Is it possible to get over anxiety without medication or with herbal medicine such as St John's Wort?

I am suffering from anxiety after changing jobs abou 7 months ago. I had been in my old job 9 years and although I was bored was very settled. This is quite different although it's tme same field and I use the same skills. I got stressed because my boss went through a stressful period herself and was sharp with me for no reason. I told her after a while and she apologised and asked me to tell her if it happened again. However, this did not make my anxiety go away, and I keep worrying about what she thinks about me, although she had said I was doing a good job in our last121. My GP suggested anti depressants by that really scares me, as I've read it's addictive and doesn't solve the problem.

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  • Hi there,

    I have been in a similar situation to you and I suffered from work place anxiety for years. I have also tried various herbal remedies (such as st johns wort and rescue remedy spray). I ended up trying various anti depressant medication through my doctor and I was on citalopram and propanolo for about 2 years before everything got better. In response to your question, herbal remedies are okay for some people but you need to remember that they are plant based and have absolutely no proof of ever working on anybody. No herbal remedy has any valid scientific evidence (despite what the labels say). This does not mean tthat they don't work ... they are just the herbal equivalent of having a cup of coffee to pick you up. Most of them work via the placebo effect - i.e. if you know you have taken something that makes you happy you will feel happier.

    If you're anxiety is affecting your life to the extent that you can't function then you should consider prescribed medication - THEY ARE NOT ALL ADDICTIVE and THEY ARE NOT ALL DANGEROUS!

    Propanolol is an anxiety reducing drug that makes you feel 'calm' and able to cope and it is not at all addictive. They give to children as young as eight. You can decide how many of the tablets you need each day (between 1 and 6 usually) and they are not at all dependency forming.

    You're problem seems short term and after having years now without medications and without any anxiety, I would recommend that you only turn to medication after trying all other options. Try doing environmental things to naturally lift you're mood and pick yourself up - simple things done often can really help.

    Exercise saved me - I now run for charity and train every day. I learned how to swim and took up mountaineering. The natural 'happy hormones' you get from exercise - even a brisk walk - can really pick you up.

    Try doing something you like a few times a week - having time to yourself regularly and giving yourself a treat can be enough to change your mood.

    The most important idea is that you are in charge of your anxiety, you can control it and put it to good use, and you can push it away from you using your own techniques.

    Also, talk to people about your thoughts and feelings, don't carry the negative little blighters around with you, letting them pull you down - say them and get rid of them, purge them out of your mind - don't leave them in there to cause problems! It sounds cheesy - but it really is the best solution.

  • Light22,thanks for your very full and kind answer. I really want to avoid medication at all costs. I discovered kayaking about 2 yeas ago and I love it, I do sea kayaking and white water and strangely enough, the latter has really helped, going down some rapids makes you forget about everything else! I have a very loving and understanding husband who is also very supportive. I also run and go to the gym regularly, you're right exercise helps a lot! I do try positive thinking although it's hard sometimes, especially as I sometimes get a lot of tension in my stomach and that frightens me , I end up being fearful of how I'm going to feel! My mum belived and has done homeopathy for years and this works for her, so I might try to. I still don't like the sound of anti depressants as I tried once and it didn't work. I tend to react strongly to medication sometimes. I have signed up to anxiety uk and am going to try CBT through them for a while.

  • Hi Mikl,

    I understand where you're coming from when you say you want to avoid medication at all costs. Like you, I too would prefer to avoid medication, except as a last resort. I have tried some herbal remedies like hops, valerian and chamomile to relax. I do not find they work very well for me, especially if I'm too tense and anxious. But you can give it a try as perhaps it may work for you.

    Sometimes its easy to think that our bosses think badly of us, especially if you don't have a particularly tactful or considerate boss. Or when you're working on a particularly stressful project with tight timelines. Like you, all your boss wants to do is to get the job done and out of the way. Those sharp comments were probably said in the heat of the moment, and were not a personal attack on your character, just a reflection of your boss' frustration and anger. When the job is done and your boss calms down, she will probably forget all about what she said.

