Monday, 1 July 2013

Yoga and Relieving Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are on the rise because more and more people feel pressured and stressed with the fast-paced lifestyles of today.  While most of those who suffer from the different anxiety conditions turn to antidepressants and other medications, other people turn to alternative therapies like yoga for help.

Since the 1970's, stress-reduction therapies like meditation and yoga have already been used in many circles to treat anxiety and depression. A current national survey has revealed that an estimated 7.5% of American adults have tried yoga at least once, while another 4% have practiced it the previous year.

Let's take a brief look at how yoga can help relieve anxiety. 

Yoga Can Relieve Stress 

The postures and controlled breathing and meditation techniques of Yoga have been noted to help relieve the mind of the person who suffers from stress and depression. This centuries-old practice has been noted to modulate the body's stress-response systems, and effectively reduce physiological arousal.

As a matter of fact, the meditation, relaxation and exercise modes of yoga can soothe frayed nerves and increase heart rate variability, which is a major indicator of the body's capability to flexibly respond to stress.  Yoga could also lower blood pressure, ease perspiration and reduce heart rate. (Source: Harvard Health Publications)

Has Yoga Been Tested To Be Effective Against Anxiety?

An increasing number of studies have noted positive reviews for the use of yoga against anxiety.
A study published in the May 2012 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
showed that researchers utilized high-magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging to analyze the levels  of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric or GABA, in the brains of yoga and non-yoga practitioners.

Researchers noted a 27 percent increase in the GABA brain levels of those practicing yoga, while no major changes were noted in people who didn't practice yoga. Low levels of GABA in the brain are often connected or associated with anxiety and depression. (Source:

Why Yoga Is an Wonderful Alternative Treatment

Yoga therapy has also been shown to be potent at warding off depression and anxiety disorders, due to a 
number of factors. First, it allows the person to effectively work with his or her own nervous system. Thus, if you wish to pacify your senses and calm down, you should learn to relax and do yoga breathing exercises.

Remember that in yoga, breathing is known as the language of nervous system “control and equilibrium”.

Yoga also presents anxiety sufferers with a host of effective techniques for fighting the disorder. These methods include recognizing, admitting and accepting the problem in all its depth, and acknowledging the need for some sort of change. Instead of resisting the urge to act out feelings, yoga suggests that the individual explore other alternatives, communicate more with people, and accept feedback from them. (Source:

The exercises, relaxation and meditation techniques of yoga also allow the individual to work calmly on any problem or issue, even if no positive outcome is expected. Yoga teaches the person to allow their intuition to find new ways or possibilities. All these methods are all part of the physical, mental and spiritual discipline of yoga, which began in ancient India, and have been tested to successfully allow the person to attain a state of permanent or eternal peace.

Photo Credits:

“Yoga” & "Yoga 2" by RelaxingMusic/Flickr

Monday, 24 June 2013

Magnesium For Anxiety - What is It, And Does it Work?

While most people often feel nervous or anxious when faced with a problem or issue, an anxiety disorder is much more severe. Anxiety disorders often greatly interfere with an individual's ability to live a normal life. 

There are also different types of anxiety disorders, from specific phobias to post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder and OCD or obsessive compulsive disorders. 

Among the newest treatment forms for anxiety include magnesium.

Let's discuss the benefits, and possible risks of using magnesium for anxiety disorders.

Where Is Magnesium Abundant? 

Magnesium is a mineral which is abundant in the earth, as well as in food. It is plentiful in foods like dark chocolate, brown rice, almonds, hazelnuts, lima beans, peanuts, spinach, okra, Swiss chard, bananas and hazelnuts.  The water supply also contains considerable magnesium levels. However, despite the prevalence of magnesium in most food items, the average dietary magnesium consumption of most humans is still insufficient. (Source: Time For Wellness)

How to Increase Magnesium Intake 

According to health experts, it was as early as the 1920's that magnesium was utilized to treat depression and induce sleep or relaxation. 

In a number of studies, patients who were given between 125 to 300 mg of magnesium glycinate with each meal during bedtime were shown to have had recovered rapidly from major depression in less than seven days. 

The recovery also included a lessening of symptoms of suicidal thoughts, irritability, insomnia, alcohol and tobacco abuse, as well as short-term memory loss. 

