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ByAnxious Minds

Kill Your Depression – Five 5 Super Effective Tips

Being lonely is a normal part of our everyday lives. We get sad when we fail in our exams, when we’re rejected by the person we love, or when someone very close to us passes away. Depression, however, could be more fatal than just plain loneliness. It could render life-long consequences that could ruin your self-esteem, health, and well-being.

Here are some superb tips to conquer the melancholy mood and get the most bliss out of your daily activities.

1) Get Enough Light and Sunshine.

Lack of exposure to sunlight is responsible for the secretion of the hormone melatonin, which could trigger a dispirited mood and a lethargic condition.

Melatonin is only produced in the dark. It lowers body temperature and makes you feel sluggish. If you are always cooped up in your room (with the curtains closed), it would be difficult to restrain yourself from staying in bed.

This is the reason why many people are suffering from depression much more often in winter than in the other seasons. It’s because the nights are longer.

If you can’t afford to get some sunshine, you can always lighten up your room with brighter lights. Have lunch outside the office. Take frequent walks instead of driving your car over short distances.

2) Get Busy. Get Inspired.

You’ll be more likely to overcome any feeling of depression if you are too busy to notice it. Live a life full of inspired activities.

Do the things you love. If you’re a little short on cash, you could engage in simple stuff like taking a leisurely stroll in the park, playing sports, reading books, or engaging in any activity that you have passion for and would love to pursue.

Set a goal – a meaningful purpose in life. No matter how difficult or discouraging life can be, remain firm and have an unshakable belief that you are capable of doing anything you desire. With this kind of positive attitude, you will attain a cheerful disposition to beat the blues.

3) Take a Break.

I mean it.

Listen to soothing music. Soak in a nice warm bath. Ask one of your close friends to massage you. Take a break from your stressful workload and spend the day just goofing around. In other words, have fun.

4) Eat Right and Stay Fit.

Avoid foods with lots of sugar, caffeine, or alcohol. Sugar and caffeine may give you a brief moment of energy; but they would later bring about anxiety, tension, and internal problems. Alcohol is a depressant. Many people would drink alcohol to “forget their problems.” They’re just aggravating their conditions in the process.

Exercising regularly is a vital depression buster because it allows your body to produce more endorphins than usual. Endorphins are sometimes called “the happy chemicals” because of their stress-reducing and happiness-inducing properties.

5) Get a Social Life.

No man is an island. Your circle of friends are there to give you moral support. Spending time and engaging in worthwhile activities with them could give you a very satisfying feeling. Nothing feels better than having group support.

Never underestimate the power of touch. Doesn’t it feel so good when someone pats you on the back and gives you words of encouragement during your most challenging times? Hug or embrace someone today. You’ll never know when you have saved another life.

Get intimate. Establish close ties with your family and friends. The love and care expressed by others could tremendously boost your immune system and fend off illnesses. Best of all, you’ll live a more secure and happy life.

ByAnxious Minds

What’s Anxiety And How Do I Recognise The Symptoms?

Most of us, if not all of us have felt nervous at one time or another in our lives. Public speaking is something that makes most of us nervous. All those eyes are staring straight at us. That’s a lot of attention thrust our way. We feel the butterflies take flight, and they usually don’t land until we’re done with our speech. Aren’t we glad we’re done! Nerves and other feelings like feeling scared are natural and very necessary. Ever wonder how you’d react or what would happen to you if you didn’t respond to a dog running at you? How about beginning to crossing the road only to hear the roar of a car’s engine in your left ear. Run! Definitely run!

For some of us, these feelings are all too familiar and often they occur more frequently and triggered by situations that are less fear-provoking than those, and others like it, mentioned above. I’ve felt that rush of adrenaline pumping through my heart as I turned into the street the underground station is on and the view of it made my heart beat a thousand to every second. I’d be gripped by the thought of seeing my desk, or my boss, which I knew was coming sooner than I wanted. They’d find out soon enough: I’m just average. Nothing special here. I’d spend the entire journey on the underground screaming inside myself. Looking at the other passengers, silently screaming ‘Have you all gone crazy!?’. Entirely and utterly unable to understand why anyone would not see it my way. This is my anxiety. What’s yours?

