Anxiety can be an appropriate or inappropriate response to threats of many types. An appropriate response would be to become anxious regarding threatening circumstances (physical, emotional, financial threats). In this case, taking immediate action to reduce the threat would be appropriate. If the threat is going to be prolonged and can not be changed, then how the threat is viewed must be changed to reduce the likely mental and health consequences.
Simple anxiety commonly results from chronic stress. Mental health professionals speak of "anxiety disorders", of which there are multiple types - Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Obsessive-compulsive Disorder, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Agoraphobia, Social Anxiety - to mention a few. In addition to anxiety, other psychological or physical symptoms can be experienced.
People with social anxiety disorder do not believe that their anxiety is related to a medical or physical illness or disease. This type of anxiety occurs in most social situations, especially when the person feels on display or is the center of attention.
People with panic believe very strongly that the "panic attack" they experienced means that something is physically wrong with them. People with panic disorder can be checked, rechecked, and repeatedly use the hospital emergency rooms before it ever becomes clear to them that they are legitimately suffering from anxiety, and not a physical, medical condition.
The central point is that people who experience panic attacks fear that they have a physical, medical disease.
Psychological symptoms associated with anxiety may include overwhelming worry, apprehension, nervousness and a nagging uneasiness about the future. Physical symptoms can include rapid heartbeat and palpitations, sweating, dizziness, headaches, insomnia and relentless fatigue. The set of symptoms that an individual experiences helps physicians diagnose their specific disorder. Anxiety disorders, like depression, may run in families and be linked to an imbalance in neurotransmitters. Anxiety symptoms are often relieved when the depression is successfully treated.
If anxiety is disproportional to life's circumstances and there are no obvious underlying reasons for the it, psychological and biochemical disturbances should be investigated. Alternative medicine has a lot to offer in this respect, common recommendations including avoiding caffeine, sugar and alcohol. Hidden food allergies may be a contributing factor or cause.
Nutrients such as calcium and magnesium, B vitamins, niacinamide, B12 injections (especially if stomach acid production is insufficient), tryptophan with inositol and chromium, valerian root, and GABA can have a calming effect.
In people with chronic anxiety unrelated to life events, an injection of sodium lactate will trigger a panic attack. Eating a lot of foods high in refined sugar increases blood lactate levels and can induce panic in susceptible persons. Eliminating caffeine and alcohol and refined sugars from the diet is essential for anyone suffering from anxiety.
Facing your fears may be the best way to deal with them. "Children who are not cured of their phobias run a great risk of developing other areas of anxiety later on. It's therefore important to find effective forms of treatment that can reduce this risk. The method we have now tested also functions for other types of phobias," says Lena Reuterskiöld.
In a one-session treatment the children, together with their therapist, gradually approach what they are afraid of in a controlled and planned manner. The therapist describes and carefully demonstrates before the child is allowed to try. Because the children remain in the anxiety-inducing situation, they can experience how their anxiety and fear abates and how the expected catastrophe in fact does not occur. With the patient remaining in the situation for an extended period, without running away, new learning occurs, producing a development toward a new behavior. This is all done on a voluntary basis, which is also a precondition for successful treatment.
"One-session treatment has also proven to be effective over time. Adults who have been treated with this method have been able to notice the effects of the treatment more than a year after the session. And nothing indicates that the effect would taper off sooner in children, which we assume will soon be confirmed by a follow-up study," says Lena Reuterskiöld.
Besides the time aspect, the treatment offers other positive consequences.
