so you can get a good sleep so your entire body can rest and heal.

Ginseng

Medical News Today describes ginseng as having a fleshy root that can enhance many medical functions within the body.  It is noted that American and Asian Ginseng are the types of plants that are beneficial, whereas Siberian ginseng is not actually ginseng.  Be careful when you are purchasing this herb.  Make sure you are getting a genuine product.

This product will be more expensive than other herbs but can’t be well worth the payment when realizing its medicinal benefits.  Ginseng takes about six years to mature and cultivating it before six years will decrease its medicinal power.  There are people who will pay a lot of money for good ginseng and this herb has caused many fights among landowners who find poachers scouring their land for ginseng.  It is a rare crop to find due to the specifics of the area in which it grows is not common and has to be just right.  For instance, they have to have shade on the side of a mountain near a water source.  There are other specifics like this which makes it even more difficult for a person to grow their own ginseng from seed.  Finding ginseng plants on your property can be like finding gold to some, like hitting the jackpot.

Dr. Edward Group at the Global Healing Center states ginseng has been used for hundreds of years by the Chinese as a form of medicine due to its ability to increase energy levels and improve a person’s state of mind. Be Brain Fit reports many ways ginseng can improve mental health:

  • Boosts energy
  • Improves sex drive
  • Can ease withdrawal symptoms from cigarettes or drugs
  • Boosts mood and mental well-being

Adaptogens claims ginseng can alleviate many forms of depression, whether it is menopausal depression or more generalized depression.  Mental health is just one way ginseng can help the body. Ginseng uses are varied and can benefit many ailments including diabetes, endocrine system, cholesterol levels, and combats stress and fatigue.  When any of these bodily systems are not functioning properly, depression and anxiety can follow.  Therefore it is important to make sure all functions within your system are working as they are supposed to.

Conclusion

If you are suffering from anxiety or depression or both, please seek help.  Whether it is from your family doctor or an alternative medicine specialist, seek help.  There are so many other people out there who are experiencing the same emotions you are experiencing.  After finding the right person to work with you on healing, know your options.  It is easy to just start taking the first pill prescribed by the doctor.  However, the side effects and withdrawal symptoms that come with this pill are not so easy to handle.  Why not try the safest method first and if it doesn’t work, then move on to trying prescribed medications.

Herbs have been used for centuries in the United States, Asia and all around the world.  Not many synthetic medicines have reputations as good as natural herbs.  Herbs such as lavender, saffron, chamomile, ginseng and passion flower have documented research to support their benefits.  Each one of these herbs can be linked to improved mental health.

There is always a new and better synthetic drug coming out to replace the last “best” medicine.  While using natural herbs to enhance you mental health may take a regular routine and a little more time, it is well worth the effort.  Herbs used in conjunction with other coping techniques have been proven time and again to be very effective when fighting anxiety and depression.

Anxiety and depression and other mental health disorders can be conquered so that you can have a healthy life full of happiness.  Using alternative herbs can help you appreciate the journey to becoming happy.  Using herbs allows you to be more in control of what you put into your body, your own dosage, your own feelings and actions.  Ultimately, getting control back over our own lives seems to be what we are seeking in the first place.

 This article was original published on Vantage Point Recovery.
What Are Good Stress Relieving Techniques?

What Are Good Stress Relieving Techniques?

When we discuss stress, we automatically think about the negative aspects of stress.

What is important to note is that not all stress is bad. There are actually benefits to having some stress, in appropriate doses. Some of the positive benefits of stress is it can motivate you to wake up and go to work each day and strive for success.

Stress gives you that little push to do what is needed, whether it is to get a job so you can pay your bills and not be homeless. Or, it can help you avoid a car crash or get out of a car that has already crashed and get you to safety. Healthy levels of stress tell your brain and body that you are in danger, getting you to move away from a negative situation, potentially saving your life or your lifestyle. An article in Health reports that good stress can make a person resilient and even help with child development.

Stress can be a true survival tool when it appears in lower levels.

It is when stress becomes overwhelming that it can create havoc on the body and disrupt many areas of a person’s state of emotional and physical existence. There are different types of stress that if not dealt with immediately, can create long term damage to a person’s overall health.

So, what are good stress relieving techniques?

Before we can answer that, we should consider exploring the types of stress.

Two Types of Stress

There are two major types of stress: acute and chronic.

The main difference between the two types is in the length of time and how often they occur. Acute stress disorder usually occurs after a traumatic event such as a death in the family, an accident or injury, or any other event that disrupts your life temporarily.

It can last up to a month, sometimes longer, and can appear as if the person is detaching from reality or isolating themselves, acting numb to certain situations.

