When you use cognitive therapy, you are teaching your brain a new way of learning and seeing things in the world. You learn to slow your racy, adrenaline-infused thinking down and consider whether your beliefs are rational or not, then you are on track to learning to think clearly and rationally, along with many other benefits.
1. You become more rational. You think and believe rational things, instead of allowing automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) and feelings to control the brain.
2. You learn to control your thinking. You learn strategies to stop unwanted thinking and learn to think clearly and rationally.
3. Your beliefs about yourself change. As you feel more in control of your thoughts, your belief system about yourself changes. You develop confidence.
4. You can calm down and relax. The first thing we learn in social anxiety therapy is to respond to anxiety in a different way than we have in the past. Anxiety no longer frightens us and freaks us out. We learn to approach it with calmness and peace. We learn to handle situations by being more relaxed and less anxious.
5. You expect better outcomes. Because of our prior history, we expected things to turn out poorly for ourselves. Now, as our thoughts and beliefs change, we begin to expect more rationally. Our expectations become more in line with logic and common sense. As a result, what we expect to happen, happens.
With cognitive therapy, we question ourselves repeatedly about whether our old beliefs are rational or not. Are they based on fact? Or are they things we’ve been believing for decades and we’ve never questioned? What is the real truth?
Do we listen to others’ feedback or do we listen to only our own internal negative conclusions? Is it possible we’ve been brainwashing ourselves for years?
Our own old ANTs thoughts can recycle throughout the brain. Have you stopped them? Have you considered there may be a different explanation? Have you considered there may be no legitimate reason to feel anxious and fearful?
As thoughts change our beliefs, then physical changes occur in the brain. Our thoughts and beliefs are different, and so is the brain, according to research studies that demonstrate brain changes by use of brain imaging technology.
We learn to expect different outcomes, because we now believe differently than we did in the past.
When we expect different outcomes, different outcomes occur.
The brain is a neutral object that will respond in the way we train it to respond. Cognitive therapy trains it to be rational.
What You Need to Know
About Anti-Anxiety Drugs
When you’re overwhelmed by heart-pounding panic, paralyzed by fear, or exhausted from yet another sleepless night spent worrying, you’ll do just about anything to get relief. And there’s no question that when anxiety is disabling, medication may help. But are drugs always the best answer? Is there solid evidence that they’re beneficial in the long run? Just what are the safety concerns and potential side effects? And are there any truly effective non-drug options? These are some of the important questions you’ll need to consider when deciding if anxiety medication is right for you. The answers may surprise you.
The role of medication in anxiety treatmentMany different types of medications are used in the treatment of anxiety disorders, including traditional anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines (typically prescribed for short-term use) and newer options like SSRI antidepressants (often recommended as a long-term anxiety solution). These drugs can provide temporary relief, but they also come with side effects and safety concerns—some significant.They are also not a cure. In fact, there are many questions about their long-term effectiveness. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, benzodiazepines lose their therapeutic anti-anxiety effect after 4 to 6 months of regular use. And a recent analysis reported in JAMA Psychiatry found that the effectiveness of SSRIs in treating anxiety has been overestimated, and in some cases is no better than placebo.
What’s more, it can be very difficult to get off anxiety medications without difficult withdrawals, including rebound anxiety that can be worse than your original problem.
I need relief, and I need it now!
So where does that leave you if you’re suffering? Even when anxiety relief comes with side effects and dangers, that can still sound like a fair trade when panic and fear are ruling your life.
The bottom line is that there’s a time and place for anxiety medication. If you have severe anxiety that’s interfering with your ability to function, medication may be helpful—especially as a short-term treatment. However, many people use anti-anxiety medication when therapy, exercise, or other self-help strategies would work just as well or better, minus the drawbacks.
Anxiety medications can ease symptoms, but they’re not right for everyone and they’re not the only answer. It’s up to you to evaluate your options and decide what’s best for you.
Benzodiazepines for anxiety
Types of benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines (also known as tranquilizers) are the most widely prescribed type of medication for anxiety. Because they work quickly—typically bringing relief within 30 minutes to an hour—they’re very effective when taken during a panic attack or another overwhelming anxiety episode. However, they are physically addictive and not recommended for long-term treatment.
Benzodiazepines work by slowing down the nervous system, helping you relax both physically and mentally. But it can also lead to unwanted side effects. The higher the dose, the more intense these side effects typically are. However, some people feel sleepy, foggy, and uncoordinated even on low doses, which can cause problems with work, school, or everyday activities such as driving. The medication hangover can last into the next day.
Common side effects of benzodiazepines include:
Poor balance or coordination
Paradoxical effects of benzodiazepines
The benzodiazepines work because they slow down the nervous system. But sometimes, for reasons that aren’t wel understood, they have the opposite effect. Paradoxical reactions are most common in children, the elderly, and people with developmental disabilities. They include:
Increased anxiety, irritability, agitation, aggression, and rage
Mania, impulsive behavior, and hallucinations
Benzodiazepines can make depression worse
According to the FDA, benzodiazepines can worsen cases of pre‐existing depression, and more recent studies suggest that they may potentially lead to treatment-resistant depression. Furthermore, benzodiazepines can cause emotional blunting or numbness and increase suicidal thoughts and feelings.
