Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Attacks

General Anxiety Disorder can include panic attacks. In truth, the various labels given to anxiety in its various guises are not very useful. For some reason psychologists and doctors like to divide anxiety in Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Panic Disorder. The fact is, you feel what you feel and experience what you experience, and many people with anxiety also get panic attacks.

It is not surprising that anxiety and panic go hand in hand, they tend to have the same causes with a panic attack just being an extreme extension of anxiety. Ultimately anxiety and panic attacks tend to come down to low serotonin, low GABA, hyperventilation, vestibular dysfunction and trauma. People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder tend to have some of those and may even, if they are very unlucky, have both.

If you have anxiety disorder and are suffering from panic attacks it is a good idea to look at your breathing, Many people find they are suffering from Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome.


It is also worth looking at all physical causes of anxiety, Killing Anxiety From The Roots has a lot of information on that.


You might also want to have a look at how much tryptophan you get in your diet as this can effect how much serotonin your body can produce. You could also think about the Amino Acid supplements that can raise your GABA level, which is essentially trying to do naturally what Benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax to artificially. Which is basically to stop anxiety and panic attacks by raising GABA.

Anxiety Self Help Books

There are some great self-help books for dealing with Anxiety. And reading books is a great way to work through anxiety. You can work at your own pace and work in privacy. Books cover a lot of the ground that professionals charge a lot for, and books are peer-reviewed and written by experts. Some “professionals” that charge high rates are little more than novices with big egos in reality.

Given the price of goof therapy and advice, books look like a cheap way to get help with anxiety. In short, self help is the best kind of help you can get.

I have put together a list of some of the best self-help anxiety books available. You should be able to find them in most book shops. I have provided links to Amazon in both the USA and UK. If you buy through Amazon a small percentage comes to Anxiety2Calm.com. It does not effect your price.

1. Killing Anxiety From The Roots is an ebook that looks at the physical causes of anxiety and at how solving the underlying physical problems solves the problem from the root.

2. The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook is essential reading for anyone with anxiety issues. It covers CBT and treatments.

USA: The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook

UK: The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook

3. Dinah Bradley’s fantastic book on Hyperventilation Syndrome is very relevant to anxiety disorders.

USA: Hyperventilation Syndrome: Breathing Pattern Disorder

UK: Hyperventilation Syndrome: Breathing Pattern Disorder

4. This book on Mindfulness Meditation is a great help. Mindfulness is one of the best anti-anxiety techniques. One of the best:

USA: Calming Your Anxious Mind: How Mindfulness & Compassion Can Free You from Anxiety, Fear, & Panic

UK: Calming Your Anxious Mind: How Mindfulness and Compassion Can Free You from Anxiety, Fear, and Panic

Anxiety Symptoms Medication

Let’s look at the range of medication available for anxiety symptoms. But before we do that, we should remind ourselves that taking medication for anxiety just treats the symptoms temporarily and does not effect the cause or provide any kind of long term solution (unless of course you take the medication long term).

Plenty of people do find the current anti-anxiety medication effective. Doctors normally turn to SSRI’s to fight anxiety. The have both pros and cons. In their favour they tend to work reasonably well with most patients managing to cope with their symptoms much better.

On the downside the side-effect profile is rather bad. Many people suffer from an increase in symptoms in the first instance and also nightmares, sweating, mood swings and lethargy or fatigue. And long-term there is the issue of weight gain, which can also be a big problem.

Also read this post on Anxiety Medication Over The Counter.

There are also benzodiazepine tranquillizers such as Xanax and Valium. These are very effective short-term remedies but they may leave you too “stoned” to function properly. Worse still, if you take them long then addiction and habit formation is a big problem. Read this post on rebound anxiety for more.

There are other drugs like Buspirone which promised much and takes the centre ground between SSRI’s and benzodiazepine tranquillisers. In reality it is not much better than the others but might be worth a try if you really want long-term medication but can’t take the SSRI’s.

It is much better to find other ways to tackle anxiety though, as ultimately medication doesn’t achieve lasting change alone.

