Anxiety is considered a normal reaction to the causes of stress, such as the demands of work or home life, juggling expenses, driving in traffic, or being confronted by an unexpected change to your day-to-day routine. Anxiety is characterized by an apprehensive mood accompanied by increased arousal and vigilance. This heightened state is stimulated by cortisol, the stress hormone.
While anxiety can be a normal reaction to stress and triggers, when it becomes overwhelming to the point that it impairs your life and your cognitive function, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. While anxiety can be debilitating when it is chronic, anxiety is a natural, beneficial response when your security is threatened.
There are five main types of anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, social phobia, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Anxiety can cause both emotional and physical symptoms, including:
- Feeling apprehensive or full of dread
- Being tense or nervous
- Restlessness or irritability
- An increased blood pressure reading
- Shortness of breath
- Sweating, tremors, and twitches
- Muscle tension
- Panic attacks
- Mood swings
If you are experiencing one or a combination of these symptoms, you should consult with a doctor or a mental health professional—you might have a physiological problem related to a malfunctioning endocrine system, meaning you are experiencing a hormonal imbalance.
What Causes Anxiety?
The reasons people might be suffering from an anxiety disorder are numerous. It might be genetics or a family history that includes mental illness or anxiety disorders.
Traumatic events or stressful incidents can cause anxiety disorders. Those who experience the death of a child, a husband or wife or have suffered abuse are susceptible to anxiety. Children, who don’t have the same coping skills or brain development as adults, are incredibly fragile. Experiencing stress or trauma at a young age can alter the way the brain and body react to stress and lead to life-long problems that can be hard to overcome, including mental health issues such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Anxiety disorders have also been linked to other factors such as:
- Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, eating disorders that can contribute to a hormonal imbalance.
- Cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy.
- A lack of iodine deficiency, which affects the way the thyroid produces hormones.
- The use and abuse of synthetic hormones such as anabolic steroids.
- Carrying too much weight increases the risk of ailments such as diabetes, heart disease, hormonal imbalances, and high blood pressure.
- Not enough exercise, especially in conjunction with an unhealthy diet can cause the endocrine system to malfunction, causing a hormonal imbalance.
- Too much cortisol in the body, caused by overwhelming or chronic stress.
- A malfunctioning thyroid.
- Difficulties with sleep.
- Perimenopause and menopause.
Vitamin, mineral, and amino acid deficiencies can also contribute to an anxiety disorder. A hormonal imbalance, particularly for women during menstruation, pregnancy, postpartum periods, and menopause are all associated with anxiety disorders.
Can Natural Supplements Relieve Anxiety?
A psychiatrist might recommend prescription drugs, such as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), to make sure you have enough serotonin in your bloodstream.
Deficient levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin have been connected to anxiety and depression.
Other medications prescribed for anxiety disorders include benzodiazepines, which work by acting on the receptor for GABA, a neurotransmitter. Sometimes practitioners may prescribe tranquilizers such as , which affect serotonin and dopamine. A doctor might also prescribe beta-blockers, which are also used as blood pressure medications.
However, these medications can have harsh side effects on the brain and body, such as addiction, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, insomnia, headaches, and loss of motor coordination, and they can disrupt everyday activities such as driving, work, and socializing.
Because of the side effects of prescription drugs, more and more patients are asking their doctors and mental health professionals about how herbs and other supplements might fit into a treatment plan for anxiety or difficulties coping with stress. Perhaps you’ve heard from family or friends about the beneficial results they get from herbs such as valerian, St. John’s wort, chamomile, or lemon balm. Many beneficial herbs belong to the Asteraceae family and are known anxiolytics, or substances that may help alleviate, prevent, or eliminate stress in humans.
While you might be concerned about the safety and efficacy of natural supplements, the benefits of natural supplements have been documented in both research and anecdotal experience when used appropriately. Based on the available evidence, it appears that nutritional and herbal supplementation may be an effective method for treating anxiety and anxiety-related conditions, often triggered by stress, with potentially less risk of serious brain or physical side effects.
What Are the Best Natural Supplements for Anxiety?