Irrational fear is the right way of describing it. Admittedly, I was in the middle of a breakdown that eventually pressed the Pause button on my life for a few years after. But this a good example of anxiety. Irrational fear that gets in the way of leading a healthy life: that’s anxiety.

I learnt a lot about anxiety in the months that followed. It was all new to me. The education, indeed not the feelings and symptoms. Often, it left me speechless and bewildered. All those symptoms and I didn’t have a clue. But what are those symptoms? Well, thinking that everything will result in the worst possible outcome is the most upsetting symptom (for myself at least). You are mentally consumed with it. It breaks your concentration, erases your short-term memory and strips your patience down to almost nothing. It can stop you from falling asleep. Sleep anxiety was something I didn’t recognise. I simply thought I had developed insomnia on top of all my other problems. The more, the merrier? Not quite. I had become severely depressed and obsessional — two more symptoms associated with anxiety.

All these mental or cognitive symptoms affect our body function. I’d feel like I was losing my breath, no matter how hard I tried to relax or perform deep-breathing exercises. If I thought about it, which of course I did, my heart would start to race, and the adrenaline would flow through me. You can completely lose your appetite, feel the need to urinate, develop headaches more often and for me consistently, the dizziness was unbearable. I thought I had low blood pressure. My doctor thought I might have a problem with my heart. Going for an ECG will scare the life out of you if nothing else. Pins and needles are also symptoms of anxiety. I used to get them in my upper arms which would scream ‘Heart Attack!’ to me, but somehow I would push that thought away.’

We don’t all develop the same symptoms, and it is quite rare that someone would present with all the symptoms as a textbook case. Some of the symptoms I didn’t develop were muscle aches and tremors, excessive thirst and stomach upsets. Women can extend painful periods or even none at all. We can all lose response to sexual stimulation too.

If you think you suffer from anxiety and feel it is getting in the way of you leading a healthy life from day to day, please consult your doctor or another physician. Help is at hand, and good Cognitive Behaviour Therapy can be very useful in relieving the mental stresses that take over our minds when anxiety strikes.

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ByAnxious Minds

Taking Control of Anxiety Attacks

Anyone who has ever experienced anxiety attacks can attest that the condition can be very debilitating. Shortness of breath, palpitations, numbness, nausea, and the feeling of being trapped are all part and parcel of having an anxiety attack. Fortunately, there are ways of preventing an attack, foremost of which is identifying its cause.

What causes an anxiety attack?

An anxiety attack can be triggered by a number of reasons including illness, social events, or even memories of past situations. It is very important to know which situations trigger your attacks so you can take precautions to make them more manageable. For example, if going to social events like corporate parties triggers an attack, bring a friend with you to help you feel comfortable about the situation. Most importantly, consult your doctor for medications or therapies that can help minimize your anxiety.

Preventing an anxiety attack

There are several methods you can use or activities you can do to minimize your attacks or prevent them from happening like the following:

– Changing your diet

People who have switched to a more vegetable-dense or whole grain-based diet reportedly feel better than those who consume red meat. Scientific research shows that aside from keeping the body healthy, vegetables and whole grains release endorphins and other feel-good hormones in the body that promote a sense of well-being. On the other hand, people who eat red meat have been found to have a lot of stress-inducing hormones in their bodies that can trigger an attack.

– Avoiding caffeine-rich and alcoholic substances

Caffeine and alcohol can increase the chances of attacks as well as certain drugs. Instead of taking coffee or alcoholic beverages for a quick pick-me-up, try substituting them with fresh fruit juice. Juices are healthy options that can give you a quick energy boost like caffeine without the danger of triggering an attack.

– Exercising regularly

Exercise and physical activity trigger the release of endorphins in the body which promotes a feeling of happiness. Aside from this benefit, exercise, particularly cardiovascular activities, also prevent attacks by providing an outlet for the release of stress and anxiety. Cardiovascular exercises also strengthen the heart and body so it can withstand attacks easily with minimal symptoms.

