❑ Include in the diet apricots, asparagus, avocados, bananas, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, brown rice, dried fruits, dulse, figs, fish (especially salmon), garlic, green leafy vegetables, legumes, raw nuts and seeds, soy products, whole grains, and yogurt. These foods supply valuable minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium, which are depleted by stress.
Caution Anxiety Recommendations: Brewer’s yeast can cause an allergic reaction in some individuals. Start with a small amount at first, and discontinue use if any allergic symptoms occur.
❑ Try eating small, frequent meals rather than the traditional three meals a day.
❑ Limit your intake of animal protein. Concentrate on meals high in complex carbohydrates and vegetable protein.
❑ Avoid foods containing refined sugar or other simple carbohydrates. For a nutritional treatment plan to have maximum benefits, the diet should contain no simple sugars, carbonated soft drinks, tobacco, or alcohol.
❑ Do not consume coffee, black tea, cola, chocolate, or anything else that contains caffeine.
❑ Keep a food diary to detect correlations between your attacks and the foods you eat. Food allergies and sensitivities may trigger panic or anxiety attacks. Anxiety Recommendations.
❑ Learn relaxation techniques. Biofeedback and meditation can be very helpful.
❑ Get regular exercise. Any type of exercise will work—a brisk walk, bicycle riding, swimming, aerobics, or whatever fits your individual lifestyle. After a few weeks of regular exercise, most people notice an improvement in anxiety symptoms.
❑ Be sure to get adequate rest.
❑ To help manage an acute attack, use breathing techniques.
• Inhale slowly through the nose for a count of four.
• Hold your breath for a count of four.
• Exhale from the mouth slowly for a count of four.
• Repeat this sequence until the attack subsides.
• Remind yourself that panic attacks last for a limited amount of time, and that the attack will pass after a few minutes. Although it is rare, some may last up to a few hours.
❑ Call a trusted friend or family member. Talking things over can diffuse anxiety.
❑ If the self-help recommendations in this section do not help, and particularly if panic or anxiety is interfering with your life, consult your health care provider. If an underlying physical problem is ruled out, expect to be referred to a mental health professional for evaluation and treatment.
❑ People with anxiety disorder, especially those who experience acute attacks, often seek medical assistance in hospital emergency rooms only to be told they are just suffering from stress and that everything will be fine with rest.
In one study, up to 70 percent of people who had panic attacks were found to have seen ten or more different physicians before being correctly diagnosed.
❑ Taking tricyclic antidepressants such as imipramine hydrochloride (Janimine, Tofranil) or imipramine pamoate (Tofranil-PM) in the presence of low serum levels of iron may increase the risk of developing anxiety and jitteriness.
❑ A type of cognitive-behavioral therapy called panic control is being used with promising, long-term results for many chronic sufferers of panic attacks. Therapists coach patients into re-creating the feeling of an attack and then teach them to deal with the sensations it produces. Often panic control is used in conjunction with antidepressant drugs or tranquilizers.
❑ Chromium deficiency can produce nervousness, shakiness, and other general symptoms of anxiety. Chromium deficiency is common among alcoholics and people who consume large amounts of refined sugars. Brewer’s yeast is a rich source of this essential trace element.
Caution: Brewer’s yeast can cause an allergic reaction in some individuals. Start with a small amount at first, and discontinue use if any allergic symptoms occur.
❑ There have been numerous reports on the benefits of DL-phenylalanine (DLPA) in treating anxiety and depression. DLPA is a supplement consisting of both D-phenylalanine and L-phenylalanine, and is much more potent than either of these amino acids taken alone. This should be used under the supervision of a nutritionally oriented physician. Doses of 75 to 200 milligrams per day were shown to be effective for depression and anxiety.
❑ Selenium has been shown to elevate mood and decrease anxiety. These effects were more noticeable in people who had lower levels of selenium in their diets to begin with.
❑ Biofeedback can aid in managing anxiety symptoms.
❑ Music can be effective in reducing anxiety. Color also can be used to induce relaxation and calm.
❑ A number of different drugs are used to block panic attacks. Their use must be carefully monitored by a physician. The effectiveness of any given drug varies from individual to individual, and all drugs used for this disorder can cause unpleasant side effects. Alprazolam (Xanax), one of the drugs most commonly used for this illness, has varying effectiveness and can cause drowsiness and lightheadedness. It also can be very addictive. The risk of dependence and its severity seem to be higher if this drug is taken in relatively high doses (more than 4 milligrams per day) and for more than eight weeks.
❑ Recreational drugs such as marijuana can cause anxiety attacks.
❑ A healthy diet plus appropriate nutritional supplementation can be of considerable benefit. Reducing overall anxiety and even decreasing the frequency and intensity of panic attacks. If you are taking antianxiety medication, following the plan outlined in this section may make it possible to stop taking the medication, or at least to reduce the dosage. You should always consult with your physician before making any change in a prescription regimen, however.