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Does Insurance Cover Therapy?

When you’re struggling with emotional problems and wish to consult a professional, one of the first questions that might pop into your head is Does insurance cover therapy?

Unlike medical interventions, counseling and mental health services are a bit trickier. For starters, the problems that people bring in therapy are somewhat subjective and difficult to quantify or label. Furthermore, it’s slightly impossible for both insurance providers and counselors to estimate the total number of sessions you need to get back on your feet.

As a result, insurance companies have always provided better coverage for medical conditions than they did for mental health. And this has led in part to a serious crisis, with millions of people struggling with mental health disorders and not affording the help they need.

Fortunately, in 2008, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act brought some significant changes. In other words, insurance providers are bound by law to cover services for mental health and substance use disorders.

However, things are not as simple as they seem and to understand how insurance coverage for mental health works, we need to take a closer look at all the available options.

Are You Covered?

When it comes to mental health, behavioral health and substance use disorders, there are several options which, to some extent, guarantee coverage. And I say “to some extent” because the amount of money covered by each insurance plan depends on various factors. So, let’s take them one by one.

Medicare/Medicaid

Medicare and Medicaid are national health insurance programs, managed by the Social Security Administration. Although both are single-payer insurance programs, there are some notable differences between Medicare and Medicaid.

Medicare is an insurance program that only covers people who are 65 or older. If you’re under 65, you can still benefit from this relatively cheap insurance plan, but only if you’re struggling with disability or End-Stage Renal Disease.

Medicaid is a state- and federally-funded insurance program for children, pregnant women, low-income adults, elderly living in nursing homes. Unlike Medicare – which covers a relatively narrow spectrum of the population – Medicaid provides affordable health care to millions of Americans.

The good news is that both programs cover up to 80% of the total cost of counseling and mental health services, as long as you address a credentialed health professional who participates with the program. [1]

If you wish to find out more about the eligibility criteria, contact your state Medicaid director.

Federal Marketplace Plans

If you don’t have health insurance and wish to purchase one, federal marketplace plans are a viable option that covers both medical conditions and mental health services (including substance use disorders).

The fact that the American insurance marketplace is under state and federal jurisdiction is a considerable advantage, as it provides quality health care plans. Furthermore, having an open and regulated market means there’s just enough competition between insurance providers to generate affordable health care plans.

Purchasing health care insurance through the federal marketplace offers you the freedom to personalize your plan and add various premiums. And the good news is that all marketplace plans cover counseling and other mental health services. [2]

Employer-Based Plans

Employers are more aware than ever of the importance of mental health in the workplace. Stress can lead to burnout, which in turn can lead to depression. It may also negatively impact your physical health. In consequence, your productivity has to suffer, and you may even need to miss out on work.

Thus, it`s understandable why, in the last few years, there has been an increase in spending on insurances that cover mental disorders.

Of course, every company has its policy when it comes to health insurance, so it is best for you to contact your employer regarding the benefits included in your health plan.

Affordable Care Act and Mental Health Parity

The Affordable Care Act and Mental Health Parity – also known as the federal parity law or Obamacare – requires insurance providers to offer the same coverage for mental health and substance-use disorders as they do for medical/surgical services.

In a nutshell, the federal parity law made mental health services way more affordable and accessible than they were before 2008. What’s surprising is that many people know very little about this law and how it applies to mental health services.

Lastly, the federal parity law has eliminated the annual limits on the number of mental health visits. At first, this might seem like a huge advantage but bear in mind insurance companies can still place limits related to “medical necessity.” In other words, what you consider a necessity might not be viewed the same by your insurance provider. [3]

Is Insurance the Best Way to Pay for Therapy?

Although it might sound a bit confusing, insurance isn’t always the best way to pay for therapy. And there are several good reasons for that.

Insurance Requires a Diagnosis

Regardless of your insurance plan, when you opt to pay for therapy using your insurance, you will need a diagnosis. And this can sometimes raise serious issues.

For starters, not every emotional or behavioral problem that we might struggle with falls under a diagnostic category. In fact, most of us choose to see a counselor for specific issues like getting past a tough divorce or dealing with the passing of a loved one.

Does Insurance Cover Therapy

But since most insurance plans require a diagnosis, counselors and mental health professionals are often forced to give one, even if it doesn’t quite fit your problem.