This temporary type of stress can lead people to take off work due to a lack of motivation or ability to focus on anything else other than the trauma. For example, when someone has a sudden death in their family, time is needed so the person can adjust to this sudden and devastating change. Chronic stress disorder can be similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder but is not diagnosed as the same. Chronic stress disorder happens to a person who has witnessed a very traumatic event.

Their symptoms can be long term and can go away and come back many times.

People may develop anxieties related to this trauma and find it hard to return to the scene of the trauma or be around other people who were associated with the trauma.

This trauma is recurring and can interfere severely with a person trying to lead a life with structure and routine. It may be hard to determine when the traumatic stress will return. Both acute and chronic types of stress can be damaging to the body and the brain of the person suffering.

Damaging Effects of Stress

The American Psychological Association reports there are many effects of stress that are unhealthy for both our bodies and brains.

Stress can cause stomach aches and digestion problems.

What may start out as a nervous feeling can quickly turn into more unpleasant symptoms like diarrhea or vomiting. And in worse cases, ulcers can form, causing internal bleeding and pain. If a person has heart disease, a sudden and traumatic stress can cause a heart attack.

Headaches that appear from no other physical ailments, fatigue and feeling tired when you should be feeling healthy and energetic, participating in addictive behaviors such as overeating or abusing substances, and depression are all just a few of the numerous symptoms of too much stress. Psychological and physical stress can differ greatly and can show themselves in many different ways. Stress can cause difficulties in communicating, making it hard to build relationships.

Stress can also make a person have a poor attitude and mood swings.

These symptoms make it nearly impossible to maintain friendships or co-working relationships. In fact, these symptoms cause people to become even more isolated, even if that is not what they want. Being stressed can push people away, building barriers between important people in your life. In addition, stress can cause weight gain and weight loss, sexual dysfunction, hair loss, teeth and gum problems, and unhealthy skin problems.

These are all very scary issues that can lead to even more body and brain issues. Weight gain happens when there is too much of the cortisol hormone is released, creating that all too familiar belly fat. On the other hand, stress can cause a person to worry so much that they lose their appetites altogether, leading to unhealthy weight loss. Stress can affect sexual performance due to the distracting effect it has on the mind.

What Are Good Stress Relieving Techniques?

It is hard to get in the mood when you are worried about everything else going on in your life.

There has been plenty of research showing hair loss is a negative effect of stress. Some people automatically start pulling out their own hair when they begin to feel nervous or worried. It is almost like a calming effect for them even though it can have severe repercussions.

Many people find medicines can help them in dealing with their stress, from over the counter medicines to prescriptions to vitamins.

However, this isn’t the only approach.

Take a look below for a closer look at some of the more popular stress relief techniques.

1. Medication Strategies to Escape Stress

Sedatives can help with relaxation.

However, they can also be very addictive and dangerous when mixed with other medications.

Sedatives are to be taken on an as needed basis but often times, people become reliant on the medicine instead of implementing relaxation and other techniques that can supplement their treatment. It is much easier to pop a pill and twenty minutes later start feeling relaxed, according to some.

However, using sedatives less and alternative medicines or activities more is the safest route to take. If it is necessary to use medicines, knowing everything about the medication is key. Some medications commonly known to reduce anxiety and stress include Celexa, Prozac, Paxil, Amitryptilene, Effexor, Xanax, and Ativan. The two medicines out of this list to worry about the most are Xanax and Ativan.

There have been many users to accidentally overdose without realizing those two medicines mixed with other medicines are extremely dangerous. The prescribing doctor should know all medicines being taken by the patient so he or she can make sure no interactions will occur.

There are plenty of alternative medicines and vitamins a person can take to reduce stress.

Getting the right amount of nutrients can ease stress. Vitamin C helps to reduce cortisol levels. CoQ10 fights fatigue. Vitamin b eases stress. Magnesium can help a person relax. There is a hormone involved with sleeping. A good night’s sleep can help your body and brain recover from the day’s stressors. Fish oil regulates stress hormones and increases good blood flow in your body. It is never a bad thing to try alternative, less harmful medications before jumping right in to a prescribed substance. There are alternative therapies that can be used in conjunction with medicines. One of these includes treatment from a Chiropractor.

2. Chiropractic Tips to Escape Stress

Seeing a chiropractor can help in many ways.

By focusing on the spine and body parts that are in pain, Chiropractors can figure out a way to alleviate the pain that is causing the stress. Our nervous system has a lot to do with our pain levels and stress levels. Chiropractors work specifically on the nervous system which is connected to the spine.

Many chiropractors claim adjustments of the spinal column and healing the nervous system can lead to successful recovery of people fighting mental health disorders like ADD and physical disorders such as migraines.