Benzodiazepine safety concerns and risk factors
Drug dependence and withdrawal
When taken regularly, benzodiazepines lead to physical dependence and tolerance, with increasingly larger doses needed to get the same anxiety relief as before. This happens quickly—usually within a couple of months, but sometimes in as little as a few weeks. If you abruptly stop taking your medication, you may experience severe withdrawal symptoms such as:
Increased anxiety, restlessness, shaking
Insomnia, confusion, stomach pain
Depression, confusion, panic attacks
Pounding heart, sweating, and in severe cases, seizure
Many people mistake withdrawal symptoms for a return of their original anxiety condition, making them think they need to restart the medication. Gradually tapering off the drug will help minimize the withdrawal reaction.
Drug interactions and overdose
While benzodiazepines are relatively safe when taken only occasionally and in small doses, they can be dangerous and even deadly when combined with other central nervous system depressants. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before combining medications.
Don’t drink on benzodiazepines. When mixed with alcohol, benzodiazepines can lead to fatal overdose.
Don’t mix with painkillers or sleeping pills. Taking benzodiazepines with prescription pain or sleeping pills can also lead to fatal overdose.
Antihistamines amplify their effects. Antihistamines—found in many over-the-counter sleep, cold, and allergy medicines—are sedating on their own. Be cautious when mixing with benzodiazepines to avoid oversedation.
Be cautious when combining with antidepressants. SSRIs such as Prozac and Zoloft can heighten benzodiazepine toxicity. You may need to adjust your dose accordingly.
People with special risk factors
Anyone who takes benzodiazepines can experience unpleasant or dangerous side effects. But certain individuals are at a higher risk:
People over 65. Older adults are more sensitive to the sedating effects of benzodiazepines. Even small doses can cause confusion, amnesia, loss of balance, and cognitive impairment that looks like dementia. Benzodizepine use in the elderly is associated with an increased risk of falls, broken hips and legs, and car accidents. Long-term benzodiazepine use also increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
People with a history of substance abuse. Because they’re physically addicting and on their own and dangerous when combined with alcohol and other drugs, anyone with a current or former substance abuse problem use benzodiazepines only with extreme caution.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women. Benzodiazepine use during pregnancy can lead to dependence in the developing baby, with withdrawal following birth. Benzodiazepines are also excreted in breast milk. Therefore, pregnant women need to have a thorough discussion about the risks and benefits of these medications with their prescribing doctor. If medication is necessary, the goal is the least effective dose.
The connection between benzodiazepines and accidents
Benzodiazepines cause drowsiness and poor coordination, which increases your risk for accidents at home, at work, and on the road. When on benzodiazepines, be very careful when driving, operating machinery, or doing anything else that requires physical coordination.
SSRI antidepressants for anxiety
Many medications originally approved for the treatment of depression are also prescribed for anxiety. In comparison to benzodiazepines, the risk for dependency and abuse is smaller. However, antidepressants take up to 4 to 6 weeks to begin relieving anxiety symptoms, so they can’t be taken “as needed.” Their use is limited to chronic anxiety problems that require ongoing treatment.
The antidepressants most widely prescribed for anxiety are SSRIs such as Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, and Celexa. SSRIs have been used to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Common side effects of SSRIs include:
Although physical dependence is not as quick to develop with antidepressants, withdrawal can still be an issue. If discontinued too quickly, antidepressant withdrawal can trigger symptoms such as extreme depression and fatigue, irritability, anxiety, flu-like symptoms, and insomnia.
Antidepressant medication and suicide risk
Antidepressants can make depression worse rather than better for some people, leading to an increased risk of suicide, hostility, and even homicidal behavior. While this is particularly true of children and young adults, anyone taking antidepressants should be closely watched. Monitoring is especially important if this is the person’s first time on depression medication or if the dose has recently been changed.
Signs that medication is making things worse include anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, hostility, restlessness, and extreme agitation—particularly if the symptoms appear suddenly or rapidly deteriorate. If you spot the warning signs in yourself or a loved one, contact a doctor or therapist immediately.
If you are concerned that a friend or family member is contemplating suicide, see Suicide Prevention. The suicide risk is greatest during the first two months of antidepressant treatment.
Other types of medication
Buspirone, also known by the brand name BuSpar, is a newer anti-anxiety drug that acts as a mild tranquilizer. Compared to benzodiazepines, buspirone is slow acting—taking about two weeks to start working. However, it’s not as sedating, it doesn’t impair memory and coordination, and the withdrawal effects are minimal. However, its effectiveness is limited. It works for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), but doesn’t seem to help the other types of anxiety disorders.