Now, imagine how you might feel if you walk into a counselor’s office to deal with a breakup and he/she would have to diagnose you with clinical depression so that you can be covered by insurance.

Treatment Becomes a Part of Your Permanent Medical Record

Another issue you might face when choosing to pay for therapy through your insurance plan is the fact that treatment becomes part of your permanent medical record. In other words, your treatment will become a pre-existing condition on your medical records, something that will follow you for the rest of your life. [4]

From a therapeutic perspective, this approach can have detrimental effects on your perceived sense of health and well-being, not to mention the stigma associated with being ‘branded’ with a diagnosis that might not reflect the true nature of your problem.

Lastly, keep in mind that once your diagnosis and treatment become part of your permanent medical record, you grant insurance providers access to sensitive data about your personal life. Is that something you’re truly comfortable with?

Limited Options for Providers

At first glance, paying for therapy using your insurance plan might seem like the easiest and most affordable approach. And in a way, it is. However, if you choose this approach, you will soon discover that your options are relatively limited.

In other words, you don’t get to choose your counselor or therapist. Instead, your insurance provider will refer you to a mental health professional. And this, once again, raises a whole new set of issues.

For example, if you don’t ‘click’ with your therapist or his/her approach, the only option left is to find another counselor which you will most likely have to pay out of your pocket.

What Else Can You Try?

Fortunately, insurance isn’t the only viable option to receive proper mental health services.

Private Pay

Private pay is perhaps one of the most popular alternatives to insurance plans. As you’ve probably figured out, going with this option means you’ll have to look for a counselor and pay the full cost of therapy out of your own pocket.

Although it may be somewhat more expensive compared to copay, private pay offers you the freedom to choose whichever professional you feel is best suited for your needs.

If you value your privacy and wish to have total freedom over the therapeutic process, then out-of-pocket pay is definitely the right option for you.

Community Mental Health Centers

Community mental health centers provide access to mental health services for people living in a specific area. Instead of treating mental illness in a psychiatric hospital, these centers are designed for people in a domiciliary setting.

Community mental health centers offer both inpatient and outpatient care. Although in general, these centers are funded and run by government organizations there are also cases when private or charitable groups invest in centers that address different specific categories. For example, rehab centers for substance-use disorders or centers for victims of abuse.

A quick google search and you can easily find a community mental health service near you where you can receive the support you need.

ThriveTalk

We’re living in a digital era where most of us spend a significant part of our lives in the online environment. Given this radical shift, counselors and mental health professionals have begun to change their approach.

Nowadays, there are plenty of online mental health platforms where you can where you can benefit for quality mental health services. And one such platform is ThriveTalk.

ThriveTalk provides access to affordable top-quality counseling services via a user-friendly platform where you can chat with licensed professionals who are trained and eager to offer the support you need.

Whether you prefer online or ‘live’ therapy, rest assured knowing there are plenty of options to choose from.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, the answer to the question “Does insurance cover therapy?” isn’t simple. There are numerous factors to consider before choosing the right approach.

 

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References:

[1] S. Mott, “Does Medicare Cover Counseling?,” Medicare, 12 September 2018. [Online]. Available: https://medicare.com/coverage/medicare-cover-counseling/.

[2] E. Kubis, “Does my insurance cover therapy?,” BernardHealth, 15 January 2016. [Online]. Available: https://blog.bernardhealth.com/does-my-insurance-cover-therapy.

[3] A. P. Association, “Does your insurance cover mental health services?,” American Psychological Association, n.a.. [Online]. Available: https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/parity-guide.aspx.

[4] E. Barbash, “REASONS YOU SHOULD NOT USE INSURANCE FOR MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT,” Tampa Therapy, 25 January 2017. [Online]. Available: http://tampatherapy.com/2017/01/25/reasons-not-use-insurance-mental-health-treatment/.

Is Depression Genetic?

Depression is a mental health disorder than impacts a large number of people to varying degrees. If you have ever witnessed a family member or friend going through depression, you may have seen how debilitating this condition can be. With the big impact depression can make on a person’s life, it is easy to worry about the risk of developing this mental health condition. Like many medical conditions, there is also thought to be a genetic or hereditary component to depression.

Is It Genetic? Kind Of…

A common concern for those with family members who have suffered from depression is that they will also be affected by the same condition. And the answer is…unclear.

