“Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.” ― Jodi Picoult
Imagine you are walking along a woodland path and suddenly find yourself between a hungry mama bear and her cubs…what do you do? Before you know it, your body has provided a response – your heart is racing, breathing is rapid and shallow, and adrenaline sends you running the other way.
This is anxiety, the innate hormonal and neurological response to a real threat. It saves us from real harm by triggering feelings of fear, uneasiness and dread. Although these sensations are considered a normal reaction to stress, it becomes problem when it interferes with daily functioning.
If you regularly feel uneasy or nervous about day to day situations, you may be suffering from anxiety – and you are not alone! Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health issues faced by the general population and are estimated to affect about 20% of Canadians. Most often anxiety disorders present in early adulthood and affect twice as many women as men. With such high rates of prevalence, billions of dollars are spent on anti-anxiety medications each year in North America.
Stress Versus Anxiety
Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) can present with a range of mood changes & physical symptoms, occasionally making it difficult to diagnose and treat. To differentiate between anxiety and stress, it is not the stressor that determines the effect; instead it is the individual’s’ internal reaction that produces anxiety. This reaction can be subtle, maybe causing restless sleep or sudden heart palpitations. For others this can be extreme, where we see obsessive compulsive behaviors and a complete loss of function. It is time to get help when anxiety is disrupting your social life, your work or your sleep habits.
The nervous system is a complex one, and finding the source of imbalance takes a thorough investigation. As an ND, we use lab tests to look at thyroid function, blood sugar, nutrient status, hormones and neurotransmitters to rule out just some of the factors that can produce anxiety. A review of sleep habits, caffeine intake and social history will give the doctor a good idea what lifestyle factors may be playing a role as well.
Symptoms of anxiety have as many treatments as there are causes, and they work best when they are tailored to the patient. Occasionally the answer may be simple – maybe their workout supplements are full of caffeine and stimulants, and this produces much anxiety, dehydration and loss of sleep! Deficiencies in some B vitamins can produce anxiety, and this is not uncommon in patients taking medications to decrease symptoms of heartburn or indigestion.
Using Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture can have a profound, immediate effect on anxiety, and I often use it to decrease panic symptoms with great results. Pairing herbs with acupuncture treatment helps stabilize the mood over the long-term, and works best when the organs of digestion have also been balanced. This, in addition to a complete nutritional workup, are some of the ways to heal anxiety.
If anxiety is affecting your life, you don’t need to suffer in silence. You may be surprised to find how quickly your symptoms start to change. Although the treatments are as varied as its causes, individualized care is always what is needed to heal anxiety. Contact me so we can start creating a plan that will create more ease in your life, every day. First-time patients get a free, 15-minute consultation.