As stated above, the most common herbal supplements for anxiety are:
- Valerian root
- John’s wort
- Lemon balm
An herb is a plant or plant part used for its scent, flavor, or therapeutic properties. Herbal medicines and herbal supplements are sold as tablets, tinctures, capsules, powders, teas, extracts, and fresh or dried plants. These herbs all have documented effects on brain function that might help alleviate anxiety.
Other natural supplements that may be beneficial include:
- Ginkgo biloba
- Amino acids, such as lysine, theanine, and arginine
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Green tea
- Rhodiola rosea, sometimes called arctic root or golden root
One helpful resource on herbs and natural supplements is the herb database kept by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer.
Side effects from natural supplements are less likely when taken under the direction of a healthcare professional. However, as with any substance you ingest, too little will show no effects and too much can be harmful. Like conventional medicines, dietary supplements can trigger allergic reactions.
Many natural supplements shouldn’t be taken in combination, nor should they be taken with prescription medications, such as antidepressants, unless taken under medical supervision. Some natural supplements taken in excess can cause liver damage, among other potential complications. And professional guidance must be sought if you are pregnant or nursing.
The Importance of Taking Supplements with the Assistance of a Healthcare Professional
The support and guidance of a skilled practitioner are very important when using natural supplements to treat anxiety or any brain condition.
Because the US Food and Drug Administration does not regulate dietary supplements in the same way it regulates medicine, a dietary supplement can be sold with limited or no research on how well it works.
That is one of the major reasons why it’s vitally important that the use of natural supplements be done with the assistance of a doctor or healthcare provider. It’s also crucial to remember that just because the use of a natural supplement might be yielding a desired result, you can’t just stop using a prescribed medication without the go-ahead from your doctor.
To add to the uncertainty of how best to add supplements to your diet, not all supplements are undergo rigorous standardization during manufacturing. Because of this, the efficacy of a supplement and any possible side effects might differ between brands or even within different lots of the same brand.
Your healthcare provider might advise you that adding natural supplements and medication aren’t the only ways you can reduce stress in your life. Other methods might include:
- Exercise to release endorphins and lower cortisol levels.
- The use of lavender oil and other flower extracts in aromatherapy.
- Cutting down on caffeine.
- BodyLogicMD’s 14-day Pure Detoxification Cleanse.
- Writing in a journal.
- Spending time loved ones.
- Going to see a funny movie or a comedian; as it’s been said, laughter is the best medicine and that’s because it releases endorphins.
- Knowing when to say no when you have enough to do at work or around the house.
- Stop procrastinating.
- Yoga and meditation.
- Listening to gentle music.
- Deep breathing.
- Relaxing with a pet or taking it for a walk.
BodyLogicMD healthcare professionals are available with the expertise that can help you make choices that are right for your life. BodyLogicMD’s practitioners are discrete and offer comfort and professional advice for all health concerns connected to hormonal imbalances and aging.
Could a Hormonal Imbalance Be to Blame for Your Anxiety and Panic Attacks?
Do alleviate the symptoms of an anxiety disorder, it’s important to understand how hormones interact with each other and how they regulate bodily functions.
Studies have shown that imbalances in hormone levels are connected to a number of anxiety disorders, especially in menopausal women. Older men often experience a decrease in testosterone production, which can make anxiety worse because of the symptoms, such as erectile dysfunction, a hormone imbalance can cause.
A BodyLogicMD-affiliated practitioner can analyze your hormone balance to determine whether your hormones are contributing to your anxiety. For instance, they might examine the relationship between the stress hormone cortisol and DHEA, which is produced in the adrenal gland and is the precursor to testosterone and estrogen.
When a man or woman is under increased stress or is suffering from anxiety or panic attacks, a greater proportion of the stress hormone cortisol is made compared to DHEA. While the link isn’t entirely clear, some individuals with severe depression or those who are suffering from anxiety disorders may have lower levels of DHEA than normal.
Contact the team at BodyLogicMD today to take control of your health with evidence-based treatments and standardized supplements. In addition to evaluating your physical and mental health, BodyLogicMD professionals are standing by and ready to make lifestyle recommendations that are unique to your specific needs. With advanced training in diagnosing hormonal imbalances, they can help you decide if bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is right for you and how you can balance any treatment plan with BodyLogicMD’s line of specialized supplements.
What are you waiting for? Call today and see the remarkable change that personalized care can make in your life.