Today’s post on Alternative Anxiety Treatments is for anyone who suffers from an anxiety disorder. Seeking help is the first step, so congratulations on reading this and other helpful information.
Anxiety disorders include medical conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, agoraphobia, and panic disorder.
Hello and welcome to Fearlessly Holistic
My name is Irma and I want to share my journey to improved health by eating whole foods, moving my body and eliminating stress as much as possible.
It is my hope to inspire you to make daily changes.
Why? Because eating fresh, seasonal food and getting some sunshine is the best way to increase longevity. But you do not want just a long life.
You want a quality long life.
My blog posts are my opinion and the results of things that I have tried that either worked for me or didn’t. My opinions are for informational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice.
Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them. As well, there may be affiliate links in this post. Read more here.
*NOTE* If you are having problems and think that you may harm yourself or others please call 911 and ask to be directed to a mental health professional. Over-the-phone, online, and email counseling options are available to most people.
Investigating Alternative Anxiety Treatments
I am always wary of recommending doctors advice, since much of the advice I have received was not helpful.
I understand that most doctors are just trying to help people. But their advice is based on what they learned at medical school.
Their medical education is sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, whose only goal is to get you on pills. And keep you there.
That is why they are so free with their samples.
When I was put on medication, I was assured that the pills were (1) not addictive, and (2) helpful for most people.
Neither of these statements are true, in my opinion.
I believe that when people learn to deal with issues right away, stress and anxiety become a thing of the past, for the most part.
We will always have a certain amount of unavoidable stress, but we will deal with it in better ways.
However, because everyone is different, and your condition may be related to something outside of my personal education on mental health, I say check in with your doctor.
Try the meds if you trust your GP and their advice.
Keep in mind that you can combine alternative therapies with medication (recommended). As you learn better coping methods, your need for medication goes down.
Something that always bothered me about prescription medication for depression, anxiety, and panic is how many there are.
Doctors will say that it is because people are different. But people are different who also get antibiotics, allergy medication and other prescription drugs.
So why so many kinds of brain-altering medications?
It is because the science is sketchy at best. After all, who is doing the research? Uh oh…it’s big pharma.
They have a vested interest in getting you on these drugs and keeping you on them. It’s not personal. It’s just business.
Keep that in mind as you test out medications.
I know that the first recommendation when I went to the doctor was some free samples of SSRI’s. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) are the most common and most prescribed of the mental health drugs.
No one recommended any free programs from the Mental Health department. I had to research that on my own.
Most of the mental health programs were only offered every few months, and were booked up for many months. However, it is well worth getting on the waiting list to learn some helpful skills.
Alternative Treatments For Anxiety Disorders
If you are interested in oral medications, there are a number of supplements that may be able to help with your anxiety.
Common supplements that can be used to treat anxiety disorders include:
- Passion fruit
- Valerian root
- St. John’s wort
Your doctor can instruct you taking these supplements in a safe way. Please do your own research first.
Supplements are nutritional items that people used to use for healing, before being replaced by prescription medications. But that does not mean that they are not available or useful.
Your first stop here is to eat a clean and healthy diet.
Related Post: Clean Eating for Improved Health
The importance of eating fresh, local fruits and veggies along with the best quality meat that you can afford cannot be overstated.
Your body and your brain are designed to run on the food that is available where you live.
Eating what grows in season where you are ensures that you get nutrients that will help you survive winter, when less fresh food is available.
Do not feel that you must eat the latest “superfood” from a far away land, like those rip-off Acai berry pills via Dr. Oz. #scam
Your body will appreciate the nutrients more from that lettuce you picked up at a farmer’s market, than the stuff coming in from across the land.
Reduce the amounts of caffeine and sugar you ingest to help with anxiety.
You can still drink coffee, just cut back the amount. Switch over to herbal teas if you need a hot drink.