Common side effects of buspirone include:
Beta blockers—including drugs such as propranolol (Inderal) and atenolol (Tenormin)—are a type of medication used to treat high blood pressure and heart problems. However, they are also prescribed off-label for anxiety. Beta blockers work by blocking the effects of norepinephrine, a stress hormone involved in the fight-or-flight response. This helps control the physical symptoms of anxiety such as rapid heart rate, a trembling voice, sweating, dizziness, and shaky hands.
Because beta blockers don’t affect the emotional symptoms of anxiety such as worry, they’re most helpful for phobias, particularly social phobia and performance anxiety. If you’re anticipating a specific anxiety-producing situation (such as giving a speech), taking a beta blocker in advance can help reduce your “nerves.”
Common side effects of beta blockers include:
Medication isn’t your only option for anxiety relief
Anxiety medication won’t solve your problems if you’re anxious because of mounting bills, a tendency to jump to “worst-case scenarios”, or an unhealthy relationship. That’s where self-help, therapy, and other lifestyle changes come in. These non-drug treatments can produce lasting changes and long-term relief.
Exercise – Exercise is a powerful anxiety treatment. Studies show that regular workouts can ease symptoms just as effectively as medication.
Worry busting strategies – You can train your brain to stop worrying and look at life from a more calm and balanced perspective.
Therapy – Cognitive behavioral therapy can teach you how to control your anxiety levels, stop worrisome thoughts, and conquer your fears.
Yoga and tai chi – Yoga and tai chi are mind-body interventions that engage you emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. Data has shown their efficacy for many different medical conditions, including anxiety.
Mindfulness and meditation – Mindfulness is a state of mind where you learn to observe your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a present, compassionate, and non-judgmental way. It often brings a sense of calm and relaxation.
Deciding if anxiety medication is right for you
Questions to ask yourself and a mental health professional
Is medication the best option for my anxiety problem? Am I willing to put up with unpleasant side effects in return for anxiety relief?
What non-drug treatments for anxiety might help? Do I have the time and am I willing to pursue non-drug treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy?
What self-help strategies might help me get my anxiety under control? If I decide to take anxiety medication, should I pursue other therapy as well?
Is anxiety really my problem? Or is something else going on, such as an underlying health condition or pain, for example?
Questions to ask your doctor
How will the medication help my anxiety?
What are the drug’s common side effects? Are there any food and drinks I will need to avoid? How will this drug interact with my other prescriptions?
How long will I have to take the anxiety medication?
Will withdrawing from the medication be difficult?
Will my anxiety return when I stop taking the medication?
No need to become a monk all it takes is 10 minutes!
Headpace founder Andy Puddicombe talks mindfulness
First counsellor visit – Written by www.reachout.com
Asking for help can sometimes be scary. Even though it might feel like a big step forward, it’s really important to seek help if things aren’t going very well for you.
A counsellor can help you work through whatever is troubling you and will work with you to find solutions to your problem.
Talking with a counsellor can leave you feeling listened to, less alone, and like a load has been taken off your shoulders. There are lots of reasons why you might go and see someone.
For example, you might be feeling like life is a bit overwhelming and like you aren’t coping well with your health and wellbeing.
Or, you might feel like it would be helpful to talk with someone about something that’s happened and is impacting on your day-to-day life in a negative way and just won’t go away.
It might even be that you are concerned about a friend or family member and want to talk with a counsellor about this.
How you might be feeling
Before your first visit to a counsellor or when thinking about seeing a counsellor for the first time you might be experiencing a range of emotions, including feeling:
Worried or scared
What will happen at the session? How will you tell the counsellor what’s wrong? What if your problem isn’t really important enough and you’re wasting the counsellor’s time?
What if the counsellor thinks you’re really strange? What if your problem is embarrassing? Maybe you should just deal with this yourself and not bother with the counsellor?
Experiencing any of these feelings is not at all uncommon. It’s important to realise that counsellors are used to dealing with all sorts of issues with their clients and that no problem is too big or small or odd to visit them with.
Every problem is important. If your issue is affecting your day to day routine and is troubling you, this is reason enough to talk to someone like a counsellor.
It may help to lessen some of your concerns by arming yourself with information about what your session might be like.
Organising a visit
If you do decide that you want to talk to someone, there are a lot of different services available. How much does it cost? Often your community health centre will provide counselling services free of charge.
You can also avail of counselling from any organisations that may charge on a sliding scale, meaning it won’t cost the full amount if you can’t afford it.
Going and talking to a counsellor can at first be pretty scary. Sometimes it’s really hard to say the things you’re feeling because you are worried the counsellor might judge you.
In the first session it is likely they will want to get some general information about you. They might ask questions about:
how you have been feeling lately
what has been happening in your life lately
how things are with your family
your medical health.
You might also have to fill out a questionnaire that will help the counsellor to understand what the problem might be. They ask you all these questions is so they can better understand what is going on for you.
Be honest and try and say as much as you can so the counsellor gets a better idea of things.
Everything you say will be confidential unless you tell them that you are thinking of hurting yourself or someone else, then the counsellor might have to inform parents and/or relevant services. See confidentiality for more.
