By some estimates, as many as 40 million adults in the United States suffer from anxiety disorder. Depression often occurs along with anxiety, and nearly half of people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with anxiety disorder. Moreover, depression and anxiety often go hand-in-hand.
Anxiety is also a normal part of life, and most people get stressed out now and then. The choices you make to deal with anxiety, however, is what sets you apart from others. Alcohol and drug use only mask anxiety – substances do not defeat it. And in fact, more than the occasional drink is likely to contribute to the worsening of depression and anxiety.
The following is list of several healthy drinks that can take the edge off anxiety, most of which can readily be found at the nearest grocery store, if not currently right in your kitchen.
Chamomile, Chai, and Green Tea
Research from the University of Pennsylvania found that chamomile extract was linked to mood improvements in people diagnosed with anxiety disorder. Many people also use it for relaxation in the evening as a mild sleep aid, and to ease irritability.
Chamomile tea lattes combine the best of two worlds with the addition of milk from grass-fed cows, due to the inclusion of linoleic acid, a fat that promotes blood flow to the brain and counteracts stress-causing cortisol.
Green tea contains two substances, EGCG and L-theanine, that can have a positive effect on cardiovascular and brain health. Research has found that people who consumed green tea produced more alpha brainwaves, a sign of increased relaxation.
Chai tea contains cinnamon that can improve mood by regulating blood sugar levels.
Kale and Yogurt Smoothies
Food rich in folates are said to battle depression, and dark, leafy greens such as Kale contain folic acid that can help mitigate mood disorders.
Yogurt, like most dairy products, contains a significant amount of vitamin D. Depression has been associated with a deficiency in this vitamin. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that about one-quarter of the population is at risk for deficiency in vitamin D.
Of note, vegans can also get D vitamins from smoothies containing tofu. And smoothies rich in chia seeds and cashews can offer an added boost because they contain zinc and vitamin B6.
Coffee can serve as an anti-depressant because it stimulates the central nervous system and increases dopamine and serotonin levels in the body. Too much coffee can contribute to anxiety, but a moderate amount may help reduce symptoms of depression.
Water or Lemon Water
Not surprisingly, hydration is critical for mood regulation. Dehydration is likely to increase symptoms of anxiety, and it doesn’t take much to make a difference. Less than a 2% loss of body water can have an adverse effect on mood. If you don’t like plain water, add lemon, as it contains vitamin that can help increase concentration and alertness.
Omega-3 fatty acids may help treat depression, and drinks containing omega-3 such as flax milk can help boost mood. Double your boost by adding flax milk to your coffee rather than cream.
Chocolate milk can improve mood due to the cocoa content, which contains compounds that promote the production of endorphins. Add chocolate to flax milk or a smoothie, and you might have a winner.
Coconut water is a super-fast at promoting hydration due to an electrolyte balance that is similar to body fluid, so it is easy to absorb. If you are exercising (which you should be if you suffer from depression and anxiety) use coconut water to re-hydrate after a workout.
Blackcurrant Juice and Cranberry Juice
Blackcurrant is rich in zinc, which increases dopamine levels and helps to regulate mood. Drink it warm at night as it also contains magnesium, which helps with relaxation and sleep.
Recent research from China suggests that ursolic acid, a compound found in cranberries, can help protect brain cells from injury and cognitive symptoms associated with degeneration.
Also, cranberry juice is high in potassium and vitamin C. Potassium is an electrolyte and helps with hydration, while vitamin C found can also help mitigate mood swings, depression, and anxiety. Cranberries are also rich in glucose and contain manganese which stabilizes blood sugar levels – as noted above, necessary for mood regulation.
Tart Cherry Juice and Beetroot Juice
People with anxiety often suffer from a lack of sleep. Drinking tart cherry juice has been shown to help people relax and reduce insomnia. This effect occurs because tart cherries are rich in melatonin, the chemical that regulates our natural sleep-wake cycles.
Beet juice contains a compound called betaine, which has been shown to increase production of the feel-good hormone, serotonin.