This would appear a simple question to anyone experiencing it. However, it is important to realize that anxiety is more than simply being mentally stressed at a challenge. It is a heightened state of mind and body beyond that which is necessary to address the problem at hand. Thus anxiety includes not only agitation, nervousness, sleeplessness, an inability to concentrate and panic attacks, it also may involve appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, excess muscle tension, weight loss (although a subset of people instead gain weight – approximately 30%) and so forth. Thus a variety of symptoms may eventuate as the mind remains unsettled, predominantly due to the flood of hormonal changes that occur due to prolonged adrenal activity.
How does Anxiety relate to Adrenal Exhaustion and Depression?
The initial adjustment to stress occurs through an increase in neurological and adrenal gland activity. However, when stress is prolonged the initial adrenal gland excitement is ‘burnt out’ and over time subsides into a state of exhaustion (see Adrenal Exhaustion). Similarly, continued psychological pressure may slowly transform Anxiety into Depression. This may also occur physiologically as neurotransmitter changes lead to an organic component to the process of Chronic Depression.
Will Anxiety affect my overall Health?
Acute stress can be the trigger for many medical deteriorations including Heart Attacks, blood sugar swings in Diabetics, the development of Gastrointestinal Dysfunctions and so forth. Over the long term, where Anxiety develops into Adrenal Exhaustion and/or Depression, further deterioration in chronic diseases are likely.
So Anxiety should be Treated as early as Possible?
Exactly. You wlll need to learn to effectively address your challenges and, whether this is possible or not, deal with stress and anxiety in a healthy manner through many of the processes dscussed in this section.
What may cause Anxiety?
The causes of Anxiety are multi-factorial in nature, spanning the entire range of human experience.
They may include:
Genetic predisposition leading to Organic Anxiety.
High stimulant diet Nutritional or biochemical imbalances
A nervous temperament
Poor coping skills in general
Past psychological trauma (whether it is remembered or not)
A specific medical condition leading to psychological and physiological risk of anxiety
A specific relationship, occupational or financial crisis A loss of meaning and connectivity to life (Spiritual Crisis)
Any combination of the above
What types of Food may increase Anxiety?
Many foods can initiate the short term stress response. For this reason you should consider undertaking a Low Stimulant Healthy Eating Plan. If you have any suspicion that foods unrestricted on this diet may contribute to your Anxiety, consider under taking a Food Elimination Regime instead.
Are there nutritional approaches if I have Anxiety?
Many of the brain’s neurotransmitters are derived from amino acids through bioconversion in the body. These may be imbalanced if you suffer from severe anxiety. Thus amino acids such as Tryptophan, Tyrosine, Phenylalanine, Cysteine, Glutamine, etc in combination with supportive nutrients can be used to good effect in attempting to achieve a healthier neurotransmitter balance in the brain. These are usually tailor-made under carefully constructed programmes.
These personalised supplementats may be provided by compounding chemists, although it is not essential. Therefore, given the complexity of these approaches, they should always be managed by an integrated medical practitioner trained in such prescriptions (experienced Doctor, naturopath, nutritionist), always respecting whether you are simultaneously on any pharmaceutical medication.
Specialist training in this area has been provided by organisations such as:
The Bill Walsh Institute
The Pfeiffer Institute
Will any other Nutritional Supplements assist with Anxiety?
The amino acid, Tyrosine, is also important in the creation of adrenaline (epinephrine) and is therefore a key nutrient in supporting you during Anxiety to prevent progression to Adrenal Exhaustion.
Fish Oils may help prevent Anxiety progressing to Adrenal Exhaustion. It appears that the DHA componenet is the most likely factor in this benefit and a concentrated DHA formula may be advised.
The B Group family (including Folate and B12) with Magnesium (chelated form) are also required for adrenal gland function and energy metabolism at the cellular level. Additional cofactors that improve the function of B Group vitamins and Magnsium include the amino acid, taurine, and malic acid.
Calcium is also important and needs to be balanced with any increased nutrient intake, hence the need for a quality B comples-Magnesium-Calcium formula.
Vitamin C is also depleted by the acute stress response and may need to be supplemented for to reduce the risk of stress associated immune suppression.
A broad based multivitamin is also encouraged due to general nutrient depletion during stress.
What about Herbs for Anxiety?
Various herbal formulas may be of benefit during acute anxiety. Ginseng and Gingko Biloba may be of value in supporting the adrenal glands during Anxiety.
Bupleurum is a Traditional Chinese Medicine herb that may be recommended by a practitioner for Anxiety and may help to balance calming brain neurotransmitters (GABA).
Combined formulas containing Magnolia officianus and Phellodendron amurense have been studied and demonstrated to reduce Anxiety and improve sleep patterns in people experiencing stress.
If you have become exhausted and overwhelmed by Anxiety to the stage of Adrenal Exhaustion you should discuss this issue with a practitioner.
If you are of a Nervous/ Emotional temperament, can you change?
You can always change. You need to address what is called Emotional Intelligence skills so as to learn how to cope with challenges in life maturely. Emotional Intelligence has been demonstrated to be one of the most important factors in long term health, happiness and success, so it is important to identify your weaknesses and work with them.
Does Stress Management help?