Recent Gene Studies

There has been extensive research done by many different practitioners and organizations trying to identify a genetic link to depression. Research has found an increased risk of depression among family members of those who have experienced depression, but it has been hard to pinpoint a specific gene that causes it. However, a few recent studies have found a few potential links between recurrent depression and certain genes; specifically, some studies have identified a portion of chromosome 3 may play a role in recurrent, severe depression.

Family Studies and Stats

Depression is thought to occur in about 10% of people in the United States. But as mental health providers continued to see and diagnose depression, they began to recognize a trend among those who had a relative who had also suffered from depression. Research has found that those with a first-degree relative who had experienced depression were two to three times more likely to develop depression than others. There have also been studies done on twins who experience depression, and these studies confirm there is some relation between depression and genetics.

That being said, genes are not the only things shared among family members. Sometimes the environment you are raised in or the experiences you have growing up can contribute to future depression.  In addition, a small child who grows up witnessing behaviors of another family member with depression may “learn” these behaviors during their development. Poor family dynamics can also contribute to the development of depression. For example, child neglect or abuse has been shown to increase the risk of depression for the children who suffer from these experiences.

Other Potential Causes of Depression

While researchers have spent time looking for a genetic cause or link to depression, they have also discovered many other factors that play an important role in depression.

Environmental Factors

Influences from the environment play a crucial role in the presentation of depression. There are so many factors that are outside of our control that can influence our behaviors and future mindset. Specifically, events that cause major stress, such as the loss of a loved one or extreme financial stress, can cause periods of grief or sadness that lead to depression. There are also some chronic or serious medical problems that can make people feel hopeless or sad and contribute to depression; these include conditions such as cancer, chronic pain, or diabetes. Experiencing abuse or other trauma has been associated with the development of depression. Substance abuse can also contribute to or make depression symptoms worse.

Is Depression Genetic?

Serotonin Link

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter found in the brain that has been linked to depression. This chemical is released in the brain as a “feel good” signal. When this signal is out of balance in the brain, it can contribute to depression. This theory is strengthened by the successful use of medications for depression that impact the balance of serotonin in the brain. That being said, it is not clear what might cause the imbalance of serotonin for some individuals. Researchers are currently considering the possibility that there is a genetic component to this theory as well.

Other Possible Factors

There have been some researchers working to evaluate the theory that genetics may be related to some people’s ability to handle stress better than others. This research is also looking at how these factors relate to depression. Finding an answer to these questions would help explain why some individuals who experience a certain trauma might develop depression while others are able to cope and move on without the same outcome.

Another potential link to depression that has been identified is gender. Research has found an increased risk of developing depression for females. Women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression. Some research has shown they have a higher genetic-related risk of hereditary depression than men as well.

Should You Be Worried? Not Necessarily…

You might be feeling worried if your sibling or parent has been diagnosed with depression that it is only a matter of time before you experience similar feelings. However, it is important to remember that while your chances of having depression might be increased, the majority of these people do not end up having depression at all. There are also people who are diagnosed with depression that have no family history of depression, meaning other factors also play a role in the development of depression than just genetics.

Depression can be scary, and it can be extremely hard to watch those you love go through it. In addition, you might be worried about your own risk of experiencing depression when a close family member has suffered with it before. While genetics have been found to play a role in depression, there are many other factors that contribute to its development. Having a family member with depression does not guarantee you will also experience this condition. However, if you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, do not be afraid to reach out to your medical or mental health provider about resources available to help you manage depression.

References

 

 

The ThriveTalk Guide to Eating Disorders

We live in a world where good looks can be a ticket to fame, fortune, popularity, and ultimately happiness. Unfortunately, the pressure of staying in tip-top shape can be so intense that some of us end up dealing with eating disorders.

Even though the feminist movement has managed to bring some changes to society’s perception of beauty, we can’t help but feel a bit uncomfortable every time we pass a giant billboard that advertises this year’s swimsuit collection.

But while many of us can quickly shake off that annoying inner voice whispering Your body’s a mess, there are those who simply can’t ignore it.

Regardless of the cause, eating disorders are always fueled by a set of irrational beliefs we hold about ourselves. The constant negative self-talk, coupled with impossible beauty standards and a distorted body image, can result in unhealthy eating habits that threaten our physical and mental health.

