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December 10, 2012 at 8:00 AMComments: 4 Faves: 1

Natural Remedies for Stress-Induced Panic Attacks

By Claire Franklin More Blogs by This Author

Over the last several weeks, I’ve begun to experience what can only be described as panic attacks. One night, for instance, I woke out of a dead sleep with my heart thrashing inside my chest. I couldn’t fall back asleep for several hours because my body was in such a heightened state of alarm (for absolutely no reason, I might add). As if to exacerbate the issue, during the day, I can’t eat lately because, as my heart races, my stomach churns in a combination of dread and upset. Sometimes, I literally feel the stress moving from my upper body to my abdomen, a sensation that leaves a trail of fire burning from my throat to my stomach.
In addition to these physical symptoms, I’ve begun to bite my nails and pick at the skin on my upper arms; as a result, my hands look like they were chewed by dogs, and my left arm has a trail of unsightly scabs not likely to heal anytime soon. Both of these habits have been developed in response to nerves, but, the problem is, I don’t know how to calm myself down anymore.

With the events I’ve endured the last six months (divorce, moving out of my previous house into an apartment, trying to keep my business afloat, coming to terms with my personal shortcomings and financially supporting myself for the first time in seven years), I can’t say I’m surprised by my health complications. But it’s alarming, to say the least, when my heart beats so wildly that my chest muscles feel torn and I’m gasping for breath; especially when I’ve done nothing more than sit on the couch and try to get a grip on what’s real and what’s not.

The first time I encountered one of these episodes, I thought I was having a heart attack. Then I thought I had an ulcer, and finally I realized my stress has escalated to such a level that my body can’t handle it any more. And, on that note, I know now that I need help with getting my life, and myself, back to a healthy place.

Unwilling to seek the counsel of a medical doctor, who would’ve likely prescribed an antidepressant in need of numerous adjustments before offering any relief, I decided to do some research on natural remedies for stress and anxiety. Fortunately, I was able to find a wealth of information that may be beneficial for anyone trying to manage excessive stress.


The first tidbit I found was that many dietary supplements have historically been used to treat anxiety. Kava is among the most popular, and although it has been previously considered a promising treatment, reports of serious liver damage – even with short-term use – caused several European countries to pull it off the market. The Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings, but not banned sales in the U.S. Given this data, I decided kava wasn’t a treatment worth the risks.

Passionflower and Valerian

Passionflower and valerian may also be beneficial for treating anxiety, but both cause side effects that include drowsiness, dizziness and confusion. I’m already drowsy during the day because I can’t sleep well at night, so I decided to forego both of these. Just when I thought I may be forced into a doctor’s office after all, I found another option: magnesium.


Magnesium is a mineral responsible for many functions in the human body. According to the University of Maryland, deficiencies of this nutrient may cause mood swings, depression and feelings of anxiety. Because of prolific problems with today’s diets, it’s not uncommon for people to lack magnesium (its natural sources include nuts and leafy green vegetables). As such, a magnesium supplement can reportedly help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, promote a feeling of calm and even fight insomnia.
For these reasons, and because several studies have identified magnesium to be as effective as prescription antidepressants for reducing anxiety, I am now supplementing with 300 grams of magnesium twice daily. It’s too early to see any results, so I’ll keep you posted. My hope is that opting for a natural remedy will prove to be a wiser choice than bogging my body with the chemicals of prescription drugs.

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  • Magnesium sounds promising - keep us posted as I may give it a shot too.

  • Yes! Magnesium is fantastic for reducing stress and calming anxiety disorders. I happen to be taking it myself. But I also, a Homeopathic doctor can check your blood chemistry and inform you of what you are lacking. Sometimes if your short on selenium it can cause the feeling of irritability and impulsiveness. Especially in ADHD adults or children.

  • Rae, thanks for additional confirmation that magnesium is a great reducer of stress as well as something that working in calming anxiety. My anxiety, compared to most I've read about here is not as debilitating, but imo, anxiety is something that's been hard to treat with meds alone. I think I'll look into magnesium further and possibly give it a try. I also want to thank you for mentioning what you did about ADHD and selenium.

  • Thanks for the info...

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