Sometimes people feel concerned because their counsellor doesn’t give them a diagnosis straight away, or at all. Many people visiting counsellors just want to talk about stuff that is happening in their lives and the approach isn’t medical.
After your first session, your counsellor will probably have a talk with you about what you would like to do from here. They may suggest that you come back and see them regularly.
However, ultimately this decision is up to you.
Getting the most out of your sessions
Some general tips that you might want to keep in mind if you go to see a counsellor. These apply to your first visit and others after that:
Write things down beforehand
You might want to take in some things you have written down that you want to talk about so you make sure you remember the important things.
If you don’t understand why you are using a certain therapy or you want to know more than ask – that’s what they’re there for.
Go in with a positive attitude
Going in with an open mind and positive attitude will help you get the most possible out of your counselling session. You may as well give it a go!
Don’t be put off by note taking
Your counsellor might take down notes while you are talking. Don’t be put off by this. Often it’s things like names of people and events so they can talk about it later or specific things you have said that they see as important.
If you feel uncomfortable with them writing things, you can ask to see the notes or talk to your counsellor about it.
Understand or ask about duty of care
Depending on your age, client-counsellor confidentiality means that the counsellor can’t disclose information without your consent. The exception to this is if the counsellor is genuinely concerned that you are at risk of harm or harming someone else (this is called duty of care).
It’s best to ask your counsellor first thing to see what their particular policy is. See confidentiality for more.
Be honest with your counsellor
They are trying to help you get better but you need work with them too. If you’re having trouble expressing what you are feeling that is totally fine and not unusual. Maybe say ‘I’m thinking/feeling this but I’m having trouble putting it into words’.
Don’t be afraid to change counsellors
Sometimes you won’t click with your counsellor. If that is the case and you have given it a bit of time, it may be a good idea to try another counsellor.
There are lots out there and just because it didn’t work with one, doesn’t mean it won’t work. You have to keep trying.
Don’t be afraid of your counsellor!
You can disagree with them and question things if you don’t feel comfortable (but keep in mind that they have spent a long time learning these things, so be open to them being right)
Understanding the difference between psychotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists
Finding appropriate mental health support can be challenging with many mentalhealth professions seemingly overlapping, ranging from counsellors and psychotherapists to psychiatrists and psychologists (and that’s just the beginning)! There is also a jungle of terminology to get your head around before you start searching for the right type of treatment. Ensuring you can find someone who has suitable training and a background to match is essential and finding a person who you feel comfortable talking to is equally important.
On this page we will look at the most common professions within the mental health industry. We will explain what they do, how they can help and highlight the key differences between them.
Psychotherapy is a term that covers all talking therapies and the many associated approaches/methods. Due to the broad use of the terms, the titles psychotherapist and counsellor are often used interchangeably with little or no difference between the two. To obtain the title of Psychotherapist/Counsellor, an individual would need to gain a degree in psychotherapy.
The aim of psychotherapy is to help clients overcome a wide scope of concerns. These concerns range from emotional difficulties to psychiatric disorders. Psychotherapists can train solely in psychotherapy. They may also cross over from other professional backgrounds within the mental health sector. Psychotherapists can choose from a wealth of approaches to help you understand and explore how you feel. Some therapists also teach skills to help you manage difficult emotions more effectively. For more severe conditions, such as psychosis, a psychotherapist will normally work with other professionals (such as psychiatrists). This allows for an effective, robust treatment plan.
A psychotherapist can work with individuals, groups, families or couples. Many tend to specialise in who they work with and what issues they address. For example psychotherapists can decide whether they work with children or adults. Psychotherapists will typically meet with clients on a regular basis (once a week is considered the norm). There are many different types of therapy that psychotherapists can train in. They include:
Cognitive and behavioural therapies (focusing on the way people think and behave)
Psychoanalytic therapies (looking at how past experiences affect the present)
Humanistic therapies (with a focus on self-development and growth)
Arts therapies (using the creative arts in a therapeutic way)
Other therapies (includes all other therapies such as group therapies and mindfulness).
Key points about psychotherapists:
They help people with emotional/psychological concerns using talking therapies.
They may work within a team of other medical professionals.
They can choose to specialise in certain therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy.
Depending on their training, they can work with individuals, groups, families or couples.
Some of the issues addressed:
Depression, stress and anxiety
Low self-confidence and low self-esteem
Work related issues.
The aim of both Psychotherapists/Counsellor is to create an environment in which you feel safe discussing your feelings. For this reason you need to develop a trusting relationship with your therapist. If you do not feel comfortable with your chosen Psychotherapist/Counsellor, discuss this in your next session. Alternatively, you could look to speak to a different professional.
