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By reading this site, the reader acknowledges their personal respnsibility in choices for mental health for themselves and their children, and agrees that the AYCNP or anyone associated with this site, bears no responsibility for one's personal decisions in choices for mental health. Anyone coming off medication should do so gradually rather than abruptly. Anyone experiencing thoughts of suicide should seek support.
A Life Less Anxious: Freedom from panic attacks and social anxiety without drugs or therapy by Steve Pavilanis, Patricia Alma Lee
A Life Less Anxious is genuine and practical. In a day and age where we "medicate first and ask questions later" it is great to have a resource to help people deal with their anxiety using proven techniques .... I highly recommend this book! --Tim Ursiny, PH.D., Founder, Advantage Coaching & Training
Panic Attacks Workbook: A Guided Program by David Carbonell
With methods and exercises based on the author's extensive clinical experience, Panic Attacks Workbook helps people understand the true nature of their panic attacks. It demonstrates the vicious cycle of habitual responses that lead to debilitating attacks, teaches how to halt this self-destructive process, and guides people along a proven path that promotes recovery.
David Carbonell outlines such cognitive behavioral methods as diaphragmatic breathing, progressive exposure, desensitization, relaxation, keeping a panic diary, and much more. Dr. David Carbonell is the founder and director of the Anxiety Treatment Center in Chicago and New York.
Principles and Practice of Stress Management (Third Edition) by Paul M. Lehrer PhD, Robert L. Woolfolk Phd, Wesley E. Sime PhD, David H. Barlow PhD
"This unusually comprehensive volume provides exceptionally broad coverage of a wide variety of stress management methods. Chapters are well organized and include theoretical foundations, reviews of the empirical literature, discussion of clinical issues, and illustrative case studies. This book will be a valuable resource for clinicians and researchers and a useful text for graduate courses on stress management."--Ruth A. Baer, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky
Two books for overcoming anxiety with exercise
Conquering Depression and Anxiety Through Exercise Keith Johnsgard
Exercise has proven to be of benefit in self-help for depression and other mental health disorders. Regular exercise can help stabilize bipolar disorder, and relieve symptoms of ADHD and anxiety. This book endeavors to provide clinical proof that exercise is effective in treating depression and provides numerous case studies as well as clinical studies.
Exercise for Mood and Anxiety: Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-Being Michael Otto Ph.D., Jasper A.J. Smits Ph.D.
Exercise has long been touted anecdotally as an effective tool for mood improvement, but only recently has rigorous science caught up with these claims. There is now overwhelming evidence that regular exercise can help relieve low mood-from feelings of stress and anxiety to full depressive episodes.
Stress Relief Today: Causes, Effects, and Management Techniques That Can Improve Your Life,
D. K. Jefferson
The various types of stress are considered, as well as the universally common stressors. Jefferson gives practical advice for managing, reducing, and dealing with the things in our lives that keep us in a state of stress.
|Page updated: January 3, 2016
Anxiety, Anxiety Disorders, & Panic Attacks
--------Symptoms, Natural Cures, and Prevention
This page has been professionally reviewed and edited by a mental health
professional associated with the AYCNP who has a PhD in psychology.
Erin began experiencing anxiety from when she was a child. Her pediatric physician diagnosed her with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). She began meeting with a therapist and continued to for about one year.
During that time, she learned techniques such as "positive self-talk," which literally talking herself out of anxiety. Every time she used positive self talk to come out of anxiety, it reinforced her self-confidence and reduced the severity of the anxiety. Her situation gradually improved over the next few years, to the point where she no longer needed the assistance of a therapist.
Natural remedies for anxiety: Regular exercise
is one activity among many that can help overcome anxiety and anxiety disorders. Developing positive coping tools in your lifestyle can help you overcome anxieties and anxiety disorders. Prevention is also an important element of reducing anxiety.
One of the options that Erin and her parents decided not to pursue was the use of prescription drugs. She was determined to overcome her anxiety without — medication and she succeeded. (Geelan, R., N.J. Family, November, 2010. p.23)
What is Anxiety? Signs and Symptoms
While there are many different forms of anxiety, some of the general symptoms of anxiety can be described as follows:
Feelings of apprehension
A feeling of powerlessness
Sense of impending danger, panic, or doom
Increased heart rate
Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
Feeling weak or tired
Source: Based on Anxiety Symptoms, Mayo Clinic (2012)
Types of Anxiety Disorders
From a psychiatric perspective, major types of specific anxiety disorders include phobic disorders like agoraphobia; obsessive-compulsive disorder
(OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute-stress disorder, generalized-anxiety disorder (long-lasting and low-grade), Panic attacks (which are more acute and dramatic than generalized anxiety disorders), and separation anxiety disorder (a childhood condition).
Additionally, Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition and substance-induced anxiety disorder, are anxiety disorders due to a specific physical cause. For anxiety disorders that do not fit the above categories, the term “anxiety disorder not otherwise specified,” is used.
are diagnosed when anxieties become so pronounced so as to effect day-to-day activities.
Causes of Anxiety Disorders
The University of Maryland Medical Center states, "Most people with these disorders seem to have a biological vulnerability to stress, making them especially susceptible to environmental stimuli."
Environmental stimuli can include:
Trauma from events such as abuse, victimization, or the death of a loved one
Anxiety due to personal relationships, marriage, friendship, and divorce
Work related anxieties
School-related anxiety (e.g. stress over school workload, grades, bullying, peer pressure).
Anxieties about finances and money
Stress from a natural disaster
Watching distressing news events on television such as terrorism or crime
Reliving past traumatic events triggered by news events on television or conversations with others; repeatedly recalling past events
High recurrence rate with drug treatment of anxiety disorders
Prescription drug treatment
is commonly used to treat anxiety disorders. While drug treatment for anxiety disorders may be effective in the short-term, long-term studies indicate a high recurrence rate with prescription treatment.