– Practising relaxation methods

Certain activities like meditation, yoga, aromatherapy, and massages can reduce anxiety and stress levels in the body. They can also help you focus on good sensations and feelings that can improve your sense of well-being. You can try carrying relaxing aromatherapy oils like lavender and chamomile for a calming sniff when you feel an attack coming. Listening to soothing music, reading inspirational books, or drinking herbal teas can also soothe your frazzled nerves.

Although these prevention tips can help you ward off an anxiety attack, nothing beats talking to your doctor. A health professional specializing in anxiety disorders can help you understand your condition and provide you with treatment therapy. Along with the prescribed medication, you can also ask your doctor about group therapy for anxiety disorder

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ByAnxious Minds

Symptoms Of Social Anxiety Disorder

If there is something that makes you think that you might be suffering from what is generally referred to as social anxiety disorder, it is advisable that you evaluate yourself and try to identify if you are really undergoing such problem. The best way to deal with it is to find out everything that is there to know about the symptoms.

But before we discuss the symptoms here, it is important to understand what anxiety disorder actually is. To put it simply, it is a condition wherein one finds all such situations dreadful in which one has to interact socially.

This means that if you were to speak in a public gathering and you feel absolutely terrified, you might be suffering from a social anxiety disorder. However, to be termed as a disorder this kind of “social anxiety” should be something more than the normal nervousness attached with social interaction. It has to have a rather disabling effect on you. The fear in case of social anxiety disorder is no less than overwhelming.

Coming to the symptoms, they include an accelerated heartbeat, excessive sweating, dizziness, lack of concentration and other such anxiety-related symptoms that are very much capable of disrupting one’s daily activities. These symptoms can occur in case of any normal person and the presence of them does not necessarily mean that you are suffering from a social anxiety disorder.

However, if these symptoms keep recurring consistently for over six months, it is time for you to take them seriously. If there are plausible explanations for their occurrence, it is fine. But if they occur without a reasonable cause or the cause is just too feeble to justify their occurrence, you might be suffering from a social anxiety disorder. And this could grow serious over time and could make you immobilized.

In its more serious forms, the disorder can compel a person to stay at home for the most part of his day. He or she just might start fearing to step out due to the sheer dread of socializing.

People suffering from this disorder tend to be reclusive and tend to get depressed, which may lead them to substance abuse and alcoholism. Therefore, social anxiety disorder has serious associated complications.

If left uncorrected the disorder may get more complicated and bring repercussions. It is, thus, important that the problem is taken care of at the earliest. Being aware of the problem and the symptoms is half the battle won.

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ByAnxious Minds

Cure for Modern Day Stresses

The meaning of yoga is the union of the body, mind and spirit with truth. There are many kinds of yoga to study, and there can be endless years of practise for the willing student.

Hatha Yoga is among the most popular forms in the west. It emphasizes the practise of postures, which stretch and strengthen the body, help develop a sense of balance and flexibility, as well as body awareness and mental concentration. All forms of yoga incorporate the practise of proper breathing techniques for relaxation, to rest the mind from its constant chatter, to experience an internal calm, and to energize and purify the body.

As stress levels in society reach new heights, Raja Yoga, the yoga of meditation, is growing in popularity in Western society, while others, such as Krya Yoga, the yoga of cleansing, and Mantra Yoga, the yoga of chanting, not surprisingly, have little appeal for newcomers.

Stretching and toning, though beneficial, aren’t the primary reasons people turn to yoga. Newcomers are hoping that yoga will provide them with a means for handling stress and diffusing tension. The difference between exercise and yoga is that yoga has a meditative quality.

A lot of people are exercising for the psychological benefits and trying many of the Eastern activities, like yoga and tai chi. Yoga seems to have a calming effect on people.

And the techniques work on children as well as adults. When your children are quarrelling, ask them to stop what they’re doing, raise their arms over their heads, lean forward and breathe deeply to help diffuse their anger. It definitely helps them to cool it.

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ByAnxious Minds

When Do You See A Doctor If You Have (Or You Think You Have) Depression?

If you have depression, or at least you think you do, you must realise that you should not diagnose yourself. You need to have a healthcare practitioner that is skilled to give you a correct assessment and professional diagnosis of your condition.

There is absolutely no reason to feel shy or embarrassed when talking to a healthcare provider regarding any symptoms of your condition. Many healthcare professionals, such as Anxious Minds are very understanding of your problem. After all, they were trained to study and treat depression.

