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Anxiety, a modern dilemma?

Anxiety, A modern Dilemma?

Anxiety, a modern dilemma or a part of our busy modern lifestyle? Here Gaining Health Naturally explores the common causes and what you can do to assist. Anxiety is one of the most common mental disorders in Australia affecting approximately 1 in 7 people. Women are more likely to have an anxiety disorder (18%) than men (11%) according to the 2007, Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).  From my clinical experience both anxiety and depression are on the increase with more and more people seeking help.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free deliveryAnxiety is a normal emotion that most people experience from time to time. Mild fear can be helpful as it enables us to respond quickly and remove ourselves from a dangerous or difficult situations. However if your anxiety is out of proportion to the situation you are experiencing and it persists then this absence of balance, can cause many on-going problems. If your anxiety is severe and/or disabling you may need treatment.  If you are distressed or impaired negatively and not able to function normally at home, work, school or in social settings then you may need professional help.

Anxiety Symptomswellness

If you experience the following symptoms, you could be suffering from anxiety:

  • Agitation/restlessness
  • Pacing
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Avoidance of feared situations or objects – Impending Doom
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Mind going blank
  • Recurrent excessive thoughts
  • Blushing
  • Sweating
  • Shaking/trembling
  • Dizziness
  • Tachycardia, rapid heartbeat
  • Muscle tension
  • Nausea
  • Numbness or tingling in arms, hands or legs
  • Diarrhoea
  • Headaches
  • Butterflies in the stomach

The Causes and Triggers

Family history While people who suffer from anxiety often report having other family members with anxiety or depression, it is not a foregone conclusion that one will develop anxiety. You can change your destiny! It only potentially acts as an indicator toward mood disorders.

Lifestyle triggers For many, lifestyle triggers may be prevalent and challenging.  Lifestyle triggers may include: • Trauma in childhood • Life stress • Financial stress • Study and exam stress • Social and relationship stress • Comorbidity or another chronic health issue including depression • Stress levels of the mother during pregnancy • Genetic vulnerability (what SNP’s you may have ie. COMT gene).

Dietary triggers  Dietary factors can directly trigger anxiety through causing vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Ensuring methylation is working optimally is important with depression and anxiety.  Deficiencies of B-group vitamins (in activated forms), magnesium the natural ”chill pill”, B12 and zinc are essential. Making sure you have the correct amounts and forms of these vitamins is important. Always seek a professional for this kind of help. Ensuring high copper, low zinc and vitamin B6 are not part of the picture is also imperative.  There are many other options Naturopaths/Nutritionists may use.

Hypoglycaemia (low levels of sugar in the blood), and varying insulin levels caused through eating sporadically or too many refined carbohydrates, (sugars) can trigger anxiety symptoms. Likewise, food and drink with high caffeine content such as coffee, tea and soft drink can all trigger anxiety. Alcohol and drugs can also contribute.

Emotional triggers  There are times when mental messages and emotional experiences can become triggers for physical disease. Feelings of helplessness, insecurity, negativity, cyclic thinking with a recurrent focus on past or future difficulties are common for those suffering with anxiety. Those experiencing anxiety often have an overarching distrust of the flow and process of life and can often feel like life is ‘out of their control’.

Physical triggers Hormonal imbalances, in particular oestrogen dominance, can trigger anxiety. Anxiety can also increase during natural hormonal changes ie. a menstrual cycle, during pregnancy, lactation, perimenopause and menopause.  There are many reported studies of women with increased anxiety during perimenopause and menopause.  Cortisol is another hormone that, when elevated or depleted, can trigger anxiety as it plays an integral role in the balance and production of many other hormones that regulate stress, sleep and mood.

Leaky Gut Leaky gut syndrome occurs when the intestinal lining becomes inflamed, causing it to be permeable or ‘leaky’. The inflamed lining allows unwanted substances (like tiny food particles, bacterial waste products and toxins) into the bloodstream which would normally be eliminated from the body. This puts unnecessary stress on the liver, lymphatic system and immune system, as these organs must work to clear the body of the excess toxins.

Leaky gut syndrome has far reaching effects on a person’s health and can contribute to or cause other health problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), food allergies, celiac disease, dysbiosis (flora imbalance in the gut), pancreatic insufficiency, chronic joint and muscle pain, and skin rashes like eczema. It has also been linked to autism, ADD and ADHD. Often with Leaky gut, dysbiosis features.  Checking gastrointestinal infections ie. streptococcus and others are not present is important. Ensuring a full health picture is collated is important as anxiety can be multifaceted. Bio-compatible Hair Testing can help to eradicate leaky gut. More information can be found here.

Liver Stress In naturopathic teaching we associate liver stress with contributing to and potentially triggering anxiety and depression in sensitive individuals. As the liver becomes overloaded mood swings including anger, anxiety and depression increase.  Liver stress can be caused through leaky gut, toxin and chemical overload.  Liver stress symptoms can include fatigue, hormonal imbalances, headaches, weight gain, blood sugar changes, high cholesterol and triglycerides, skin disorders, increased chemical sensitivity and sighing.

Treating the underlying causes is always the Natural approach to Anxiety. Treating and looking at potential triggers, along with testing (what is best for you), can help to reduce and manage both he frequency and severity of anxiety symptoms, balance hormones and your gastrointestinal health.

Pathology Testing  Dependent on your individual circumstances blood pathology testing will be recommended. Checking cortisol and DHEA, TSH (along with other thyroid parametres), sex hormones, parasites, bacterial overload, liver function tests, vitamin D and full blood count are some that may be necessary.

Functional Testing • Zinc taste test • Neurotransmitter Testing • Pyrrole Disorder • Methylation Testing • Genetic Testing • Secretory IgA • Complete Diagnostic Stool Analysis (CDSA) •Salivary hormone profile (including cortisol, DHEA, Oestradiol and progesterone) • IgG food sensitivity tests

Naturopathic Analysis Involves a comprehensive investigation into your health, Iridology, nails and tongue analysis, blood pressure and glucose testing (upon request), BMI as part of your consultation.

Dietary recommendations will always be a part of the protocol along with lifestyle suggestions if needed.  Some of the basics include:

  • Drink at least 2-3 litres of water each day
  • Omega-3 high anti-inflammatory foods including salmon, sardines, chia seeds.
  • Healthy Fats – including olive oil, coconut and unprocessed organic avocado or macadamia nut oils
  • Pile on the green leafy vegetables which help with methylation and improves neurotransmitter function indirectly.
  • Eat small meals regularly with quality protein helps to maintain and regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Delete and omit unrefined sugars, alcohol, fried foods, carbohydrates with a high glycemic rating as these are broken down quickly in the body and do not sustain.

Stress Management  This is an integral part of reducing and managing symptoms. Deep breathing and meditation are recommended. Massage and body therapies need to be considered. Taking a bath with essential oils or walking in nature are excellent to relax and nurture you.  Tai Chi and yoga can also be beneficial as they stretch and release unwanted stress from the joints.  Counselling or hypnotherapy can be useful to assist with self-esteem and to learn coping skills.

More information

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636:

Black Dog Institute:

Lifeline 13 11 14:

To make an appointment with Karen phone 0400836254 or email

Gaining Health Naturally Naturopathy Brisbane, Sunshine Coast Qld

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