What are Eating Disorders?

Food represents a considerable part of our lives, and it’s not just about satisfying a basic need. Sometimes, we use food to comfort ourselves after a bad day, deal with unpleasant emotions, or celebrate an accomplishment. In short, eating holds a complex meaning that extends far beyond necessity.

Unfortunately, there are times when this everyday behavior gets entirely out of hand, causing severe health problems.

Eating disorders represent a classification that includes conditions characterized by a persistent disturbance of eating behaviors which can significantly affect your physical and mental health.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the three most common forms of eating disorders are bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. [1]

If left untreated, your unhealthy eating habits can lead to severe medical and psychological problems that threaten your health and well-being.

Stats: How Many Suffer from Eating Disorders

To gain a better understanding of this condition, let’s take a quick look at some stats on eating disorders.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health: [2]

  • The prevalence of binge eating among U.S. individuals is 1.2%
  • Bulimia affects 0.3% of the U.S. population while the incidence of anorexia is 0.6%
  • Regarding co-morbidity, people who struggle with eating disorders are likely to develop anxiety disorders.
  • Among adolescents, the prevalence of eating disorders is 2.7%
  • Women seem to be twice as likely to develop this problem than men
  • Lastly, nearly half of the people diagnosed with an eating disorder received treatment for emotional problems at some point in their lives.

What Causes Eating Disorders?

Although experts in mental health have been studying this issue for decades, no one can put their finger on the exact cause of eating disorders. As in the case of any other mental health condition, there’s a multitude of factors contributing to the onset and development of eating disorders.

But what we do know for sure is that body image plays a crucial role in anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and other similar conditions. Showing constant discontentment towards your body (or certain parts of it) is one of the main triggers of eating disorders.

As long as you keep trying to achieve impossible body standards, you are bound to engage in unhealthy eating habits that will worsen your condition.

Aside from negative body image, other factors that may cause (or contribute to) eating disorders are:

  • Trauma and abuse
  • Prolonged exposure to stress
  • Low self-esteem
  • Obsessive and intrusive thoughts
  • Social and cultural factors

People who struggle with eating disorders are often in a state of denial, refusing to admit that their eating habits present a life-threatening risk.

Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Although each type of eating disorder has its own set of diagnostic criteria, as presented by the DSM-5, there are several symptoms which are defining for the entire spectrum.

Have you experienced any of the following over the last several weeks?

  • Constant weight fluctuations
  • Persistent mirror gazing (with a focus on the perceived negative aspects)
  • Engaging in rituals such as eating alone, cutting food into small pieces, or hiding ‘forbidden’ foods.
  • Social withdrawal
  • Extreme dieting, despite having a healthy body mass index
  • Being obsessed with food, recipes, cooking, and eating
  • Counting every calorie that goes into your body
  • Getting on the scale several times a day to see how much you’ve gained or lost.

If you’ve experienced at least four of the above symptoms, perhaps you should address a mental health professional.

Example Case of an Eating Disorder

Mary is 17 and has recently moved to an uptown school.

Ever since she began classes there, her mother noticed that Mary’s habits had changed significantly. She spends two hours a day exercising, barely eats anything and is always tired. She has lost a lot of weight over a period of just five weeks but continues to follow a rigorous diet routine.

Although Mary says there’s nothing wrong with her and that she’s just trying to stay “healthy and fit,” her constant mirror-checking and relentless obsession with good looks indicate otherwise.

After many heated debates with her parents, Mary finally agrees to see a doctor who recommends her to a therapist. The clinical evaluation reveals that Mary is struggling with anorexia. The constant pressure of looking “at least as good as other girls from my school,” coupled with her low self-esteem and negative body image has determined Mary to engage in risky eating habits.

To overcome this problem, Mary is encouraged by her parents to begin therapy. Furthermore, she needs to see her physician regularly to make sure she doesn’t encounter other complications that might derive from anorexia.

How to Deal/Coping With Eating Disorders

Dealing with eating disorders isn’t easy. Depending on the severity of the condition, people who engage in life-threatening eating habits might even require hospitalization.

Without proper care, problems like binge eating, bulimia, or anorexia can cause severe physical and mental damage.

Medical Complications

Medical complications are a relatively common consequence of eating disorders.