Sugar is bad for health, especially the dreaded high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that is in most processed foods. Use a little honey or maple syrup (pure only; some brands mix HFCS with honey or maple syrup).
When I was initially diagnosed with depression, I was seeing my doctor for my insomnia. I had been having a lot of trouble staying asleep and was waking up multiple times in the night.
I was prescribed the nasty little blue pills with the metallic taste…Zopiclone. They worked but ugh what a nasty taste.
At the time, multiple co-workers were all touting the benefits af anti-depressants so I trusted my doctor that this was the way to go.
Six years later…and I still had insomnia?
Because drugs like Zopiclone only treat insomnia; they do not cure it.
What helped my insomnia was a product from the health food store called Tranquil Sleep. It’s from Natural Factors and all it does is give you a dose of the hormones and natural amino acids that our body uses for sleep anyway, like 5-HTP and Melatonin.
It took 2.5 bottles to reset my sleep back to normal, with zero addiction.
I am not an exercise person. But I do believe in the healing power that comes from a good walk.
Walking is the only way people got around for thousands of years. Not running cross-country, like characters in The Lord of The Rings. Just walking.
A good walk helps clear your mind.
You get to observe the changing seasons, see what your neighbors are growing in their yards, and you get some fresh air.
Alternatively, swimming is another great exercise. My summer is all about tubing local rivers, which also includes some long walks.
If you cannot get outside yet, due to agoraphobia or other issue, then just try going out on your patio.
Next, try walking around your house. Work your way up to walking around the block, and then ‘timed’ walks. Either timed by the clock or measured by distance.
Load up your phone with the latest dance music to get you moving faster.
This can help you manage stress more readily.
If you believe you may be developing an anxiety disorder, trying to use stress management skills is very important.
Techniques like hypnosis, virtual reality use, acupuncture, and meditation can also help patients deal with anxiety. While these alternative treatment options do not help everyone, they may be able to help you. Be sure to ask your doctor about all treatment options available so that you can make the best choices for your body.
Reduce Panic Attacks Naturally
While it is a good idea to understand what panic disorder is and how to stop panic attacks once they start, you also need to be aware of how to reduce them from coming back.
The only product that I have used to stop my panic attacks is The Panic Away program. It teaches you how to diffuse your panic attacks.
I bought my program about 8 years ago.
After I used the product for about two weeks, I was able to stop my panic attacks completely.
If I even think I might be about to experience panic, I was ready to use the program. But the panic never came back, because Panic Away works so well.
Bye bye anxiety meds.
Here are some different things you can try when you want help reducing your future panic attacks.
Reduce Your Panic Triggers
Naturally, one of the first things you should do when you get frequent panic attacks is to avoid your triggers.
The most common triggers are:
- Social situations – usually with strangers or large crowds of strangers, like weddings
- Doing things that scare you – like giving a speech. Or being up high when you’re scared of heights
- Accidentally choking while eating or drinking – Not being able to breathe can trigger panic
- Feeling stressed after a workout – If your heart is beating fast, you may feel out of control and panic
Before going any further, I want to stress this: this should not mean avoiding all people and situations.
If something in your daily life becomes a trigger, like talking to people or leaving your house, you should continue seeking treatment to help with those triggers.
It should not be a reason you just avoid living because of your anxiety.
When I had agoraphobia, I couldn’t shop at large stores full of people because it caused anxiety. I didn’t understand anxiety back then.
I would buy food for my daughters lunch from a gas station convenience store…right before they closed for the night.
I knew this was “wrong” but I couldn’t get a grip on it until I tried The Bounce Back Program.
This program is local to where I live, but there are similar programs available.
It teaches skill building to help you dig out of the depths of some mental illnesses. And the skills are helpful for anyone. It came with telephone coaching as well.
If your local mental health association has a program like it, I urge you to try it. It has many helpful ways of dealing with different anxieties.
However, for triggers that are easy to control, like caffeine or physical triggers, you should be able to avoid them to a certain extent, and reduce your panic attacks in the process.