In an article entitled, Issues in the Long-Term Treatment of Anxiety Disorders, researchers Edward Schweizer, M.D.(Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania), Karl Rickels, M.D. (research psychiatrist), and Eberhard H. Uhlenhuth, M.D. (psychiatrist at Albuquerque New Mexico) report on the subject of short-term drug treatment of panic attacks :
Studies reporting outcome after short-term benzodiazepine therapy (anti-anxiety drugs such as Valium) find that many patients experience transient rebound anxiety symptoms to a level above their pretreatment baseline (38,56). By 1–3 years, approximately 50% or more of acutely treated patients have had a recurrence (34), and at least 50% have resumed treatment.
The same report indicates that approximately one percent of the adult population has currently or recently received long-term benzodiazepine therapy of one year or longer.
Recurrence rate of drug-treated anxiety:
Generalized anxiety disorder - 81% anxiety recurrence rate at one year after four-week treatment w/ benzodiazepine therapy
Generalized Anxiety Disorder - 63% recurrence rate within one year - w/diazepam, six-week treatment
The report concludes, "Overall, it appears that 60–80% of GAD patients (at least the ones applying for drug therapy) require additional treatment by 1 year."
Panic attacks - 50% recurrence rate w/benzodiazepine treatment
Rebound anxiety after discontinuing drug treatment
Based on scientific measurements, approximately 20% of persons treated with benzodiazepines had anxiety levels that were equal to or higher than their pretreatment baseline, indicating a rebound anxiety effect, or greater intensity of anxiety than before starting drug treatment.
The positive outcomes inherent in "well-established efficacy" of cognitive therapy (in conjunction with elements of behavioral therapy) and anxiety management strategies and therapies appear to be more acute (effective) and long-lasting than prescription drug treatment. Studies indicate the generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) treated with cognitive or anxiety management therapy may be unusually effective in sustaining improvement (italics added), with less than one-third of patients relapsing. (Schweizer, E., et al., 2000)
Teach skills not pills.
Some of the issues related to benzodiazepine use are:
tolerance (of the drug) with long-term usage
psychomotor impairment that may be relevant to the execution of complex real-world tasks.
impairment to cognitive tasks
impairment to short-term memory
potential for recreational abuse (for both the user and for others in the household)
physical dependence and withdrawal
post-withdrawal craving for the drug
possible long-term medical or physiologically damaging effects
Effective Non-drug, Natural Remedies for Anxiety
Research also indicates that there are many effective therapies for anxiety disorders. In addition to exercise, relaxing activities, such as in Green Therapy
or using Art as a therapy
, and various other proven psychotherapies
can be useful without the need for medications.
Evidence-based treatment studies reveal that:
- Individual cognitive behavioral therapy,
- Group cognitive behavioral therapy (GCBT),
- GCBT with parents,
- GCBT for social phobia,
- And social effectiveness training for children with social phobia
are effective for both children
, as well as for adults.
These treatments are in the second tier of treatment efficaciousness, "probably efficacious," with very stringent standards for efficaciousness. This treatment plan need not include medication, according to the article, Journal Highlights Effectiveness of Research Based Psychotherapies for Youth, published in The Journal of Clinical and Adolescent Psychology, and as reported by NIMH.
Art is something to be considered for relief from anxieties, as is prayer and attention to
Cecilia is an artist from Brazil who started painting when her doctor encouraged her to take it up to relieve anxiety. She started for the first time in February 2007, and since then has produced a couple of dozen of masterful works of art. Her intense anxieties were relieved, and without medication.
Conclusion: Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders & Panic Attacks: Symptoms, Natural Cures, and Prevention
As stated in this narrative, natural ways of combating anxiety appear to be feasible and viable, and most importantly, have been proven to be successful. Medicating anxiety with benzodiazepines and antidepressants has serious physical side effects, especially when discontinued. Many mental health professionals, such as the psychiatrists whose research has been cited in this discussion, advocate natural interventions. These include cognitive-behavioral therapy for treating anxiety and the basis for anxiety, in particular.
As alluded in this narrative, medication treats symptoms of anxiety rather than its causes.
It is intuitively obvious that natural ways to treating anxiety are preferable. These interventions are non-invasive in the sense that they do not include treatment related to brain chemistry in controlling behavior. Moreover, such treatments for anxiety lack the effects, side effects, and rebound effects of a drug upon discontinuation. Overall, natural remedies for anxiety simply make sense.
References for Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders & Panic Attacks: Symptoms, Natural Cures, and Prevention
1. Anxiety - Symptoms. (June 30, 2012). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/anxiety/DS01187/DSECTION=symptoms
2. Anxiety disorders - Highlights. (2011). University of Maryland Medical Center. https://www.umm.edu/patiented/articles/anxiety_disorders_000028.htm
3. Journal Highlights Effectiveness of Research Based Psychotherapies for Youth. (April 15, 2008). NIMH. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/science-news/2008/journal-highlights-effectiveness-of-research-based-psychotherapies-for-youth.shtml
4. Self-help treatments for generalised anxiety disorder. (2014, February 25). Britain: National Health Service (NHS) Choices.
This is a government health website resource of Great Britain.
5. Schweizer, E., Rickels, K., Uhlenhuth, E.H., (2000). Issues in the Long-Term Treatment of Anxiety Disorders https://www.acnp.org/g4/gn401000129/ch127.html
6. What Causes Anxiety? Medical News Today. Retrieved July 28, 2012. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/anxiety/what-causes-anxiety.php
Pages Related to Self-Help and Treatment of Anxiety
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