"In cases where there anxiety problems of another kind than that targeted by the treatment, they too were alleviated in connection with a one-session treatment. This seems to indicate that the children take with them the knowledge they attain from this brief intervention and apply it to other problem areas," says Lena Reuterskiöld.
|Amino Acid / Protein|| Tryptophan / 5 HTP
| ||Tryptophan (or 5-HTP), the precursor of the sleep-inducing neurotransmitter serotonin, also has relaxing and calming effects. Serotonin levels are often low among people with anxiety disorders. A recent study found that 44% of alcoholics suffer from anxiety. You can be pretty sure that you are low on tryptophan if you have ever blacked out from drinking. It has been established that low tryptophan stores trigger blackouts.|
A combination product called Amoryn contains St. John's Wort, 5HTP, and small amounts of B6, B12 and folic acid. This product may help with anxiety.
| ||To produce enough GABA, people need an abundant supply of the amino acid glutamine - glutamine is the nutritional precursor of GABA which has an antianxiety effect. [Acta Paediatr Jpn Oversea Ed (Tokyo) 20(1978): pp.11-23] In another study, people taking glutamine showed significant reductions in their feelings of anger and fatigue. [Rogers, et. al., Effects of Glutamine on IQ, Tex. Rep. Biol. Med. 5]|
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid)
| ||GABA has a powerful calming effect on the brain. Tranquilizers like Valium and Librium work by stimulating the brain's receptors for GABA. GABA inhibits anxiety by slowing down anxiety related messages between parts of the brain. Because GABA receptors reside throughout the body, as well as in the brain, GABA can have both a mentally and physically calming effect. When children are deficient in GABA, they often feel the same anxiety and restlessness that makes adults drink, crave sweets or succumb to food binges. In children, though, this anxiety and restlessness is often labeled as Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD. [Control Hyperactivity A.D.D. Naturally, by B.J. Sahely, Ph.D., C.N.C, p.46-47]|
Because GABA is known to play a central role in anxiety, some alternative practitioners suggest simply taking this amino acid as a supplement. However, no scientific evidence suggests that orally ingested GABA crosses the blood brain barrior (BBB).
Valerian Root (Valeriana officinalis)
| ||Kava seems to be as effective as the class of synthetic pharmaceuticals called benzodiazepenes (such as Valium) for treating anxiety, but without their dangerous side effects of sedation and addiction. Only about 2% of patients taking kava reported minor side effects, predominantly gastrointestinal complaints, skin reaction, headache and photosensitivity. Other research has shown that kavapyrones act on receptors in the hippocampus and amygdala complexes in the brain to produce measurable changes in brain wave activity and reduce anxieity. [Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology 2000 Feb;20(1): pp.84-9]|
Frankincense (Boswellia carteri)
| ||Frankincense oil can help to fortify a mind burdened with mental anxiety, nervous tension or stress. It reduces anxiety and helps revitalize the mind when a person is mentally exhausted.|
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
| ||Treatment with a passionflower extract over a one month period compared favorably to oxazepam (Serax - an antianxiety benzodiazepine drug) in a randomized, double-blind study of 36 outpatients diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. Passionflower extract demonstrated a slower onset of action and less impairment of job performance than oxazepam.[J Clin Pharm Ther 2001;26(5): pp.363-367]|
Sugars Avoidance / Reduction
| ||Fasting has been repeatedly observed to alleviate anxiety and neuroses by improved brain functioning.|
| ||Caffeine can cause adrenal insufficiency which in turn can lead to anxiety.|
Artificial Sweetener Avoidance
Conventional Drugs / Information
| ||Anxiety is a condition that results from not dealing successfully with the core issues of life. Anxiety is something that man was not meant to experience, but because of wrong choices, can become a reality. If this symptom can not be dealt with at its cause, then one can look at chemical solutions, keeping in mind that is only palliative.|
HealthCentral has a list of many of the common drugs used to treat anxiety.