    When I first joined my current company, all I did was worry about what my boss thought of me, would she confirm me, etc. I convinced myself she must think I'm useless, as all she did was criticise my work, correct it (even sometimes to the point of redrafting it to her satisfaction!). She offered little praise but was very free with her criticism. But she confirmed me and continued to give me files and projects to handle. The fact that she did so made me realised all this criticism and correction was probably not personal, but more to do with the fact she liked things done her way, even if there was an equally suitable alternative. It did not mean she thought I was a bad employee, or couldn't perform my job properly.

    The fact that your boss was willing to apologise and gave you good reviews is indicative that your boss values you and doesn't think badly of you. Also, very few bosses are willing to swallow their prides and apologise for being short to an employee. The fact that your boss apologized indicates that she must respects you enough to do so. Take heart, I'm sure you are performing fine and your boss was just stressed and frustrated at the time she made that comment.

    Furthermore, I personally think female bosses tend to be more emotional and volatile than male bosses ;)

  • Hi Maya, thanks for your kind reply. You're absolutely right, she is usually supportive and kind, just very matter of fact and sometimes has a short fuse but not usually with me or my colleagues, she just sometimes like to have a good moan. I have told her about my anxiety and she was supportive, asked if there was anything she could do to help. The worse thing is the tension which often happens on the right hand side out of the blue and this freaks me out as it often means i'm going to feel tense for the rest of the day and feel terrible and I get more anxious, a bit like a vicious circle! Just bought a new book by David Servan-Schreiber on how to get over anxiety and depression without Prozac of Freud. It was a best seller in France and has helped a lot of people it seems.

  • Hello Miki

    The best thing you can do is consult a professional herbalist rather than guessing what may or may not work for you. A herbalist will look in depth at what is causing your problems. This is not the same as going to e.g. Boots of a health food shop and taking some over the counter herb. You will have a prescription made up specifically for you. The herbalist will also look at your lifestyle and diet, in case e.g. there are nutritional insufficiencies - for instance low levels of magnesium can cause anxiety, or if you are under stress you may need some extra B vitamins to help get you back in balance.

    Another cause of anxiety can be hormonal - female hormones for instance - some women become anxious around the menopause. The thyroid gland can be out of balance and anxiety can be a symptom. Until you know the cause, you can't treat the problem - it's a bit like putting a sticking plaster on a sore finger - why is the finger sore? Is it broken, is it cut, is there a splinter, is there an infection, a whitlow, eczema, arthritis?

    As far as drugs are concerned things like Propanolol is prescribed to help some of the symptoms of anxiety. It is a beta-blocker and there are some circumstances where it should not be used e.g. people with asthma (it works on beta receptors in the heart muscle in opposite way to in bronchial muscle, and for instance can lower blood sugar so if you get anxious or shaky if you haven't eaten for a while Propanolol can make that worse. Most importantly, safety and efficacy have not been established in children even though it has been prescribed for them. It does help some people, but others cannot cope with the side effects.

    The best place to learn more about drugs and their uses is on Rxlist.com

    You might be interested to look at the British Medical Journal bmj.com - they have begun an open data campaign to make drug companies share ALL the data from clinical trials and not leave anything out anything.

    Whilst light222 suggests that no herbal medicine has any valid scientific evidence, this is not actually true. There is a lot of evidence - have a look at pubmed. That will give you some research into some specific herbs - but there is also a huge aount written in German, Italian, and Russian - the Russians in particular have done a lot of research into a group of herbs known as adaptogens which help the body cope with stress and the effects of stress.

    If you want to see a qualified herbalist you can find one at nimh.org.uk

    I know all this because, as you might have guessed, I am a medical herbalist, and I've been helping patients with all manner of problems related to stress for almost 20 years - anxiety, panic attacks, depression, hormonal problems.

    You could also look into CBT - it helps some people,

    but if there is an underlying dysfunction or imbalance in the body, the only way to stop the anxiety etc is to get to the root of the problem and treat it appropriately.

    Your book might help you understand that.

    Good luck.

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