The evidence gathered from the studies has led many health care professionals to suggest that magnesium should be prescribed for treating resistant depression (even though more research was still needed). 

To increase magnesium intake, eat vegetables and other food items rich in the mineral, as well as take a good-quality supplement which contains magnesium glycinate (a variant that's better absorbed by the body).  (Source: Time For Wellness)

The Benefits and Risks of Magnesium Treatment

While there have been no negative or adverse effects observed or noted with magnesium consumption, some supplements have been noted to cause troublesome effects, the most common of which is diarrhea (especially when the dose goes beyond  350 mg). 

In people who have reduced kidney function, high levels can lead to a condition called “hypermagnesemia”. But in people who have normal kidney functions, magnesium intake is generally considered to be safe. (Source: Science-Based Medicine)

While the United States Office of Dietary Supplements notes that most magnesium supplements are relatively safe, some products may cause irritating side effects such as abdominal cramping and diarrhea.  

Some supplements can also leave a dull, chalk-like taste in the mouth. Health experts also stress that if you have renal disease, then you should not take magnesium supplements. 

These dietary supplements may also negatively interact with drugs like neuromuscular blockers and  tetracycline antibiotics. Talk to your doctor before you to decide to take this, as he or she may have a suitable dose for you.

Photo Credits:

“Roasted California Almonds” by  HealthAliciousNess/Flickr
“Doctor and Patient” by  Vic/Flickr

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Breathing Exercises to Calm Yourself Down

Breathing is the most important thing we do. We breathe to live. We will die if we have no access to oxygen for about 4 minutes. 

But besides our necessity of it for survival, breathing has much more uses to man. One of which is to relieve anxiety.

When a person suffers from anxiety disorder, it may be noticeable that his/her breathing habit is affected. 

This change can be felt as one of the following: shallow or quick breathing, monitored breathing (thinking about one’s breathing too much), and over-breathing (because of the feeling that the person is not getting enough air). 

These poor respiration habits may lead to Hyperventilation – which is responsible for causing anxiety attack symptoms such as the rapid beating of the heart and chest pains. 

Thus, to help alleviate a patient suffering from anxiety, the person should learn to improve the way he/she breathes.

Recommended Breathing Exercises:

CO2 Breathing – Hyperventilation gives one the impression that he/she is not taking in enough oxygen. Contrary to that, the body is actually getting more of it and now lacks of carbon dioxide. To do this, cup your hands over your mouth and take your time breathing. This could also be done using a small paper bag.

Deep Breathing for Relaxation – Breathing deeply is great for managing feelings of elevated stress or anxiety. The controlled breathing, along with distancing oneself from taxing environments, help soothe the body and mind. 

The simplest way to do this is first by sitting upright with your arms on top of the armrests. Calmly and deeply inhale through your nose for about five to six seconds, hold for a few more, and finally exhale for about seven seconds. 

Do this for around ten repetitions at first, and then gradually increase as you learn to better handle the exercise. (The anxiety guide Panic Away goes into this in great detail.)

Belly Breathing – This method not only helps in clearing the mind but also cleanses the lungs as well. When starting, allow your right hand to rest atop your chest while your other hand is above your stomach. Then, take a deep and slow breath. Make sure that your left hand becomes more elevated than your right hand. 

Upon exhaling, ensure that every bit of air exit your lungs as you begin another cycle. Do this for around five repetitions. As you progress, you may try removing your hands and utter short and simple words as you breathe.

Cooling Breath – This technique is taken from the pranayama yoga practice. This is done by slightly opening your mouth and curling your tongue upwards. Try to make it look like you are going to pronounce the letter ‘L’ (see video below).

Then, take a slow breath and experience the cool air that pass through the base of your tongue. Hold your breath for a few seconds and gradually release the air through your nose. You can do this as much as you like so that you can feel cooler and calmer afterwards.

Benefits of Breathing Exercises

There are so many benefits in doing these breathing exercises. 

First and foremost, it does not cost anything for a person to perform them. It would be a great save of money if his/her anxiety condition would not escalate to the point of needing prescribed medications nor expensive therapies. 

Secondly, these practices are very simple to do. One does not need to travel elsewhere or do tedious tasks to complete these exercises. 