For example, people with anorexia are often way below a weight level that would be considered reasonable based on their age, gender, height, and other variables. The lack of essential minerals and vitamins can cause muscle cramps, heart, and gastric problems, hair loss, anemia, cognitive decline. In women, anorexia can also cause menstrual problems and infertility.

As for bulimia, the story goes relatively the same. From chronic fatigue, muscle cramps, gastrointestinal problems, and infertility to dizziness, dry hair, and heart complications, this condition can trigger a whole array of medical and psychological conditions.

Considering the extent to which eating disorders can affect our minds and bodies, experts sometimes resort to drastic approaches such as hospitalization.

Mortality

Although the data is not 100% accurate (it never is), experts believe mortality rates rise to 4% for anorexia, 3.9% for bulimia, and 5.2% for other eating disorders. [3]

In fact, some experts believe that anorexia has the highest mortality rate of all mental disorders. Furthermore, suicide rates seem to be alarmingly high among those struggling with bulimia.

On a brighter note, there are several treatment options which have proven to be effective in helping people manage and prevent eating disorders.

Eating Disorders Treatment

Possible Medications for Eating Disorders

Although there are no drugs explicitly designed for binge eating disorder, anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders, mental health professionals often use psychiatric medication to treat the underlying symptoms of eating disorders.

For example, in the case of anorexia, a psychiatrist could prescribe antidepressants to treat co-occurring conditions like anxiety and depression. There are also situations when specialists recommend a mix of antipsychotics and behavioral interventions.

But aside from psychiatric treatment, some forms of eating disorders might require the use of drugs that induce weight gain.

Hospitalization

In severe cases, hospitalization is the only solution to prevent a potential tragedy that might result from putting your body through extreme dietary habits.

Once admitted to the hospital, the first step is helping the patient restore his/her physical health. For example, a patient with anorexia will undergo nutritional restoration, medication for weight gain, and psychotherapy.

Rehabilitation Centers

Rehabilitation centers provide a healing environment where people with unhealthy eating habits can find the professional guidance and emotional support they need to overcome their problem.

For those who’ve struggled with a severe form of eating disorder, this step usually comes after a period of hospitalization.

Eating Disorders

Through individual and group therapy, people with eating disorders can develop healthy coping mechanisms that allow them to handle unpleasant emotions without resorting to food. Furthermore, they learn how to cultivate a healthy relationship with food thus improving their overall health and well-being.

Insurance Coverage for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

In many cases, the health risks associated with eating disorders are aggravated by problems such as alcohol and drug addiction. Just as food, the use of alcohol or other substances represents an unhealthy way to cope with ‘bad’ feelings.

When seeking treatment, one of the issues that many of those struggling with eating disorders are concerned about is insurance coverage.

Whether the treatment is covered or not depends mostly on your insurance plan. Some of the most common reasons why your insurance company might deny benefits include:

  • Lack of progress in treatment
  • Weight – that’s not low enough to be considered risky
  • Inconsistent attendance
  • Failure to restore weight

Eating Disorder Culture

With eating disorders becoming a growing issue, especially in First World countries, many organizations have begun to promote and implement various programs to raise awareness and offer support to those in need.

Pro-Ana

Pro-ana is a controversial movement which aims to provide support to people who struggle with anorexia by promoting behaviors related to this eating disorder.

The entire philosophy behind this movement is that anorexia (and other forms of eating disorders) are not medical conditions but lifestyle choices.

But it’s not reserved exclusively for people with anorexia.

Organizations, online groups, and Facebook pages that promote this movement often advertise to bulimics as well. People on these groups share tips on how to lose weight, extreme diets, and even advice on how to refuse food without being suspected (veganism is the most popular excuse).

Sadly, these online groups are often the only form of support that people with eating disorders find.

Thinspiration

Thinspiration (or thinspo) is another “pro unhealthy eating habits” movement that has caught root in the vast and fertile ground of the online environment.

The focus of this movement is to help people achieve thinness. The only problem is that what members of this community advertise as “a thin body” often relies on impossible and unhealthy body standards.

In a way, thinspiration is almost like a cult to thinness, where members share tips on how to get and stay thin.

How to Find a Therapist

Eating disorders represent a serious issue with potentially devastating effects on both physical and mental health. If you feel like you’re eating habits have gotten out of control, perhaps it’s time to consult a mental health professional.

