Depression and anxiety are familiar terms to the literally millions of Americans who struggle with these mental health issues on a daily basis. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 14.8 million Americans struggle with Major Depressive Disorder annually. Anxiety disorders are even more common: the NIMH estimates that about 40 million Americans have some form of anxiety.
Depression refers to prolonged periods of sadness and melancholy, and can range from mild to severe. Trouble sleeping or excessive fatigue, weight gain or loss, difficulty concentrating, and a lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyable are some of the most common symptoms of depression. Anxiety is the term used to describe persistent feelings of unease, nervousness, or even panic. Anxiety can be a response to specific situations that a person finds stressful (such as flying or being in a large crowd), or it may be a near constant state of mind that does not have an identifiable cause. Unfortunately, these two disorders often occur together, and can potentially have an adverse effect on every part of a person’s life.
Depression and anxiety do not have a single cause, and can develop due to issues with brain chemistry and as a result of life circumstances. For example, low levels of certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters have been linked with depressed mood and anxiousness. Stressful and distressing events—such as the death or serious illness of a loved one, a job loss, or a big move—can also lead to short-term depression and anxiety. Fortunately, there are ways to manage these issues and alleviate their associated symptoms.
People are increasingly using natural supplements as part of a well-rounded approach to addressing mild forms of depression and anxiety. For many, these formulations can be very effective. The best ones contain ingredients that have been studied and shown to help bring important brain chemicals back into balance while relaxing the body and soothing the nervous system. Anyone interested in all-natural depression and anxiety relief should definitely be aware that some products contain more promising extracts than others. The list below describes some of the key ingredients individuals should look for on the label of any natural depression and anxiety supplement before making a purchase.
- GABA – This is the lab-produced form of a neurotransmitter naturally produced in the brain. Its sedative and anti-anxiety properties can help reduce tenseness in the muscles while promoting tranquility and an overall sense of well-being.
- L-Theanine – An all-natural amino acid, L-theanine can help alleviate symptoms of both depression and anxiety. It is thought to promote contentment by raising dopamine levels in the brain. Additionally, it is associated with a decrease in nervous tension and feelings of apprehension.
- Passionflower – The results of more than one investigation have suggested that extracts from this flowering plant can combat generalized feelings of anxiety. Traditionally, it has been used in Native American cultures to ease panic and unease.
- Kava Kava – The anti-anxiety properties of this all-natural extract have been confirmed in a number of studies. These effects are believed to be due to specific compounds found in kava kava called kavalactones. For hundreds of years, kava kava has also been used by residents of the Pacific Islands, who claim that consuming this shrub leads to heightened contentment and serenity.
- Valerian – The list of the proposed benefits of valerian is lengthy, and includes lowered irritability, a reduction in the severity of social anxiety and depression, and muscle relaxation. There is also some evidence that valerian can increase GABA levels.
- Jujube – This ingredient is included in some natural depression and anxiety supplements because it is believed to lessen irritability, stress, and muscle tension. Derived from a fruit, jujube is widely used in traditional Korean and Chinese medicine.
- Skullcap – A reduction in nervous tension and anxiety along with enhanced relaxation are the most important beneficial effects of this flowering plant. Skullcap has been used as a medicinal plant for more than 200 years.
- 5-HTP – This compound is necessary to serotonin synthesis. Therefore, taking 5-HTP in supplement form can naturally boost serotonin levels. This, in turn, can lead to less severe depression symptoms and lowered anxiety levels.
Good quality products should take a complete approach to both symptom resolution and improving the quality of your life. They should restore and balance healthy neurological function and provide the nutritional support your body needs for overall well-being.
Below you’ll find some of the most effective natural anxiety relief supplements on the market today.
Helpful Tips for Anxiety Relief
- Engaging in physical activity on a regular basis – Exercise is a natural mood booster because it encourages the release of “feel-good” brain chemicals. It may also help people develop better sleep patterns and improve their body image over time.
- Avoiding alcohol and caffeine – Caffeinated beverages like coffee and soft drinks can wake you up in the morning, but their stimulant properties may heighten anxiety symptoms. Alcohol is a depressant, which can worsen depression symptoms.
- Relaxing with proven techniques and practices – Meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, massage therapy, aromatherapy, and guided imagery may also help promote relaxation and an enhanced sense of well-being.
- Eating and drinking your way to lower stress levels and better mood – Chocolate and green tea are renowned for their ability to boost the mood and quiet the body, respectively. Additionally, occasionally indulging in a favorite treat can be a wonderful pick-me-up after a stressful day.
There is no quick fix that will completely erase depression and anxiety symptoms overnight. However, finding the right supplement and taking advantage of current knowledge about practices that can reduce anxiety and promote feelings of happiness may dramatically improve a person’s mental state and emotional frame of mind. For the millions of anxiety and depression sufferers in America, this can mean being happier overall and being better able to cope with the variety of anxiety triggers they will inevitably encounter in everyday life.
**This is a subjective assessment based on the strength of the available information and our estimation of efficiency.