Lastly, they are not time consuming at all. This is a great help for people with many responsibilities. So, for those who think they are starting to experience anxiety problems, these exercises would be a fine way to begin.

Photo credit:

 "White lips, pale face” by Martinak/Flickr

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Natural Remedies For Anxiety

Anxiety disorder is a serious illness. In worst case situations, doctors have no other choice but to put patients under medication. 

However, there are still natural ways by which one can recover from anxiety – and it is highly advisable for it to be treated as early as possible. It’s always better to be cured by means that do not incorporate drugs. 

Having to resort to medication may lead to unwanted side effects that could only make day to day living less comfortable and efficient. There are various herbs around the world that have been found to heal or ease management of anxiety. 

Trying these gifts of nature first may even prove to be more effective in relieving patients of their problems.

Kava Plant

This may be the most effective herbal cure for moderate to severe anxiety disorder. It is known to effectively alleviate stress, anxiety and insomnia. 

It is vital to note that you should talk to your doctor before using this remedy. There have been rare accounts of serious liver damage brought about by using Kava. 

It is also important to take into consideration a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) which explains that the liver injuries may have been caused by improper and toxic formulations. This happens when the whole Kava plant is used instead of only the root; or when acetone/ethanol is used in extraction of active ingredients instead of clean water.


Passionflower is quite similar to the Kava plant with the exception of having no side effects. Its potency is only a bit weaker as it’s mostly used for mild to moderate levels of anxiety. 

It is also considered to be a sedative and is found to be as effective as actual anti-anxiety drugs. This herb helps in relaxing nerves and muscles, as well as relieves insomnia, mood swings and headaches.


When dealing with mild anxiety, Chamomile is the best cure. Also a sedative, it is used in calming down the nervous and digestive system of the body. It helps increase appetite, clear headaches; and improves lung and liver health as well. Chamomile (in tea form) is safe for patients of an early age as well.

Taking Chamomile should be avoided by those allergic to plants in the daisy family, those with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may induce bleeding, and by pregnant or nursing mothers.


Hops are the flowers of a vine that grows all over Asia, Europe and North America. These flowers are known to have many uses. It is useful in reducing fever. Taking it helps people in managing insomnia, stress and headaches. It also relieves one from indigestion and nervousness.

Although unrelated to anxiety, it may be useful to know that it helps lower uric acid levels, treat infection, skin diseases and rheumatism as well.

Best of all, hops are very safe and are acknowledged to have no drug-related side effects. While being effective in helping people sleep, hops don’t cause drowsiness the next day either.
These are only a few of the many herbal options Mother Earth provides to help us deal with anxiety.

While prescription medicine may be more potent, using natural means grants us peace of mind that what we are absorbing into our bodies are a bit safer (not to mention much cheaper!) Side effects (should there even be some) are much less than the addictive properties of most modern anxiety drugs.


Photo credits:

" Kava" by Verity/Flickr
" Hops" by Raymond Barlow/Flickr

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Link Between Depression and Anxiety

Sometimes people feel depressed, but not anxious. Others feel anxious, but not necessarily depressed. 

Although there are factors that are similar between depression and anxiety, these disorders are not the same.

These two mental disorders are frequently experienced simultaneously. Research shows that about 85% of people who are clinically depressed were found to have anxiety disorders as well. 

In addition to that, 35% also show signs of having panic disorder. Just like alcohol and drugs, depression and anxiety are a deadly combination when taken together. 

Being both anxious and depressed is a tremendous challenge.  We can be anxious about the tiniest thing and dwell on the negative consequences of our actions, which eventually will make us feel depressed. 

Feeling depressed is not only a horrible state to be in, it becomes hurtful to others and our loved ones get affected the most. 

Depression Disorder

When a person is depressed, their energy levels are low.  Sometimes, the essential things in life such as daily tasks or personal relationships get too overwhelming. 

Depression generates emotions such as hopelessness, despair and anger. Because of this, people who experience this mental disorder should carefully be looked after. 

These people tend to have somber thoughts most of the time and may possibly wander to suicidal or murderous ideas – thus requiring immediate psychological and emotional treatment from certified specialists.

Anxiety Disorder

When a person is anxious, they have intense feelings of uneasiness.  There exists an anxious response to various situations in life.

