Ashwagandha: Your Holistic Companion for Anxiety and Stress Relief
According to Statistica, stress and anxiety are the two most common mental health conditions, affecting nearly 50% of respondents between the 24 to 34 age group and 28% of respondents in India's 16 to 24 age group.
Many treatments are available to overcome stress and anxiety, including Ayurvedic ingredients, supplements, conventional medicines, and other options. However, before we proceed with the treatments, most of us are confused about the actual meaning of stress vs anxiety.
Let’s first dwell on the answers of what is the difference between stress and anxiety to find out better solutions for both these issues!
Stress v/s Anxiety
While stress and anxiety are often used interchangeably, they are different.
Stress is a normal human emotion in response to challenging or threatening situations. Various factors, such as work, school, relationships, finances, and health problems, can cause it. When we experience stress, our bodies release hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones prepare us to fight or flee from the threat.
In the short-term, stress can be helpful. It can give us the energy and focus to deal with a challenge. However, if stress is prolonged, it can have adverse effects on our physical and mental health.
Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease. It is a normal emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. However, when anxiety is persistent and severe, it can become a medical condition known as an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting about 40 million adults age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population yearly.
Now that we have a basic understanding of anxiety vs stress let’s get into the details of symptoms and signs to know more!
Signs of Stress and Anxiety
Both stress and anxiety can cause a variety of physical and emotional symptoms. Some of the symptoms of stress and anxiety include -
- Muscle tension,
- Heart palpitations,
- Trouble sleeping,
- Upset stomach.
- Feeling nervous, restless, or tense,
- Feeling worried or anxious,
- Feeling irritable or easily frustrated,
- Having difficulty concentrating,
- Feeling overwhelmed or helpless,
- Having trouble making decisions,
- Feeling hopeless or pessimistic.
What Causes Stress and Anxiety?
Many things can cause stress and anxiety, including:
- Life Changes: Major life changes, such as a new job, a new relationship, or the death of a loved one, can be stressful.
- Work: Work-related stress is common and can be caused by factors such as long hours, heavy workloads, or a toxic work environment.
- Finances: Money problems can be a significant source of stress.
- Health: Chronic health problems or caring for a sick loved one can be stressful.
- Personal Relationships: Difficulties in personal relationships, such as conflict with a partner or family member, can be stressful.
- Trauma: Traumatic events, such as a natural disaster, a car accident, or a physical or sexual assault, can lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a type of anxiety disorder.
Can Stress Lead to Anxiety or Vice Versa?
For those confused about the answer, don’t stress cause anxiety; anxiety and stress are two different conditions but are closely connected.
Stress, however, in some cases, can lead to anxiety. When we are usually stressed about anything, we start to feel uneasy or nervous about things, which can lead to anxiety.
How does Ashwagandha Help with Stress and Anxiety?
Ashwagandha is a small, evergreen shrub native to India, Africa, and the Middle East. It has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to treat various health conditions, including anxiety, stress, insomnia, and fatigue.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb, which means that it helps the body to adapt to stress. It does this by increasing the production of stress-fighting hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Ashwagandha also helps reduce inflammation, contributing to anxiety and stress.
Some scientific evidence supports the use of ashwagandha for stress and anxiety. A study published in the journal "Phytotherapy Research" found that ashwagandha extracts effectively reduced anxiety in people with mild to moderate anxiety disorders. Another study published in the journal "Journal of Ethnopharmacology" found that ashwagandha extracts effectively reduced stress in people with chronic stress.
Ashwagandha is generally safe for most people. However, talking to your doctor before taking ashwagandha is essential, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking any medications.
Benefits Of Ashwagandha During Stress And Anxiety
Reduces Cortisol Levels:
Cortisol is a stress hormone that can hurt your physical and mental health. Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, which can help to improve your mood, anxiety, and overall health.
Increases GABA Levels:
GABA is a calming neurotransmitter that can help to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Ashwagandha has been shown to increase GABA levels in the brain, which can help to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
Improves Sleep Quality:
Poor sleep quality is often associated with stress and anxiety. Ashwagandha has been shown to improve sleep quality, which can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels.
Inflammation is a typical response to stress that can contribute to anxiety and other health problems. Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce inflammation, which can help to reduce anxiety and improve your overall health.
Other Techniques to Manage Stress And Anxiety
Stress and anxiety, as we have already mentioned, are the most common health conditions every individual experiences. To overcome stress and anxiety, there are various strategies and Ashwagandha supplements to make them manageable.
A few proven and easiest techniques that help overcome stress and anxiety are -
- Limiting alcohol consumption and caffeine,
- Enough 7-8 hours of sleep,
- Regular exercise, at least 5 times a week,
- Breathing exercises and others.
Stress and anxiety are the two most common conditions that hit the mind whenever we try new things, move to a new place, or wait for a new event or a change. Since the feeling is normal and vanishes with time, there’s nothing to be concerned about.
Ashwagandha helps manage stress and anxiety by reducing cortisol levels and inflammation while improving sleep and GABA levels. Moreover, being an ayurvedic option, there’s nothing to be stressed about for side effects.
But, if stress and anxiety persists for longer and causes negative consequences, individuals must seek professional help to develop coping skills and return to everyday life.