Psychology is effectively the study of the way people think, behave and interact. Looking at the way the mind works, psychology covers everyday functioning such as learning and remembering. It also covers more complex mental health conditions. Psychologists are normally described as being ‘applied’ or ‘research-oriented’. Those who are ‘applied’ will use their knowledge in a practical capacity to help patients. Those who are ‘research-oriented’ will aim to further society’s knowledge of the human mind.To obtain the title of psychologist, an individual would need to gain a degree in psychology. To become a counselling psychologist they will need a degree in psychology and a Doctorate in counselling psychology. Counselling psychologists are a fairly new group of applied psychologists. They blend therapeutic practice with psychological research and theory.
Counselling psychologists tend to deal with the same types of issues as counsellors. These include bereavement, trauma and relationship issues. They also take on more serious, long-term issues such as domestic violence and sexual abuse. They will apply their understanding of the medical context and diagnosis of certain mental health problems in these cases. Psychologists can choose to specialise in a certain area of psychology. Many specialise in a particular type of assessment or therapy (for example CBT or neuropsychology). There are many titles within the psychology industry that are restricted by law in the UK. These include:
Sports and exercise psychologist.
Key points about psychologists:
They are concerned with all matters of the mind. This includes everyday thought processes and behaviours.
The title ‘psychologist’ on its own means someone has gained a degree in psychology. It is not legally protected. In other words having a degree in psychology does not permit you to work with clients! There are certain titles within psychology that are legally protected such as ‘clinical psychologist’. Psychologists are often either entirely research-focused or ‘applied’ (meaning they treat clients).
A psychiatrist is someone who has had medical training and has decided to specialise in psychiatry. The term psychiatry refers to the study of mental disorders. This includes their diagnosis, management and prevention. Psychiatrists often work on a broad range of cases alongside an area of expertise and research.
Similar to general practice or paediatrics – psychiatry is a medical specialty. This means in order to be a psychiatrist you must train for five years as a doctor. A further two years of ‘foundation’ jobs is needed before specialising in psychiatry. To become a fully trained psychiatrist it typically takes another four years of dedicated study. There is also an option to specialise further still. Psychiatry builds its knowledge by observing and researching various conditions. A diagnostic system aims to identify clusters of behaviours that occur together – commonly described as syndromes. These are then researched to understand any social, psychological or physical causes, with a view of establishing an effective way of helping. Psychiatrists can work with people of any age. Yet they tend to work with those with more severe conditions and/or those that require medical intervention.
Within the specialty of psychiatry, there are a number of subspecialties. Each of these requires a Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training (CCST). Such sub-specialties include:
Adult mental illness specialties
Old age psychiatry
Psychiatry of learning disabilities
Child and adolescents psychiatry.
Normally, your GP (or other healthcare professional) will refer you to see a psychiatrist. However you can make an appointment with a private practice too. A psychiatrist may work on their own or alongside other health professionals (such as occupational therapists or social workers) depending on the circumstances. As psychiatrists have medical training, they are able to do things other mental health professionals can’t. For example, a psychiatrist can carry out medical tests (i.e. blood tests and CAT scans). They can also prescribe medication should it be required.
Key points about psychiatrists:
They have had full medical training and have chosen to specialise in psychiatry.
They can choose to specialise further in areas such as forensic psychiatry.
They can perform medical examinations and tests.
They can prescribe medication.
Tea For Anxiety: Teas that Heal Anxiety Symptoms
Herbal remedies are extremely popular choices for controlling anxiety. They’re generally available without a prescription, they are believed to provide nearly instant relief, they are more fun to take than modern medicines and less time consuming than therapy. There are many reasons that people turn to herbal teas and natural supplements to cure their anxiety.But are there healing teas that actually help control anxiety? And if so, what are they? Below, we’ll examine the most common healing teas for anxiety and whether or not you can expect to feel anxiety reliefNo Herbal or Natural Medicine Should Be Used Alone!All medicines – both natural and prescription – are only temporary fixes. You still need to have a strategy in place to permanently cure your anxiety. That’s why you need to specifically examine your anxiety symptoms and find strategies that will provide you with TRUE rel
Tea As An Anxiety Strategy
Healing herbal teas are a fun place to start. But even in the best case scenario, they’re just a Band Aid for your anxiety. You’ll get some relief, but that relief will be temporary and won’t be that meaningful. You simply cannot expect any tea to provide you with the cure you need.
That’s why those that use tea alone simply cannot hope to see tea as anything other than what it is – a drink that may reduce some of your anxiety. You still need to pair it with coping strategies and tools that will keep your anxiety from coming back.
Potential Non-Medicinal Benefits of Tea
Something working in tea’s favor is that there are several benefits of drinking tea that are unrelated to the medicinal qualities of the tea itself. In other words, the simple act of drinking nearly any kind of decaffeinated tea can have a fairly unique impact on your ability to reduce your anxiety. The following are very real benefits of drinking tea, even if the tea has zero medicinal value:
HydrationAny excuse to drink more liquids is a good excuse. Your body needs to be hydrated when you have anxiety. Many people with anxiety don’t drink enough water, and this always makes anxiety symptoms worse. Drinking any type of beverage can be helpful, but tea, especially, is a healthy drink that has no additives that can contribute to poorer health. That makes it a smart drink to add to your diet.
