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Considering Our Anxious Minds Moving Into Fall

Symptoms

A shocking number of people live with anxiety, with it being the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric condition, and twice as common in women than men. While fear is meant to keep us safe, a persistent state of worry can be detrimental to our health and well-being. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive, persistent worrying which is hard to control. Psychological and physical symptoms of anxiety together cause significant personal distress and impairment of everyday functioning. Symptoms of anxiety include feeling restless, or on edge, mind blanking, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance. Anxiety can fluctuate in severity over a person’s life. Seasonal change is a common trigger for mood shifts. After summer, the fall tends to bring busy schedules or increased stressed for many.

The Imitators of Anxiety

Intake of caffeine should always be limited or avoided in people with anxiety. High caffeine intake can cause symptoms that are equivalent to anxiety such as increased heart rate, nervousness, irritability, insomnia and palpitations. Furthermore, people who suffer from anxiety report increased sensitivity to caffeine.

When blood sugars fall, also known as reactive hypoglycemia, our body sends out an internal state of stress by releasing epinephrine and norepinephrine. After long term stress, our bodies are more susceptible to reactive hypoglycemia which manifests as anxiety, palpitations, shakiness, sweating, irritability, and hunger. Balancing blood sugars throughout the day is essential to improving symptoms of anxiety.

When experiencing anxiety, it is important to rule out its cause by other health conditions such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, gut inflammation, a disregulated cortisol rhythm, and imbalanced sex hormones which can investigated through a complete health history, physical exam, and laboratory testing.

Treatment

While addressing each individual’s root cause of anxiety is imperative, there are many treatments available to help get you by.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be equally effective as pharmaceutical interventions. This can be implemented through clinical counseling, workbooks, or free programs such as the Bounce Back program offered through the British Columbia division of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

3 Anxiety Rescue Supplements

Lavender- Lavandula angustifolia has come head to head in clinical trials for the treatment of anxiety to that of Lorazepam, yet it is not habit forming and is well tolerated. It is available in capsule form at a recommended dosage of 80 mg per day with food.

Magnesium glycinate - A deficiency in this mineral can cause anxiety and decreased stress tolerance. I recommend 200—300 mg twice a day with food, or a one time dose one hour before bedtime if you find yourself getting sleepy with supplementation.

Phosphatidylserine- This supplement has been shown to reduce anxiety by decreasing cortisol levels in those with high stress. It also has the side benefit of increasing concentration and cognition. PS has a large dosage range from 200-800 mg a day taken with food.

When having a particular tough day, I always like to recommend a gentle hike in nature, or a hot bath and warm cup of calming herbal tea.

Elizabeth Miller,BScN,ND

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