In one study participants receiving a spinal adjustment were reported to have lowered cortisol levels, which relates to stress, and also decreased stress due to the pain they had before the adjustment. Dr. Dan Sullivan shows brain images of a patient who was given a MRI exam while being administered a stressor. The brain images showed a great deal of light spots, implying many triggers were going off in the brain to help the body cope with the stressor.

The same patient was immediately given a chiropractic adjustment, placed back in the MRI machine and given the same stressors. This time, after the adjustment, there were fewer light spots being triggered.

The doctor claims this is because the adjustment helps improve the nervous system, telling the brain there is not much stress, that the stressor can be handled with little effort, and not to worry.

3. Adult Coloring Books Create Calm

Break out the crayons and start coloring.

One strategy to reduce stress is by the use of adult coloring books.

Adult coloring books can be found in big box stores, grocery stores and even boutiques and gift shops.

The pages in each book are filled with beautiful and intricate details that allow an adult to color for hours. This is a distraction that has many health benefits. Medical Daily reports art can be healing. In studies of patients using art therapy were found to have more focus, less anxiety, positive changes in brainwaves that were found to bring on feelings of happiness and reward. In this episode of NBC Nightly News, explains the calming effects coloring offers adults and why adult coloring books are becoming so popular today.

This type of art therapy is being used in drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities, juvenile detention centers, school counseling courses, and even in jails. The focus and attention coloring takes allows a person to be distracted from their stressor, giving them the time they need to calm down and rethink important reactions.

4. Sex as a Stress Reducer

Believe it or not, sex can relieve stress and there is a lot of research to back up this claim.

Some benefits of sex, other than reducing stress, include giving a person physical activity that helps improve heart health. The joy from sex can also ease pain, even if temporarily. Like coloring, sex is a great distraction from a stressor.

In addition, sex has been proven to improve skin, enhance a person’s mood and help people get a good night’s sleep. An article in Women’s Health adds that sex can also help give you a toned body, a healthy glow and can even help build up a strong immune system giving a person less colds. Since we know that when we are sick we are stressed, from physical aches and pains, to mental worry, anything we can do to build up our immune system is worth it.

Sex can offer laughter, relaxed muscles and a release of tension, all of which can lower stress levels.

5. Laughter Has Many Benefits

Some researchers claim laughter can help with stress reduction just as well, if not better, than medicines.

Laughter can change a person’s perspective from negative to positive.  It can also boost endorphins, which cause a person to feel happy.  And in many instances, a good laugh can cause your whole body to relax. The American Physiological Society claims even the anticipation of a laugh reduces stress hormones.

Laughter increases beta-endorphins which are associated with reducing depression.  They can also increase immunity. Laughter Therapy has been researched among cancer patients in efforts to decrease stress and anxiety and offer them a healthier recovery.  Many studies found that laughter therapy may be a very beneficial treatment among cancer patients and is highly recommended.

There are many quirky facts about laughter you may not be aware of just yet.

Your brain can detect fake laughter. However, even fake laughter can help reduce stress.

Laughing can burn calories and has been found to be contagious. Your laugh can trigger laughter, or at least a few smiles, in others. Laughing is attractive and helps improve memory function. In addition, laughing can help with blood pressure, relax muscles, ease digestion and enhance breathing. The more air you can get flowing through your body, the better your body will react to stress.

The main antidote to stress is happiness. Let go of the things that are out of your control and work on the things you can control. Find ways to beat stress, either through beneficial medications, alternative therapies, or with good old fashioned sex. With so many positive treatments for stress, there is no reason you can’t reduce the negative impacts stress may be having in your body and brain right now.

This article was originally published by Vantage Point Recovery.

Natural Ways to Stay on the Path to Recovery

Natural Ways to Stay On The Path to Recovery

Recovery can mean many different things to many different people.

For some it means going to an inpatient hospital until transferring to a halfway house and then to out-patient therapy. For some it means taking medications to help them stay sober. While these are great techniques that have proven to help thousands of people in recovery, there are additional all-natural techniques a person can implement to help them along the way.

Taking care of the whole person while in recovery will offer strength in fighting cravings and give a person better opportunities for recovery success. This means taking care of the physiological, psychological, and even environmental issues that will either limit or enhance recovery success.

Addiction and Recovery Defined

It may first be necessary to define addiction to understand why recovery from addiction is so important. According to the National Institute on Health, addiction is a chronic disease that causes people to compulsively use drugs or alcohol despite the negative consequences the drug can cause such as damage to the brain. It is hard for non-addicts to understand what makes a person choose a drug over food, jobs, even their own children. But drugs are that powerful and dangerous. They convince your brain that you cannot survive without the drug. Because of this recovery can seem almost impossible to some addicts. It is important to fight addiction with the best recovery process available.