Get a Handle on Your Thoughts and Fears
Panic attacks are the way your mind reacts to perceived threats.
Something in your life is causing you to be fearful. Your brain thinks that you are being attacked by a wild animal so it gives you what you need to escape…adrenaline.
You are not having a heart attack, even though it often feels like it. That’s the feeling of adrenaline propelling you to move away from the danger.
I used to wonder why my panic attacks took place at 4 a.m. I mean, I was asleep. What was my body reacting to?
It was reacting to me going to a job I hated because I thought I had to. At the time, I didn’t know all the choices available to me.
I felt trapped. And I felt cheated.
Everyone I knew kept telling me to stick with it, for the benefits. Ya right…great benefits: depression, anxiety and panic attacks.
When my doctor told me he would sign papers allowing me medical paid leave, I almost cried because I felt such relief. It was like someone else was taking care of me!
Do yourself a favor and find some self-care routines that can help you offload stress.
Your body can have responses to your thoughts and worries, so by controlling your thoughts, you are able to control how your body reacts.
This is why learning things like meditation, mindfulness, and what you learn in cognitive behavioral therapy is so important.
My favorite self-care techniques are:
- Journaling – Read the book Let It Out: A Journey Through Journaling by Katie Dalebout.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) – Try Tap With Brad on YouTube
- Meditation – YouTube has lots of free meditations. Put one on your phone and listen to fall asleep or just relax
- Subliminal Recordings – Brain Sync is my favorite. I have a lot of these on looping playlists that I listen to while I sleep. They reprogramm your brain with positive messages.
I think the reason why more women than men have certain mental illnesses is because we always put others needs ahead of our own.
We do that for others. You owe it to your mental health to do things just for you.
When something occurs that would normally lead to anxiety and a panic attack, try to learn how to be reflective on it, as opposed to reactive.
This is what causes you to analyze something for what it is, instead of getting anxious over what it isn’t.
If you typically experience panic attacks when you are having heart palpitations, learn what palpitations are and how they are not necessary a dangerous thing.
The more informed you are, the more reflective you can be instead of instantly reacting to things.
Steps to Stop a Panic Attack
While the methods described above to reduce how many panic attacks you have can be very helpful, it isn’t going to keep all of them away. With panic disorder, you don’t always have a trigger, which means they can sometimes come out of nowhere.
Beyond using the Panic Away program, you need to learn the proper techniques for stopping one as soon as it begins. I have tried many of these techniques and all of them helped in some way.
Here are some tips to do this.
Stop Scaring Yourself More
The only thing that is causing your panic attacks is your mind and how it causes your body to react to your thoughts and feelings.
This can be really frustrating, but it also means you might be able to learn to have some control over it. If you start to feel panic coming on, stop your mind from making it worse.
People with anxiety who often experience panic attacks are going to make it a lot worse once the anxiety kicks in.
You might have had a dry throat when swallowing a pill, which for a normal person, wouldn’t be an issue. They get the pill down, take extra water, and that’s it.
With anxiety and panic disorder, the thoughts race, suddenly with you worrying about choking on the pill, not being able to get it down, or it going down the wrong way and getting stuck in your air pipe, cutting off all air circulation.
Once you feel the dry throat, just remember what it is and don’t scare yourself further.
Learn How to Calm Your Mind
The next technique to learn for stopping panic attacks is to calm your mind. This might be different for everyone, so you should try a few different methods until you figure out what works best for you. You want to calm your body and mind, trying to relax so you can also stop the panic attack.
Deep breathing exercises
This is going to be at the top of most people’s list.
When you are breathing in deeply, your mind is focusing on the breathing, so you focus less on your fears. You can’t completely concentrate on two thoughts at the same time.