Ten Easy Steps to Get Over Anxiety

Here is the Anxiety2calm.com top ten on how to get over anxiety. Let me count you down!

10. Learn to relax. Relaxation is important for anxiety sufferers. You should do ten to twenty minutes of relaxation everyday.

9. Take regular exercise. It’s a fact! Exercising regularly, and getting out of breath, raises your serotonin levels. It is a great stress-buster.

8. Cut out chocolate, coffee and any other caffeine in your diet. It really can have an effect on anxiety and you will quickly get used to doing without. If you have a sweet tooth and are a chocoholic then it’s OK to substitute with other sweet snacks that don’t have caffeine (although it’s better to eat more healthily – see #7)

7. Keep your blood sugar levels stable. Many people get anxiety, or at least worse anxiety symptoms, when their blood sugar levels are low. Eat complex carbohydrates and protein, and avoid sugar and processed foods (including refined wheat products) to keep your blood sugar and mood stable.

6. Use soothing herbs like Valerian, Passiflora and Chamomile. Drink them as tea or buy a tincture. They really do work!

5. Practise good breathing. Lots of anxiety sufferers have Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome which can be corrected by regular breathing practice.

4. Write down your thoughts. Doing “Morning Pages” where you just let your thoughts flow onto the paper first thing in the morning (or whenever) is very cathartic and therapeutic. It helps with sleep, motivation and relaxation.

3. Think about getting more tryptophan in your diet. It is the building block of serotonin and being deficient can cause anxiety.

2. Learn the techniques of CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy). They are useful to get you through anxiety symptoms and help with negative thought patterns.

1. Practise Mindfulness Meditation. It is a fantastic long term solution to anxiety. It’s best to buy a book or a CD, or go on a course. Like all the best things, it takes dedication.

If you think I have missed something please add it below as a comment!

Chromium for Anxiety

Chromium might be a good supplement for anxiety sufferers. As with all supplements the research to prove or disprove this theory simply does not exist, but there are reasons to link a chromium deficiency with anxiety.

Chromium is used by the body for the correct digestion of food and helps supply energy to the cells. A Chromium deficiency has been linked to:

  • Sugar metabolism problems
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Fatigue
  • High cholestrol
  • Hardening of the arteries

Those deficient in Chromium might suffer anxiety as a direct effect of that, or as an effect of low blood-sugar, or being prone to blood sugar dips after large meals or prolonged gaps between meals.

Some time ago the most common form of Chromium in supplement form, Chromium Picolinate, got a bad reputation due to claims that it might be linked to cancer. These claims appear to have been refuted, at least for commonly used normal doses.

Some researchers believe that Chromium helps with atypical depression, of which anxiety is a common symptom, but others refute that saying there is no statistical evidence.

Statistical evidence is a thorny problem though. If a hundred people with anxiety are given Chromium and only one improves, and that is because that person is deficient in chromium, then the fact that that trial would show a negative outcome is irrelevant, if you too are deficient in chromium. There are two big problems with testing the efficacy of supplements. One is that not enough research is done as there are no patents and therefore no money to be made. The second is that everyone is different and symptoms, such as anxiety, can be caused by so many things the results are not necessarily helpful to the individual.

So is Chromium supplementation worth a try? Definitely. Speaking from personal experience, it definitely does have an effect on blood sugar and does seem to stop low moods and anxious feelings. On Chromium I simply feel less nervy.

Types of Chromium

Chromium Picolinate is the one to go for. In the USA I recommend Source Naturals Chromium Picolinate, 200 mcg, Tablets. In the UK/Europe I recommend Higher Nature Chromium Polynicotinate 90 tablets. But any reliable brand should be just as good.

Dose

For adults 100-200 mcg is the standard dose. I wouldn’t take more without professional advice.

How Physical is Anxiety

I recently read about a woman who had a mental disorder and was trying to come to terms with the possibility she had been abused as a child. As I read I became angry at the arrogance of psychology. The idea that everything we feel has a psychological basis is accepted not because it’s true, but because it has been repeated until everyone was brainwashed.