The National Council of Alcohol and Drug Dependence defines recovery as the process in which a person changes the way they live so that it is healthier and gives them a better quality of life. They go from being non-productive members of society to holding down a job. They change their environment to one more conducive to recovery. A recovering addict will also attend meetings or events that will enhance their recovery. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers an explanation of recovery that has many facets. A summary of those are:

  • There are many pathways to recovery, meaning what works for one person may not work for another. Each person needs to find the path that works for them the best.
  • A person in recovery recognizes they need a change or transformation from the way they were living to a better way of living.
  • It is holistic in that it is important to treat the whole person while in recovery, not just a portion.
  • Has many cultural dimensions and requires a great deal of support from family, friends and professionals.
  • Involves healing and giving a person new meaning to life, making them more hopeful and grateful about what life can offer.
  • Encourages becoming a positive member of society through positive actions.

Psychology Today reports the definition has improved and also involves addressing the traumatic event or events that took place in the past that lead to a person using drugs or alcohol. They also address the importance of respect in the recovery process. It is important to know that recovery is a long process and it can take many months, even years, to complete. But it can be done, especially when treating the whole body.

Reduce Cravings During Detox

Cravings are urges a person has to return to using their drug of choice. Sometimes cravings are triggered by the senses, sometimes the brain is simply creating the urge because it wants the body to feel the way it felt when using drugs. A former alcoholic will need to stay away from a bar; otherwise he or she may be tempted to drink again. Some addicts in recovery choose to move from their old, drug neighborhood, to a brand new neighborhood so the brain can’t be triggered by people or locations that remind them of using drugs. Regenerative Nutrition claims cravings happen because residual toxins remain in the body causing the body to desire the addictive drug. If you can eliminate all toxins from the body then cravings can be significantly decreased.

Cravings are at their worst during detox from a drug. This is a fragile period of time for the addict. However, there are natural medicines associated with detox that can aid in replenishing vitamins the body lost while using drugs or alcohol. Dr. Julian Whitaker suggests taking the right vitamins each day can help curb cravings to alcohol and other drugs. He implies that by replenishing the vitamins your addiction took away from your body can help you have fewer cravings.

Smart Recovery developed an Acronym to assist those in recovery with learning how to fight cravings. The acronym is as follows:

  • D: Delay and encourages a person to not give in to the urge to use the substance they are craving.
  • E: Escape or leave the situation causing the craving.
  • A: Accept the fact that cravings are normal and something you will have to deal with but that they are temporary.
  • D: Dispute the craving by telling yourself to fight irrational urges.
  • S: Substitute the craving for an activity that is more beneficial to your health and wellness.

Some claim Vitamin C given in high doses can offer tremendous help in fighting cravings because most addicts are deprived of Vitamin C. They claim it can even help addicts who are detoxing from hard drugs such as heroin. Drugs and alcohol rob the body and the brain of many nutrients, making it hard for the body to recuperate quickly when the abuse of substances stops. It is important to put in the effort to rebuilding both the body and the brain to increase chances of success.

Rebuild Body and Brain

Every part of a person’s body needs specific vitamins and nutrients to help us function properly. The reason many substance abusers appear unhealthy is because they are unhealthy. It is sometimes easy to point out the external issues an addict may be having. For instance, they may appear too thin because addicts don’t eat properly. They may appear to have dark circles around their eyes and constantly have a dry mouth. This is because many substances cause dehydration. It is very important to begin working on healing the body and the brain as soon as recovery begins. Medline Plus explains that drug and alcohol abuse can cause malnourishment and a decline in overall health. Opiates can harm the digestive system, alcohol can cause diabetes, and stimulants can cause dehydration. These are just a few examples of how drugs harm the body. There are many more negative effects substance abuse can have on the body, making it very hard to recover unless you are able to rebuild and replenish the nutrients your body needs. You can do this through the foods and drinks you ingest during recovery.

There are many alternative medicines that can assist in healing the body during recovery. Natural medicines such as Vitamin C, Selenium, Zinc, Chromium, and Acidophilus will strengthen the liver. Calcium and Magnesium will strengthen the nervous system. B complex and potassium enhance energy while herbs such as milk thistle, valerian, passion flower, goldenseal and chamomile also assist in recovery by easing anxiety and cleansing the system of toxins.

Because the brain is also in need of repair after being damaged by alcohol and drugs, it is very important to rebuild the brain cells. Better Nutrition claims alcohol alone can change 200 genes in the brain. It is suggested that N-acetylcysteine can make neurotransmitters level again. As an antioxidant, it is extremely important in helping people control addictive behaviors.

