Is the number of differential diagnoses for anxiety (and probably an underestimate!).
This means that when someone has "anxious" symptoms, there are about 77 possibilities outside of generalized anxiety disorder that could be causing the anxious symptoms.
Anxiety has one of longest list of possible causes out of all psychiatric disorders.
That's why it's so important to get a proper work up to treat what's really going on!
A few common causes I tend to keep an eye out for include:
1.Thyroid issues: either high or low levels of thyroid hormone can impact our other hormones, as well as our mood, stress coping skills, and nervous system reactions.
2. Cortisol Imbalances: Although we mostly here about cortisol in a negative light - it is, biologically, supposed to be our protector during times of acute stress. However, prolonged stressors coupled with the standard North American lifestyle can cause high or low levels of cortisol and both can cause issues in many aspects of our health - and you guessed it, anxiety levels!
3. Medications: Many commonly prescribed medications can cause, trigger, or worsen anxiety symptoms. It's important to understand the impact your medications may be having, and optimize your health to either lessen the dose, and/or reduce the burden the drug has on your system.
4. Nutrient Deficiencies: Low Vitamin B12, low iron, low B6, low protein, low vitamin D, low vitamin C.. you get the idea! These can all anxiety producing or provoking!
5. Blood Sugar Dysregulation: Drops in blood sugar, diets higher in refined carbohydrates and sugars, poor insulin regulation can all again contribute to anxiety.
This is why it is so important to get a proper work-up. While some people do find benefit from conventional anti-anxiety medications, they often do not address these other mechanisms and reasons for anxiety. Psychotherapy and counselling can be wonderful tools as well, but if there are underlying biochemical, physical drivers of anxiety, it will be difficult to implement long lasting tools and techniques to cope with anxiety. This is why it's important to take care of yourself as a whole person, and here are some easy places to start:
Easy places to start in the meantime:
1. Eat regular (and balanced) meals! This is especially important if you're prone to blood sugar drops. Make sure to choose fibers and proteins over refined carbs, and have these types of foods on hand throughout the day. This may look like: mixed nuts, hard boiled eggs, fiber bars, protein shakes, nut butters with fruit and vegetables.
2. Add Prebiotic foods to your diet regularly. These foods help to strengthen the gut-brain connection through development of a healthy gut flora. The gut-brain connection is extremely important because our gut produces neurotransmitters, and the bacteria in the gut can regulate inflammation. Drink some kombucha, add sauerkrat to your meals, try out some miso soup before meals outside of All-you-can-eat Sushi, swap the yogurt in your shakes for kefir.
3. Try a trial elimination of sugar, alcohol, caffeine! This may be tough but it can really show you the impact these types of things are having on your nervous system & cortisol stress responses.
4. Incorporate supportive herbal teas into your regular routine. Some great ones includes: Avena, Passionflower, Glycyrrhiza, Valarian, Lemon balm, Chamomile.
**If you're trying herbs for yourself, it's best to start with teas. Tinctures [alcohol extracts of the herbs] have stronger properties. They work best when they are used for the proper reasons and indications so it's better for your health (and wallet) to have them prescribed by an ND or herbalist to make sure you're getting the right herb for your body!
Thanks for reading!
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