What Should I be Looking for in an LMHP?

A licensed mental health professional is a trained specialist who’s accredited by a higher authority to provide you with adequate treatment.

Finding a counselor, psychotherapist, or psychiatrist who can evaluate your situation and suggest a treatment plan represents the first step in getting a handle on your unhealthy eating habits.

Although some healthcare professionals are specialized in eating disorders, any therapist or psychiatrist possesses enough training to at least assist you in finding the help you need.

The best way to find an expert on eating disorders is by looking for a clinic in your area or word-of-mouth recommendations.

Questions to Ask a Potential Therapist

Once you’ve found a specialist you want to consult, pick up the phone and ask a few questions before you set up an appointment.

  • What’s your academic and training background?
  • For how long have you been working in mental health?
  • Have you ever treated clients/patients with eating disorders?
  • What is your approach to this condition?

Eating Disorders Resources and Support Helpline

Since eating disorders have become a severe mental health issue, many clinics and centers offer helplines where people can receive useful information and support.

There are also online support groups and chat rooms where people share their experiences and help each other overcome this condition.

One platform where you can find the help you need is ThriveTalk. There you will find plenty of licensed professionals who can assist you anytime, anywhere. By getting professional help, you will be able to keep your unhealthy eating habits in check and learn to accept and love yourself.

Meta description: Eating disorders can be extremely challenging to overcome. Fortunately, there are plenty of viable solutions to help you regain your health and enjoy a balanced life.

References

A. P. Association., Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.), Arlington: American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013

n.a., “Eating Disorders,” National Institute of Mental Health, November 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/eating-disorders.shtml

n.a., “health consequences,” National Eating Disorders Association, [Online]. Available: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/health-consequences

Don’t Give Up! Try a Natural Anxiety Remedy Instead

Do you feel like you have reached a dead end? You may have started treatment for your anxiety problems and in the beginning, it worked like a charm. Lately, however, you have been experiencing those all too familiar fears that are driving you up the walls again.

Has this made you reluctant to start over with a treatment approach that you no longer believe in? Don’t give up!

You may have exhausted all the conventional treatments for anxiety that you can think of. But, have you tried a natural anxiety remedy?

The majority of available conventional treatment options for getting anxiety under control have important benefits. However, these treatments may have limited efficacy in the end. Moreover, people who use potent sedative-hypnotics chronically to help them overpower intense feelings of anxiety may be concerned about adverse effects, drug dependence or drug withdrawal.

Another problem is the fact that many people who struggle with the symptoms of anxiety have positive responses to their medications at first, but they tend to remain symptomatic in the long run.

Luckily, various non-medication alternatives are available to help you live a happy life without constant anxiety. Herbal remedies, vitamins, meditation, and exercise can all help to keep anxious feelings at bay. A natural anxiety remedy may just be the answer you are looking for.

What is Anxiety?

Generalized anxiety is characterized by psychological symptoms as well as physical symptoms like feelings of tension, heightened arousal and excessive worrying. These symptoms interfere with an individual’s social functioning and they may find everyday interactions unnecessarily challenging. For instance they may have problems performing well at work or in school and their anxiety may even affect their relationships.

The symptoms of generalized anxiety tend to change over time and they may last for several months. Various explanations have been proposed about the origin of chronic generalized anxiety. The condition most likely stems from the way in which the brain reacts to chronic stress at a neuronal level. It is suggested that neurotransmitters may play a part in activating the biological cascade that leads to the development of anxiety.

Panic attacks are short-lived surges of intense anxiety and they may be triggered by unexpected or terrifying situations. These attacks are also known to occur spontaneously in some people. Dizziness, hyperventilation, raised heartbeat, feelings of dread and an abnormal fear of dying are all symptoms associated with panic attacks. The duration and severity of the symptoms experienced during panic attacks may vary considerably. People who suffer from chronic attacks experience significant difficulties in their social and occupational lives.

Many people who suffer from panic attacks develop agoraphobia (a fear of large open spaces) or they end up avoiding situations that they associate with panic attacks they experienced in the past. These individuals may also suffer from insomnia, depression or other mental health issues.

