27 Jun 2022

Healthy Living: When does anxiety becomes excessive?

Healthy Living:  When does  anxiety becomes excessive?

Anxiety disorders are very common. While the exact figures for Ireland are hard to calculate it is estimated that roughly one in nine people will experience an anxiety disorder                       

IT is normal to feel anxious or worried at such uncertain times as these. Everyone experiences a certain amount of nervousness and apprehension when faced with a stressful situation.
The physical changes that happen – increased heartbeat and breathing, re-focusing resources to essential organs, make us able to survive and get over those situations.
However, when anxiety becomes excessive or prolonged and begins to interfere with your sleep, your ability to perform your daily activities, reduce your energy and nutrient reserves, that's when you can say one has crossed the road from simple worry to a full force problem.
Your GP might prescribe medications which may be helpful, but only address the symptoms, while the root of the problem may lie not in your head at all!
It is always a good idea to run some tests with your GP to see if there is a more sinister obvious medical reason behind the restlessness, muscle tension, feeling a lump in your throat, excessive sweating, insomnia and so on.
Checking thyroid function, heart, reproductive hormones, cortisol levels, full blood count, Vitamin D, B12 and Folate levels can highlight issues.
If they all come back normal, I like to run further functional blood and stool tests, as certain toxins, undetected infections, subtle hormonal changes, food intolerances – any imbalances can cause the body to go into stress mode and produce anxiety symptoms. Once the underlying cause is found it may be addressed naturally or with the help of your doctor, and you will start to feel better soon.
In any case, anxiety symptoms can be reduced with a few simple dietary and lifestyle changes – and often these are enough to allow your body to heal. Avoid all sources of caffeine (coffee, tea, coke, chocolate) and other stimulants as phenylalanine, sugars, artificial sweeteners and additives. (Be aware that cutting these out may cause withdrawal symptoms for a few days.) The more natural your diet, the less likely chemicals aggravate your symptoms.
Eat at regular intervals – same time every day if possible, and include protein in every meal (and snack if you need those). The more balanced your blood sugar levels are – the less stress hormones you produce and the better you will sleep.
Certain herbal remedies are very useful (check for contraindications if you are taking any prescription medications) to help your body to cope better. Lemon Balm, L-Theanine, Rhodiola, Holy Basil, Ashwagandha, Schisandra are probably the best options. Remember, in the long run, these may also just mask the underlying issues.
Your brain has an enormous power over your body, so the right mindset is of utmost importance. Work-life balance, meditation, prayer, relaxation techniques are not just helpful, but crucial in healing stress-related health problems. Letting go of old grudges that only hurt yourself, forgiveness, gratitude and quietening the mind are great practices – for good reason.
You need body, mind and spirit to be in harmony for optimum health.

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