Having anxiety can feel a lot like being tightly wound all the time. Anxiety is a taxing tension on the body. The sympathetic nervous system – the part of your nervous system that’s turned on during stress is on overdrive leading to fatigue.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is an anxiety disorder where a person worries about several areas of life. This usually interferes with life quite a bit: people with GAD typically worry about money, relationships, work, and death. Physical symptoms include restlessness, trouble concentrating, irritability, insomnia, fatigue, and muscle tension. This may sound like a lot of us but a person must have these symptoms for more than six months for an official diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder.
We can all get a little awkward and shy now and then. Social phobia is when a person has a specific anxiety about some or all social situations. Officially called social anxiety disorder, it is the most common kind of anxiety that people experience. Symptoms of social phobia are similar to GAD but occur in anticipation of social scenarios. It can also include sweating, nausea, palpitations, and may lead to panic attacks in some cases.
Whether you think you’ve had one or actually have, panic disorder or frequent panic attacks can severely limit your life. People who are having a panic attack for the first time often think they’re dying or losing their mind. A panic attack can feel like a heart attack: palpitations and rapid heart rate, along with shortness of breath and chest pain all mimic a heart attack. Panic attacks are more common in people who have other anxiety disorders, and may be a symptom of a physiological disturbance.
As we’re all familiar, times of high stress can cause anxiety. Low grade or short-term anxiety that doesn’t qualify for a formal diagnosis can still be distressing, and is still worthy of treatment. When you’re under stress, you produce cortisol, which can cause symptoms of anxiety. People who are experiencing life transitions, like moving, divorce or a change in their job might have short-term anxiety, and it can lead to longer-term health consequences. If you’re interested in the naturopathic way to manage your stress, we have a lot more information in this article about stress management.
Sometimes anxiety is as simple as an underlying health condition, and finding what’s at the root of it can take care of your nervousness. Hyperthyroidism, overactive adrenal glands, and low blood sugar can all cause symptoms that look like anxiety. Certain nutrient deficiencies can cause anxiety, and food sensitivities can contribute as well, so it’s important to find out what the exact cause is.
How Can Naturopathic Medicine Help?
Naturopathic medicine has many approaches to treating anxiety. Whether it’s short term or chronic, there is a lot that can be done to help calm your body and mind to support you with nourishment.
Herbal medicine can be a big help in treating anxiety and sometimes even the act of taking herbs in the form of tea or a tincture can be enough to calm you. There are two main groups of herbs that are used for this:
- Nervines – This is a group of herbs that helps calm you down, often by acting directly on receptors in your brain that help you relax. It includes lemon balm, chamomile, passionflower, and lavender.
- Adaptogens – These help your body respond better to stress. Some of these include Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and licorice root.
Herbal medicine isn’t the only tool: there is a strong connection between the brain and the gut. A proper diet assessment that identifies deficiencies, removes allergenic foods, and supports proper bacterial balance that can make a world of difference for your anxiety. Acupuncture is an excellent way to help you relax and manage stress too.
Let’s help calm you down together, book an appointment now.