People who experience a high level of anxiety on a regular basis, and those who suffer from frequent panic attacks, often struggle with dealing with unwanted anxious thoughts. These thoughts are typically based on a particular place, situation or thing, and may include worrying about one’s health, fear that a loved one is in trouble, or other fears that limit the person’s ability to make rational decisions.
Unwanted anxious thoughts, sometimes known as intrusive thoughts, can become intrusive to the point that they lead to obsessive compulsive disorder or other disturbances that take away from the person’s quality of life. However, there are several things a person who is dealing with unwanted anxious thoughts can do to curtail the problem. talk more about dealing with this side effect of anxiety in my book Panic Away.
In order to take control over the cycle of anxious thoughts, it’s important to take a two-pronged approach. This involves making a big shift in your attitude, and using certain visualization tools that will help you ‘see’ a positive outcome.
A shift in attitude means you need to accept that the anxiety is there, and then ‘release’ it from your mind. If you focus closely on a certain thought or idea, you’ll see that it connects to a similar thought and you probably jump from one thought to another over the course of the day. If you continually find yourself coming back to a certain negative thought, you need to accept that it’s there until you become desensitized to it.
Your emotional reaction to the thought is literally what is making the thought appear in your mind time and time again. When you can maintain a ‘neutral’ attitude towards it, it will simply disappear from view.
There are several visualization tools you can use to end unwanted anxious thoughts, and one of them involves positive imagery coupled with deep breathing. You can ground yourself and stop the cycle of anxious thoughts completely simply by breathing deeply and enjoying the feeling of safety and security for a few moments.
Herbs for Panic Attacks
When it comes to herbs to help stop panic attacks, there are several options available and it can often be quite confusing when trying to decide which ones to try.
To add to the confusion, several herbal supplements come combined in one remedy and are sold as all-in-one ‘cures for anxiety’. After several years of communicating with people who have used various different herbs for panic attacks, I can recommend two herbal supplements that appear to be effective for reducing panic attacks: Passiflora and Valerian.
Passiflora (Passiflora incarnata) has traditionally been used as a folk remedy for anxiety and insomnia. It contains many active ingredients. The most widely studied of these constituents, maltol and ethymaltol, seem to be responsible for much of the anti-anxiety effects. It works on the physical body, relaxing muscles to reduce tension, which can be particularly effective for people who feel physically tense (e.g. tight shoulders or the sensation of a knotted stomach). People also report good results using this herb to aid sleep. It should not be taken with sedatives unless under medical supervision.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is believed to have been used for its calming and soothing effects since at least the time of Hippocrates (460-377 BC). Right up until the introduction of prescription sleep medications is was used as a folk remedy for a variety of conditions such as insomnia, nervousness, and headaches. The primary use for valerian today is to treat insomnia, but it is reported to reduce feelings of general anxiety.
The active constituents in Valerian appear to be valerenic acid and valerenal. These compounds have a calming effect because they interact with the neurotransmitter GABA. As with most herbs for panic attacks, it generally takes a few weeks of use to feel the full benefit. Valerian may cause sleepiness or daytime drowsiness and should not be used with other medications for insomnia or anxiety.
It is important to be aware that herbal supplements are not a magic pill to stop panic attacks. In most instances people report only mild improvement and it is not uncommon for folks to feel no benefits at all. Again, you should discuss these or any other herbs with your doctor, especially if you are pregnant or taking any kind of medication.
By Barry McDonagh, who is an international panic disorder coach. He created the Panic Away program to help people around the world deal with their anxiety and avoid panic attacks – a subject that he is personally attuned to because he himself found that he was prone to these issues since he was young. His hatred of his powerless lead him down the path of finding natural ways to treat himself without having to depend on expensive medications.
His informative site on all issues related to panic and anxiety attacks can be found here: How to Deal with Unwanted Anxious Thoughts?