Calm ActivityDrinking tea is also a slow, calm activity. That is something more people with anxiety need. They need an opportunity to sit back and allow themselves to relax. You can’t run around with your tea. The simple act of drinking tea is the type of naturally calming activity that can be very healthy for the spirit.
RoutineFinally, drinking tea becomes part of a routine, and routines themselves are naturally relaxing. Chances are you’ll pour yourself a cup of tea regularly and sit down with a paper or the TV and simply enjoy your life. That routine may not be an anxiety cure on its own, but every little bit helps.
There are also the potential benefits of antioxidants that may be beneficial for overall health, and when your body is healthy your anxiety is less prone to extreme fluctuations.
None of these are medicinal in any way, and none of these are cures for anxiety. But every little bit helps, and these additional benefits of drinking tea are very real and beneficial for those that are suffering.
Also Note: More Powerful Herbal Medicine = More Dangers
Another common misconception about natural medicine is that because it’s natural it’s safe. This is not the case. The more powerful the herb, the more you need to take precautions to ensure that it’s safe for you to take it.
That’s because for any medicine to work – herbal or otherwise – it needs to be able to alter your body and brain chemistry. Both mental health herbs and medications have to affect your neurotransmitters or hormones to work, because those are what create anxiety in the first place. But if you’re taking a medication that affects these neurotransmitters – even if it’s natural – you need to make sure that you’re taking it safely. Everything that can affect your brain can have side effects. The more powerful it is, the more likely it interacts with other medications or has an effect on different body types.
That’s not to say that natural medicine isn’t better. Quite the contrary – natural medicine should always be the preferred choice assuming that it works effectively. But it’s always a good idea to talk with a doctor before taking any herbal tea or natural supplement because there may be side effects that you need to be careful of.
Herbal Teas That Fight Anxiety
With that information in mind, there are several herbal teas for anxiety. Make sure that you’re taking one without caffeine. Caffeine itself can cause anxiety attacks in some people. The following are possible herbal/natural solutions for anxiety:
Kava is by far the most well-known an well-researched herbal treatment available for controlling anxiety symptoms. Many have likened the effects of kava to a very common anxiety drug called Buspar, and kava itself appears to have all of the qualities of an effective herbal remedy – it’s non-addictive and can be taken as needed, it’s safe, and it is completely natural.
However, there are a few things to note about kava tea. First, the kava tea you buy at a grocery store is not strong enough to combat anxiety. You need 300 or so kavalactones a day at some estimates, and basic teas only provide 30 to 50 – not enough to feel any effects. You’ll need to buy a more pure kava herbal tea, like the ones sold in tea shops. You’ll also need to combine it with something that has fat in it, like butter or coconut milk.
Secondly, kava is strong enough that it interacts with some medications and should never be taken with alcohol. It also shouldn’t be taken by those with liver disease. While you should talk to your doctor before using any herbal remedy, kava itself should never be taken without a doctor’s approval.
Nevertheless, kava tea is one of the few herbs that appears to have a very well-known and real effect on anxiety, and is something you can strongly consider.
Passionflower tea is “kava-lite.” It’s not nearly as strong as kava and fewer studies have confirmed its benefits, but many people swear that Passionflower has provided them with the same relaxation effects as kava without the same risk of side effects.
Because passionflower’s “dosing” isn’t quite as well known, it’s unclear whether store-bought teas provide enough of the flavonoids that make passionflower effective. Research has only focused on “drops” of passionflower extract, usually around 30 drops three times a day. In tea, the amount of flavonoids compared to a “drop” is much less clear. It’s best to start small and work your way up, seeing if there is any effect along the way.
Valerian Root Tea
Valerian root is unique, in that while it is not designed for anxiety, many people find that the calming nature of valerian is extremely effective for soothing anxiety symptoms. Valerian’s traditional use is as a sleep aid. Many people use valerian root to help them get to sleep when they’re suffering from insomnia.
But those same calming properties may have an effect on anxiety as well. In this case, valerian is dealing with anxiety symptoms directly, not the anxiety itself. You will still have anxious thoughts, but those thoughts won’t create as many physical symptoms. Physical symptoms often lead to more mental symptoms, so you may still find that your mind wanders less as a result of both the lack of tension and the tiring of your mind and body.
Valerian root should be taken carefully until you know how it affects you. The tea should be taken at night at first to see if it helps aid your sleep. If you decide it is providing you with the effects you’d hoped for, try taking it during the day, but make sure that you avoid driving until you know how fatigued it makes you feel.
Other Teas for Anxiety
There are countless other teas that may be useful for anxiety. St. John’s Wort, for example, is a popular tea used for depression. In many people, depression and anxiety are linked, so drinking St. John’s Wort may actually improve anxiety symptoms.
Other popular tea choices include:
Lemon Balm Tea
None of these teas have much support behind them, but users of the teas swear to their effectiveness and with the exception of peppermint tea (which can aggravate gastroesophageal reflux disorder), none of the teas appear to have any side effects.
