Whether your teenager has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or they struggle with situational anxiety from time to time, you may be wondering if medication can help. While some people find great success with prescription medication, it is not a decision to be made lightly. Pharmaceutical drugs may help suppress bothersome symptoms, but they are associated with a number of side effects like headaches, nausea, dry mouth, weight changes and more. In many cases, dosages also need to be raised over time to deliver the same impact, increasing the likelihood of experiencing adverse effects.
Starting your teen off with natural anxiety supplements, homeopathic medication, and other non-prescription anxiety remedies is a great way to test the waters and see if a gentler medication works first. This can help them avoid undesirable side effects while learning to manage symptoms of anxiety more effectively.
What are Natural Anxiety Medications & Supplements?
When medication or supplements are described as “natural,” this typically means they do not contain harsh, synthetic chemicals like those found in many prescription drugs or OTC medications. Natural remedies may refer to herbal products made from botanicals or plants, or other interventions like physical therapy, nutritional adjustments, weighted blankets or other tools.
Natural remedies and supplements are often compared to non-prescription medication, but they are not the same thing. While natural remedies and supplements use a variety of methods to strengthen your body's defenses and minimize symptom onset, they do not directly help control symptoms. On the other hand, non-prescription medication like Brillia directly targets the source of the symptoms to help control them, and clinical evidence supports their safety and efficacy.
Anxiety Meds for Teens: An Overview
Many of the same prescription medications used to treat depression are prescribed for anxiety in teenagers. These include SSRIs like Lexapro®, Prozac®, and Zoloft®, and SNRIs like Cymbalta® and Effexor®. In some cases, teens are prescribed benzodiazepines like Xanax® and Klonopin®, but these medications are associated with a number of precautions due to their risk of addiction, withdrawal symptoms, and severe adverse effects, especially among long-term users.1
Research indicates that a combination of CBT and medication works better for young people than either treatment alone.2 Knowing the side effects of prescription medication, most qualified physicians will only suggest medication if they feel the benefits of being medicated outweigh the risks. This is determined through a proper evaluation of the teen. Unfortunately, there are a number of online diagnosing websites that are much more accessible and quickly prescribe medication without properly evaluating your teen, recommending therapy, or following up afterward.
Reduce irritability and impulsivity.
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Natural Remedies & Homeopathic Medication to Consider for Anxiety
At Brillia, we recognize the value of prescription medication, but we recommend them as a last resort. Exploring natural remedies and non-prescription, clinically-proven medication first is a great way to avoid side effects, dependency, withdrawal symptoms associated with those types of drugs. After all, should your teenager need more support in the future, prescription medication will still be available as an option.
The following natural remedies, supplements and non-prescription medication options have shown great success in reducing symptoms of anxiety.
Brillia is a non-prescription homeopathic medication clinically proven to reduce symptoms of anxiety without harsh, synthetic chemicals or harmful side effects. Its antibody ingredient targets the brain-specific S100 protein (S100B), an important regulator of various different intracellular and extracellular brain processes. By regulating the activity of the S100B protein in the body, Brillia promotes a balanced mood without affecting any other systems in the body or masking the personality. Even more, as a result of Brillia’s regulating effect, the levels of feel-good monoamines like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin also normalize; these are the same chemicals SSRIs and SNRIs target to reduce anxiety.
Unlike prescription anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants, your teen does not need an official diagnosis or referral from a doctor to use Brillia. They will also not build a tolerance to the medication, requiring an increase of dosage over time. And if your teen is already taking a medication or supplement for anxiety, Brillia can be added to their regimen at any time without worry because there are no contraindications. Some users take Brillia in addition to prescription meds to resolve secondary symptoms caused by their current medication or to avoid having to increase the dosage of these drugs.