Addiction Professional Magazine published an article on how to nourish the body of the addict when in recovery. The article states that sugar and caffeine can actually be triggers for relapse even though they seem relatively harmless. Therefore, following a whole food diet is a necessity. Medical Nutrition Therapy was created to heal the body and mind of the addict in recovery. Other goals of this therapy include reducing stress, stabilizing moods and encouraging a healthy lifestyle. Basic chores can seem overwhelming to a person in recovery because they did not care about that while they were using. Anything that can be done to teach the person in recovery how to succeed in all aspects of his or her life is important. Learning basic life skills, including how to eat healthy, will be beneficial.

Other than eating the right foods, drinking healthy, and supplementing with vitamins, herbs and minerals, there are also many alternative physical therapies a person can do to aid them on the path to recovery.

Natural Therapies for Recovery

The American Holistic Health Association reports alternative therapeutic techniques that can be used in recovery include acupuncture, bio-feedback, neuro-feedback, exercise, hypnosis, meditation, and Yoga. These are just a few in a vast array of treatments. It is important the recovering addict find the therapies they find enjoyable and meaningful to them. It is not encouraged to continue a natural therapy that has not shown any benefits. An example of another holistic therapy that may work for some but not all is prayer, as used in the 12-step programs that encourage connecting with a higher power. Guided Meditations have been shown to enhance a person’s recovery process by connecting them to spirituality and allowing the brain to have a calm period of time to heal itself. However, this may not be for everyone. A more universal therapy seems to be Creative art therapy, a great technique for use in recovery and in expressing thoughts and feelings without having to speak about them. The American Art Therapy Association reveals art therapy can help a person in recovery get back in touch with their inner self. In addition, art therapy can help ease anxiety and decrease depression. The important thing to remember is that art can come in many forms, from painting to music to dance. Light therapy can also be known as photo therapy and uses sunlight to improve the well-being of those in recovery. Sunlight provides nutrients that can aid in fighting depression, which is often experienced by those in recovery from drug addiction. While this is not an approach you see often in treatment or recovery programs, there is research that shows the benefits of sunlight are real.

Another tactic for assisting in recovery is that of a support system. Research has shown a high correlation between recovery success and having a positive support system. Trying to overcome addiction alone makes the process much harder. Being accountable to someone, meeting others with the same issues, and giving back to the community in which you live can all be very rewarding.

Importance of Support

A good support system is key to a successful recovery. A good support system can include many elements including a person you can call when you don’t feel strong enough to fight urges by yourself. It can include a group of people that meet each week who are experiencing the same issues as you. It can include a therapist you see on a regular basis to help you learn to express your feeling appropriately. It can also include building a stronger spiritual connection whether it is through church fellowship or meeting with a group that expresses your same beliefs.

Recovery support can involve establishing a network of connections in the community and at home, in work and personal relationships, and with professionals who can offer stability and positive interactions. It is just as important to limit the time you spend with negative influences, especially early in recovery when vulnerability is high. Not everyone will offer support. Some may even try to sabotage your recovery, thus making it even more important to do everything in your power to get the whole body as healthy as possible and surround yourself with people and activities that compliment your goal of recovery. The most important thing to successful recovery is to know and believe it is real and it is very achievable. Believing in yourself, taking care of yourself and finding your own strength will help you achieve your goal of recovery.

This article was originally published by Vantage Point Recovery.

how-is-social-anxiety-treated

How Is Social Anxiety Treated?

How is social anxiety treated today?

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is sometimes referred to as social phobia.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Social phobia is a strong fear of being judged by others and of being embarrassed.”

People who suffer from this disorder may worry and panic about minor social encounters, like going grocery shopping alone or having to ask a waiter a question at a restaurant. For bigger social events, an individual may be overcome with physical symptoms that would prohibit them from participating or even leaving the house.

Shaking, sweating, nausea, and increased heart rate are a few common physical symptoms that may occur.

Social anxiety disorder is a chronic mental health illness, which can have a variety of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. This disorder can manifest differently in people, but regardless of the level, SAD it is a form of extreme shyness.

Origins of social anxiety disorder may develop from a combination of things, including genetic factors, brain chemistry, personal history, life events, and environmental factors. And similar to how there is a major difference between having a case of the blues and a depressive disorder, there is a huge difference between being shy and suffering from social anxiety disorder.

Let’s take a closer look.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is different from shyness, because SAD is often paralyzing for an individual. People suffering from the disorder fear being judged in social settings or during performances to the point where they may experience panic attacks or develop agoraphobia.