Sometimes, symptoms that mimic generalized anxiety can be caused by other medical problems like thyroid disorders, diabetes or abnormal heart rhythms. In these scenarios, the symptoms typically resolve as soon as the underlying health issue responds to treatment.

Stats about Anxiety

Anxiety in all its sub-types has become a serious problem. It has overtaken depression in the United Sates as the leading disorder affecting mental health and an estimated 40 million Americans struggle with anxiety.

Combination Therapy

Some established mainstream treatments for relieving anxiety include supportive psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and prescription medications. Benzodiazepines and certain types of anti-depressant medications may be invaluable in the treatment of anxiety.

Combination therapy that makes use of psychotherapy along with medications is a popular approach for treating anxiety and it may be the perfect solution for many individuals.

Some people, however, may find that their medications are not helping or they may struggle with some of the adverse effects of their treatment regimens. This along with the sometimes limited effectiveness of conventional treatment options for anxiety invites the consideration of alternative, non-medical approaches.

Herbal Supplements

Various herbal remedies have been suggested as alternative treatment options for anxiety and its related symptoms. It should be noted, however, that the research in this field is still young and further studies are needed to enhance our understanding of the risks and benefits of herbal medicines.

If you are considering using a new herbal supplement as a natural anxiety remedy, be sure to talk to a doctor first. Some herbal remedies can interact with medications and this can lead to the development of serious side-effects.

Kava

Kava was used in traditional Polynesian cultures for ceremonial purposes and also as an inebriant. Alternative medical literature has shown that Kava can be potentially helpful for relieving anxiety. Various animal studies have indicated that the principal bio-active constituent of this herbal remedy can help to ease anxiety.

Research indicates that Kava can modulate anxiety through affecting the way that certain neurotransmitters like GABA and serotonin work in the nervous system.

Kava is usually well tolerated and it is non-addictive and non-hypnotic. Scientific evidence has indicated that it can significantly improve anxiety with minimal adverse effects. Some side-effects of Kava include headache, diarrhea, and drowsiness. Like any other herbal remedy, Kava can interact with other medications and therefore, you should only take it under the guidance of your health care provider.

Passion Flower

Around 500 known species of passionflower have been identified and this plant family is also known by the name “Passiflora”. Studies are available that support the idea that particular species have possible medicinal benefits. Passiflora incarnata, for instance, may be beneficial in the treatment of anxiety and insomnia.

This herb has a rich history as Native Americans used it to treat earaches, wounds, boils and liver problems. Spanish explorers named the plant for its resemblance to a crucifix and they learned about its impressive properties from native Peruvians. In Europe it was used for restlessness and agitation.

Today, passionflower is known for its possible advantages in the treatment of anxiety. The idea around its potential usefulness in relieving anxiety is that it boosts the levels of GABA in the brain. This compound characteristically lowers brain activity which means that passionflower may aid relaxation and improve sleep quality.

This herb is considered safe as long as the recommended dosage is taken. It may have some mild side-effects like sleepiness, confusion and dizziness. Passionflower should not be taken along with sedative medications and it may also not be safe to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Valerian Root

For thousands of years, the root of the Valerian plant has been used as a remedy for conditions like arthritis, digestive issues, sleeping problems, headaches and disorders involving the nervous system.

It is thought that Valerian root naturally increases the amount of the neurotransmitter known as gamma aminobutyric acid or GABA in the brain. This helps to regulate the nerve cells to calm anxiety. Interestingly; benzodiazepine medications, used to treat anxiety, work in the same way.

Natural Anxiety Remedy

More research is needed to enhance our understanding of the exact benefits of valerian. Nonetheless, some scientific studies have been presented that affirm the use of valerian root as a sleeping aid. Moreover, people who take valerian supplements have found that it can help them feel calm and reduce nervous tension.

Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation helps you to slow down and take an outside look at the world without judgment. When it is used properly, meditation can assist in the reduction of stress and fatigue. Both mindfulness and meditation may be beneficial for reducing anxiety as they allow you to put your worries aside and be aware without fear.

Research supporting the fact that meditation may be a promising approach in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder has provided positive results. Additionally, mindfulness is strongly advised as a natural anxiety remedy.

For people living with anxiety, practicing meditation daily may help to release tension in the body and it can assist them in overcoming anxiety. The surprising advantages of meditation can go a long way and it becomes easier and increasingly effective with continued practice.

