Anxiety- Constant worry, stressed out, panicking, stressing over little things that you know you shouldn’t be worrying over?
In the past I have suffered with anxiety- around 2014 I was at my worst. I do tend to worry especially when things don’t go as planned, though I have got a lot better and would even go as far as to say that anxiety is no longer a regular/ consistent part of my life, though can rear it’s head from time to time.
I look back now and know that my anxiety got better when I fell pregnant and I have an inkling that the amount of caffeine I consumed back than along with adrenal fatigue certainly played some part for me personally.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety can affect us daily or certain occasions/ happenings may trigger anxiety, however it is more than just stress or worry and is difficult to get rid of and overcome. Anxiety is a worrying feeling that will not go away and can make life difficult to cope with when it’s so constant. It is the most common mental health disorder with 1 in 4 people suffering with anxiety
Signs and symptoms of anxiety:
• Often worried, scared, or nervous
• Worried something bad will happen regularly
• You avoid certain situations or events because of the worry you feel
• You may experience a racing heart
• A nervous sensation in your stomach
• Rapid breathing
• You cannot concentrate or focus because of worry
Picture from USA Mental Health First Aid
Potential causes and factors involved:
• Adrenal fatigue
• Poor gut health and dysbiosis
• Family history
• Anxiety is often associated in people with the MTHFR genetic variant
• Past trauma
• Stress overload
• Certain Medications
• Illicit drug use
• Health problems such as; heart conditions, diabetes and asthma
• Nutrient deficiencies
Herbs that are often used to help
• Withania somnifera
• Lemon balm
These kind of herbs can have a mild sedative effect but are lovely, calming herbs that have anxiolytic, nervine and apoptogenic properties, meaning they help you better adapt to stress.
Important nutrients used for calming the nervous system, supporting the adrenals and reducing anxiety severity.
• Magnesium- Most of us could really use some supplemental magnesium. Magnesium is our key nervous system nutrient that helps to calm and relax the nervous system.
• B Vitamins– B vitamins are best used synergistically with other B vitamins. They are important for helping us have a healthy stress response and many of us lack B vitamins in our diet. They help to produce our calming neurotransmitters such as serotonin and GABA.
• Zinc- Supports our neurotransmitter productions and deficiencies in zinc can trigger anxiety. Our diets are often very low in zinc.
• Omega 3 fatty acids- Our bodies are not made to produce omega’s on it’s which is why they are called essential fatty acids- we must get them through our diet or supplemental. Omegas are important in regulating normal brain and nervous system function.
• Iron- Iron deficiencies can cause and or increase levels of anxiety. Considering iron is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies, you can also understand why so many of us have anxiety. Sometimes we may get enough iron in our diet, but that does NOT mean we are absorbing and utilising it, as there are many things that cause absorption interference. Iron is an important cofactor in serotonin synthesis.
• Vitamin D- Can you believe that even in Australia (the sunny country), vitamin D deficiency is very common. Researchers have found that people with anxiety are often low in vitamin D.
Lifestyle modifications that may also help:
• Sunshine- at least 20 minutes a day will help to boost your vitamin D levels
• Essential oils- see a qualified aromatherapist for advice on best ones that suit you. Lavender, lemon balm and chamomile may be a good start- though lavender can actually have an adverse effect.
• Exercise- We know that exercise is just as important in improving our mental health as it is our physical health. Exercise is a game changer!
• Regular meditation- Many apps available now to guide us through anywhere from 3-90 minute meditations depending on our time.
• Get adequate sleep
• Purpose- reflect on your goals, values and intentions in life.
• Avoid/ limit caffeine and alcohol
• Stress reduction- Identify your ongoing stressors- do what you can to reduce them.
• Put focus on positives- Gratitude journaling.
Please be advised before you purchase any off the shelf products that you need a healthcare professional to help personalise recommendations specifically to your individual requirements. Herbs and nutrients can interfere with medications you may be on or other health conditions that you may have. A healthcare professional such as a naturopath can help you with ensuring you are getting a good quality product, check that the supplements or recommendations are safe to use with your medication or suited to your specific needs, and will also ensure you are receiving the correct dosage of the nutrients and or herbs.