Supplements for anxiety have become increasingly popular, with research suggesting that they can help alleviate some of the symptoms of people suffering from anxiety disorders.

Anxiety is a complex condition that often comes hand in hand alongside other health problems, such as depression, or PTSD. Often prescribed medications are needed for effective treatment, combined with regular therapy sessions to alleviate symptoms and understand the causes. But, in addition to the best magnesium supplement, there are other diet supplements that you could regularly to support good health, restful sleep and stress management.

It is worth noting that you should never take supplements that are not under medical supervision, particularly in the case of medications, since they may react with each other, causing adverse reactions.

We spoke with a number of mental health professionals to find their opinion on what supplements can help ease the symptoms of anxiety. We also asked if there are any you should avoid.

Do supplements ease anxiety?

If you experience slight or intermittent anxiety, you might find supplements to be helpful in managing your symptoms. Supplements to support good mental health, sleep or other deficiencies that can have impact on mental health are beneficial, but it’s recommended to talk to the medical professional prior to including them into your diet.

Roxana Ehsani Registered dietitian nutritionist and national press spokesperson with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics She explains that supplements don’t relieve anxiety, but can assist in the treatment of certain symptoms. “Certain supplements may aid in managing anxious symptoms but must be endorsed by your doctor prior to taking them,” she says. “Also remember that taking supplements to treat anxiety doesn’t get at the root of your anxiety, so it’s unlikely to help solve the problem or prevent it the long term, perhaps only temporarily.”

Roxana Ehsani, registered dietitian nutritionist and registered dietitian

Roxana Ehsani has been certified by the Board of Certification for Sports Dietetics also she is the National Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She holds a Bachelors in Sciences degree in Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise from Virginia Tech and a Masters of Science in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Pittsburgh and completed her dietetic internship at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

For those on strong medication such as benzodiazepines or antipsychotics supplementation can trigger unwanted adverse side effects. You should always be particularly careful of combining supplements with prescription medications and not under the supervision of a doctor.

Dr Deborah Lee, a medical doctor and writer for Dr. Fox Online Pharmacy (opens in new tab) she explains that taking supplements for anxiety can be dangerous because they’re not controlled in the same manner as medications. “Many sufferers of anxiety symptoms will take supplements that they buy online or at a local pharmacy. It’s hard to provide good advice about anxiety supplements because natural products, like minerals and vitamins, aren’t subject to regulation in the same manner as other drugs and medications,” she says.

Working for several years as a doctor in the NHS in the U.K first as a GP, and then as Chief Clinician of an integrative Community Sexual Health Service, Dr Deborah Lee now works as an author of medical and health writing that focuses in women’s health. She is a menopause specialist.

“There is usually a lack of well-constructed research supporting their use. The majority of studies, if they exist, are small studies of a short duration, and are often conducted on animals. Most often, they are not random controlled trials using an uncontrolled group.”

A double-blind study in Current Developments in Nutrition (opens in new tab) found that a general multivitamin and mineral supplement might have a beneficial impact on adolescents’ experience with anxiety-related symptoms. However, the study needs for replication on an even larger scale. Eliminating any mineral or vitamin deficiencies assures that the body is operating optimally, and anyone suffering from anxiety needs to speak to their doctor about the results of blood tests to rule out deficiency as the reason.

Magnesium

A chronic magnesium deficiency could negatively affect mental health and our ability to handle stress. A study within the Nutrients (opens in a new tab) journal revealed that prolonged anxiety and stress drain the body’s reserves of magnesium and that magnesium deficiency can cause a maladaptive stress response. A different review published in Nutrients (opens in new tab) found that magnesium supplements can aid in the treatment of mild anxiety.

If you think that you have a magnesium deficit, consult with your doctor prior to adding a supplement to the diet of yours, as your symptoms could be a sign of other issues.

Ehsani adds that magnesium supplementation has been shown to help with anxiety. “Magnesium supplementation is the first thing I consider first because it’s an essential mineral that helps your body relax,” she says. “Some people might not be consuming enough through food, and it’s also possible to lose it in small amounts through sweat as well. There were a few tests with magnesium supplements on people who suffer from depression and anxiety and they found that it did improve supplements in those taking it, in comparison to the control group.”

Valerian

The supplement is frequently referred to as nature’s sleeping aid, a meta analysis in the Journal of Evidence-based Integrative medicine (opens in new tab) revealed that valerian may be a useful supplement in the treatment of anxiety and improving sleep. However, due to the unstable nature of the supplement and the various dosages that are offered on the market that it is not clear how effective it actually is.

In addition, valerian may increase the potency of sleep-related medications such as benzodiazepines. It also may interfere with other supplements like St John’s Wort, according to the Mayo Clinic (opens in new tab).