Yoga

Yoga can be a shockingly valuable natural anxiety remedy. Reviews have shown that yoga practices can counteract the effects of exaggerated stress responses and they may greatly assist people who experience problems like depression and anxiety. The impact of yoga can produce similar results to relaxation, exercise or socializing with friends.

You may find that yoga helps you to gain more control over your stress responses as it can lessen perceived stress and feelings of anxiety. In turn, this can lead to a reduced heart rate, lower blood pressure and it may also alleviate difficult breathing. Furthermore, yoga can assist the body in responding to stress in a more flexible fashion.

Yoga classes can be gentle and accommodating or they can be strenuous and a bit more challenging. Your style is most often based on your personal preference and your own physical ability.

For individuals who deal with anxiety or depression, yoga can be a very appealing way to manage their symptoms with less effort. Growing evidence supports this low-risk, highly effective natural health remedy for improving the troubling symptoms of anxiety. After all, scientific studies suggest that physical and mental health are essentially equivalent.

Dietary Changes

The way in which food and mental health is interconnected is starting to gain more and more attention.

Healthy guidelines popularly include things like eating a healthy balanced diet, staying properly hydrated by drinking enough water and limiting or avoiding caffeine and alcohol. These guidelines can be used along with other dietary considerations to help relieve anxiety.

A diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables is much healthier than one made up of processed foods that contains large amounts of sugar and simple carbohydrates. It is also important to eat regularly throughout the day and not to skip meals as dips in blood sugar levels can make you feel jittery which can worsen your anxiety symptoms.

In addition to eating a healthy diet, you can try eating specific foods to combat the negative effects of anxiety. Certain nutrients may help with anxiety in surprising ways.

  • Animal studies have shown that a diet low in magnesium can increase behaviors connected to anxiety. Foods like spinach, seeds, nuts and whole grains are high in magnesium and they may help to calm anxiety symptoms.
  • Oysters, liver, cashew nuts, egg yolks and beef are rich sources of zinc that has been linked with reduced anxiety.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish have possible benefits for reducing anxiety.
  • Probiotic foods like kefir and yogurt have been suggested to lower social anxiety.
  • B vitamins may help to ease stress and to stabilize moods. Vitamin B6, in particular, has been considered as a natural anxiety remedy as it can boost mood and keep the nervous system healthy.

Exercise

Regular exercise is healthy for your mind and body. It can enhance mood, promote sleeping quality and improve energy levels.

Exercise can provide relief from common issues brought on by anxiety and nervousness. For individuals with panic disorder and other conditions related to anxiety, exercise is a great way to release tension and to reduce feelings of worry and fear. Regular exercise can also assist the body in producing endorphins which are the natural mood-enhancing chemicals in the body. If you can stick to your training program, you may be able to adjust your sensitivity to stress reactions.

Exercising for at least 20-30 minutes a day can lower anxiety levels in people with generalized anxiety and improve their sense of well-being.

Talking With Your Doctor about the Right Changes for You

If you feel that your anxiety is interfering with your daily activities, speak to a doctor. They should be able to provide you with more information about the available treatment options.

Give a Natural Anxiety Remedy a Shot!

Many options are available to help people who struggle with anxiety day after day from conventional medications to natural remedies. While one type of treatment may work wonders for one person, it may not work for someone else.

If you keep an open mind, you can be guided toward a treatment option that suits you best. Try not to stand in your own way of being anxiety free by giving up hope!

References:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/generalized-anxiety-disorder/expert-answers/herbal-treatment-for-anxiety/faq-20057945
  2. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/contributor/cate-sibley-pharmd/2017/10/10-natural-remedies-to-consider-for-treating-anxiety
  3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/integrative-mental-health-care/201702/treating-anxiety-without-using-prescription-medications
  4. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/integrative-mental-health-care/201703/kava-is-effective-and-safe-treatment-anxiety
  5. https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/calming-effects-of-passionflower
  6. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-is-valerian-root-used-for-social-anxiety-3024974
  7. https://www.verywellmind.com/the-benefits-of-meditation-for-generalized-anxiety-disorder-4143127
  8. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression
  9. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-strategies-to-ease-anxiety-201604139441
  10. https://www.verywellmind.com/physical-exercise-for-panic-disorder-and-anxiety-2584094

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