Combining Tea With Effective Treatments
Regardless of your thoughts on teas as an anxiety treatment, no tea or medicine should ever be taken alone. These treatment types only reduce anxiety symptoms temporarily. They don’t affect your ability to cope with future stresses or the likelihood of controlling your anxiety in the future.
You also don’t want to depend on any quick fix without complementing it with a better treatment option. If you do, and it works, you will start to naturally depend on that treatment more and more. Eventually, you’ll “need” the tea to reduce anxiety, and will be much less able to cope on your own.
That’s why it’s crucial that you combine any tea with a treatment that has been proven effective for long term anxiety management
This Article was written by the Calm Clinic
Written by Lisa O Reilly – Crest Counselling
Responding to Anxiety
We do have a choice in how we respond to Anxiety, that is the good news. How do we do this? Well the answer in theory is straight forward, putting it into practice is challenging but non the less achievable. We can change the way we react to mild to moderate anxiety by changing our ‘language’ or ‘self talk’. Take a look at the following examples and see if you can identify with some of the dialogue used. Then try to implement the remaining examples.
The Anxious mind – typical self talk/language:
Narrative #1/ Response #1equals negative outcome.
“I feel anxious” – “I shouldn’t, be feeling this way” – “there must be something wrong with me”- “I need to make it go away” – “Why won’t it go away”- “I,m starting to feel worse now”- “I need to get out of here before anyone notices” Then you look for the nearest exit and make a run for it!! See how quickly thoughts spiral out of control.
First off notice the “shoulds” and “musts” in narrative #1. By simply using these words you are feeding into the anxiety sending yourself the message “I absolutely must not feel Anxious right now” see how much pressure your mind is under now.
Try this instead. Narrative #2 / Response #2equals positive outcome
“I feel Anxious” – “Perhaps I,ll feel better if I take a minute and breathe”- “that’s not really helping still feeling a little anxious” – “that’s OK”- “Now I,m going to focus my attention on something else, I,ll distract myself from my anxious thoughts by counting all the red objects in a room (for example)”. “That feels much better”.
Notice how calmer these thoughts are, less erratic and more forgiving. No “shoulds” and “musts”! pressure off instantaneously. If you do suffer from anxiety narrative #1 may have even triggered a little turbulence, reading narrative #2 you may have noticed a slight ease. Just by changing the language.
Before moving onto narrative #3 consider this for a moment
How we talk to ourselves and how we talk to others can lend itself to negative outcomes. And if we step outside our neurotic selves for a few moments we might just notice the absurdity of the language we use when communicating to ourselves. Take a few moments and think about this..ask yourself this question. If a friend were feeling anxious. What would you tell your friend?
Narrative #3/Response #3equals positive outcome.
Again this is also a distraction technique. Through asking the question how would someone else feel in this situation shifts the focus away from your Anxious thoughts. Again pay particular attention to the different response by simply changing the language.
“I feel anxious” – “What’s wrong with me?” – “if one of my friends felt anxious in this situation, I wouldn’t think anything was wrong with them” “It,s reasonable to think that anyone might feel anxious in this situation, not just me”- “Anxiety is a natural part of being human” “It s okay to feel Anxious” “If my friend were feeling anxious that’s what I would be saying to them”
Give it a try. It takes practice and some awareness to catch ourselves when we use negative self talk. Just remember by changing the language you are changing the story and in return a more favourable outcome. Keep asking yourself the question. Is there another way I can respond to this.
Distracting your Anxious mind: by Lisa O Reilly – Crest Counselling
Random thoughts are normal and we all experience them. They are beneficial but can have an emotional cost particularly if you are trying to overcome anxiety. If you suffer from anxiety and your mind begins to wander into a negative place it produces a stream of negative outcomes. We can’t prevent our minds from wandering if we did our brains would shut down completely. However the mind that continually wanders into a negative space which in turn feeds into anxiety can be interrupted. So how is this acheivable? The answer is by redirecting your thoughts through distraction. Consider this for a moment when our minds become overwhelmed it stays stuck in a pattern of negative thoughts. This has an effect on our confidence and self- esteem and can result in a general feeling of helplessness and a lack of control over our lives. So by creating a distraction we can begin to feel more confident and in control. The following are examples of how to redirect negative thought patterns and the great thing about these ideas is they are simple and easily accessible.
The quickest most effective way of distracting you from negative thoughts is through physical activity. For example cleaning your house and focusing on one room at a time, washing your car, cleaning out cupboards, hoovering, running 10km, Swimming 10 lengths of the pool the choice is yours and have fun deciding! However you do need to consider the following –
Have a clear goal in mind before you start
Keep it simple it must be attainable.
Your goal must require a certain amount of physical energy
Remain focused on what you are trying to achieve
Enjoy the sense of achievement when you obtain that goal
The last is probably the most important so remember what it feels like or better still write it down.
If you struggle with anxiety, you might start to see your anxiety as an adversary. After all, anxiety stops you from doing things you need to do and things that you enjoy. Anxiety keeps you in the house and keeps you from pursuing your dreams.