This disorder is characterized by an individual’s persistent and crushing fear of social situations. If forced in particular settings, sufferers may start blushing, sweating, trembling, or even experience chest pain or nausea. This disorder can be problematic because it can severely hinder people from living their lives. SAD can affect the ability to work, attend school, or participate in activities of any kind. It can also affect potential friendships, familial connections, intimate relationships, or any other aspect of a person’s social life.

Social anxiety disorder can affect both men and women of all ages. SAD often starts during the later phases of childhood. Persistent symptoms of six months or longer will usually lead to a diagnosis. According to studies, “About 15 million American adults have social anxiety disorder.” Symptoms usually start at around age thirteen, although, people will wait years before finding help for their social anxiety.

How Is Social Anxiety Treated?

In today’s extrovert centered landscape, social anxiety disorder can be even more problematic to work through.

Exacerbated pressure to conform to societal norms can further harm people. Shyness may become more intense when it gets intensified and labeled as something shameful, bad, or weak. If you experience anxiety regularly, you may want to consider exploring the anxiety treatment options available.  Anxiety occurs for different reasons, so you should also evaluate what triggers anxiety so you can approach treatment more effectively. For example, exploring social anxiety treatment may be more helpful than exploring generalized anxiety treatment or panic disorder treatment. Regardless of what form anxiety appears, it’s worth it to explore your options and relieve the paralyzing symptoms and combat the stigma that surrounds this disorder.

Psychotherapy is one of the most effective and long-lasting methods that can improve social anxiety disorder. Depending on the therapist or treatment center, different kinds of therapeutic modalities can help.

Therapists sometimes use a treatment approach known as brief exposure therapy (developed by Isaac Marks) under the right circumstances.

“The patient has to be persistently avoiding situations which trigger discomfort. Second, the patient needs to be able to specify, after discussion with the therapist, clearly attainable goals.” It has varying approaches, where either the patient is briefly exposed to a triggering event, imagines a triggering event, or confronts social anxiety symptoms (like increased heart rate or chest pain).

This therapeutic approach may not be ideal for certain patients.

This therapy exposes you to triggering and often frightening situations, which may be unbearable for patients with severe symptoms. The idea of this type of therapy is to expose the patient to mild anxiety as a way to work towards long lasting healing. When patients are exposed, they realize it is not as bad as they imagined and that symptoms can be managed. This behavioral approach is largely self-managed and results in a sense of empowerment, if treatment is successful.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Social Anxiety Disorder

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most common and successful treatment methods for social anxiety disorder. When therapists use this approach, they help patients understand the core elements of social anxiety and their own triggers. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) also helps uncover negative and incorrect thoughts, in addition to changing them. Therapists can change behaviors through talk therapy or exercises where patients talk or write down the negative thoughts they associate with their social fears. They then challenge them by writing down reasons why their thoughts are untrue.

For instance, people sometimes think, I don’t want to speak in meetings because people will make fun of me. The therapist would then have the patient list their positive attributes that would disprove that notion, like friendships within the office, time employed there, or successful projects completed. The exercise proves, through concrete evidence, why the patient’s negative thoughts are incorrect. CBT also works to find alternative healthy coping mechanisms to minimize social anxiety.

If symptoms of SAD are severe, they may result in a panic disorder, chest pain, nausea, or shaking. Medication may be prescribed to help ease the dangerous physical manifestations of the disorder. Antidepressants, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are used for ongoing symptoms of social anxiety. Additionally, physicians may prescribe a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), like venlafaxine, to curb more intense elements of social anxiety disorder. Medication is given only at the discretion of a practicing physician.

You Are Not Alone

Everyone has moments of insecurity, which may magnify depending on the situation they are in. Statistics show that as many as fifteen million people in the United States suffer from social anxiety disorder. While social anxiety disorder may feel overpowering, you must not let it consume you. Seek out the support of a trusted individual like a compassionate mental health practitioner.

And in addition to common methods of treatment like psychotherapy, wellness activities, like eco-therapy, yoga, mediation, or mindfulness training may also help. These methods can calm the more severe aspects of this disorder. When used in partnership with support systems and regular therapy, this disorder can be managed and will not control your life. You are not alone.

This article was originally published by Vantage Point Recovery.

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7 Holistic Ways to Prevent Suicidal Thoughts and Depression

Are you experiencing suicidal thoughts and depression?

Acording to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, reasons for suicidal thoughts and depression are varied among individuals, but often include a wide range of mental illnesses, including anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), addiction, and bipolar disorder.  In an article titled the Connection between Chronic Pain and Suicide, it is reported “90% of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable and potentially treatable illness including depression, anxiety, alcohol and other substance use.”

That is quite alarming.

