Natural Treatment for Anxiety
Anxiety disorders range in severity from simple situational nervousness to more complex anxiety or panic attacks. For example, you may feel anxious about making a presentation. Or, you may have anxiety attacks about being in a crowded place.
What Causes Anxiety?
The causes of anxiety problems include:
- Home environment
- Work stress
- Personality traits – think worriers and type A
- Imbalances in neurotransmitters like GABA, serotonin, and dopamine
- Vitamin/mineral or essential fatty acid deficiencies
- Hormone imbalance – your hormones influence how well your receptors use calming neurotransmitters like GABA
- Trauma like marital separation, assault, job loss or car accidents.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
The symptoms of anxiety may include:
- Increased heart rate
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle tension
- Social withdrawal
- Nervousness, feeling jumpy or on edge
- Overeating or loss of appetite
- Loose stools or diarrhea
- Depression – anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand
Anxiety can become a vicious cycle. You are under stress and so you feel anxious. This then puts extra demands on your body’s ability to cope with stress. These extra demands further deplete your coping resources. So your ability to deal with stress goes even lower. And your anxiety level goes even higher.
Can a Naturopath Help with Anxiety?
Absolutely, I can help mental health issues like anxiety. There are several things that need to take place to calm things down for you:
- Remove or reduce sources of stress where possible.
- Exercise. Studies show that you will cope with stress better if you are exercising than if you are not.
- Add some stress reduction techniques. These may include yoga, tai chi, massage therapy, breathing exercises, meditation, and psychotherapy.
- Nourish your body’s stress glands or adrenal glands
- Nourish your brain with B vitamins, magnesium, and essential fatty acids.
- Calm your nervous system. Natural therapies like herbs calm your nervous system. This helps with sleep, reduces daytime stress and allows you to restore your stress adaptation mechanisms.
- Correct neurotransmitter imbalance. Natural remedies help balance neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and GABA. These have a calming effect.
- Balance hormones. Hormones play a significant role in how your brain works. Many of the men and women I see are suffering from hormone-related anxiety.
The Benefits to Natural Treatment for Anxiety
- Better ability to cope with whatever life throws you
- Lasting improvement versus recurrence as soon as you stop a medication
- A stronger system
- More restful sleep
- Better hormonal balance
- Better brain and nervous system function
Testing for Anxiety
Most anxiety is diagnosed based on your symptoms or by completing a written anxiety test. While there is no one blood test to identify the exact cause of anxiety, there are a number of tests that may help find your contributing factors.
Depending on your age and gender, the following hormones can be tested: LH, FSH, estradiol, progesterone, total testosterone, DHEAs, androstenedione, and prolactin
This is a tricky one to measure. Because what you really want to know is the levels that are in your brain. Some research suggests that measuring neurotransmitter levels in platelets may be a reliable way to gauge levels in the brain. At this time, this test is not available to Ontario ND’s. Urine and blood levels are highly variable depending on stress.
Anxiety can be a symptom of an overactive thyroid. Blood tests for TSH, free T3, free T4, anti-TPO, anti-thyroglobulin and reverse T3 may be helpful.
I can help you unearth the cause of your anxiety and treat it. Book an appointment here or call the office for more information on natural therapies for anxiety at 416-481-0222.
Authored by Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND
Medications usually fall into one of three categories: benzodiazepines, SNRI’s and SSRI’s.
Benzodiazepines: Valium, Ativan. These medications temporarily calm down the nervous system while taking them. They act fairly quickly. Common side effects of Valium and Ativan are emotional blunting or numbness, drowsiness, lack of energy, clumsiness, slow reflexes, slurred speech, confusion and disorientation, depression, dizziness, lightheadedness, impaired thinking and judgment, memory loss, forgetfulness, nausea, stomach upset, blurred or double vision.
SSRI’s: Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, Effexor. These medications artificially raise the “feel good” neurotransmitter serotonin and/or norepinephrine. They may provide relief during periods of acute stress. But, the effects are only temporary while taking them. Common side effects of SSRI’s include: Nausea, nervousness, headaches, sleepiness, sexual dysfunction, dizziness, stomach upset and weight gain.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided here may not apply precisely to your individual situation. Diagnostic and therapeutic choices must always be tailored to the individual patient’s circumstances, and consultation with a licensed naturopathic physician should be undertaken before following any of the treatment strategies suggested in this website.