What is Anxiety and How to Treat it Naturally
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a complex feeling of fear, worry and apprehension which is often associated with other physical sensations such as increased heart rate, sweating and increased breathing. Approximately 10% of the Australian population suffer from anxiety with woman suffering 12% compared to 7% for men. It affects people from all different walks of life and can start at any age from childhood to the elderly. Many people who suffer from anxiety can also suffer from depression, fatigue, irritable bowel or other digestive issues.
Anxiety is generally seen as hypersensitivity or heightened activation of the nervous system and the adrenals and amounts to a unremitting fight or flight response.
- Excessive worry
- Panic attacks
- Apprehension / Unease
- Sense of impending doom
- Muscle tension
- Digestive issues
- Impaired cognition
- Sleep disturbances
How do I know if I suffer from Anxiety?
If you have 3-4 of the above symptoms chances are that you are suffering from anxiety. To find out the level of anxiety you may be experiencing you can complete the Capalaba Natural Health Mood & Stress Questionaire. This questionnaire will identify if you suffer from Depression, Anxiety and Stress and their levels. It also provides guidance to your Naturopath (Tony Daniel) the kind of Depression, Anxiety and Stress you may be experiencing as well as the most indicated natural remedies to assist you in overcoming your anxiety. Tony is trained to provide you with an individualized treatment protocol to address your signs and symptoms and to calm and restore your nervous system. Diet and lifestyle changes will also be provided as part of your anxiety treatment.
In the treatment of anxiety I focus on relaxing the nervous system and restoring it back into balance. I also nourish the adrenal glands and help to reduce or normalize the adrenals fight / flight response.
Magnesium supplements are often used in the treatment of anxiety due to their ability to calm the overexcited nervous system and reduce associated symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, muscular tension etc…
Magnesium plays a very important role in the body. It is required for healthy cell growth and development, normal blood pressure, contributes to the proper functioning of muscles and nerves, carries energy around our body and releases the correct amount of serotonin in the brain – alleviating irritability, depression and regulating sleep.
Magnesium calms the muscular and nervous systems. This is why people who are magnesium deficient often experience muscle cramps. Magnesium is the main mineral required for a healthy, calm nervous system. I prescribe magnesium to all of my clients who suffer from anxiety as well as stress and fatigue and I get great results.
Herbs are also used to calm an over excited nervous system and simultaneously nurture the adrenals. Be it in tablet form which has been specifically designed for anxiety or I can make up liquid herbs to suit your individual requirements. For example some people are anxious, tense and may experience panic attacks while another may be worried and cry. Different herbal formulas have been designed to target the different manifestations of anxiety and the symptoms they produce.
Most herbs work by increasing the calming neurotransmitters serotonin and gaba which help to soothe nervous system tension and agitation. these are the same neurotransmitters which are targeted by medical anti-anxiety drugs but without the side effects.
Herbs can often work extremely quickly with clients experiencing a significant reduction in their symptoms within 2 – 3 days and often noticing a 25 – 50% reduction within 2 weeks. While ongoing support is needed to revitalize the nervous system and adrenals this reduction is symptoms is a welcome relief for anyone who suffers from anxiety.
In addition to natural substances it is also important to look at your diet and lifestyle.
Diet Tips to help reduce Anxiety
People who suffer from anxiety should avoid coffee, cola, dark chocolate and other sources of caffeine as these stimulate the adrenals and nervous system and can contribute to feelings of anxiety. Reducing sugar and carbohydrates will also help to regulate blood sugar levels.
Eating adequate levels of protein will help reduce sugar cravings and hypoglycaemia which can trigger anxiety. Protein also helps to make you full and provides the amino acids necessary for effective neurotransmitter (brain messenger) production. Neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and gaba help overcome depression and anxiety and make you feel good about yourself and your life.
Drinking at least 2 liters of water per day will help with a general feelings of well being and will help detoxify the substances which can contribute to you feeling fatigued, sluggish or down.
Alcohol should also be limited and recreational drugs avoided.
Lifestyle Tips to help reduce Anxiety
Massage and aromatherapy have been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety. Yoga and Tai Chi help to reduce stress and anxiety levels and help feelings of well being. Having time to yourself for a movement and breath based practice such as yoga is highly beneficial for general health and mental health and has been clinically proven to reduce anxiety and stress levels. Regular exercise is crucial to reducing nervous system over activity and managing anxiety.
Walking in nature or along the waters edge will help you feel relaxed and more grounded and can help support healthy Vitamin D levels.
Counselling may assist in restoring self-esteem, problem solving and coping with life stresses while Hypnotherapy may also help to clear blocks and negative beliefs or patterns which are driving your anxiety.
Anxiety can be a very debilitating mental condition which can negatively affect your life significantly. With the right support and lifestyle I have seen many clients significantly reduce and completely clear themselves of anxiety and change their life forever.
Written by Award Winning Naturopath and Weight Loss Specialist Tony Daniel ND