So, if you only concentrate on the breath going in and out, you can’t really think about what is causing the panic attack. Try this:
- Breathe in for a count of four
- Hold your breathe for a count of four
- Exhale for a count of four
- Hold your breathe for a count of four
Repeat until you feel calm. This is like a reset for your brain.
Listening to music
For some people, music relaxes their mind the most. This is one of the methods you have to try out and see if it works for you.
Others might find that music – or certain types of music – actually causes the opposite effect, so don’t feel pressured if it doesn’t help. Just move on to something else.
I like watching meditation videos that have a beach location with the sound of waves crashing. I totally zone out watching them. So relaxing. They’re on YouTube.
If your panic attacks tend to worsen because of the racing heart or sweating or tunnel vision, simply focus on another body part that isn’t giving off the physical response during the panic attack.
- You can concentrate on your itchy skin
- A joint that is sometimes sore
- How your toes are tingly
Why does this help? You change what you are focusing on.
Find a Good Distraction
Finding something to distract you during a panic attack is similar to the techniques described above, but a little different.
You aren’t just trying to find something that soothes your thoughts, but that keeps your thoughts from the physical response you are having.
- Think about something, anything, that tends to bring you joy.
- Something where when you do it, you enjoy it so much you hardly think about anything else.
This is what is going to be your biggest distraction.
For a music lover, it will be listening to their favorite song, while artists might prefer being creative, and planners love writing in their to-do lists. It doesn’t matter what it is.
Remind Yourself What is Happening
For some people, being realistic is what helps the most. They don’t need to distract their mind, but just reflect on what is happening. Do your research, learn about panic attacks and why they happen, really get into the science of your body’s response to your thoughts.
Then think about this during an attack, and the education alone might help tremendously.
Telling Other People About Your Panic Attack Disorder
With any type of mental illness, from anxiety to depression, it is important for you to get a good support system.
You don’t need to share all your personal details with everyone you know, but you should have a close group of people (or just one person) you feel comfortable enough to open up to.
Telling someone at work about my mental health issues was how I got connected to The Bounce Back
I actually needed my supervisor to vouch me to get access to that program. #win.
Then you don’t feel like you are dealing with it all alone. When you have a lot of anxiety or stress, or you are going through a panic attack, there is at least one person that understands. One person you can call or text, who might even be able to talk you down from it.
Don’t shy away from finding people who can be understanding and help you through the worst panic attacks.
If you don’t have family or friends that are supportive, go to your local Mental Health chapter and sign up for some programs. Everyone there will be understanding of your issues.
Benefits of Telling Other People
Here are some of the top reasons you should start telling more people about your panic attack disorder:
- You have someone to turn to
- It helps build a good support system
- They understand when you have to cancel plans
- If you are having an attack, they know how to help
At the very least, when you are out with other people who know you have panic disorder, they won’t be shocked if you are acting a certain way due to a panic attack.
This makes it easier and more comfortable to be social with this type of anxiety disorder.
Journal Your Anxiety
Journaling is recommended by pretty much everyone in the mental health community, for good reason. This is because it can be so helpful, not just for panic disorder, but other forms of anxiety and depression as well.
Journaling provides a long list of benefits, but here are some of the top reasons why someone with panic disorder should have one.
You Can Find Your Triggers
In the previous section of this report, you learned about how to find your triggers and what to do about them when you discover them. These are things or situations that can trigger your anxiety and panic attacks.
One of the top ways to figure out what your trigger are is by keeping a journal. You are going to record all of your panic attacks and try to find a common theme on all those days.
It can be someone you talked to, a place you went, or a certain thought or feeling you had right at that time.
This is one of the top benefits to journaling when you have panic disorder. You can figure out if you have triggers and what they are, so that you are able to avoid them in the future and hopefully reduce how many panic attacks you have.
It Helps You to Focus on Something Else
Another way having a panic journal can help you is by giving you something else to do during the anxious or panicked moments.
Many people with panic disorders have the attacks so often that they know the early warning signs. Perhaps you start sweating or you get a rapid heartbeat.
