Chronic stress is a serious issue for people all over the world. Workplace stress is especially problematic, with approximately six out of every 10 workers in major economies reporting higher levels of stress than ever before.
It doesn't matter if your stress is work-related, family-related, or related to something else entirely. No matter what the source, you deserve to feel better.
If you're in need of some immediate symptom relief, there are several different medications that can help you.
Read on to learn more about how to choose the best stress medication over the counter. You'll also learn how to manage stress better and when to seek a professional's advice.
Signs You're Overly Stressed
A lot of people find that they're in denial about the level of stress their experiencing and the toll it's taking on their physical and mental health.
The following are some symptoms you may experience if chronic stress is an issue for you:
- Low energy levels
- Becoming agitated or frustrated easily
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Difficulty relaxing
- Low self-esteem
- Avoiding social situations
- Digestive issues
- Chest pain
- Muscle aches and pains
- Rapid heartbeat
- Getting sick more easily
- Low libido
- Teeth grinding and jaw clenching
- Appetite changes (over or undereating)
- Increased drug, alcohol, or cigarette use
You may also exhibit nervous behaviors like pacing, nailbiting, or fidgeting.
Best Stress Medication Over the Counter
If you experience any of the above symptoms and can't seem to find relief, you may be in need of stress medication.
A lot of well-known stress and anxiety-reducing medications are only available by prescription. There are some over-the-counter remedies that can be effective, though, including the following:
Kava root is a natural, non-addictive anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) herb.
Many people report experiencing significant reductions in their anxiety levels when they consume kava root on a regular basis.
You can buy kava as a capsule or pill or drink kava tea. Some kava sublingual sprays are available as well.
Kava root does come with a few mild side effects. In some cases, it can cause headaches, drowsiness, and diarrhea. It can also interact with some medications, so you'll need to talk to a pharmacist about what else you're taking before you purchase it.
Valerian root is another herb that can benefit those struggling with chronic stress and anxiety.
This root increases levels of GABA (also known as gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain. This, in turn, promotes feelings of calmness and regulates the nerve cells.
Valerian root actually functions the same way as prescription benzodiazepine medications, but without the problematic side effects.
5-HTP is a supplement synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan acts as a mood stabilizer.
Taking 5-HTP on a regular basis can help with serotonin production. Higher serotonin levels can promote feelings of calmness and reduce anxiety.
5-HTP can be very helpful, but you shouldn't combine it with other prescription medications meant to increase serotonin.
Magnesium is an important nutrient that plays a role in several key functions of the body. Magnesium helps to calm the nervous system and is necessary for GABA function.
Many adults are also deficient in magnesium, so supplementing with it can be useful when it comes to minimizing stress and regulating feelings of anxiety.
Remember to start with a small dose (overconsuming magnesium can cause diarrhea).
Sometimes, when people find themselves getting stressed out easily or experiencing a lot of anxiety, it's because they're deficient in B vitamins.
B vitamins play an essential role in stabilizing mood, balancing blood sugar, and promoting a healthy nervous system.
Taking a B-complex supplement can help you to feel more at ease and make sure everything in your body is working correctly.
Other Ways to Manage Your Stress
There are several other ways you can try to manage your stress without the use of medications or supplements.
This includes things like regular exercise, meditation, yoga, writing in a journal, and spending more time outdoors and away from your computer or phone screen. Participating in talk therapy can be useful, too.
Don't be afraid to try other techniques in addition to using these remedies. They often work best when they're paired with lifestyle changes.
When to Talk to a Doctor
There are a lot of stress management tools and techniques you can utilize to help get your symptoms under control, and many of them are available at your local US, UK, or New Zealand pharmacy. Sometimes, though, these remedies are not enough.
If chronic stress goes on for too long, it can contribute to a host of serious health problems. These problems include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Cardiovascular disease
- Menstrual problems
- Sexual dysfunction
- Skin and hair problems (acne, psoriasis, etc.)
- Gastrointestinal problems
To prevent these issues and improve your quality of life, you need to know when to seek help from a licensed physician.
If none of the treatments listed above seems to be working for you, it's best to talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to write you a prescription for a stronger medication or recommend a therapist who can help you.
Be honest with yourself about what is and isn't working in your life. That's the only way you're going to be able to improve your symptoms and find relief from your chronic stress.
Start Managing Your Stress Today
As you can see, there are a lot of different options to choose from if you're seeking a stress medication over the counter. Keep this list of the best medications in mind so you can find one that best suits your needs.
Remember, though, that medication often isn't enough to completely solve a problem. You also need to get to the root of what's causing your stress, and you might have to talk to a doctor to do this. Don't be afraid to seek outside help.
If you need more help feeling your best and managing your stress, we've got lots of other helpful resources available on our site, too. Check out the Health section today for more advice.