| ||GHB’s efficacy for treating anxiety has been positively demonstrated in tests involving schizophrenic subjects (Laborit, 1964). Its sedative properties have earned it a role as a psychotherapeutic adjunct (Vickers, 1969). It has also been used to assist the process of “abreaction,” or the release (usually through verbalization) of repressed emotion (Vickers, 1969). Unlike other “anxiolytic” (or anti-anxiety) drugs, GHB’s effect is non-toxic. Furthermore, GHB’s reduction of inhibitions, its tendency to encourage verbalization, and the typical lack of fear during the GHB experience would seem to provide an ideal context for the verbal exploration of difficult emotional territory during therapy.|
| ||Twenty-four healthy volunteers (12 males, 12 females) were subjected to Psychometric tests to evaluate anxiety evolution in a moderate stress situation, with or without consumption of the De-Stress hydrolysate for 15 days. A comparative, randomized double-blind design involving 3 parallel groups was employed. Also included were tests for Systolic Blood Pressure, Diastolic Blood Pressure, heart rate, AUC (area under the curve), Cmax (max. value), Dmax (max. increase) and salivary cortisol levels. Following the saliva stress tests, volunteers with a high anxiety level as a stable disposition had a slower increase of their global anxiety-state score when they received the hydrolysate.|
| ||Exercise is one of the most important coping mechanisms to combat anxiety and stress. By discharging negative emotions and stress hormones through physical activity, you can enter a more relaxed state from which to deal with the issues and conflicts that are causing your anxiety. |
The benefits of exercise can come from many directions: the decision to take up exercise, the symbolic meaning of the activity, the distraction from worries, mastering your inertia and the effects on self-image, and the biochemical and physiological changes that accompany the activity.
Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, releases hormones, stimulates the nervous system, and increases levels of morphine-like substances found in the body (such as beta-endorphin) that can have a positive effect on mood and pain. Exercise may trigger a neurophysiological high that produces an antidepressant effect in some, an antianxiety effect in others, and a general sense of "feeling better" in most.
Test for Food Allergies
| ||Because of its nerve and muscle support, magnesium may also be helpful for nervousness and anxiety.|
Magnesium is considered the "antistress" mineral. It is a natural tranquilizer as it functions to relax skeletal muscles as well as the smooth muscles of blood vessels and the gastrointestinal tract. Whereas calcium stimulates muscle contraction, magnesium relaxes them.
Lithium (low dose)
| ||See the link between Depression and Lithium.|
| ||Inositol works by regulating the action of serotonin, a calming neurotransmitter, within the nerve cells.|
| ||DMAE alleviates anxiety. In one study, subjects administered 1,200mg of DMAE per day for 5 days exhibited better control of anxious reactivity.|
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
| ||32 subjects underwent ear acupuncture using relaxation, tranquilizer and master cerebral points on the ear. There was a greater reduction in anxiety in the ear acupuncture group compared with the other two groups (one receiving conventional acupuncture and one control. [Anesth Analg 2001;93; pp.1178-1180]|
Acupuncture has been successfully used to treat general feelings of anxiety, stress, migraines, insomnia and even nervous ticks.
Vitamin B Complex
| ||Several of the B-vitamins are indicated in anxiety treatment. When taking high doses of a particular B-vitamin, it is best to use a B-complex as well.|
| ||The textbook description of anxiety neurosis exactly matches the symptoms of vitamin B3 (niacin) deficiency: hyperactivity, depression, fatigue, apprehension, headache, and insomnia. It has been shown in animals to work in the brain in ways similar to drugs such as benzodiazepines (Valium-type drugs) that are used to treat anxiety. One study found that niacinamide (not niacin) could help people get through withdrawal from benzodiazepines, which is a common problem. A reasonable amount of niacinamide to take for anxiety, according to some doctors, is up to 500mg four times per day.|
Niacinamide locks onto the same receptor sites in the brain as do tranquilizers such as Valium, and is a natural tranquilizer. The manufacturer of valium is also the worlds largest manufacturer of niacinamide. [Nature 278: pp.563-65,1979]
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamine)
| ||Low B12 levels have been found to be related to self-reported overall distress level and specifically to depression, anxiety, confusion, and possibly nervousness as well as to clinically rated depressed and anxious mood. |
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
| ||A deficiency of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) causes extreme anxiety, nervousness, confusion, and melancholy. Vitamin B6 is easily destroyed by heavy use of alcohol, drugs and refined sugars.|| |
Adrenal Insufficiency: Also known as Adrenal Exhaustion or Low Adrenal Function, this is a condition where the adrenal gland is compromised in its production of epinephrine, norepinephrine, cortisol, corticosterone or aldosterone. Symptoms include primarily fatigue, weakness, decreased appetite with ensuing weight loss, as well as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation, or increased pigmentation of the skin. Cortical insufficiency (low or no corticosteroids) produces a more serious condition called Addison’s Disease, characterized by extreme weakness, low blood pressure, pigmentation of the skin, shock or even death.