If you have symptoms like these, do not hesitate to consult a medical practitioner before getting any real help or treatment for depression, you must need first to have a correct diagnosis.

You see, these symptoms are also symptomatic of other problems. For example, weight loss, fatigue and sleeping patterns may not be caused by depression, but by some medical issue.

Other symptoms like losing interest in activities that you previously enjoyed or problems with attention or memory may not be related to depression at all but maybe indicative of an undiagnosed medical condition.

You need to consult a doctor so that you can make sure that the symptoms you are experiencing are a result of your depression, and from there, you can start what the best treatment for your is. The doctor might ask you to answer questions to fully assess and help determine if you actually have depression and possibly conduct tests to identify that your symptoms are not a result of some other health issue.

Depression is a medical condition that is real. Remember that having depression is not something that you want to have. You probably would not think less of someone who has influenza or is suffering from heart disease. In the same manner, you must not be ashamed or feel guilty that you suffer from depression.

Depression will not go away by “toughing it out” or “being strong.” Being weak in your will does not instantly cause you to be depressed. Most cases of depression won’t directly go away just by trying to cheer up. You will not make it go away by doing exercises, taking vitamins or going on a holiday. Treating your depression requires professional help – you can not do it alone.

Like any other serious illnesses, depression needs professional treatment from a healthcare practitioner. When you are suffering from depression, you need to ask for help to make the problem go away.
Your feelings might change when treatment comes along. You should be pleased to know that depression has proved to be one of the most easily treated conditions.

When you are seeking treatment for your depression, what type of healthcare professional should you see?

Although there are some issues raised on what treatment is the best for depression problems (whether it is drugs, therapy, or if it is a mixture of both), there is actually a type of healthcare professional that is highly qualified to help you recover from depression and various mood disorders that use medications or drugs: a psychiatrist or counsellor.

Psychologists or a counsellor, in fairness, are also highly qualified to cure depression problems, but they are not medical professionals and as such, cannot prescribe medications. You should realise that psychologists or counsellor specialise in therapy, especially talk therapy. If you do not know if you need drugs or medicines, it might prove best to start your treatment of depression under your GP’s care.

If you think you might also have a good chance of eliminating depression through talk therapy, many psychiatrists or counsellors can also be useful in this, although some may refer you to more experienced therapists — more on this in an upcoming article.

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ByAnxious Minds

How To Fight Back Against Depression

I am one of those people who can easily slip into a very negative state of mind. The slightest knockback or problem can lead to a cloud of doom descending over me, a shadow which I find hard to push away and remove. This article looks at ways in which we can fight back, to quickly get us back into a happy mode.

I used to be quite a fragile character; some would say that I was even scared of my own shadow. I was always paranoid that people were talking about me and laughing behind my back.

Even though my parents are superb, I was not a happy child or a happy teenager. I am so unlucky you see, or so I thought. I walked around as if the world owed me something and would often feel very sorry for myself. I was bullied at school. It was more mental bullying rather than anything physical. I am sure that most people also get bullied and deal with it. It would leave me in a state of panic and depression. Looking back, I have to say I was a bit of a wimp in reality.

I decided that enough was enough by my mid-twenties and decided it was time to toughen up. I could not continue to live my life as I had been, as I would probably be dead by the time I was fifty.
I then went about a self-help program to increase my overall self-confidence and self-esteem. I wanted to learn more about stress management, dealing with depression, relaxation and about how to become successful in life.

What I found out over the next twelve to eighteen months would change my life forever.
These are the things I had to do:
I had to stop feeling sorry for myself. Yes, I am not perfect, but who is.
I had to think more positively.
I had to stop worrying about the future.
I had to stop caring about what other people thought of me.
I needed to smile more.
I needed to learn to relax. I now use meditation for this purpose.
I had to learn to like myself.
I needed to become stronger to fight away the negative thoughts in my head.
I needed to appreciate what I did have in life, rather than concentrating on what I had not.
I started to implement the above, and it helped me no end. That horrible cloud of doom, still descended, however, around once a month. When it does drop, I now write two lists. What I am happy about in life and what I am sad or worrying about. I then analyse both files and more times than not. I am over-reacting.