Kava

A study published that appeared in Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (opens in a new tab) looked at twelve articles which evaluated the effectiveness of kava as a treatment option for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). In one study, there was no difference in the results between people who were taking Kava supplements and those using placebos, and the review concluded that current research is not sufficient to justify Kava as an alternative treatment for anxiety.

Fish oil

Fish oil supplements can help to address fatty-acid deficiency in some patients, which may cause signs of mental illness due to the function fatty acids play in the brain’s chemistry, according to a study in the journal of Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience (opens in a new tab). Additionally the JAMA networks open (opens in new tab) medical journal performed an analysis meta-research that revealed the presence of a large amount of Omega-3 (found in fish oil supplements) may help in reducing symptoms of anxiety disorders.

St John’s Wort

St John’s Wort can be widely known as a natural remedy for mood disorders and anxiety, but it’s actually risky , especially in conjunction with birth control pills or antidepressants because it may interact with and disrupt these medications.

However, a review published of Systematic Review (opens in a new tab) discovered that St John’s Wort can be useful in treating moderate to mild depression (showing positive results when compared with a placebo) Another review published of the Journal of Psychopharmacology (opens in new tab) revealed that there are numerous interactions between St. John’s Wort as well as therapeutic medications. This is why it is important to always consult your doctor before including St John’s Wort into your routine.

Vitamin D

Those in colder climates are typically advised to supplement with vitamin D between October through April due to the low amount of sunlight that causes deficiencies in a variety of populations. An analysis in the Journal of Affective Disorders (opens in new tab) suggests that there’s an unambiguous link between vitamin D deficiencies and mood disorders , and for those with vitamin D deficiencies, taking supplements positively affects mood. Vitamin D is among those vitamins that improve the immune system, it may be beneficial to supplement it to improve your overall health, especially during winter .

Ehsani adds that vitamin D deficiency is quite common throughout the USA. “Vitamin D deficiencies may also create anxiety, and addressing the nutritional deficiencies could aid in calming anxiety,” she says. “It’s claimed that 42% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D.”

B vitamins

B-vitamin deficiencies can trigger a number of distressing symptoms, as B12 in particular is necessary for optimal brain function. You may feel lethargic frustrated, angry and confused when you are low on B12 as well as other B-vitamins.

A meta-analysis in The Nutrients (opens in new tab) journal revealed that supplementing with a vitamin B complex may be particularly beneficial to those suffering from poor mood and have poor nutritional status. While it is possible to take too much vitamin Bhowever, it’s difficult to overdose, as it’s water soluble and your body is good at flushing out excess. As such, this is a fairly safe supplement for mood disorders and anxiety However, having a blood test as well as seeking medical attention is still recommended if you think that you may have a vitamin B deficiency.

Chamomile

The chamomile plant is one of the main ingredients in sleepy-time tea. It is a relatively healthy supplement for most people. According to medical advice, it can interact with some drugs, specifically blood thinners, when used in large quantities, however a cup of tea a day is not likely to trigger any adverse effects.

An article published in the Phytomedicine (opens in a new tab) journal showed that, after eight weeks of supplementation with chamomile, the results were comparable to the results seen during conventional anxiolytic drug therapy. Studies of a larger scale need to be undertaken to verify this, but a cup of chamomile tea may be a good supplement to your routine at bedtime if you struggle with anxiety.

Lavender

Aromatherapy can be a helpful natural treatment for anxiety with little side effect. A few drops of the lavender essential oil into your bath, or a diffuser will help you be more relaxed. While it won’t cure anxiety, it may make a difference in your routine, and especially help you to relax before you go to bed.

A study published in the Laryngoscope of investigative Otolaryngology (opens in a new tab) found that aromatherapy with lavender helped to reduce preoperative anxiety in those who were scheduled seeking day surgical procedures. While the journal says that studies of a larger scale are needed to be conducted but the overall positive results are encouraging.

Lavender allergy is rare but it’s worthwhile to test any new ingredients you may want to try for aromatherapy before putting them in your bathwater.

Supplements for anxiety There are risks?

It is imperative to consult with your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet, especially if you are on any medications. Certain supplements can be incompatible with prescription medications as well as birth control.

Ehsani suggests consulting with your physician when selecting a supplement for anxiety. “There can always be risks with any supplement, so it’s always best to check with your physician prior to you take any medication,” she says. “Certain supplements could interact with current medications you’re taking. They could also interact or interfere with a current health condition you are dealing with, and some supplements might not be evaluated for safety or quality Therefore, always ensure that the that the one you decide to take is approved by your doctor.”