Anxiety disorders and depressive disorders are two of the most common mental disorders of our time. These kind of disorders affect the mood and feelings of the person, and need to be differentiated from usual mood fluctuations. For instance, feelings of sadness or fear are normal reactions to stress. Symptoms of anxiety and depression are often similar and present excessive and pointless worries, sadness, hopelessness, fatigue and motor tension.
Often, someone who is suffering from anxiety is also suffering from depression and vice versa. Sometimes, the intensity and duration of the sadness and hopelessness can reach alarming levels, leaving the people with seemingly no option but taking their own lives. People who suffer from anxiety and depression usually hide their feelings very well and might even deny having trouble when they are offered help.
Recognizing and treating these symptoms before anything unfortunate happens is of the utmost importance. The World Health Organization estimates that one in fifteen people are affected by anxiety or depression. Unfortunately, the number of people with these disorders is dramatically on the rise—especially among the youngest generation. Suicide rates among Generation Z are extraordinarily alarming.
Natural remedies for anxiety and depression
Nervines are plant remedies which essentially promote the health and well-being of the nervous system, and can be used to treat mild-to-moderate cases of anxiety and depression in the place of addictive pharmaceutical drugs. While prescription drugs usually treat only the signs and symptoms of a neurological or psychological disorder, a herb tends to treat the body in a more holistic way.
Nervines can be differentiated into three major categories: nervine tonics, nervine relaxants and nervine stimulants. The nervine relaxants and tonics can be of great use in treating anxiety and depression. Some nervine tonics can be also adaptogens (plants that increase resistance against stressors). Typically, the effectiveness of nervines in treating anxiety and depression is seen after they’ve been used for a few days. Essentially, after they’ve had time to build up in the body. By all accounts, nervine herbs appear to be extremely safe and nonaddictive, especially when comparing them to benzodiazepines which can cause injury, produce horrific side effects and should be reserved for only the most difficult cases of anxiety.
American skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna),
Hops (Humulus lupulus)
Kava-Kava (Piper methysticum)
Lavender (Lavendula officinalis)
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
Magnolia bark (Magnolia L.)
Passiflora (Passiflora incarnata)
Phellondendron bark (Phellondendron amurense)
Red feathers (Echium amoenum)
Thryallis (Galphimia glauca)
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Blue vervain (Verbena officinalis)
Echinacea (Echinacea spp.)
Gotu kola (Centerella asiatica)
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum)
Oat seed (Avena sativa)
Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)
St. John’s Worts (Hypericum perforatum)
Psychotropic herbs for anxiety disorders
As time goes by, it seems as though more and more people are turning to psychotropic plant-based treatments for severe treatment-resistent anxiety and depression. Many people with advanced-stage cancer or terminal illnesses appeal to psychotropic herbs in order to decrease cancer-related hopelessness and demoralization, improve spiritual well being and increase the quality of life. An increasing amount of evidence suggests that Psychotria viridis and Banisteriopsis caarti (ayahuasca, hoasca) can treat psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, depression or substance use disorders. Psilocybin-containing mushrooms are also well within the accepted range of modern psychiatry.
Studies on depressed people have been made where the people described feeling “reset“ after these kind of treatments. Views are mixed on whether the Cannabis sativa plant can lead to depression or treat depression. People who are susceptible to mental disorders should probably refrain from consuming cannabis, as it might trigger a latent mental disorder. All in all, there is almost no evidence that infrequent cannabis use might lead to depression, leaving CBD and THC as an option for the treatment of anxiety and depression in mentally healthy people.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that promote intestinal health and have the potential to reduce anxiety and depression. Gut bacteria have the ability to produce several molecules with neuroactive functions, such GABA, acetylcholine, serotonin, chatecolamines – the same neurotransmitters that the brain also generates. It is very well possible that anxiety or depression could trigger abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms.
Conversely, GI-conditions such as chronic abdominal pain, gastritis or constipation can result alteration of mood and cognition, including anxiety and depression.The intimate interaction between gut bacteria and mental health has given rise to a completely new category of medication – Psychobiotics. Treatment of anxiety and depression with psychobiotics requires the ingestion of a sufficiently large quantity of living colony forming units (CFU), usually 10-100 billions in order to survive the acidic environment of the gut. Many doctors recommend taking numerous psychobiotics (a cocktail of psychobiotics) in order to benefit from their synergistic effect when consumed together.