While psychological theories are cute and seem to make sense, they are very hard to prove. That doesn’t mean they are wrong and have no use whatsoever, but it does mean they should be considered alongside other ideas and theories.

It is strange that, for example, when a woman is pregnant or menstruating we are perfectly happy to accept that those physical and hormonal changes are having an emotional effect. But the idea of a physical issue having emotional symptoms is not one which is universally accepted, and psychologists are the keenest deniers of all! Psychologists don’t like to talk about the effect for example a vitamin deficiency can have on our emotions, or how an otherwise unrelated long term health concern can cause panic attacks or depression.

We need to free ourselves from psychology and look at the whole picture. That is all I am saying.

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If you are interested in underlying physical causes of anxiety then Killing Anxiety From The Roots will interest you.

Seredyn for Anxiety

Seredyn is an anxiety treatment that can be obtained without prescription. It includes none of the chemicals you would associate with other anxiety medications such as SSRI’s and Benzodiazepines. But Seredyn does claim to have much the same effects – a reduction in anxiety.

So what exactly is Seredyn? Well, as far as we know it is a blend of Valerian Root, Passion Flower and Suntheanine. Suntheanine is a registered trademark version of the amino acid L-theanine that I have blogged about before. L-theanine is basically a key ingredient of GABA, which when taken promotes anxiety relief in the same way as a Benzodiazepine such as Xanax.

Both Valerian Root and Passion Flower (Passiflora) have been used as stress-relievers and anxiety cures for countless years.

Although the ingredients are clear, the actual amount of each ingredient is not clear. Some say this is because Seredyn want to protect their intellectual property (after all, Valerian Root, Passiflora and L-theanine are available in pretty much any self-respecting health food store). Other, more cynical, people say that Seredyn doesn’t contain enough of each ingredient to be effective.

As products like Seredyn don’t need to be licensed in the same way as new drugs do, there will never be extensive, peer reviewed, clinical research. I guess that means you either take advice from people you trust, or try it yourself and see if it works.

Also read this post on other anxiety treatments. And if you are interested in Seredyn you might also be interested in other herbs for anxiety.

Elsewhere on the Internet people have said you should watch Seredyn if you have low blood pressure, as it can supposedly exacerbate the problem. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but basically there isn’t much else in there that’s likely to do the normal person any harm!

Also read: Anxiety Disorder Herbal Remedies

Xanax Anxiety

Xanax, also known by the generic name Alprazolam, has been licensed in the USA to treat anxiety and panic attacks since 1981. It is used in the treatment of anxiety disorders, panic disorder and, in some cases, depression. It is a member of a family of drugs known as Benzodiazepines. It is a mild tranquilizer.

Many people who have experienced drugs like Valium may be aware of how Benzodiazepines can make you feel doped and sleepy. Xanax is not like this for many people. In my own personal experience Xanax didn’t make me feel very different at all, just much much calmer. I didn’t get any of the side effects listed, and in an ad hoc experiment to see how my reaction times were effected I actually found my reactions to be almost exactly as good as when I wasn’t on Xanax.

Some people do suffer from side effects, sleepiness, dizziness and vertigo, nausea. But these drugs are rather well-tolerated.

In terms of dose, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions. I personally worked my way up from the 0.25mg dose which is the lowest available and now take 1.5mg on an as needed basis.

Initially I took a tiny amount of one Xanax tablet to see how I tolerated it. As I was fine I took the rest. Some people who suffer from anxiety may have a psychosomatic side effect of feeling a sudden onset of anxiety or panic whenever they try something new. This can mean that at first a Benzodiazepine has a paradoxical effect. If I were you I would persevere, as for the short term relief of temporary anxiety and panic attacks this drug is very useful and very effective.

A word of caution. Like all Benzodiazepines, Xanax can be habit forming. If you take it for too long you may need to taper off slowly to avoid withdrawal effects. Also, if you take it often you may find you need to take more to get the same effect. Your doctor will be able to advise you on this.

I don’t recommend you buy from online pharmacies without prescription, you don’t know what you are getting or how safe it is, or even if it will arrive or not!

See also:

Xanax for travel anxiety.