Although treating your Candida and overcoming your physical symptoms should help to alleviate your mental symptoms as well, there are a few other steps you can take to manage your anxiety. Try:
* Herbal treatments. Several studies have supported the use of traditional plant remedies that help reduce anxiety and stress, many of which show similar sedative effects as do commercial tranquillisers. They include:
* passionflower. A double-blind, randomised trial found passionflower (Passiflora) extract to be as effective as the benzodiazepine tranquilliser oxazepam for treating generalised anxiety disorder – but with the added advantage of producing less severe side-effects (J Clin Pharmacol Ther, 2001; 26: 363-7)
* valerian. One study comparing a valerian preparation to Valium (diazepam) found the same level of anxiety reduction after four weeks (Phytother Res, 2002; 16: 650-4)
* Bacopa monniera. Also known as ‘water hyssop’, this plant is traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to help patients with anxiety. It is also given as a brain tonic to enhance cognitive skills
* ashwagandha. Another Ayurvedic herb (Withania somnifera), this is sometimes referred to as ‘Indian ginseng’ or ‘winter cherry’. One study (albeit in animals) looking at the anxiety-reducing and antidepressive effects of ashwagandha-root extract found it to be as effective as commercially available sedating and antidepressant drugs (Phytomedicine, 2000; 7: 463-9).
* Psychotherapy and counselling – in particular, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). These have proved to be valid alternatives to taking antidepressants or sedatives. Patients have found that identifying the sources of their anxiety or depression can help them to better manage their disorder. In addition, CBT has longer-term benefits than do drugs (Encephale, 1996; 22 [spec no 5]: 54-60).
* Meditation. In one study of patients with clinically diagnosed anxiety disorders sent on an eight-week stress-reduction programme using mindfulness meditation (Vipassana meditation), not only did anxiety and panic symptoms significantly lessen straight after the programme, but the benefits also lasted for up to three years after stopping the programme (Gen Hosp Psychiatry, 1995; 17: 192-200).
* Exercise, especially yoga. Regular aerobic activity increases levels of endorphins – ‘happy’ hormones – in the brain and reduce stress. Yoga is also a well-known aid in alleviating anxiety. In one very small study, five adults with obsessive-compulsive disorder did a one-year yoga therapy course. The result was a 54 per cent improvement overall; two of them were able to reduce their drug dosage by at least a quarter and the other three were able to stop their medication altogether (Int J Neurosci, 1996; 85: 1-17).