Anxiety levels are increasing everywhere as 21st century life gets more and more stressful.
It’s not surprising that we get anxious from time to time – after all, we live in a world of conflict, pandemic, financial crisis and social fragmentation.
It can be all too easy to put anxiety down to “the times we live in”, assume “it’s all in my head” and “push through”.
However chronic anxiety that comes and stays for months (and even years) is a different beast – and one worth investigating with a trusted health expert.
Why? So you can make sure your anxiety ISN’T a symptom of something deeper. Ongoing, chronic anxiety can be a symptom of:
- An underlying neuro diversity issue – it’s very common for those with high-functioning ASD or ADHD to be constantly anxious and depressed. They’re just wired differently.
- The development of dementia in older people.
- Heavy metal poisoning – from lead paint in old houses or pollution in mining areas.
- Food intolerances, sensitivity, and allergies.
- Insomnia and sleep hygiene problems.
- Environmental overload from toxins like VOCs (paints, thinners, spirits) and moulds.
- Coeliac disease in its early stages.
- Underlying health conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, diabetes, adrenal dysfunction and hyperthyroidism.
- Dietary shortcomings, such as B vitamin deficiencies.
- Underlying trauma and PTSD.
You need to rule OUT these lesser-known causes of anxiety.
Anxiety is NEVER “all in your head”
Even if it is your thinking patterns that are behind your Anxiety, it’s a whole-of-body health issue. The impact of chronic anxiety on your body will increase the stress chemicals in your system, increasing your risk of disease and limiting your ability to live your life well.
It’s really important to find ways to manage your anxiety so that it doesn’t rule your life.
Your doctor may not have a lot of anxiety options
The training and the time constraints ruling the modern medical approach to mental health means that your GP may not be able to:
- Do the detailed detective work necessary to rule out underlying health issues.
- Guide you through the wide range of Anxiety management options available today.
That doesn’t mean you don’t have options – even in a time where accessing mainstream mental health support means 1-2 year waiting lists and expensive psychology sessions.
Today offers a rich smorgasbord of anxiety management approaches
There are many less-known approaches to anxiety management that can make a big difference to the quality of your life. These include:
EFT and tapping
This involves ‘tapping ‘ on meridian end points on places mainly on your face and hands while verbalising specific concerns or feelings in your emotions or body. I’ve found this technique to be very effective to do by yourself especially after guidance from an experienced practitioner like myself.
An Australian Psychologist – Dr Peta Stapleton – has done some excellent research consolidating the growing evidence on the efficacy and reliability of EFT. This technique can help to rewire your brain patterns to achieve greater calm and less anxiety.
There’s an increasing range of resources you can access – making sure they’re from qualified experts.
One of my patients has found Dr Stephanie Dowrick’s (PhD) recently published book Your Name is Not Anxious: A very personal guide to putting anxiety in its place to be a valuable resource to bring awareness to her habitual thinking patterns and their sources.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
This can be valuable when guided by a qualified Psychologist. This technique can help unpack how your thoughts may impact your emotional reality. Unravelling your thoughts and practising new ways of thinking can positively impact your experience of living.
Naturopathy and herbal medicine
As a Naturopath, I take a whole-person approach to managing anxiety. It starts with detailed “health detectiving” – doing the investigation required to rule out (or identify) any underlying causes behind your anxiety.
Often this reveals underlying issues such as allergies, insomnia or poor nutrition – issues that can be “treated” by straightforward lifestyle changes. For example, adopting an anti-inflammatory diet where you eat a whole rainbow of foods that regulate the body and the nervous system.
(Here’s a useful article summarising The Food and Mood Connection and introducing the work of nutritional biochemist Dr Elizabeth Steels.)
Other nutritional remedies that can make a difference – when matched to your specific needs – include:
- Magnesium, calcium and potassium – in the correct combination for you.
- B vitamins
- L-theanine (from green tea)
- Omega -3 fatty acids (fish oils)
Time-tested adaptogenic herbal remedies can work well – remedies that support your nervous system and help to balance and nourish it. They work by helping your body systems to manage themselves better – instead of interfering with specific system functions like many pharmaceuticals. These include:
- The herb Withania somnifera, also known as Ashwagandha – which is commonly used in Ayurveda and other traditional medicine systems.
- Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) which has well-documented therapeutic properties and can be used as a tincture on its own or in combination with valerian.
Today, research is increasingly confirming that herbal and other remedies can help to regulate brain neuro-transmitters and calm the inflammation of your nervous system.
There’s also increasing evidence that inadequate minerals such as magnesium, sodium and potassium are a problem – so supplements can be very effective. They can help regulate sleep cycles and other metabolic functions.
Sleep disorders have become increasingly common in our artificially lit, increasingly screen-based world. Regulating the cycle of your day – and meeting your body’s needs for morning sunlight, evening darkness and exercise can be enormously beneficial.
Don’t just endure anxiety!
Not only is it a miserable way to live, but it’s bad for your health (and it could be signalling a deeper health issue)!
If you’ve felt anxious and depressed for more than 3 months without a specific, identifiable cause then talk to your friendly neighborhood Naturopath about ways to treat it.
Get in touch through my Contact Page for expert advice on ways to improve your health and happiness.