In conclusion, life is a battle. There are good times and bad. We need to become active and learn to think more positively. We have to fight back against people who bully us and against the voices in our head who are trying to make us panic. This is not easy; however, with determination, people can turn their life around just as I have.

I used to feel anger towards the people who bullied me at school. I now feel sorry for them. They are the bad apples, and I pray for them. I pray that God will one day make them pure.

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ByAnxious Minds

How Are You Maintaining Your Anxiety?

Worries and anxieties are ordinary and familiar to all of us. They are necessary to our survival as they prepare us for coping with stress and danger. When we perceive risk, changes take place in our body, in how we think and also in how we behave. These changes are triggered by the release of the hormone adrenalin and are crucial as they prime us for action.

Problems arise when the stress response becomes chronic, or excessive and symptoms of long-term anxiety include the following:
Muscular discomfort – headaches – difficulty swallowing – chest pains – stomach cramps – blurred vision – ringing ears – nausea – dizziness – shortness of breath.

So what causes chronic anxiety?
The actual trigger for the stress response might be real or imagined, for example, a person with a social phobia may feel just as panicky at the thought of having to walk into a big party as actually stepping into a big party. Whether the trigger is a real or imagined threat, the key to persistent anxiety is you and the cycle that you maintain. This usually takes three forms,

1. Bodily symptom cycles: worrying about the physical symptoms of anxiety so much that this worry re-triggers the stress response and the physical symptoms.

2. Raised thinking cycles: overestimating the threat of danger and underestimating your coping resources. Common thinking biases include; black and white thinking, catastrophising; exaggerating, ignoring the positive. Biased thinking can further increase distress and anxiety, which in turn enhances thinking distortions even more!

3. Behavioural response cycles: avoidance is a typical response to stress; it is natural to want to escape to somewhere safe and comforting. The problem with this is that avoidance keeps the problem going as you will never get to learn that you can cope.

Which of these cycles best describes how you keep your anxiety going? Once you have identified which period you tend to maintain, you can begin to plan to break the cycle. When clients come to see me at my practice in Aldbury, Hertfordshire. I have a range of techniques in my toolbox that are useful in breaking the anxiety cycle the person is maintaining. An example of procedures include the following:

1. Physical symptom cycle: controlled breathing, relaxation training, expanding awareness techniques, hypnosis, psycho-education, introducing exercise as a coping strategy.

2. Biased thinking: belief change process, though challenging, distraction, teaching use of precise language, communication model, sub-modality work, mindfulness.

3. Problem Behaviour: graded exposure, goal setting, swish process, fast phobia cure, problem-solving strategies.

We also work with clients to develop coping strategies, during counselling, so that they can be used in the longer term.

If you are experiencing anxiety that is impacting on your functioning and well-being, it may be useful to see a cognitive therapist or counsellor here ay Anxious Minds. Therapies that focus on changing negative patterns of thought are now considered critical methods in overcoming anxiety, phobias and depression.

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ByAnxious Minds

How Anxiety And Depression Are Connected

Depression is a disorder that does not get nearly enough attention. Depressed people are often told to “cheer up” or to “look at the bright side” of things, and may spiral even deeper when they are unable to simply snap out of the mood that has such a hold on them. While depression can often lead to fatigue and listlessness, it has a close cousin by the name of anxiety. Anxiety causes the opposite effect, putting our bodies into the “fight or flight” mode that protected us in the wild.

Anxiety attacks can feel like heart attacks, and even at more moderate levels, anxiety can have a dangerous and very negative effect on our lives and on our quality of living. Anxiety can also lead to depression when a sense of worry and fear for the future leads into the sense of helplessness and hopelessness. That is a classic symptom of depression. Depression and anxiety are often seen together, and can sometimes lead to one another.

Anxiety is a way of describing a certain way of feeling. It may represent a sense of fear, dread, or a sense that you are in immediate danger, even when you are safe and have no reason to feel this way. There are several different kinds of anxiety disorders, including phobias or irrational fears, situational anxiety, panic disorders, generalised anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorders, among others.