Live Science supports this information and further reports that dealing with a suicidal person’s mental health issues can help and possibly prevent a suicide attempt or completion.  Getting a mental health diagnosis is a must in order to begin to treat the patient.  It is very important to know the difference between disorders so a proper therapy plan can be established.  While attending Counseling with a Psychologist or Licensed Counselor is a top choice in preventing suicides, there are also other modalities that can be paired with traditional counseling to enhance the healing and recovery process.

Let’s take a closer look.

Preventing Suicidal Thoughts and Depression

The key to preventing suicidal thoughts and depression with alternative methods of healing, paired with traditional counseling, is to treat the signs and symptoms of mental health issues that trigger these thoughts and feelings.  The sooner a person starts treatment, the better.  But healing is possible in everyone, no matter what the cause and no matter when their symptoms started.

While there is an argument for many more than seven holistic therapies that can improve a person’s mental well-being, the methods discussed in this article include Acupuncture, Aromatherapy, Ayurvedic Medicine, Balneotherapy, Chiropractic, Hypnotherapy and Yoga Therapy.

All of which are affordable and easy to implement into a daily routine.

1. Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy sounds great … Smell a scent and feel better.

If only it were that simple the whole world would be feeling great all of the time.  There are two key words:  aroma and therapy.

Paired together they become a long-term treatment process of combining beneficial aromas with therapy.  In basic high school science we learn about the power of the sense of smell, with it being extremely more capable than the sense of taste.  It makes sense that smelling something positive can improve well-being because by using the power of smell, the brain receives the feel good message faster.  The National Institute of Health defines aromatherapy as “the therapeutic use of essential oils from plants to improve physical, spiritual and emotional well-being”.

Aromatherapy has a variety of benefits, including improving the mental well-being of a person by elevating moods and decreasing negative thoughts and feelings, even the thoughts of suicide.

This is because when a person feels happier, they are less likely to want to escape from their situation.  There are many aromas, offered as essential oils.  The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy report that the most commonly used essential oils to relieve stress and anxiety are chamomile, sage, lavender and neroli.  Healthline describes a variety of methods to use essential oils for aromatherapy.  These include using a diffuser machine, massages using essential oils versus regular lotions, room sprays, or even taking baths with soaps and washes that include essential oils.

2. Acupuncture

The image of Acupuncture can be scary when it is mostly reported as being needles poking holes in different parts of the body.

Ouch!

How can that help?

But research has shown Acupuncture does help, in a big way.  It has been shown to improve mental health symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and even grief.  According to Dr. Michael Reed Gach, the “Lung 1 pressure point, located three finger widths below the collarbone, is associated with relieving symptoms of depression, anxiety, grief.”  He calls it the “letting go” point and says it can release emotions, as well as tears, helping a person get rid of suppressed feelings.  Scientific American reports on a study published by the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine which found a form of acupuncture called electro-acupuncture had positive results.

In fact, it was found that a mild electric pulse given to patients was found to be “just as effective as Prozac.”

The Journal of Psychology and Psychotherapy published the results of a study in which 443 participants who had been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder were treated with Acupuncture.

They concluded that not only was acupuncture safe in treating people with Anxiety, but that it was found to be helpful in improving mental health problems. Even for people with a diagnosis of Bipolar, acupuncture can be a big help.  Helpguide.org claims acupuncture can help relieve stress and mania.  With this much evidence supporting the use of Acupuncture in healing mental health issues, it is worth meeting with a trained specialist.

3. Ayurvedic Medicine

The pronunciation of this treatment is most likely the hardest thing you will encounter in implementing this into a therapy plan.

This may also be one of the oldest holistic treatments practiced.  The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health explains that this form of treatment has been around, originating in India, for thousands of years.  It “promotes the use of herbal compounds, special diets, and other unique health practices.”Spirituality & Health suggests it is imperative we resolve emotional turmoil and conflict within ourselves.  Otherwise, these negative emotions will build up and over time, deplete our mental health, making us dysfunctional and even suicidal.

Recommendations made in using Ayurvedic Medicine include making good sleep a priority, as well as eating a plant based diet.

More can be found in this video about Ayurvedic Medicine, which explains how anxiety and stress are decreased through this treatment.  This is the all-encompassing treatment method due to its focus being on all levels of the human being.  It concentrates on both internal and external improvements by using herbs, diet, meditations, breathing techniques, massage and more.  And as Aromatherapy uses the sense of smell, Ayurvedic seems to use the sense of taste through spices and teas to help a person feel better about living.

4. Balneotherapy

Balneotherapy is generally described as bathing in mineral spring water to get rid of diseases in the body.