This is yet another tool that can be used. The critical key is not just to focus on decreasing the effects of stress, but to look to positive and optimistic approaches to meeting the challenge of what has caused your stress in the first place.
How about Meditation and Relaxation?
Both may help, but it depends upon your state of Anxiety. Meditation/Relaxation skills can be hard to learn for the first time when you are presently in a state of Anxiety. Still, they are worth trying and definitely should be addressed once acute Anxiety is under control. One tip is that you should begin with forms of Relaxation/Meditation that distract you away from your mind chatter such as Guided and Creative Visualisation, Spiritual Meditation, Music etc in which the mind is engaged.
In a state of Anxiety it can be very hard to still the mind with passive techniques such as Active/Passive Contract Relax, Focus on Breathing or Mindfulness techniques as they may, at first, be overwhelming. These are forms of Relaxation/Meditation that you can evolve towards as you become more skilled in the techniques.
Passion and Pleasure
Of course once you know what you want out of life it is time to set aside time every day to pursue your passions. Life is about transformation, as much from day to day living towards a life inspired, as from out of the shadows and into the light. You must give yourself time to heal and grow and this is why you must dedicate yourself to becoming passionate.
Motivation is difficult at first, particularly if the road appears steep, so you should also dedicate time (yes, more time for yourself!) to deliberately setting out to enjoy Your Self. Construct a pleasure timetable, access pleasurable activities. Work at it if you have to for it is much more important than anything else that you are happy. So in whatever small part of the day you can set aside, dedicate Your Self to pleasure as much as you dedicate to Your Self to work!
Yes, seek it. Give yourself permission. Surround yourself with laughter. Some people believe that "planned" laughter has help them to overcome major chronic diseases such as cancer as well as helping them to survive the hell of concentration camps. No apologies are made for this example, for it really does emphasise the power laughter has to help lives, through not only its psychological influence, but the sea of hormones it helps to release.
....but not while laughing; it may depress your partner! One of the four ‘F’s of the flight, fight, freeze and f...f...f....fornicate response, the physiological stress response, is sex. It, along with laughter, pleasure, passion and purpose can drive adaptationtowards postive neurotransmitter balance in order to overcome Depression.
Please note that we are here suggesting ths in a supportive relationship rather than a desperate search for affection. Unfortunately, many people find their sex drive reduced during Depression. Again, like laughter and pleasure, this may need to be "planned". Libido may be decreased, yet it can often be overcome by setting the right environment.
Yet a Hug and Shoulder may help just as much...
Support in a crisis is vital. Our friends cannot solve our problems, but they can smply be there so that you may have a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen. The key, however, is to be careful in who you choose. You do not necessarily need advice and you definitely do not require condemnation.
Aim for Life Balance
The above elements form part of the concept of Life Balance. Many people assume Life Balance simply involves balancing Life with Work, yet there is balance between non-work elements that also needs to be achieved. There are ways of setting out your life, irrespective of the balance you which to achieve, that are important, such as concepts of Life Pace, not putting too many of your eggs in one basket, life role management etc.
Relationships and Emotional Intelligence are Critical
Striving for healthy relationships s vitally important, and we need to continue to work on these relationshps even when we are happy. We should always consider the consequence of our actions not only upon ourselves, but also how they affect those with whom we have a relationship and do not wish to harm. To respect relationships we need to learn the vital skills known as Emotional Intelligence. In fact knowing how to identify our own and others' emotions, communicate with others and effective relate in a mature manner is considered one of the vital skills sets to not only success at work, but Life itself.
To err is Human, to forgive Divine!
Many people may need to seek resolution within themselves before they will ever be happy. Forgiveness does not necessarly mean a need to reassociate with the cause of your pain. You can forgive without forgetting, and resolve emotion without opening yourself up to more abuse.
Money may make You "go round"...then Down.
It may "make the world go round" but it often spins us around with it. A healthy relationship, not only to the state of your finances but to the concept of money itself, can be critical to your mental health. If money issues make you anxious, seek advice on how to manage it successfully, even if this is simply balancing your budget.
Is Spirituality Important?
Yes. However, please interpret this word in whatever meaning it has for you. The believer, the atheist and the agnostic all have a spiritual need, if we are interpreting the word to mean Connectivity with something greater than our immediate surrounds. You may be grateful to God above for this life, yet you might simply be grateful to life itself. The key here is to find...
Meaning and Purpose
For many people Anxiety is a ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ in which they are confronted with a lack of meaning or purpose, however much they have done in their live. Knowing who we are and what we want to BE rather than Do can be a major confrontation in our lives. Are you experiencing a classic mid-life crisis? Have you suddenly realised life is not all about success and security?
Part spirituality, part Life-Balance, Meaning and Purpose are essential keys to happiness and avoiding Anxiety, and the first step to achieving the former may be to simply sit down and define who you wish to BE in the future, so you can place the idea in your mind’s eye, and work towards it.
Writing a Mission Statement is a great place to start, regardless of how much of a cliché it has become. Often the person who we wish ourselves to Be is actually the person who we already are. Because of our life experiences, our natural protective defence mechanisms have caused us to build layers upon layers upon our true selves such that we have forgotten our fundamental BEING. We simply have to trust Our Selves and Remember!