These disorders can lead to a state of almost constant high stress and can affect your daily life much to the worse. You may be unable to function in certain situations, or you may come to fear to leave your own home, and if untreated, the symptoms of anxiety disorders can lead to many of the same problems as depression, including insomnia or a reluctance or fear to leave the house or to be around other people.

Anxiety symptoms can also feel like heart attacks, with palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pains, and more. You might begin trembling and shaking, your mouth might go dry, and you might become dizzy from the stress of the situation. The body becomes “hyped up” by your reaction to the situation, and your senses go into a sort of overdrive that is unlike the depression of the system that happens when you suffer from clinical depression.

Depression disorder actually slows the body in some ways, making you feel sluggish rather than ready to run or fight, and hopeless rather than actively panicked or fearful. If you have been suffering from anxiety attacks, the attacks themselves may lead into depression because of the hopelessness that you feel at the hands of the attacks and because of the fears that are associated with possibly having another attack.

If your anxiety symptoms have changed to include listlessness, disinterest in things that used to engage you, or feelings of hopelessness and self-loathing, then you may now be suffering from a depression disorder and should be treated accordingly for your medical condition.

Depression is not a constant state of being, nor is anxiety. You might think that because you have a good number of “good days” that your depressive days are just bad moments that will pass, however, depression can become worse over time if it is not treated and taken care of, and can lead to suicide if left untreated long enough.

Anxiety can worsen over time as well if it is not handled properly. There are ways to help with anxiety, even without medication. Therapies are different depending on the type of anxiety that affects you and on the level of anxiety that you suffer. For a phobia, you might be exposed at increasing levels to the thing that you are afraid of. Other therapies might require talking your problems out, and others might just provide techniques to help you ride out your panic attacks and get on with life without letting them affect you more than necessary.

Depression treatments are also varied, mostly depending on your own personal preference. Medication can provide you with an effective way of dealing with depression; however, medication is not for everyone. If you are not interested in medication, then you might consider other kinds of therapies with a psychologist who has experience working with depression.
Depression and anxiety are related disorders that can have a huge impact on your overall health and quality of life if left untreated. However, both are manageable conditions that do not have to have an effect on your daily life.

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ByAnxious Minds

Herbs For Anxiety And Depression – A Safer Choice?

Many of us, perhaps most, will admit to feeling anxious regularly and often even depressed, probably due to pressures of work, home life, or any of a multitude of other causes. However, most of us are not clinically depressed or anxious, to the point where our lives and health are affected detrimentally.

The minority who do find their lives blighted by these conditions can often be seen to be suffering from one or all of the following: self-harm and potentially suicidal thoughts, insomnia, lack of sex drive, inactivity and tiredness, and lack of concentration.

Certainly where someone is feeling so anxious or depressed that the medical profession would categorise them as clinically depressed or anxious immediate help should be sought from a professional. However, where someone is suffering from a milder form of anxiety, then there may be alternatives to the common anti-depressant drugs that often appear to make things worse for less severe cases. Alternative treatments could include herbs for anxiety and depression. However, it is always wise to seek medical help before starting any herbal medications, especially if you are already taking any other forms of medicine.

Favourite herbs for anxiety and depression include St. Johns Wort, Kava, Passion Flower, Ginseng and SAM-e, and many have reported positive benefits to taking these herbs. St. Johns Wort probably has the largest body of supporting evidence and is widely used. Again remember that you should consult your physician before taking any medication, even herbal, and do not accept multiple herbal remedies at the same time without consultation with a professional.

There exists a significant problem in taking herbs for anxiety and depression and other ailments, and that is that unlike other medications, government and international drug regulatory agencies are not required to test and approve their use. This can mean that drugs could become available that have unforeseen side effects. However, many herbs have been used in medical applications for much longer than their modern chemical counterparts. So there exists a large body of admittedly anecdotal evidence backing their medicinal properties.

The critical point to remember is that there are no guarantees with herbal treatments, and care must be taken to ensure you are not exposing yourself to additional problems and side effects.

There is little doubt a herbal substitute for a conventional drug, used in moderation, should provide some relief with less of the addictive dangers associated with prescription meds. Still, it cannot always be assumed that herbs will be a safer option. Do not think they are a miracle cure and always take heed of the dosage recommendations.

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