When this happens, you know a panic attack is looming, and might be able to put a stop to it before it gets too severe.
This is where the journal comes in.
As you know, focusing your mind on something else can help a lot with anxiety. If you can just write in your journal about anything, you may distract your mind enough to get rid of the anxiousness and fear you were just experiencing.
Plus, it becomes a time of ‘brain dump’, where you can get rid of all those worries onto paper, helping your mind to be a little clearer.
Journaling Relaxes the Mind
In addition to helping you focus on something else, journaling is a really calming and relaxing experience.
People often don’t realize how cathartic it can be until you begin.
- It allows you to talk about anything and everything, knowing it is completely private if you want it kept that way.
- You can talk about your worries and fears, dreams, aspirations, just about anything.
This is the one place you have all to yourself where you won’t be judged and can be completely open and honest. That helps to relax you, whether from anxiety or other forms of stress in your life.
Tips For Journaling for Anxiety
If you are not used to journaling, it can be a little intimidating at first.
Just remember this is something you don’t have to overthink. Write about anything you want, record your triggers, and keep it simple or complex. It really is up to you.
Here are some tips for sticking to journaling:
Use a journal you enjoy
For starters, choose a journal that you really enjoy using. If you are writing with pen and paper, there are a lot of options to choose from.
I buy journals all the time. They are all around my home because I use them for my brain dumps. Everything that I want out of my head goes into a journal.
Go with something you find pretty or interesting to you. Select a good size that is easy to write on, but compact enough to carry with you. Large bookstores have a good selection (watch for sales). And Costco usually has a 2 pack for cheap, in with school supplies.
You can have fun with the pens or writing utensils too. Try stickers, colored pens, or just a pencil.
Keep it private
One thing that keeps people from journaling more often is that they don’t want to be too open, or others might read it.
Whether you have a journal on your computer or you are writing in one physically, make it as private as possible.
Make sure it is locked up somewhere safe or that your Word document on your computer is hidden from others and password-protected.
When it feels private, you feel more compelled to write in it more often.
I don’t have that issue; my journals are all over my home and no one even bothers trying to read them. Probably because I will write in a flurry and my handwriting becomes illegible lol.
And to quote Bridget Jones in the movie Bridget Jones Diary: “Everyone knows that diaries are full of crap”.
True Bridget, true.
Carry it around with you
Convenience can go far, so by having the journal everywhere with you, you will be more inclined to use it often.
This may mean having a digital journal on your smartphone or tablet, or a physical journal that fits into your purse or backpack.
I bought a small, leather moleskin journal that I use for my dreams, hopes, and wishes. This journal I do keep private.
Make it part of your daily routine
Start a new daily routine that includes writing in the journal, even if for just a few minutes every day.
This can be your morning routine when you are getting ready for the workday, something you do on your lunch break, or what you do at night just before going to sleep
Find What Works For You
When it comes to your mental health, fixing things sooner rather than later, is best.
- I was never taught to be assertive, or to go after my dreams.
- I stayed silent while people took my ideas at meetings.
- I stayed at a job I didn’t like because people pooh-poohed my ideas on what I really wanted to do.
And the result was anxiety and panic. And it was no one’s fault but mine, for not standing up for myself and what I wanted.
Those days are over and I actively talk to my kid about how to go after her dreams.
I would never encourage people to abandon their family to hitchhike through Asia, or quit a job with no backup.
Instead, start looking at what you want and create goals to get there. Be realistic about the time-line and then get started working towards it.
Setting and achieving goals helps us to adjust our course if we suddenly discover that we don’t really want something that we thought we wanted too.
At the end of the day, you really just need to figure out what works best for you.
Each individual needs to deal with their anxiety disorder on their own terms. Try different things and stick with what works the best.
Holism targets overall wellness, and when we are well, we only get better with age.
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Until next time, here’s to our health!