Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
I have severe anxiety for which I am prescribed Valium. What can I do to get off these pills?
A: Anxiety, just like physical pain, is a body’s response to let you know that something is not right. When your body sends you pain signals, it is telling you that some body part somewhere is hurt or injured. Anxiety is a similar signal but instead of a physical hurt, it is an emotional one. Somewhere in your emotional and spiritual body, you are injured or hurting—it may even be because of a fear of injury or hurt.
I am saddened that in our current socioeconomic climate so many people are suffering from anxiety and depression. Doctors are ready to prescribe antidepressants and anti-anxiety medicines, but these are short cuts that will not solve the deeper problem.
Here is what I suggest:
1. Find a tai chi or qigong instructor and learn a form. The “Eight Treasures Qigong” and “Harmony Style Tai Chi” are two of my favorites. Practice these exercises twice daily.
2. Go for a 30-minute walk every morning.
3. Eat a large wholesome breakfast and do not eat after 7PM. Stop drinking alcohol, coffee, soda and any other stimulants.
4. Visit an acupuncturist for a weekly treatment and herbal prescription, both of which can dramatically help with the reduction of anxiety symptoms, as well as with dependency on Valium or other sedatives. Try valerian drops as an alternative to Valium; valerian is a natural calming herbal extract that can help sooth and relax your nervous system before bed. To find an acupuncturist visit: www.acupuncture.com
Additionally, for your anxiety, you may wish to try the Traditions of Tao herbal formulas “Calm-fort/Sleeping”, “Anxiety”, and the “Five Elements of Health”. Of course, discuss with your physician before beginning any new health regime.