Palpitations, sweating, insecurity, chest tightness, hot flashes, difficulty concentrating and sleeping are some of the symptoms that people with anxiety disorders and panic attacks we know only too well. Fear is a constant companion and additional panic attacks that occur make the everyday life of those affected extremely difficult. Consequently, the quality of life is permanently impaired and the triggers are of various types and often unpredictable.
This condition manifests itself in isolation in the long term and affects the mental and physical health of those affected. Anxiety disorders and panic attacks are often prematurely dismissed by patients as stress symptoms and are not taken seriously.
This article tries to clarify the background of stress, anxiety disorders and panic attacks and to show possible alternative, holistic tips and ideas to make everyday life easier for those affected.
More and more people are using CBD, the natural plant substance from the hemp plant. We will explain why CBD can be useful.
Fear – an evolutionary companion of everyday life
Fear is a feeling that each of us knows and feels consciously as well as unconsciously. It can protect us from dangerous situations. In everyday life there are always moments when fear is subconsciously involved. For example, everyone looks to the left and to the right when crossing the street to avoid any accident – it is the fear of being run over.
Fear is therefore a necessary pattern, which has proven useful from an early stage. Physiologist Walter Cannon described this as a “fight or flight” response. So, fear is a positive stress reaction, which enables those affected to quickly adapt to a dangerous situation. In the past, with our ancestors, fear was vital for survival.
To some extent, fear is normal and necessary. For some people, however, this takes over and affects everyday life – that is when we experience anxiety disorders or negative stress.
What if the fear becomes pathological?
If the states of anxiety become excessive, it is important to take them seriously, otherwise the conditions can deteriorate further.
Anxiety disorders are mental illnesses and, like depression, have been rising steadily in recent years. They are declared as “excessive stress and anxiety reactions with corresponding behavioral problems”. These usually only appear in adulthood. It is striking that 30 to 80% of those affected suffer from another mental illness and the anxiety states often overlap with addictions.
Panic attacks are usually the leading cause of anxiety disorders. Few of those affected turn to healthcare facilities, which is why the disease often remains undiagnosed.
Anxiety counts as a multifactorial disease – genetic predispositions and external environmental factors are involved in its development. Studies indicate that genes, especially those from the serotonergic, dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems, are involved in the development of anxiety. Balance disorders of the neurotransmitters including serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, GABA and glutamine are suspected which are related to anxiety disorders at neurobiological levels.
The following is an overview of the most common anxiety disorders:
In this case, the fear appears suddenly and is accompanied by physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, dizziness or nausea. The attacks can come from nowhere and people suffer from immense fear and are afraid of fainting or worse in this situation. The condition can last up to several minutes.
Generalized anxiety disorders:
This type of anxiety manifests itself in physical and psychological complaints.
Anxiety mixed with a depressive disorder:
Here, the fears are paired with depressive phases.
The fear is focused on a certain object, e.g. spiders.
In this case, affected people avoid attention and are reluctant to take center stage.
Agoraphobia: This is where the fear of certain places occurs, often combined with panic attacks.
Where can affected people go?
- Resident Doctors for Psychiatry
- Hospital outpatient clinic for psychiatry
- Doctors with advanced training in psychotherapeutic medicine
Panic Attacks – the companion of anxiety disorders
Panic attacks mean short phases of intense fear. The phases are accompanied by physical and emotional symptoms, which put those affected in extreme suffering. They often occur in combination with anxiety disorders.
The following symptoms occur in the course of panic attacks:
- Shortness of breath
- Feelings of suffocation
- Chest pain
Treatment of anxiety and panic attacks
Due to the presumption that the disease is due to neurobiological conditions and imbalances, the symptoms are often treated with medication.
Here, doctor’s resort to antidepressants and other medications, which cause an improvement in the short term, but are also associated with strong side effects in the long term.
The following is a list of possible side effects of the drugs used:
- Sleep disorders
- Sexual dysfunction
- Weight gain
Nevertheless, it is also clear that environmental factors are involved in the development, which is why the treatment should not be exclusively medicinal.
It takes a holistic view of the internal and external circumstances and the associated intensive discussion with the person concerned and their lifestyle.
Psychotherapy is a successfully used therapy method here. The focus here is on a trusting relationship between patient and psychotherapist, in which the possible problems and concerns of the person concerned are discussed. The necessary skills and knowledge are transferred to the patient so that they can help themselves again in the future.
Therapy focuses on the following:
- Reactivation of resources
- Making the problems understandable
- Learn problem coping strategies Among other things, this is achieved by:
- Relaxation methods
- Communication strategies
- Confronting the anxiety triggers
- Behavioral therapy
In addition, those affected can also become active themselves to alleviate the symptoms. The focus is both on the lifestyle and on the other hand the intake of natural aids, such as valerian, lemon balm and orange blossom or CBD as well as orthomolecular options such as B vitamins, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids.
Cannabidiol for anxiety and panic attacks
Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, is a natural remedy for the hemp plant, the history of which goes way back. Vedic texts indicate that it dates back to 2000 BC. It was used to treat anxiety.
Animal and human studies have shown that CBD can reduce anxiety. Researchers suspect that the stress-reducing effects of the CBD are related to activities in the limbic and paralimbic brain area and thus have a positive effect on anxiety. Social anxiety in particular should be reduced by taking CBD. An animal study indicated that strengthening the endocannabinoid system can be a beneficial strategy to reduce behavioral and physical consequences of stress, as it facilitates signal transmission.