Allergy: Hypersensitivity caused by exposure to a particular antigen (allergen), resulting in an increased reactivity to that antigen on subsequent exposure, sometimes with harmful immunologic consequences.
Anxiety: Apprehension of danger, or dread, accompanied by nervous restlessness, tension, increased heart rate, and shortness of breath unrelated to a clearly identifiable stimulus.
Atherosclerosis: Common form of arteriosclerosis associated with the formation of atheromas which are deposits of yellow plaques containing cholesterol, lipids, and lipophages within the intima and inner media of arteries. This results in a narrowing of the arteries, which reduces the blood and oxygen flow to the heart and brain as well as to other parts of the body and can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or loss of function or gangrene of other tissues.
Calcium: The body's most abundant mineral. Its primary function is to help build and maintain bones and teeth. Calcium is also important to heart health, nerves, muscles and skin. Calcium helps control blood acid-alkaline balance, plays a role in cell division, muscle growth and iron utilization, activates certain enzymes, and helps transport nutrients through cell membranes. Calcium also forms a cellular cement called ground substance that helps hold cells and tissues together.
Cancer: Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.
Chromium: Chromium is a mineral that becomes a part of the glucose tolerance factor (GTF). Chromium aids in insulin utilization and blood sugar control. By controlling blood sugar, chromium helps prevent the damage caused by glucose, which is called glycation. Chromium helps maintain normal cholesterol levels and improves high-density lipoprotein levels. Chromium is also important in building muscle and reducing obesity.
Chronic: Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.
Cobalamin: Vitamin B-12. Essential for normal growth and functioning of all body cells, especially those of bone marrow (red blood cell formation), gastrointestinal tract and nervous system, it prevents pernicious anemia and plays a crucial part in the reproduction of every cell of the body i.e. synthesis of genetic material (DNA).
Constipation: Difficult, incomplete, or infrequent evacuation of dry, hardened feces from the bowels.
Fibromyalgia: (FMS): Originally named fibrositis, it is a mysteriously debilitating syndrome that attacks women more often than men. It is not physically damaging to the body in any way, but is characterized by the constant presence of widespread pain that often moves about the body. Fibromyalgia can be so severe that it is often incapacitating.
GABA: The amino-acid derivative GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) is a calming substance. Tranquilizers like Valium and Librium owe their soothing effects to the fact that they stimulate GABA receptors in the brain.
Inositol: Usually considered part of the vitamin B complex. It is thought that along with choline, inositol is necessary for the formation of lecithin within the body. Involved in calcium mobilization.
Magnesium: An essential mineral. The chief function of magnesium is to activate certain enzymes, especially those related to carbohydrate metabolism. Another role is to maintain the electrical potential across nerve and muscle membranes. It is essential for proper heartbeat and nerve transmission. Magnesium controls many cellular functions. It is involved in protein formation, DNA production and function and in the storage and release of energy in ATP. Magnesium is closely related to calcium and phosphorus in body function. The average adult body contains approximately one ounce of magnesium. It is the fifth mineral in abundance within the body--behind calcium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. Although about 70 percent of the body's magnesium is contained in the teeth and bones, its most important functions are carried out by the remainder which is present in the cells of the soft tissues and in the fluid surrounding those cells.
Neurotransmitters: Chemicals in the brain that aid in the transmission of nerve impulses. Various Neurotransmitters are responsible for different functions including controlling mood and muscle movement and inhibiting or causing the sensation of pain.
Niacin: (Vitamin B-3): A coenzyme B-complex vitamin that assists in the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Essential for the health of the skin, nerves, tongue and digestive system. It is found in every cell of the body and is necessary for energy production. Niacin is also needed for DNA formation.
Obsessive-Compulsive: People with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) have obsessions and/or compulsions. Obsessions refer to recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are intrusive and cause severe anxiety or distress. Compulsions refer to repetitive behaviors and rituals (such as hand washing, hoarding, ordering, checking) or mental acts (like counting, repeating words silently, avoiding). These obsessions and compulsions significantly interfere with normal routine, functioning, social activities and relationships.