You might even feel like anxiety stops you from being the person you know you can be, according to Lea Seigen Shinraku, MFT, a therapist in private practice in San Francisco.
Anxiety feels unpleasant and uncomfortable. For some of us, it’s terrifying. You might feel like you’re at the mercy of this big, monstrous thing. You also might feel ashamed about your anxiety. Shinraku’s clients often tell themselves: “What’s wrong with me? I’m not supposed to feel this way.”
“So it’s totally understandable that we would see [anxiety] as an enemy and try to push it away,” said Ali Miller, MFT, a therapist in private practice in Berkeley and San Francisco, Calif.
In fact, you might desperately want to eliminate your anxiety, as though it were an infectious disease. But seeing anxiety as enemy No. 1 only hurts us. For starters, it creates conflict. “When the enemy is an internal experience, then it’s an internal conflict. Conflict takes a lot of energy, and often involves a lot of suffering,” Miller said.
This also is a form of resistance. It’s natural for people to resist the things they see as challenging, Shinraku said. However, “What resists, persists.” “The more you view anxiety as an adversary [or feel ashamed], the more likely it is to escalate.”
Specifically, when you feel anxious, your threat response system has been activated (i.e., your flight, fight or freeze response), she said. This is when you “literally can’t think straight. Your prefrontal cortex goes offline, and your amygdala gets triggered — your ‘reptilian’ brain is calling the shots.”
Both Miller and Shinraku help their clients take a more compassionate approach to their anxiety. Many of Miller’s clients don’t realize that this is even an option. When she’s working with someone struggling with anxiety, she makes anxiety tangible. She asks her clients to imagine that one of the pillows on her couch is anxiety. And she tells them that they have options for how they’d like to relate to that pillow:
“Do they want to throw it out the window, or across the room? Do they want to place it on the floor near the couch, or try placing it on the couch? How would it be to put the pillow right beside you, or even on your lap? How about if you held the pillow like you would a baby, with loads of love and compassion?”
Sometimes, clients want to throw the pillow – and Miller is totally OK with that. She simply wants her clients to know that they have options.
Taking a compassionate approach helps you soothe yourself, thereby decreasing your anxiety and letting you think more clearly and be more present in your life, Shinraku said.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Below are two tips that can help.
Change the story of your anxiety.
Shinraku stressed the importance of experimenting. “You want to be a kind of scientist or explorer of your own experience.” With her clients Shinraku uses the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books as a metaphor for relating to their anxiety. (These books are interactive and give readers choices that result in different endings. For instance, if you decide to take the bridge, go to page 5. If you decide to walk through the forest, go to page 10.)
“We don’t have a choice about the feelings that arise in us. But we do have a choice in how we respond to them, or what stories we tell about them,” she said.
Shinraku gave this example of a typical narrative: “I feel anxious –> I shouldn’t feel this way –> something’s wrong with me –> how do I make the anxiety go away so I can feel OK or normal? –> The anxiety is getting worse; I have to make it go away now!”
However, you can try a new story, such as this one, she said: “I feel anxious –> I might feel better if I focus my attention on the present moment –> how do I do that? –> I’ll try focusing on my breath –> That doesn’t help. –> I’ll try focusing on the feeling of the soles of my feet on the floor –> Hmm, I feel a little better.”
Or you can try this narrative, she said: “I feel anxious –> What’s wrong with me? –> Wait, if one of my friends felt anxious in this situation, I wouldn’t think anything was wrong with them. –> It’s actually totally natural to feel anxious in this situation –> Anxiety is part of being human –> I bet there are a lot of other people who would feel anxious in this situation, too –> Maybe I’m not alone in feeling this.”
View your anxiety as a messenger.
Because anxiety is so upsetting, we rarely think that it could be valuable in any way. But your anxiety might be trying to tell you something. For instance, anxiety about work might reveal that you feel like a phony and have a hard time valuing yourself, Shinraku said. “In this way, it is pointing you toward some deeper understanding of yourself and the ways that you might need to heal some old wounds.”
Being anxious about a new job might reveal that you don’t have a good feeling about your new boss, your commute is going to be brutal or you’re unsure about the company culture, she said. “And maybe there is truth to these concerns; there might be wisdom in your doubts and your anxiety is bringing your attention to it.”
According to Miller, anxiety “is a messenger trying to deliver you a message about what’s important to you.” It’s trying to communicate your needs so you can meet them. For instance, she said, your anxiety might be telling you to focus more on self-care; that you’re scared and need some support; or you like the feeling of fitting in.
“Once we get the message, we are in a better position to take action on behalf of what’s important to us.”
It’s hard not to see your anxiety as an opponent you want to vanquish. It helps to remind yourself that this type of approach only amplifies anxiety and creates conflict. And it helps to remind yourself that while you can’t always change the beginning of the story (i.e., the first signs of anxiety), you can revise the next sentence.
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Lisa O Reilly BA(Hons) Counselling & Psychotherapy (MIACP)