Some indications of anxiety disorder may come in physical form such as faster pulse rate and tension within the muscles. It may also be behavioral or psychological, such as:

  • difficulty in sleeping; 
  • impatience;
  • jumpiness; 
  • excessive worrying;
  • oversensitivity to sounds; 
  • being obsessive compulsive; 
  • having uneasy thoughts;
  • excessive concern; 
  • and avoidance of people.

What is the Relationship Between Depression and Anxiety?

Various symptoms of both depression and anxiety disorders are often the same. This means that those experiencing a certain symptom of one of these disorders are highly probable to be diagnosed of both. 

If a person seems to be feeling anxious, at some point, he tends to feel depressed as well. This works the other way around too. Moreover, desperate individuals experience sad moods and a decrease in their ability to derive pleasure from life and tend to be irritable. 

Depression can lead to too much worrying.  Uneasiness and restlessness may be caused by our body reacting to stressful events. Despondent people may feel hopeless and may create a melancholic atmosphere.

If you feel tense or uneasy most of your waking hours or sometimes you feel discouraged or unhappy, it is important to talk to a doctor.  Treatment at the onset of downheartedness and nervousness is very important in regaining a healthy life.


Photo credits:

“Depression USA” by MuxanOpena/Flickr

Thursday, 23 May 2013

What are Anxiety Disorders ?

Many people everywhere are affected by anxiety and anxiety disorders. While anxiety refers to general feelings of nervousness, fear, and helplessness, anxiety disorders are the very particular, debilitating manifestations of anxiety. 

Feeling a certain level of anxiety in appropriate situations is normal and there are ways with which people can deal with anxiety.  
Nonetheless, they are crippling and intense, giving those who suffer from them overwhelming feelings of fear and worry, often interfering with a person’s ability to live a happy, productive life. 

With forty million American adults ages 18 above struggling with anxiety disorders each year, much research has been done in order to learn more about these . 

There are many different kinds of anxiety disorders, but all of which are characterized by intense feelings of dread and irrational levels of fear. 

Some people also report having nightmares or flashbacks to traumatic events, sleeping problems, uncontrollable thoughts, dizziness, dryness of the mouth, and tension in the muscles .

Let’s look at some of the more commonly recognized anxiety disorders:

Panic Disorder

Those afflicted with panic disorder feel a constant sense of terror. Physically, panic disorder is characterized by sweating, heart palpitations,  and a choking sensation.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

For those afflicted with OCD, the overwhelming feelings of fear and nervousness lead people to tie themselves down to very strict routines and regimens. They do this to try and ward off anxiety and thus return to them a sense of control. 

These unsettling thoughts are known as obsessions, and the ritualistic measures that are borne from them are referred to as compulsions. 

Those with OCD are often paralyzed by their regimen and are unable to lead normal, productive lives. 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):

PTSD occurs after a person has experienced a traumatic, horrifying incident, like physical assault, sexual offense, the tragic passing of a beloved, natural disaster, and war.  

Recollections of the experience will constantly instill in a person an intense and overwhelming fear. In response to this, those with PTSD choose to shut themselves off and remain emotionally numb .

Social Anxiety Disorder

Also known as social phobia, people with this kind of anxiety disorder are extremely anxious and excessively self-conscious when it comes to the social interactions of everyday life. 

They have an irrational apprehension of being watched or judged, and are often paralyzed by the thought of being embarrassed in a public scenario. 

This anxiety eats away at them for days and weeks, causing them to miss ordinary activities like going to school or work, and prevents them from making and keeping friends. 

Specific Phobias

A phobia is defined as an irrational dread of a particular entity or condition. Phobias can concern anything, from snakes to planes to heights to clowns. 

The intensity of fear felt is not appropriate to the given scenario, but those with phobias are often prisoners to their fear, causing them to avoid everyday situations as not to encounter whatever it is that they fear. 

General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

As the name implies, General Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, involves an unrealistic, excessive amount of anxiety in everyday life. Those with GAD feel worry and fear for no apparent reason .

If you or anyone you know exhibits these symptoms, the best course of action is to seek help right away. Anxiety disorders may be crippling, but they are not insurmountable. 


Photo Credits:

“Cold room” by CaseyDavid/Flickr 
"Pills” by  e-MagineArt/Flickr
“Alone” by  Lee J Haywood/Flickr