Mental health problems are much more prominent than most people think. Nearly 70% of Americans are on some kind of prescription drug, half of which take 2 or more prescription pills.
An estimated one in four Americans will experience a mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety, in a given year, making antidepressants the second most common prescription in the United States, explains Dr. Jennifer St. Sauver (1,2). Unfortunately, commonly prescribed antidepressants such as Benzodiazepines have serious side effects (3):
- Mood changes (such as hallucinations, thoughts of suicide)
- Slurred speech or difficulty talking
- Loss of coordination
- Trouble walking
- Memory problems
- Yellowing eyes or skin
Before you rely on these drugs, here’s a list of 10 natural herbs for anxiety that you should try first.
Passionflower is an exotic, sweet smelling flower with sedative activity (4). Traditionally, it’s used as a tea to ease anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and hysteria (5).
Scientists believe passionflower works by increasing levels of a chemical called gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain.
GABA lowers the activity of some brain cells, making you feel more relaxed (5).
It’s as effective as oxazepam (Serax) in treating symptoms but has a less negative impact on focus and cognitive ability than the drug (5).
Rhodiola is a herb used in Chinese and and Scandinavian traditional medicine to reduce stress, treat fatigue and promote happiness (6).
It works by decreasing activity in the sympathetic nervous system that controls rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, shaking, dizziness, and nausea.
It also stimulates the release of serotonin, the hormone responsible for happiness and relaxation. (6)
Lavender is used in aromatherapy and natural healing to treat mild to moderate depression and nervous disorders (4).
It also has neuroprotective properties that also stabilize mood and help manage neurological disorders (7).
Lavender is safe to use on the skin and ingest, so you can enjoy these benefits by adding a few drop of essential oil to your bath, drinking it as a tea or placing a pouch of dried flowers in your pillow case.
Commonly used in ayurvedic medicine Ashwagandha is specifically known to help agoraphobia (anxiety triggered by large crowds and open spaces) (8).
A 2012 study of 64 volunteers randomized study found that the herb substantially reduced serum levels of cortisol, a powerful stress hormone. Ashwagandha can be taken in supplement form, but it’s more relaxing as a tea.