I’ve been dealing with diagnosed, generalized anxiety and depression for over a decade now. I’ve been on several different types of medications, I’ve suffered absolutely HORRENDOUS withdrawals (Fuck you, Effexor) and I have tried a lot of more alternative solutions like chiropractic, acupuncture, herbs and homeopathy. Some things have been duds, but others have worked so well that I find myself telling EVERYONE that I possibly can about them. Since I keep yelling to the world about them on Twitter, Facebook and anywhere anyone at all will listen, I figured I could give a rundown here and maybe it would help someone out there.
(Disclaimer – I am not a doctor. I am not a nutritionist or naturopath. I am just saying what has worked for me. Consult your doctor or naturopath if you are on meds because some are contraindicated.)
After dealing with the awful withdrawal from Effexor, I was doing pretty well mentally. A little anxiety here and there, some obsessive worry, but nothing huge. I worked at a multidisciplinary clinic so I started getting some treatment and whoa; It was awesome. I have basically continued on from there, tweaking things a bit. Hopefully something I’ve found will work for you too. Please do ask me questions in the comments, in email or twitter. I’m happy to discuss my personal situation or feelings on anything too!
Chiropractic – It makes sense that I found a difference (and still do!) in my anxiety and mood in general with Chiropractic. Chiropractic adjustments free the nervous system from interference. Vertebrae out of alignment can cause pinches in the nerves like a kink in a hose, so it completely makes sense that when the interference is removed, my brain can communicate and my anxiety lowers. I go once a week and have for years and continue to look forward to EVERY SINGLE adjustment. (If you need help finding a chiropractor – please! Let me know! I have LOTS of resources and information and am super happy to share!) I know not everyone is a fan, but I certainly am and it has dramatically changed my life for the better. Back pain or no – Chiropractic has helped my mood and my health immensely.
Acupuncture – I was lucky enough to get acupuncture treatment fairly regularly for a while and it was a wonderful thing. It gave me a peaceful space sometimes, where I drifted in and out of consciousness and I felt the calm extending past just the treatment time. I always slept like a LOG that night (I really mean Rip van Winkle sleep) and found I was a lot less jittery afterwards. Sometimes, I think it just helps to have that quiet space. Massage doesn’t really give it to me, but acupuncture surely did. I highly recommend it if you’re struggling and worn out.
A holistic allergist recommended L-Theanine to me when I spoke about anxiety attacks and it was such a great recommendation. The brand I found was chewable tablets similar in size, shape and taste to vitamin C. It is an amino acid that helps promote relaxation without drowsiness in the body and boy does it work. It works within 20 minutes of taking it and I found it was a great quick remedy for momentary panic. I kept a little container of the tablets in my purse for sudden onset. I didn’t take it regularly, just as needed. (The image above is the brand I took, I’m sure there are others but I can only vouch for this one)
B Complex Vitamins
B vitamins are so important for stress and mood as they help support nervous function, energy production and even metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. (Hello? Ever tried to lose weight while stressed? Haha. Right.) There is lots of information on the role of B vitamins in stress relief and it is relatively inexpensive so I recommend doing a little research and giving it a shot. Nutritional yeast is a good source of B vitamins, as are eggs, tuna, kombucha, whole grains, potatoes, bananas, lentils, chili peppers, tempeh and beans. I honestly have no opinion on liquid vs. solid supplementation, I just know they’re helpful. I take a sublingual liquid in the morning along with my vitamin D.
Honestly, the whole flower essence thing is a bit hokey for me, even though I’m all about homeopathy and herbs, flower essences are a bit of a stretch. HOWEVER! This stuff works. It really does. It can be great to help you in moments of panic or distress and it is almost always the thing I reach for first when feeling like I’m spinning or panicking. You can use it on pets, they have multiple different forms of it from sprays and liquid to pastilles you can carry in your purse. I know it seems crazy, but it’s affordable so why not give it a shot? Sometimes, in those moments I’m really willing to try just about anything and everything, (not excluding liberal applications of gin).
This is very, very quickly becoming my go-to for panic and worry. You know those moments when you feel like your wheels are spinning and you just can’t get your mind to stop? Whether it is during the day or when you’re trying to go to sleep, this really is the stuff to try. Passionflower is classified as a ‘nervine relaxant herb’ and can be beneficial for anxiety, irritability, tension headaches and insomnia.
I use a brand called “Pascoflair” by Pascoe but I believe that’s a Canadian company. (If you’re in Canada, I could not recommend this product more.) I have used it successfully before bed to relax and in the middle of the day when I’m wound up and can’t seem to stop the obsessive thoughts. It feels gentle and it works quickly. I feel so attached to this particular remedy and really hope you’ll give it a shot.
This is another ‘wonder drug’, without being a drug. When you are restless and can’t seem to settle to get to sleep – this is another go to. Super Sleep is a combination of L-Theanine, 5-HTP and Melatonin. I find that it works quickly, gently and just soon you’re sleepy and relaxed. These tablets are similar to the L-theanine as they are chewable and taste like a vitamin C tab. I buy it at Costco in bulk but I’m sure you can find it elsewhere with a little effort. It’s not a bad thing to have in your medicine cabinet. Bonus! 5-HTP can help with mood stabilization as well!
And now…for the best and most loved supplement/product that I’ve been using for mood.
Seriously guys. I just cannot sing the praises of this supplement more. I had some moments a few months ago (Some of you Twitter friends may remember my desperation – thank you for hanging with me!) and I was starting to wonder if I needed to get back on anti-depressants. Of course, I was intensely resistant to the idea but I really was desperate and crying daily. I did a lot of research on this one and learned that doctors have been using this in Europe for years. SAMe works in 1-2 weeks, whereas pharmaceuticals can take up to 6 weeks to get into your system. Often in Europe they will prescribe them together, so the patient will get more immediate relief.
Well, I found some relief within a week and I have been taking 400 milligrams of it for almost three months now. Honestly? It has been a life saver. I do not feel ill if I forget it one day, and did not find symptoms until about 3-4 days without it. I don’t have a drugged up feeling with it, or any other side effects I just simply feel more stable. More grounded. I feel like I can wake up in the morning and get up without as much effort as it was taking. If you feel a little blue or a lot blue, I HIGHLY reccommend this supplement. If you’re already taking anti-depressants however, you have to check with your doctor first as it does affect serotonin as well. There is a wide range of doses from 200mg up to 1600mg per day depending on the source, but I have found the effort put into research and the cost have been well worth it.
So there you have it. My arsenal for combating anxiety and depression naturally. I’ve also recently found some situational luck with aromatherapy and think it could be a nice addition to just help you along in your day. Sweet orange helps me feel refreshed and bright, while rose and sandalwood seem to make me feel warm and comforted.
If you have any questions about where I’ve found something, what I think about it or my experiences with anti-depressants both pharmaceutical and natural, PLEASE contact me. Email. Twitter. Comments. Smoke signals. If I can help you, I’ll do my best. I certainly hope that this information and experience helps someone out there.