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Monday, October 13, 2008

Anxiety and Depresion

I have yet to meet a depressed person that does not have some degree of anxiety, so I typically suggest trying some treatments to address the anxiety as that may be the root cause of the depression. Many people are depressed because they are anxious, you can use Passiflora incarnata to help calm down a bit. From my observations anxiety typically feeds depression forward.

Watch your depression patterns, and if you tend to get REALLY stressed out, and then just crash and burn in to a depressive state, an herb like passionflower might help you more than an anti-depressant herb, or both can also simply be used.

Implementing stress management tools are key, such as “Square Breathing” or “Five Minutes to Zen”. Passion flower extract at 45 drops daily (tincture) was shown to be as effective as oxazepam (similar to valium).


PMID: 11679026; Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2001 Oct; 26(5): 363-7.

What is Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 40 million American adults aged 16 years and older in a given year, causing them to be filled with overwhelming fearfulness and uncertainty.

People usually experience anxiety about events they cannot control or predict, or about events that seem threatening or dangerous. Sometimes people feel anxious without any known cause.

Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event such as an audition or performing in front of a live audience, anxiety disorders are chronic, relentless, and can grow progressively worse if not treated.


What is Anxiety?

Stress and anxiety are a natural part of everyday life and most of us experience it more often than not in today’s very stressful world. It is also very natural to worry about your hectic life from time to time.

“Anxiety” is usually referred to as worry, concern, stress, or nervousness. Believe it or not, anxious feelings can sometimes be a good thing. Having this heightened sense can actually help to motivate a person to prepare for a big test in school, speech at work, or by keeping a person on his/her toes in potentially dangerous situations, to name only a few examples. Occasional anxiety isn’t something to be concerned about.

However, if the worries, stress, or anxious feelings become overwhelming and you feel as though these feelings are getting in the way of your everyday quality of life, these may be signs that you may have an anxiety problem or disorder. Below are descriptions of the different anxiety disorders. Remember as you read, not to be frightened by the symptoms. An anxiety disorder is a serious condition, yes, but the good news is that it is also one of the most treatable emotional disorders!


Laughter to Reduce Anxiety

When we laugh we release endorphins that make us feel good. These endorphins reduce pain and stress. Stress is a common cause of chronic disease and anxiety.

Maybe you just lost a ton of money in the stock market and don’t feel like laughing a whole lot about it, but can’t you just muster up a deep dark cynical laugh about it? Good. Now that is a start!

Remember, things can always be worse, and we may not have a whole lot of control over them. But, we can always control our attitudes.

Now, go find some other things that are funny. Make your self laugh each and everyday, laugh at your friend’s silly jokes and make up a few of your own. Play some harmless pranks on your coworkers. “Laughter is the best medicine” for a reason. Now is the time to turn off the news and turn on your favorite comedy show. Laughs are free! Go get ‘em.

Snacks for Anxiety

Diet for anxiety is simple. By combining a light protein with a high fiber source, you are ensuring that your blood sugar remains stable.

Here are some of my favorite snack ideas to try:

  • Cottage cheese and fruit.
  • A string cheese and a few whole grain crackers.
  • A small serving of salmon and brown rice.
  • A bowl of oatmeal with almonds.
  • Yogurt, fruit, and wheat germ.
  • Granola and yogurt.
  • Peanut butter on whole grain toast.
  • One egg and a piece of whole grain toast.
  • A fruit smoothie with protein powder.
  • A small bowl of high fiber cereal and milk.
  • A handful of raw cashews, peanuts, or other nuts.
  • Half an avocado and whole grain chips.
  • Half a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread.
  • 3 tablespoons of hummus and veggies or a few whole grain chips.
  • 2 tablespoons of cashew butter and celery decorated with raisins.
  • Rice cakes and cashew or peanut butter.
  • Almonds and apple slices.
  • 3-6 tablespoons of freshly ground flax seeds mixed with applesauce or yogurt.

Motherwort for Anxiety

Leonarus Cardiaca or “Motherwort” is one of my favorite gentle herbs to calm frazzled mothers.

There is no coincidence in my mind that “motherwort” rhymes with “worrywart”.

This herb may as well have been hand-designed for worried stressed mothers.

If your heart skips a beat every time you hear one of your children scream loudly “MOM!!!!!” then you may just want to read on.

Motherwort is typically a “nervine” or relaxant herb that is recommended for those with the kind of anxiety that results in occasional heart palpitations. If you are suffering from disturbed sleep as a result of emotional or physical upsets this herb might just be right for you. Motherwort serves to strengthen the heart, and is also used for PMS and menopause. This herbal medicine can additionally be used as a preventative agent for herpes zoster (shingles and chicken pox) as well as herpes simplex (traditional “herpes”).

Contraindications: This herb should NOT be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding, and may be toxic in large doses, or with chronic use. Always talk with your naturopathic physician, or MD before starting any new herbal medicines.

Perhaps life does not grant you the relaxation time that you deserve as a mother, but you can still find a bit of calm amongst the stressful storm by using an herbal medicine such as motherwort to help reduce stress and your reaction to it.

Breathing Exercise for Anxiety

Most people are constantly busy and on the go, attaching stress management practices to everyday occurrences is not only practical, but serves as a reminder to RELAX throughout the day. You can easily check in with yourself during boring times of your day such as a long work meeting, standing in line at the grocery store, or waiting on hold on the phone.

A simple breathing exercise to start with is called “Square Breathing”. First sit quietly, and remove outside distraction if possible. Gently clasp your hands in your lap. Now breathe in slowly to the count of five, hold your breath to the count of five, exhale slowly to the count of five, and then pause before repeating this sequence to the count of five. Repeat this sequence five times, or as many times as needed until a calmer state is achieved. Oftentimes we do not realize how stressed out we are until we take a few minutes to quietly check in with how we are feeling. The body does not function optimally while under stress, implementing simple relaxation tools should not only improve your attitude, but also help you experience a better state of health.

Wow don’t you feel better now?


This website is intended for educational purposes only. Read our full disclaimer. Always work with your physician for proper care and supervision. Never make any changes to your health care without first consulting with your physician. Have your physician check for drug interactions, and always be cautious when combining natural medicines and prescription drugs, especially for anxiety.