Yes, just like the natural hot springs that can be found from Arkansas to West Virginia to Canada.  Many believe in the healing powers of these spring waters and flock to these baths often for relief of many internal and external problems. The National Center for Biotechnology Information conducted a study to find out if Balneotherapy can help with stress and fatigue among participants.  They even went as far as comparing this type of treatment to music therapy.  What the researchers found was that of the 180 participants, Balneotherapy was found to be better at relieving stress and fatigue and improved overall mood and thinking skills. Don’t have time to travel the world looking for mineral springs for soaking?  No problem, try using Epsom salts right in your own home.

It has been known to help reduce stress and increase energy, easing mental health concerns.  Dr. Axe writes about the other numerous benefits of Epsom salts on the body as a whole.  When a person feels better, their thinking is more positive, giving them more reasons to live a good life.

5. Chiropractic

The Chiropractic method no longer involves the patient getting their back or neck “cracked” for alignment.  The entire system has evolved into a major healing practice that is becoming very popular.  With new advancements in the practice, from technology to adjustment equipment, this method is truly helping people without the use of drugs.

An article in Pediatric Child Health reports the primary purpose of chiropractic is to “improve health by adjusting the spine and using other natural means to stimulate the body’s innate recuperative power by way of the nervous system”.  Chiropractic has been found to improve mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, ADHD and even Bipolar.  Treatment of Bipolar Disorder, among other physical ailments, was the subject of a case study dealing with a 23 year old male in the Journal of Manipulative and Therapeutic Techniques.  Using the upper cervical technique over several months, the patient reported no manic episodes and a lack of symptoms with his physical ailments also.  Because pain has been associated with suicidal ideations and attempts, it is important the person suffering find relief from this pain so they can feel hope and uplift in mood, leading to more positive thinking and positive living.

The American Chiropractic Association links biological and emotional problems of patients to suicidal ideations.  Because they are in so much pain, either mentally or physically, they cannot focus on the hope of getting better.  Chiropractic practices can help eliminate suicidal thoughts by improving the biological and emotional problems of the person being treated.  Therefore, offering them hope and the ability to see an improved lifestyle.

6. Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy has received a bad reputation at times with some therapists putting on circus like side shows in theaters making people behave in an embarrassing manner while they are not conscious.  Medicinal Hypnotherapy is just the opposite and can be of great help to a person suffering from mental illnesses.

The Mayo Clinic defines Medical Hypnosis as “hypnotherapy or hypnotic suggestion, a trance-like state in which you have heightened focus and concentration that can be used to help you gain control over undesired behaviors or to help you cope better with anxiety or pain.”  U.S. News tells the story of a 28 year old female with suicidal thoughts who was greatly helped by medical hypnosis.  Steve Mason, member of Beta Band, told his story of how medical hypnosis helped him alleviate suicidal thoughts and depression to The National Hypnotherapy Society.  There are more accounts such as these, lending valid evidence to support the idea that being hypnotized by a trained therapist over a long-term period can decrease negative feelings of depression and anxiety by helping patients open up on a deeper level to resolve problems.

7. Yoga Therapy

Stretching, bending, breathing funny may be some of the ways yoga is described by those who have yet to truly reap the therapeutic benefits.  Yes, all of that will take place during a yoga session.  However, you will pace yourself, making you more aware of the needs of your body and mind and connecting those to your spirituality.  Our spirituality can help us feel a higher sense of purpose, directing us away from suicidal thoughts and toward focusing on our purpose for life.

The International Association of Yoga Therapy defines Yoga Therapy as being able to help many areas of a person’s life:

  • Improve health
  • Improve Spirituality
  • Improve Psychological Wellness
  • Improve Coping Skills

LexiYoga.com states the World Health Organization reports over 3,000 suicides a day.  In addition, the author claims Yoga can help prevent suicide by increasing the amount of endorphins the brain releases.  Endorphins have been linked to being happy so it naturally makes sense that by participating in activities such as yoga exercises, the brain will produce more happy chemicals.

The Ohio State University reports that yoga can even help veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a mental disorder that can lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts.  Amazingly, there are yoga classes currently in place at numerous Veterans Hospitals around the country to help veterans learn relaxation techniques they can implement when faced with triggers. If this is the case, all of the bending and stretching is worth a try.

Conclusion

The most important concept to remember is that how we feel psychologically or physically will affect our entire outlook on life, making it positive or negative, giving us hope or making us feel hopeless.

If we suffer from depression, we will most likely have feelings of hopelessness.  If many of our emotions are steeped in fear, it can seem overwhelming to continue in that lifestyle.  By improving mental well-being and emotional stability, our reasons for living improve.  When we feel happy, we find reasons to love life and lead a purposeful life.

The way to do this is to implement a variety of techniques, along with traditional counseling, that will improve our overall mental health.

This article was originally published by Vantage Point Recovery.