Panic Attack: A brief, irrational episode of fear that is perceived as so real that an individual may be driven to escape from the place or situation where it occurs. The attack is sudden and increases in severity until it leaves, usually within ten minutes. Panic attack symptoms are numerous and involve both mental and physical signs and symptoms. A panic attack can occur in other anxiety states such as agoraphobia and with certain activities and places. It may occur spontaneously without an apparent cause.
Panic Disorder: A condition whereby an affected individual has recurrent and unexpected panic attacks and worries a great deal of the time about having another. The individual may also have persistent concern or fear that a panic attack might cause unrelated health problems or a demonstrable change in usual behavior. The symptoms of panic disorder must be present for at least one month to confirm the diagnosis.
Pyroluria: This condition is caused by an overproduction during hemoglobin synthesis of kryptopyrrole, which chemically combines with vitamin B6 and zinc, resulting in their excretion and a severe deficiency of both of these essential nutrients. Most pyroluric individuals never develop
Refined Sugar: The term 'refined sugar' includes not only the “sugar” listed in ingredient listings, but also brown sugar, glucose, fructose and dextrose. Obvious sources include jams and jellies; hidden sources are often mayonnaise, ketchup, salad dressings and other condiments.
Serotonin: A phenolic amine neurotransmitter (C10H12N2O) that is a powerful vasoconstrictor and is found especially in the brain, blood serum and gastric membranes of mammals. Considered essential for relaxation, sleep, and concentration.
Sodium: An essential mineral that our bodies regulate and conserve. Excess sodium retention increases the fluid volume (edema) and low sodium leads to less fluid and relative dehydration. The adult body averages a total content of over 100 grams of sodium, of which a surprising one-third is in bone. A small amount of sodium does get into cell interiors, but this represents only about ten percent of the body content. The remaining 57 percent or so of the body sodium content is in the fluid immediately surrounding the cells, where it is the major cation (positive ion). The role of sodium in the extracellular fluid is maintaining osmotic equilibrium (the proper difference in ions dissolved in the fluids inside and outside the cell) and extracellular fluid volume. Sodium is also involved in nerve impulse transmission, muscle tone and nutrient transport. All of these functions are interrelated with potassium.
Stomach: A hollow, muscular, J-shaped pouch located in the upper part of the abdomen to the left of the midline. The upper end (fundus) is large and dome-shaped; the area just below the fundus is called the body of the stomach. The fundus and the body are often referred to as the cardiac portion of the stomach. The lower (pyloric) portion curves downward and to the right and includes the antrum and the pylorus. The function of the stomach is to begin digestion by physically breaking down food received from the esophagus. The tissues of the stomach wall are composed of three types of muscle fibers: circular, longitudinal and oblique. These fibers create structural elasticity and contractibility, both of which are needed for digestion. The stomach mucosa contains cells which secrete hydrochloric acid and this in turn activates the other gastric enzymes pepsin and rennin. To protect itself from being destroyed by its own enzymes, the stomach’s mucous lining must constantly regenerate itself.
Tryptophan: Essential amino acid. Natural relaxant and sleep aid due to its precursor role in serotonin (a neurotransmitter) synthesis. Along with tyrosine, it is used in the treatment of addictions.
Vitamin B6: Influences many body functions including regulating blood glucose levels, manufacturing hemoglobin and aiding the utilization of protein, carbohydrates and fats. It also aids in the function of the nervous system.
Zinc: An essential trace mineral. The functions of zinc are enzymatic. There are over 70 metalloenzymes known to require zinc for their functions. The main biochemicals in which zinc has been found to be necessary include: enzymes and enzymatic function, protein synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism. Zinc is a constituent of insulin and male reproductive fluid. Zinc is necessary for the proper metabolism of alcohol, to get rid of the lactic acid that builds up in working muscles and to transfer it to the lungs. Zinc is involved in the health of the immune system, assists vitamin A utilization and is involved in the formation of bone and teeth.