What is Anxiety?
Every person might have experienced stomach filled with butterflies before an exam, presentation at work or sometime you get sweaty palms before an appointment to a doctor? Then you know what anxiety feels like!! Scientifically talking about anxiety is associated with flight or fight state. Obviously anxiety enhances performance and productivity by releasing increased quantity of adrenaline. This hormones shoot up the blood to our lungs and heart which keep us moving. This excited event and episode can be proved helpful in some cases upto a certain limit. But it goes overboard in some individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Understanding Types of Anxiety
Some people with anxiety experiences miscellaneous symptoms depending on the type. So, there are different types of anxiety and are briefly discussed below-
- GAD (Generalized anxiety disorder): This type has affected around 6.8 million adults and women are more prone to this. GAD is generally characterized by excessive and persistent worry about a number of numerous upcoming events or things. They usually remain overly concerned about money, health, work or family.
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD): OCD is another kind of anxiety which is associated with obsessions and compulsions which might occur periodically. They have so called ‘rituals’ such as hand washing, counting, checking or cleaning. This give them temporary relief but if they fail to do these, this will ultimately increase anxiety levels.
- PSTD (Post- traumatic stress disorder): PSTD onsets after being exposed to some terrifying episode or trauma and include violent, personal assaults, accidents or natural disasters.
- Panic Disorders: Panic disorders are signified by unexpected episodes of intense fear which is accompanied by some physical symptoms like heart palpitation, chest pain, and shortness of breath or dizziness.
- Social Phobia / Social Anxiety Disorder: It’s a type of anxiety disorder usually characterized by excessive self- consciousness and overwhelming feelings in their everyday social situations. People with social phobia might have trouble in speaking in both formal and informal situation and eating in public.
What are the Factors that Triggers Anxiety?
Factors which we are going to discuss below are believed to play an important role in triggering the symptoms of anxiety.
- Genetics and hereditary- Anxiety tends to run in familes.
- Hormonal/ biochemical substances – Serotonin and Dopamine levels plays an important role in triggering stress and Anxiety.
- Personality type- Individuals with low self-esteem, will power and poor skills in coping up with situations are more prone to anxeity.
- Social factors- Some people who remain exposed to violence, and abuse are more likely to get affected with anxiety disorders.
- Drugs and medication-Various steroids, transquillizers, etc. are more likely to mediate the symptoms.
How to Recognize if you Really Have Anxiety?
Though signs and symptoms of anxiety can vary with type and individual. Some of the common signs of Anxiety includes nervousness, restlessness, danger, panic, increased heart rate, fluctuating breathing rate, sweating (heavy), muscle twitching, weakness, feeling of lethargy, insomnia, gastrointestinal problems (gas, constipation, diarrhea), etc. These are some characteristic symptoms also which include-
- Behavioral Symptoms- Affected person always try to escape from situations and threatening situations. They feel restless, motionless and find difficulty in speaking.
- Affective Symptoms- Individuals with anxiety will always be edgy, grumpy, frustrated, terrified and impatient in almost every situation.
What are the Recommended Lifestyle Changes for Managing Anxiety?
Though, lifestyle changes are easy to adapt but are considered as powerful tools in managing any ailment. This can be proved as essential component within an integrated strategy and approach to any treatment. So, there are some lifestyle changes that can contribute in managing are-
Exercise should be an integral part of daily routine and are very effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and elevating mood. Mindful movement and physical activities produces serotonin and endorphins which are neurotransmitters and are considered as happy hormones.
Brain is the most active and functional part of the body and requires adequate amounts of nutrients for smooth functioning. So for this here are some dietary guidelines-
- Healthy Diet- Add fresh fruits, whole foods and try to have a balanced diet enriched with micro and macro nutrients.
- Maintain Healthy Gut – Consume food sources loaded with probiotics which will help in supporting healthy digestive system.
- Cut out sweetened and carbonated beverages – Drinks like Tea, soda, packed juices, etc. can give a hike to anxiety.
- Give a try Being Decaf – Consuming caffeine linked with anxiety and can gradually worse the symptoms in some cases. Decaffeinated coffee can be good choice for coffee lovers.
Intake of alcohol can trigger the symptoms of anxiety as it is itself an depressant.
Sleep – deprived people have higher tendency to develop anxiety disorders. Poor sleep, Insomnia or improper sleeping patterns can strongly affect rejuvenation of brain cells and secretion of neurotransmitters.
5. Thoughts and Emotions
Negative thoughts shakes up the hormonal balance, weakens immune system and causes depletion of biochemical messengers responsible for calming and relaxing our body. For this, shift your attention and start reframing your perceptions. Practise yoga, mediation and stay connected to spiritual energies for keeping your mind and body in relaxed state.
Beneficial Herbs for Managing Anxiety Disorders
There are many Indian traditional herbs which can manage anxiety naturally and effectively. Ayurvedic herbs have a great tendency to balance vitiated Dosha tremendously.
- Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) – This is an medicinally important herb which is scientifically proven Nervine tonic which effectively reduces anxiety by inducing calmness.
- Shankhpushpi (Convolvlus pluricaulis) – This is an ayurvedic herb which rejuvenates brain cells and neurotransmitters. Shankhpushpi can effectively reduce anxiety, stress and hypersensitivity.
- Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) – Ashwagandha is also known as Indian ginseng as it is useful in boosting energy levels and stamina. It can do wonders in balancing Vata dosha which is responsible for controlling Nervine impulses.
Hereby to conclude this discussion we can conclude that anxiety can transform into an disorder if misdiagnosed or delayed diagnosis. It can be controlled with slight changes in your lifestyle and diet.
Dr. Vikram Chauhan (MD-Ayurvedic Medicine) is an Expert Ayurveda Consultant in Chandigarh (India). He has vast experience of herbs and their applied uses. He has successfully treated numerous patients suffering from various ailments, throughout the world. He is CEO and Founder of Krishna Herbal Company and Planet Ayurveda in Chandigarh, India. He researched age old formulas from ancient Ayurvedic text books to restore health and save human beings from the worst side-effects of chemical-based treatments.