Holistic Help for Anxiety Disorders
The Tipping Point of Stress
We all have ‘bad days’ but it seems as if more often than not, folks these days are feeling overworked, overstretched and overwhelmed. As a society, we are coming dangerously close to not being our best selves, ever. There’s a lot of talk around the negative impact of stress on health and relationships. Many of us feel as if we just can’t keep up but we keep it to ourselves and just keep trying. This is the tipping point when ‘being stressed’ blossoms into full blown anxiety.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CAMH), everyone experiences symptoms of anxiety, but they are generally occasional and short-lived. It’s when the symptoms of anxiety become persistent and severe, restricting an individual’s ability to work or study, socialize or manage daily tasks, that it’s time to wave the red flag and seek medical attention to rule out or treat an anxiety disorder.
Reading through the short list of symptoms that may indicate an anxiety disorder, I literally started to feel anxious:
- Anxious beliefs i.e. “I never get anxious. I must be weak.”
- Anxious predictions: i.e. “I’m going to fumble my words and humiliate myself.”
- Cognitive anxious thoughts: i.e “I am losing control.”
- Excessive physical reactions i.e. shortness of breath, racing heart
- Avoidance behaviours i.e. avoidance of feared situations (explains why I won’t downhill ski!)
- Behaviours aimed to distract i.e. excessive chatter or laughing when anxious
- Safety behaviours i.e. always having a cell phone on hand to call for help
It’s a slippery slope and I’m ready to admit that as an entrepreneur, daughter, mother, wife, writer, volunteer, I am dancing dangerously close to the edge juggling way too many balls. It brought no comfort to learn that, according to the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, women had generally higher prevalence rates across all anxiety disorder categories, compared with men. Several factors determine whether the anxiety warrants the attention of mental health professionals such as the degree of distress. Note to self: So that it’s likely when “I’m stressed” escalates to “I’m losing it”. Yes, the tipping point.
It is reported that 12% of all Canadians will suffer from an anxiety disorder in any given year. In fact, anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental illness affecting Canadian adults, with 1 in 4 Canadians likely to have at least one anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Although Canadian Mental Health Agencies report that these disorders are treatable with drugs or Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), there is the risk of side effects with pharmacological treatment and wait lists for CBT. Given that an untreated anxiety disorder is a risk factor for the development of depression and substance abuse, especially in youth, it’s worthwhile to take a look at what natural medicine has to offer for coping with anxiety.
Homeopathic medicines are well suited to the management of anxiety. By way of their preparation, they are gentle, carry no risk of side effects and safe for children as well as adults. Whereas most conventional drugs used in the treatment of anxiety take months to 'tweak' in order to arrive at the optimal dosage, homeopathic medicines act quickly and effectively. The professional homeopath’s task is to precisely understand the individual’s unique mental and physical experience related to the anxiety. A homeopathic medicine is then matched to an individual’s unique symptom picture. Homeopathic medicines do not act in the same way as conventional drugs. Rather than suppressing or dulling symptoms, this natural form of medicine stimulates and supports the body’s innate healing abilities, giving the individual strength to function and experience life in a more adaptive and balanced way.
Depending on the practitioner, homeopathic treatment may also include lifestyle and nutritional counseling. Other therapies can be combined with homeopathy to further support the body’s natural healing process, including osteopathy and therapeutic massage.
A key benefit of using a combination of natural medicine and touch-based therapies is restoring equilibrium where stress has tipped the scale. Many of us have lost touch with actually being in the moment. We are either fast tracking into the future, planning what needs to be done next in order to try to stay ahead, or dwelling on past regrets. I encourage you to take this moment to breathe in deeply, exhale and take at least two things off your worry list.
Homeopathic Self Help Tip:
For stage fright or performance anxiety before exams or job interviews, try a homeopathic preparation of Gelsemium (Yellow Jasmine). Gelsemium is also helpful for those who experience anxiety around going to the dentist.
Kashka Kril-Atkins is a homeopath and owner of BLUEPRINT Wholistic Health Clinic, an Integrative Medicine Clinic & Shop located in midtown Toronto. For more information please visit www.blueprintwellness.ca