Root causes and potential solutions for anxiety
Anxiety is defined as “unpleasant feelings of dread over something that is unlikely to happen.” This can be something short term (failing a test, sitting in traffic, etc), or something persistent and intense (not wanting to leave the house). Short term anxiety is a healthy response by the body, but persistent can wreak havoc on your life. Once it’s persistent, you need to find the root cause in order to reduce it.
I had a client with anxiety that was so severe he stopped leaving the house. When it gets to that point, it is absolutely debilitating. Unfortunately, Western Medicine treats anxiety with a ‘band aid.’ Usually this is in the form of a prescription drug (Xanax, etc) which adjusts brain chemistry. The problem with these though, is that they they do not address the root cause.
While I’m not saying that prescription medications are bad (they can be life saving), medications like these are meant to be used as triage, while finding the root cause. So, what are some causes?
Potential Root Causes
- An imbalance of Omega 3-6-9 ratio. Without adequate Omega 3 fatty acids, you have increased neuro-inflammation. There’s some pretty sound evidence showing that postnatal depression is linked to low levels of Omega 3, so it makes sense that a lack of would also contribute to anxiety. Unfortunately in our society, most people are low in Omega 3 and much higher in 6 and 9 which leads to an imbalance. So cut back on trans fats and processed foods, and load up on fatty fish, free range eggs, hemp, chia and flax seeds.
- Insufficient amino acids. Don’t hate me if you’re reading this and are vegan, but…it’s a common issue. Unless you’re really diligent with balancing nuts, seeds, grains and legumes, it can be a challenge to consume enough amino acids (notably tryptophan, taurine and GABA). These are responsible for creating and maintaining neurotransmitters and brain chemistry. So, take a look at your protein consumption. Are you getting enough high quality sources (meat, eggs, seaweed, etc)? If not, give them a boost.
- Food sensitivities. Oh yes, food sensitivities are a big culprit for anxiety. Notably, gluten. If you can get tested to look at IgG and IgE responses, great. But those aren’t 100% accurate and they’re quite pricey. The best thing you can do is an elimination diet. Cut out common problematic foods like gluten, dairy, sugar, etc. If your anxiety lessons, you have your answer. Then it’s a matter of reintroducing each item one at a time, after a month or two of eliminating to see how your body responds (and which one you’re reacting to).
- B vitamin deficiencies. B6 and B12 are sadly common deficiencies, and can absolutely lead to anxiety and panic attacks. These are the ‘methylation’ vitamins and help metabolize neurotransmitters. So get those levels checked and make sure you’re in the optimal range! You can opt to supplement (just make sure it’s not the synthetic form), or increase food based sources such as liver (or liver pills such as Ancestral Supplements), eggs, and fish.
While there are multiple causes of anxiety, these are some of the most common ones I see in my clients. So take a step back and evaluate some root causes. Get your labs checked and don’t settle for band-aid fixes.
If you’re looking for more help in this area, I did a Facebook live on anxiety and depression this past week, which you can find on my business page HERE.
You also have time to sign up for the free 5 day Endless Energy program which is all about functional medicine, and will absolutely address anxiety. You can do that HERE. Don’t wait too long though, we start on 3/4!