Anxiety is definitely one of the most prevalent mental conditions in North America, judging by the 12 percent of Canadians suffering from it each year. It turns out that anxiety is sort of an umbrella term for mental conditions with pretty much the same symptoms, although it applies differently to different people. The symptoms are similar, but they can range from mild to quite severe panic attacks.
According to the DSM-IV, anxiety disorders are diverse, including -traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), specific phobias, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and mixed anxiety and depression.
The symptoms of anxiety range from mental symptoms like nervousness, excessive worry, and insomnia to genitourinary symptoms like gastrointestinal symptoms and frequent urination.
Other symptoms of anxiety include rapid heart rate, excessive sweating, muscle tension, hot and cold flashes, and even suicidal thoughts.
The first line treatment involves mediations like citalopram, a serotonin inhibitor which is also used to treat depression.
Another line of drugs which are used to treat anxiety include benzodiazepines, but they are typically used in the short term to manage quite serious symptoms.
No two cases should be approached the same, so it is important to get a complete history of the case. Past medical history and details about hormonal symptoms, sleep, diet, and digestive symptoms are a must.
Identifying the root cause of anxiety is the key when to naturopathic diagnostic process. Naturopathic medicine addresses anxiety holistically, unlike conventional medicine that focuses on dysfunctions in the brain.
The 5 Root Causes of Anxiety
Chronic stress is affected by the production of the hormone cortisol, and it affects more than half of North American adults these days.
Chronic stress is associated with adrenal fatigue, which leads to an inability of the body to deal with stress properly. Instead of producing cortisol, the adrenal glands rely on adrenaline and noradrenaline to deal with stressful events.
These hormones stuck the person in the fight or flight state, resulting in symptoms like muscle tension, mental worry, dry mouth, sweating, rapid respiration, and rapid heart rate.
2. Malnutrition and Hypoglycaemia
Vitamins, minerals, and protein are building blocks needed by the body to perform its chemical reactions. So, lack of any nutrient when healing anxiety is like trying to build a house without bricks.
Serotonin and dopamine, as well as hormones like cortisol, need tryptophan and tyrosine for their synthesis. They also need builders to make neurotransmitters, such as magnesium, iron, zinc, and B-vitamins.
Stress interferes with cortisol production and may deplete the body of these nutrients, which increases dairy requirements. Failing to get enough of these nutrients from food means that supplementation is more than necessary to ensure the body is functioning optimally.
Rising and falling blood glucose levels due to a high-carb diet can lead to hypoglycemia, a condition that mimics the symptoms of anxiety, including fatigue, sweating, irritability, rapid heartbeat, and dizziness.
3. Digestive Issues
While serotonin is mostly active in the brain, many studies suggest that up to 90 percent of it is created in the intestinal tract. This means that any disruption in the health of the digestive cells may lead to digestive symptoms like IBS as well as mood swings.
Foods sensitivities and intestinal issues can cause inflammation in the body, impacting the nervous system. It has been scientifically shown that low levels of inflammation in the brain and overactive immune system may lead to mental conditions like depression and symptoms like headaches, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating.
4. Hormonal Imbalance
Due to the high exposure to toxic estrogen, many North American women suffer from estrogen dominance, a condition manifested by too much estrogen in the body or lack of progesterone. Symptoms of this condition include acne, fibroids, irregular periods, painful and heavy periods, weight gain, PMS, and even an increased risk of ovarian and breast cancer.
Progesterone and estrogen not only control secondary sex characteristics but also affect the brain. Hormonal imbalance may lead to anxiety and irritability symptoms and may even aggravate existing anxiety.
5. Core Beliefs and Mental Schemas
Anxiety and other mental conditions may often be symptoms of emotional memories (mental schemes) which are experienced alongside strong emotions. If left untreated, they can seriously affect our daily lives.
When triggered, they lead to anxiety symptoms, which means that getting to the core of the symptoms and addressing these memories is the key to treating any mood disorder, including anxiety.
Holistic Solutions for Anxiety
Judging by the causes outlined above, it is evident that the holistic solutions rely on their diagnosis.
- Getting a thorough history, doing blood work, and checking the iron and B12 status of the patient
- Checking for food sensitivity and hormone levels like cortisol, estrogen, and progesterone
- Developing a strategy for dealing with stress, such as setting healthy boundaries and reducing work hours
- Looking for activities that lower stress, such as going for long walks, engaging in yoga or meditation, or engaging in nature exposure
- Adding more protein in their diet and reducing carb and sugar intake as well as alcohol and caffeine
- Supplementing with probiotic, removing food sensitivities, and eating a diet low in pro-inflammatory foods
- Balancing hormones by adjusting birth control dosage, limiting exposure to toxins, and treating estrogen dominance
- Identifying core beliefs and addressing them with the help of Coherence therapy, Narrative therapy, mindfulness training, and CBT