OIC is excited to present the second edition of our new Ask A Therapist column, where our integrative healthcare providers answer your health and wellness questions. Want to ask us a question? Fill out this anonymous Google Form.
I am looking for alternatives to prescription medications for anxiety, which include invasive thoughts, heart palpitations, and gut issues. Can you help?
This is such a timely question, and you are not alone. In March of this year, The World Health Organization reported that anxiety and depression have increased by 25% in the last few years. The collective isolation we experienced during the pandemic has exacerbated these further. All of us at OIC are also seeing this. Whether you experienced anxiety prior or not, there are multiple factors that have contributed to an increase in anxiety and depression for many of us.
First, we recommend that you visit a healthcare provider to rule out any contributing factors to your anxiety. Humans are complex beings; in our experience, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. With that said, there are many ways to help decrease anxiety with or without prescription medication.
One of our favorites is a breathing practice called alternate nostril breathing. Our Wellness Director and yoga teacher Stephanie Watson suggests this practice for soothing the nervous system. You can practice for up to five minutes several times a day.
If it’s difficult for you to sit for a practice, you can try walking meditation. Being outside in nature is another antidote for racing thoughts and an activated nervous system. The rhythm of walking can be both distracting and soothing.
Our massage therapist Emily Sundblad recommends massage for anxiety. Massage helps calm the nervous system and shift it from the “flight or fight” mode that we often live in, to the “rest and digest” mode. The “rest and digest” function of the nervous system is crucial, as that is when our bodies restore and heal. Gut issues and heart palpitations are often signs of an overactive “flight or fight” state. Massage therapy can be helpful in bringing calm to our whole system.
There are various herbs and supplements that show evidence of helping with anxiety. Because each person has a unique set of circumstances, we recommend scheduling with one of our psychiatric APRNs or another similarly trained provider who can review your health history and make recommendations on non-prescription options for managing anxiety.
This column is not official medical advice or a diagnosis. This should not take the place of therapy. Content is for informational purposes only and is not meant to serve as medical advice or to replace consultation with your physician or mental health professional. If you are having an emergency please call 911 or the Boys Town Suicide Prevention and Help Hotline at 1-800-448-3000. Talk to your healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your wellness routine. If you would like to set up an appointment with a member of our integrative healthcare team, contact us at 402-934-1617.