Another unique aspect about taking Brillia is its holistic approach: the 5 Pillars. These pillars consist of healthy lifestyle habits that should be adopted while taking the medication. These include proper nutrition, adequate sleep, controlled screen time, and mindfulness, which have all been proven to help reduce anxiety, stress, restlessness, and irritability. The way this holistic plan works is that as your teen becomes accustomed to these healthy lifestyle habits with the help of Brillia, they will eventually learn to self-regulate, needing less and less of any product to reduce their anxiety. If they still need support, they can continue to use Brillia for as long as it is needed without worrying about dependency or side effects.
Magnesium is a nutrient commonly used to ease anxiety. Studies show that magnesium improves brain function and modulates central and peripheral endocrine responses, which helps to safely decrease anxiety.3 Magnesium has also been shown to help control the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenocortical (HPA) axis, which is considered to be the main stress response system.4 Though magnesium is generally safe, taking too much may cause side effects or interactions with other medications. Be sure to ask your doctor if supplementing with magnesium is safe for your teen if they are already taking a prescription medication.
Studies have found that vitamins B6 and B12 are involved in metabolic processes shown to “decrease neural excitation and increase inhibition,” making them promising supplements for anxiety.5 Vitamin B1 has also been used to treat people with anxiety disorders because of its ability to help maintain a healthy nervous system.6 And yet another important B vitamin is vitamin B9, which helps the body metabolize serotonin when taken with vitamin B12.7
According to experts at Mount Sinai, the herb valerian has been used since the second century A.D. to treat anxiety, insomnia, and restlessness.8 Like the prescription drugs Xanax and Valium, valerian is believed to increase the amount of a chemical called gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. This chemical helps regulate nerve cells and has a calming effect on anxiety. Some studies also suggest that valerian may help improve attention and impulsivity among children, though more research is needed.9
Used as a ceremonial drink in the Pacific Islands for centuries, kava root, or kava kava, is revered for its relaxing qualities. The drink is said to elevate mood and researchers have found it may be useful in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and related nervous disorders.10 In fact, one study found that Valium and kava caused similar changes in brain wave activity, suggesting that they may work in the same ways to calm the mind. Though some experts have linked the root to liver damage, the FDA has called this complication “rare.” Still, more research is needed on its effects on children, so it’s recommended you ask your teen’s doctor first before trying this option.
Though it is not a medication or supplement, meditation is an intervention certainly worth exploring when it comes to easing your teen’s anxiety. Recent studies that compared mindfulness meditation to the anxiety medication Lexapro revealed there was a 20 percent reduction in anxiety symptoms over an eight-week period, whether participants were taking the prescription drug or practicing mindfulness.11 MRI scans have confirmed mindfulness causes the amygdala to shrink, which is the fight or flight center of the brain.12
Dating back to the ancient Egyptians, essential oils have been used in aromatherapy for a number of ailments, including anxiety. Though researchers aren’t exactly sure how they work, essential oils appear to activate scent olfactory receptors in the nose, which have positive effects on the central nervous system. The most beneficial oils for anxiety include chamomile, lavender, mandarin, ylang-ylang, and vetiver, which are said to promote relaxation and reduce agitation and stress.
Less Sugar & Processed Foods
Making adjustments to your teen’s diet may seem like a small thing, but it can have a massive impact on their mood. Eating too many processed and sugary foods results in frequent highs and lows of blood sugar, which exacerbate feelings of anxiety. According to experts at Harvard, a sugar rush can actually mimic a panic attack.13 Instead, encourage your teen to eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and healthy fats. Following a well-balanced, diverse diet also means your teen has a better chance of consuming important vitamins and nutrients that support mental health. For example, the nutrient magnesium we mentioned above can be found in foods like oatmeal, almonds, soymilk, and pumpkin seeds. B vitamins can be found in leafy, green vegetables, broccoli, and chickpeas.
When it comes to helping your teen with anxiety, you don’t have to figure it out on your own. In addition to natural supplements, homeopathic medication, and other remedies, finding your teen a therapist can also help them uncover the roots of their anxiety and develop coping mechanisms they can use for years to come.
Explore other resources on mental health at the Brilla(nce) Resource Center.
We’ll share helpful tips, the latest studies and personal experiences.