In summary, some studies already indicate that CBD can support anxiety disorders. However, when it comes to the question of exactly which mechanisms this is based on, opinions differ and the study situation is not yet clear. It is clear that CBD starts with the symptoms and that one can deal with negative stress better as a result.
As a further positive benefit, no side effects are known when taking CBD. However, there may be interactions with other medications, which is why patients who are already taking medication should discuss their intake with their doctor. CBD can slow down the breakdown of certain medications, but this can also have the advantage that the effects last longer.
The dosage here is very individual and a subjective-intuitive approach when taking CBD is recommended. The preparations are usually taken in the form of oils or capsules. These should also have a terpene entourage effect. The terpenes limonene and linalool promote the anxiolytic effects of CBD through an interaction with the anxiolytic amino acid 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).
A little tip from aromatherapy: Linalool is also contained in the essential oil lavender, which can be vaporized using a diffuser to provide additional relaxation. Citric-containing oils such as lemon also have a mood-enhancing effect.
In addition, taking B vitamins is recommended to strengthen the nerves. Studies indicate that B vitamins and magnesium make us more resistant and strengthen our neural network. The targeted supplementation of selected micronutrients is therefore part of a holistic management.
More tips for Anxiety
As already mentioned, everyone can take action to alleviate the symptoms. The following areas are in focus:
- Exercise / sport
- Balanced nutrition
- Adequate sleep
- Promote mental health
- Soak up enough sun
Movement and Sport
It has already been scientifically proven that exercise and sport can have a positive effect on mental and physical health and can even reduce stress hormones. On the one hand, happiness hormones are released, and on the other hand, the stress hormone cortisone is broken down. Above all, exercise in nature, especially in the forest, has a particularly beneficial effect, since this has a positive effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, a part of the vegetative nervous system that is responsible, among other things, for restoring inner balance.
Furthermore, it does not necessarily have to be sports, even small walks in the fresh air can already be beneficial. In addition, it shouldn’t be a constraint, but fun. You are also welcome to call in friends, because it is often easier to motivate yourself in pairs. Social exchange is also promoted in this way.
True to the motto “Food is the best medicine”, nutrition also has a lasting effect on well-being, both physically and mentally. It is advisable to use enough fruit and vegetables to provide the body with the necessary vitamins and minerals. Also prefer vegetable protein and complex carbohydrates.
A targeted diet can counteract stress, anxiety and depressive phases.
New research suggests that hormones can also be involved in anxiety – especially D cortisol, insulin and estrogen. Women in particular often have an estrogen deficiency, which can be compensated for with a targeted diet. Spices such as cinnamon, ashwagandha or oat weed have a beneficial effect here and can be ideally integrated into the daily diet.
The importance of sleep is often underestimated. People need enough rest periods to be able to recover from the day and to collect the necessary energy for the next day. Experiences are often processed during sleep, which can be significant in the case of anxiety disorders.
Preparations with CBD and melatonin are particularly suitable here to promote the quality of falling asleep and staying asleep.
Promote Mental Health
The aspect of mental health should not be underestimated in anxiety. Psychotherapy, as a possible treatment method, already makes a major contribution to recognizing possible triggers and promoting self-reflection. Here, however, everyone can do it themselves and introduce new rituals into everyday life.
Rituals provide support and bring structure to life, which can also have a calming effect on those affected. Even the introduction of small habits, such as mediation or journal writing, can help you to go through everyday life more attentively. Therefore, the handling and processing of what you experience every day can be further promoted.
Mindfulness has its origins in Eastern meditation paths and finds a place in psychotherapy as well as in spiritual areas. Mindfulness is about aligning attention in everyday life. To be mindful means to be in lively contact with the immediate experiences of the here and now. It is challenging, because generally people tend to be in the past or the future with their thoughts, or to sink into daydreams and abstract ideas. Mindfulness is about paying attention to current emotional states. There are different therapy options that can help.
There are different ways to train yourself for mindfulness here. Meditation is one of them.
It can help to observe and control thoughts and feelings. It is a good tool to promote mental health. The positive effects have already been demonstrated by means of studies. Researchers found that the effects of mediation can be recognized by positive changes in the brain.
“Journaling” is a writing therapy for personal development. As a rule, records are made here every day and what is experienced is recorded, a kind of diary for adults.
It can help to look at situations from different perspectives and to reflect critically. Difficulties or problems can thus be manageable and correlations can be established more easily. Moreover, you can record positive things in writing. You can draw conclusions from this for further actions, and identify possible triggers for anxiety.
Journaling can therefore bring new insights and can be a valuable tool, especially in cases of anxiety. Just writing down stressful situations and fears can have a positive effect on the psyche.
Mantras are positive affirmations. These can be words or positive little sentences and sayings. They can help you achieve a positive mental state and focus on current goals.
This can also have a positive effect on fears and doubts, in order to strengthen yourself and promote positive feelings. Beliefs can shape our daily behavior and actions – it is all the more important that they are positive. The shorter and simpler these are, the easier it is to integrate them into everyday life.
We would like to share the following effective mantras with you:
It’s over – everything will be fine.
Thoughts and emotions are like visitors; they come and go. It is important to keep in mind that no condition is permanent.
I am good the way I am.
This sentence can have a positive effect on your self-confidence. Being pure with yourself also has a positive effect on mental health.
Challenges make me strong – I can do anything.
Since the world of thought is closely related to our emotions, often also actions, it is important to speak to yourself well and to encourage yourself.
These are all small suggestions that you can also integrate into your everyday life in order to alleviate possible symptoms of anxiety. Everyone is different, which is why the suggestions mentioned in this article are received and perceived differently. It is advisable to try these regularly over a certain period of time and find out whether it leads to positive results.