Sorry it has been almost 2 months since my last article! What with all the pandemic stress and the clinic becoming busier it slipped through the net. As some of you may know I have been supervising student clinic & teaching for the last 4 years and now I am doing 2 regular days a week at Endeavour College of Natural Health so I am no longer in clinic on Wednesdays and Thursdays. You can book appointments on other days and still order any herbs or supplements as usual by emailing us or purchase herbal products from our online shop.
I wanted to write today about something I am seeing a great deal of at the moment, and that is a massive increase in anxiety and feelings of overwhelm or stress in my patients. So many people are feeling really anxious right now with all the changes happening in the world. All the fear and uncertainty that occurred before and during lock down was enough to shake even the most balanced long term meditator let alone a regular stressed out parent!
But lets talk about Anxiety first… what is Anxiety?
Anxiety disorders and a type of anxiety called Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) are thought to affect 14% of the population at any one time (3% experience GAD). It is thought to affect more women than men and often starts around 30 years of age.
In 2017-18, around one in seven women (15.7%) reported having an anxiety-related condition (1)
But men are just as affected:
20.4% of Australian males aged 16 to 85 have experienced an anxiety disorder over their lifetime. This is equivalent to at least 1.93 million males today (2)
People with Anxiety or GAD feel worried or anxious much of the time and these persistent thoughts interfere with their lives. Even minor things can lead to intense feelings of panic or impending doom. Often this anxiety can be accompanied by other mood disorders, social anxiety and/or depression. They may misuse drugs or alcohol and have physical symptoms like irritable bowel syndrome, stomach aches or headaches. Causes can stem from changes in brain functioning (neurotransmitter balance), family history/genetics, stressful life events and psychological factors.
Sadly many children also present to me with anxiety, in fact:
6.9% of children and young people (aged 4 to 17 years) have suffered from an anxiety disorder in the past 12 months (3)
For more information and to complete a check list to see if you have Anxiety visit Beyond Blue.
The symptoms I see commonly in those patients with anxiety:
- Persistent worrying thoughts
- Negative thinking
- Self blame
- Self harm
- Eating disorders
- Panic attacks
- Hormonal imbalances
- Mood swings
- Melt downs
- Feeling of overwhelm
- Inability to perform normal tasks
- Inability to socialize
- Inability to feel good for any length of time
And in children it can manifest as:
- Sleep disorders
- Poor behaviour/misbehaviour or “naughtiness”
- Fussy eating
- Stomach aches
- Irritability or teariness
- Attention seeking behaviour
- Constantly seeking approval
- Apologizing constantly
- Separation anxiety
- Avoidance behaviour
First of all it is vital that you get support if you or your child are suffering any of the symptoms above. Talk to your Doctor and Naturopath about options. Talking therapy or counselling may be useful. How about starting a regular meditation practice? I have created a list below of my favourite links and people who you can call on for support at the end of this blog.
Just know you are not alone! There is help out there… you just need to reach out and ask which is the first step to feeling better. Understanding anxiety can also be helpful, it can help you feel that it is NOT YOUR FAULT. Anxiety is a real, treatable condition. Please reach out if you need help and support.
We can make up a herbal medicine tonic to support you and recommend supplements for nervous system support if needed.
So I have put together a list of my top 10 herbs AND my Top 6 tips to help if you do suffer from anxiety
Passionflower – a beautiful nervous system herb that calms and focuses, studies show it can be useful for benzodiazepene withdrawal (always with support from you doctor) and insomnia
Verbena – otherwise known as Vervaine a gentle tonic that soothes the soul
Withania – Indian Ashwaganda is well known and in use for thousands of years in Indian Ayurveda, used traditionally to support the adrenal system and for balancing the stress response
Licorice* – wonderful for digestion, liver and adrenal gland function, it tastes good too!
Lemon Balm – a calming herb that is also an anti-viral plus supports the gut and thryroid gland
Oats green/seed – this nourishing whole herb can be useful during nicotine withdrawal and gently soothes irritated nerves and mood swings
Skullcap – brilliant for tension headaches and for when you need to ‘pause’ and take a break
Chamomile * – this well known herb works on the digestion, to soothe stomach cramps while also calming an exaggerated stress response.
Lavender – well known for hormonal balancing it is effective for insomnia and nervous tension
Kava – soporific and sedative this herb is wonderful for panic attacks or when you find it hard to wind down
* Great for children
Download your copy here: 6 Top Tips to Ease Anxiety!
Thank you for reading!
Fin Mackenzie – Naturopath & Herbalist
BHSc(CompMed), ADNat, DNut, DRM, MATMS
Call us 02 9979 9888
Psychological Counselling: Tranquillo Place, Jane Macnaught
Relationship and Personal Counselling: Delaine Jones
Massage Therapy: Helen Bennett Massage One Therapy
Acupuncture: Katika Funnell
Meditation Groups: NB Meditation
Meditation Apps: Insight Timer, Headspace, Smiling Mind
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2018). National Health Survey: First Results – Australia 2017-18. Canberra: ABS.
- 4326.0 ABS National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007 (2008), p 27
- Lawrence D, Johnson S, Hafekost J, Boterhoven De Haan K, Sawyer M, Ainley J, Zubrick SR. (2015). The Mental Health of Children and Adolescents. Report on the second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Canberra: Department of Health.