Most of us suffer from chronic anxiety to some extent because
modern life is jagged, fast-paced, and divorced from the natural
rhythms that tend to create a harmonious inner life. The calming
cycles of farming, the instinctive satisfactions of hunting
and gathering and pure faith in religion gave our ancestors
inner resources that few of us possess today.
People who suffer from the emotional illness called anxiety
disorder, however, go a step beyond this common feeling. The
quality of their lives is significantly diminished by the
pervading presence of fear, which is often unrelated to any
obvious cause. Even if a cause can be identified, the magnitude
of anxiety they experience is greater than the actual degree
Typical symptoms of anxiety disorder include feeling of tension,
irritability, worry, frustration, turmoil, and hopelessness,
alogn with insomnia, restless sleep, grinding of teeth, jaw
pain, an inability to sit still, and an incapacity to cope.
Physical sensations frequently arise as well, including a
characteristic feeling of being unable to take a full, satisfying
breath; rapid heart-beat; heart palpitations; a lump in the
throat; tightness in the chest; and cramping in the bowles.
Anxiety can also give rise to panic attacks. These may be
so severe that they are mistaken for heart attacks. The heart
pounds and palpitates, the chest feels tight and painful,
and the whole body tenses with unreasoning fear. Such attacks
can be triggered by anxiety-provoking situations, but they
may also come out of nowhere, perhaps even awakening you from
sleep. When a person tends to suffer more from panic attacks
than generalized anxiety, physicians call the illness "panic
The medical treatment of anxiety involves mainly antianxiety
drugs. Some, such as Xanax, are effective immediately; others,
such as Bu-Spar, take a week or more to reach full effect.
Antidepressant drugs may also be helpful. Panic attacks are
generally more difficult to treat than other aspects of anxiety.
Medications are best used in the short term, and it is advisable
to seek permanent help through psychotherapy.
Principal natural treatments
The herb KAVA is widely used in Europe as a medical
treatment for anxiety.
The following natural treatments are widely recommended for
anxiety, but they have not been scientifically proven effective
at this time.
Valerian: May provide calming effects. The herb valerian
is best known as a remedy for insomnia. However, according
to one preliminary double-blind study, it also produces calming
effects in stressful situations.
Other herbs and supplements
Othe rherbs or supplements that are
frequently recommended fo anxiety include "skullcap", "hops",
"lemon balm", "chamomile", "passionflower", "suma", "5-HTP",
"gamma oryzanol", "inositol".