Holistic Treatments and Practices for Anxiety
Breathing techniques can have a significant impact on the experience and severity of an anxiety reaction and on the perceived degree of control one has over the anxiety.
Emotional Freedom Technique® (EFT®) works by looking at the true cause of anxiety and other emotional and physical illnesses and releases them by tapping on meridian points at the same time as using affirmative phrases.
Massage therapy involves kneading, stroking, rubbing, tapping and application of pressure aimed to affect the body’s energetic systems. Decrease in levels of cortisol (hormone associated with anxiety and tension) in the blood is one of the significant effects of the therapy.
Hypnotherapy involves deep relaxation (to decrease anxiety and panic), and a focused state and openness. Hypnotherapy allows you to focus and relax about the areas in their lives that are triggering anxiety so you can change how you react to the anxiety triggers.
Aromatherapy triggers the olfactory senses which in turn are connected to our brains offering a direct method of influencing the production of the feel good hormones, such as endorphins. Aromatic plant oils have the ability, therefore to balance, uplift and calm helping to reduce anxiety.
Flower Essence Therapy works on an energetic level to restore the equilibrium of the body, mind, and spirit. The flower essences effect the realm of emotions and attitudes causing anxiety.
Anxiety is a commonly used term that may refer to a temporary state or to a clinical disorder. There are both psychological and physiological components to anxiety, whether temporary or clinical.
Anxiety is a normal reaction to a stressor that triggers certain reactions in the body, mind and emotions, but it often includes feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness and dread. When anxiety is chronic and pervasive it can fall into the classification of an anxiety disorder; particular if it impedes normal life activity.
Symptoms of anxiety can include:
- Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
- Uncontrollable, obsessive thoughts
- A diffuse sense of fear about the future
- Racing thoughts
- Repeated thoughts or flashbacks of traumatic experiences
- An inability to be still and calm
- Ritualistic behaviors, such as repeated hand washing
- Problems sleeping
- Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
- Shortness of breath
- Dry mouth
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- Muscle tension
Anxiety is different from fear (which is triggered by an outside stimulus and is a reaction to a perceived threat); anxiety often occurs without any identifiable triggering stimulus - although it can often be triggered by diffuse thoughts about possible negative future events and outcomes. Fear is defined as being different from anxiety in four main areas; duration of emotional experience (fear is short lived - a response to an immediate threat, while anxiety often continues over time), temporal focus (again, fear is in the now; anxiety often relates to a feared future), specificity of the threat (fear is engendered by a specific danger; anxiety can be much more broad and diffused and relate to any number of perceived threatening or dangerous outcomes) and lastly; motivated direction (fear facilitates escaping from a particular threat while anxiety creates caution and a hesitation to approach). These distinctions come from Sa review of literature related to fear and anxiety ("Differences between trait fear and trait anxiety: Implications for psychopathology" published in the Clinical Psychology Review 31 by Sylvers, Patrick; Jamie Laprarie and Scott Lilienfeld (February 2011)).
Because of the differences between the clinical anxiety disorders and a passing state of anxiety, many of the treatment options will depend on which type of anxiety one is dealing with. Clinical anxiety disorders are commonly treated with medication and/or psychotherapy with a trained mental health professional (cognitive behavioural therapy is one type of psychotherapy that has been shown to be particularly effective for anxiety disorders). Medication does not in any way cure an anxiety disorder but it can reduce the symptoms or keep them under control while one pursues psychotherapy to cure the root cause of the disorder. The principal medications used for anxiety disorders are antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and beta-blockers to control some of the physical symptoms.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in the United States, 18.1% of the adult population suffer from some type of anxiety disorder, whlie 22.8% of these cases (4.1% of the total US adult populate) are classified as severe. Women are 60% more likely than men to experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Sadly, anxiety is even more common in children, with 25.1% of 13-18 year olds suffering from some type of anxiety disorder and 5.9% of 13 -18 year olds having a 'severe' anxiety disorder. The various anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health disorders in the US.
Complementary and alternative treatments for anxiety range from treatments (whether performed by others - such reiki or therapeutic touch - or by yourself - such as meditation or yoga) that help reduce the perceived stress in your life to treatments that teach you to control and manage your thoughts in more productive ways, to treatments that through physical activity stimulate the production of different chemicals in your brain (which can then reduce the prevalance of your anxiety) to coping mechanisms that allow you to recognize and change the pattern of an anxiety attack to simple 'feel good' strategies that help your mind and body to relax. Although there are significant differences between momentary anxiety and a clinical anxiety disorder, many of the coping mechanisms that are effective for a disorder will also benefit people suffering from temporary anxiety. Relaxation and learning to be aware of and manage your thought processes and your physical reactions are both key components of many of the holistic treatments for anxiety.