Dr. Weil on Coping With Anxiety

Andrew WeilAndrew Weil, M.D., is “a world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, a healing oriented approach to health care which encompasses body, mind, and spirit.

“Combining a Harvard education and a lifetime of practicing natural and preventive medicine, Dr. Weil is the founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine (AzCIM) at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center.”

[From Facebook/Andrew Weil, M.D.]

Here is one of his articles on the topic of anxiety and stress:

Anxiety is a normal reaction to certain situations, such as feeling tense when speaking in front of a large group or experiencing a racing heartbeat when faced with a dangerous situation.

This physiological response helps prepare you to react to a threatening situation, or gets you charged up to perform well on a test.

When anxiety and worry become chronic, however, or are exaggerated and without cause, it is a sign of anxiety disorder. Instead of a heightened physical state to meet an immediate challenge, anxiety disorders actually impair your ability to cope in your daily life.

Anxiety disorders (a term which includes panic disorders, phobias, post traumatic stress and obsessive-compulsive disorders), are the most common form of all mental disorders.

They are true illnesses, stemming from a combination of life experiences and biological factors. People may feel anxious all of the time without any apparent reason, have such extreme feelings of anxiety that they have to avoid certain everyday activities, or may become completely immobilized from an intense feeling of terror.

There are several different types of anxiety disorders, but this section deals only with generalized anxiety disorder.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by chronic, unrealistic, and exaggerated feelings of worry and tension. It is more common among women than men, and tends to run in families.

Kate FordPeople with GAD tend to fret excessively about certain people or situations, such as family members, their health or their job, and to overreact to situations, although the source of worry is not always evident.

They have a hard time relaxing and falling or staying asleep.

The onset of GAD is gradual, usually affecting people in their childhood or adolescence. A diagnosis is confirmed when a person experiences excessive worrying about everyday situations for at least six months.

Treatments include anti-anxiety medication, cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques and biofeedback.

Symptoms

Anxiety can manifest as physical symptoms including muscle tension, headaches, trembling, restlessness, sweating, abdominal upsets, dizziness and irritability. These problems usually disappear after treatment of the underlying anxiety.

Suggested Lifestyle Changes

Breathing exercises are one of the best single anti-anxiety measures. Many people experiencing anxiety tend to hold their breath or hyperventilate without being conscious of their actions.

Controlling breathing and breath work can offer an immediate lessening of anxiety and a sense of empowerment. The yogic relaxing breath is perhaps the best tool to use in addressing GAD, and the exercise I recommend as the cornerstone of any relaxation program.

Meditation can help lessen the effect of GAD by training one to focus on the present moment, thus keeping minds off fears. Meditating on a regular basis can result in significant, long-term reduction of anxiety.

Eliminating all sources of caffeine and stimulants from the diet can markedly reduce symptoms, and is especially helpful in those who are stimulant sensitive.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can help those with GAD to recognize distorted patterns of thinking and adopt healthy coping skills.

Journaling anxious thoughts, worries and symptoms can help reduce stress, identify unfounded fears and monitor progress.

Regular daily exercise is another excellent way to combat anxiety. Exercises such as brisk walking and moderate strength training can reduce stress and anxiety, and offer a healthy distraction from negative thoughts.

Taking a “media break” (by eliminating TV news bulletins, the Internet, and newspapers and new magazines) can help anyone with anxiety. A week without “negative” news can teach someone they have choices in how much information they are exposed to, as well as how they process news.

Supplements

B vitamins and magnesium can be helpful in dealing with the symptoms of anxiety.

Passion flower derivatives are effective as mild tranquilizers. Both tinctures and extracts are calming without being sedative and are useful adjuncts to programs of stress reduction.

[See more supplements below.]

Source article: Generalized Anxiety Disorder

“Courtesy of Spontaneous Happiness: Your 8-Week Plan to a Lifetime of Emotional Well-Being.”

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Andrew Weil

Book:
Spontaneous Happiness: A New Path To Emotional Well-Being by Andrew Weil, MD.
From Amazon review: “Dr. Weil offers an array of scientifically proven strategies from Eastern and Western psychology to counteract low mood and enhance contentment, comfort, resilience, serenity, and emotional balance.

“Drawn from psychotherapy, mindfulness training, Buddhist psychology, nutritional science, and more, these strategies include body-oriented therapies to support emotional wellness, techniques for managing stress and anxiety and changing mental habits that keep us stuck in negative patterns, and advice on developing a spiritual dimension in our lives.”

Another title:
Breathing: The Master Key to Self Healing (Audio CD) by Andrew Weil, MD

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Dr. Weil offers research information and advice on many health issues, including treating anxiety.

Here are a few of the many other articles on his various sites:

Omega-3s Reduce Anxiety, Inflammation
“Fish oil from salmon and other cold-water species is a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids, and according to a new study, can help reduce both inflammation and anxiety.”

Are Relaxation Drinks Worthwhile?
Valerian:  This herbal product is a safe sleeping aid that I often recommend, but it does not work for everyone.
Melatonin: I recommend melatonin as an occasional sleep aid. The dose is 2.5 mg to 3.0 mg placed under the tongue at bedtime.
L-Theanine: This compound, found in green tea, is said to promote relaxation and modify the stimulating effects of caffeine.
passion flower    Passion flower: Made from the stems, leaves and flowers of the plant, passion flower helps reduce stress and anxiety, calms without sedation and can be used for insomnia when combined with other sedative herbs. It is weaker than valerian and not as effective as melatonin.

Rhodiola
It “is widely regarded as an herb remedy that boosts energy, attention span, mood and productivity… Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCD) concludes in a monograph last reviewed on April 12, 2013, that “[p]reliminary research” suggests efficacy against mild-to-moderately severe depression and fatigue, and a small study suggests some ability to reduce anxiety.”

St. John’s Wort for Depression?
“St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) is the most studied alternative treatment for depression. The majority of clinical investigations looking at its effects on mild to moderate depression have shown that this herbal remedy works better than a placebo and often performs as well as, and sometimes better than, prescription antidepressants. I’ve seen no good evidence that it works for severe depression, however, and I don’t recommend it as a sole treatment for anyone diagnosed with major depression.”

For several herbal preparations with the above ingredients, see the page:

Anxiety Relief Supplements

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Second photo: Kate Ford, actress in “Coronation Street”: “I have been suffering with nerves for years. It’s a fear of embarassing myself if I’m in the company of strangers. But once you’ve broken the cycle of panic you are okay.” – From post: The Linden Method – Using Behavioral Science for Anxiety.

Meditation article:  Meditate to Achieve and Be More Creative – The term meditation can refer to a variety of different experiences and intentions. One direction might be called Silicon Valley achievement.

The photo in the article is captioned: “Enlightenment Engineer – Meditation and mindfulness are the new rage in Silicon Valley. And it’s not just about inner peace — it’s about getting ahead.”

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