There are many things that can contribute to feelings of anxiety other than the stresses of our lives. In fact we can present with symptoms of anxiety even when external stress appears to be low. So why might that be?
Did you know that symptoms of magnesium deficiency can result in feelings of anxiety,
fatigue and irritability? Magnesium reduces epinephrine and nor- epinephrine synthesis and release, in fact even mild Magnesium deficiency can increase your susceptibility to various types of neurological and psychological stressors. In clinical practice this is the one we take very seriously as deficiency is so common and stress is a cause of depletion. Symptoms of deficiency are twitchy eyes, restless legs, headaches, insomnia. palpitations, arrhythmias and anxiety. We use different types of magnesium and varying doses so it is always best to check with us to identify the best option for you. We can also test red blood cell magnesium although symptoms are a significant clue.
Omega 3, particularly DHA is essential for brain health. Our brain is made up of 60% fats
and studies have shown that low levels of omega 3 fatty acids can manifest as symptoms of anxiety. Omega 3 fatty acids are neuroprotective and are effective in stabilising mood. Again deficiencies are extremely common since oily fish is the main source os this essential fatty acid. We also get some in flax seeds, chia and walnuts.
Hormonal imbalances particularly low levels of progesterone, our natural antidepressant can cause symptoms of anxiety. Progesterone has a calming effect on the brain and stimulates the brain’s GABA receptors, the feel-good, calming neurotransmitters. If you have oestrogen dominance (symptoms being PMS, heavy periods, cramping, cystic breasts, fibroids) progesterone may be low and contributing to anxiety. Progesterone is commonly low in PCOS and at the start of menopause. Dietary factors such as magnesium, B6, omega 3 and other healthy fats can help boost progesterone as can managing stress.
Our thyroid is also important, the thyroid hormone T3 affects the ways that serotonin and
noradrenaline work. These are two very important neurotransmitters involved in how we feel. Often under diagnosed and poorly managed thyroid health can be behind anxiety symptoms. Testing involves a comprehensive test to include antibodies to properly assess thyroid status. This is something we offer routinely in our clinical practice.
Symptoms of poor blood sugar regulation have been shown to create symptoms such as
irritability, anxiety, and worry. When your blood sugar levels drop, your body produces
epinephrine (adrenaline),and cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormones that tells your liver to
make more glucose (blood sugar). This raises stress hormones that can cause symptoms of anxiety and mood swings. Blood sugar level drops don't just occur from missing meals but also from higher sugar foods from refined carbohydrates, cakes, so called healthy protein bars, fizzy drinks and processed foods.
Histamine is not just needed to modulate the immune response and inflammation, but it also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. Excess production of histamine or the inability to break down histamine can interfere with the neuromodulatory system contributing to anxiety symptoms. High histamine can contribute to sweating, insomnia, period pain, migraine, hives and more.
Did you know that our gut microbiome has an impact on the production of mood-promoting and calming compounds including serotonin, dopamine and GABA. The microbiome also communicates with the brain using the vagus nerve. The microbiome affects the activity of the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the main component of the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to regulate many critical systems within the body including mood. We also know that Inflammation within the body can interfere with this communication and contribute to anxiety.
Gut microbiome imbalances can lead to increased inflammation leaving the gut wall
vulnerable to structural damage which can often lead to an immune response resulting in
food intolerances creating more inflammation with studies showing that low grade
inflammation/chronic inflammation and food intolerances causing symptoms of anxiety. This is something we see very commonly in practice.
Nutrient deficiencies such as low B Vitamins can cause symptoms of anxiety. Vitamin B12 is important for red blood cell production, nerve functioning, and DNA production, all of which are related to our moods. Vitamin B6 helps the body produce a specific chemical messenger that inhibits impulses in the brain, which can have a calming effect. Low B vitamins can disrupt the nervous system as well as the circulatory system.
Anxiety sufferers may be dealing with a range of the above and this can lead to treatment resistance from standard approaches as we are shooting at the wrong target. Understanding and uncovering any physiological imbalance is critical to full recovery and management.
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