Anxiety: What is it? What causes it? How Can You Feel Better?

During times of hormone imbalance women frequently complain of overwhelming anxiety , along with racing, panicky thoughts. Sometimes the anxiety is so intense it leads to full blown panic attacks, causing women to feel they are losing control or going crazy.

If you are a woman coping with hormone imbalance and suffer from anxiety, rest assured that you are not losing control or going crazy. It is more likely you are suffering from biochemical changes and a brain chemical imbalance which can cause anxiety and a variety of mood disorders in women.

What is Anxiety?

Most of us know by experience what anxiety is:  feelings of worry, apprehension, nervousness, and unease.  Anxiety can also cause physical manifestations such as heart palpitations, sweating, shaking and feelings of knots in the stomach, rapid breathing, and a sense of not being able to catch your breath, also known as hyper-ventilating.

Causes of Anxiety – It’s all about Balance

In ancient Chinese medicine and philosophy, the idea of balance is understood and embraced.   Unfortunately, in our high-octane Western culture, where we burn the candle at both ends, balance is often sacrificed, and far too often at the expense of our health.

When we are stressed and our life is out of balance, it can manifest in our physical bodies in such ways as hormone imbalance, which can also lead to unbalanced brain chemistry, most commonly serotonin deficiency, low thyroid function, and over-stressed adrenal glands, all of which can affect our mood and cause anxiety.

Low levels of GABA, an important neurotransmitter in your brain chemistry, for example, can cause feelings of anxiety, in addition to restlessness and tension. On the flip side, if dopamine, another neurotransmitter in your brain, is too high, you can also experience anxiety, fear, and panic attacks.

In addition, chronic stress can exhaust and deplete your adrenal glands. When your adrenal glands become fatigued and tired, and your stress hormones are out of balance, anxiety and panic attacks are common symptoms.

Both unbalanced brain chemistry and stressed adrenal glands can negatively affect thyroid function as well.  If serotonin levels are low, or if there are high levels of the stress hormone cortisol present, both can lead to low thyroid function or hypothyroidism.  One symptom of hypothyroidism is anxiety.

Addressing Anxiety – What Can You Do?

With the complexities of our body chemistry and the interrelated biological processes which can be affected during times of stress and imbalance, knowing where to begin to address the symptoms is enough to cause anxiety all by itself.

It would be so much easier if we could simply treat isolated symptoms and be done with it. But, unfortunately, it is just not that easy.  Effectively addressing the causes of imbalance in your life which have led to anxiety requires a true holistic approach.

Begin with Supplements and Brain Nourishing Food

You may already strive for good eating and dietary habits.  But, there are many negative factors that are simply beyond our control, which not only affect our health, but can contribute to unbalanced brain chemistry as well.

Environmental toxins and poorly grown food sources, for example, can influence our health and well-being despite our best efforts to the contrary.  Because of this, we can always benefit from supplements, such as those offered in my Basic Supplement Plan, to help balance our brain chemistry.  In addition supplementing with 5-HTP, a perfectly natural way to raise serotonin and GABA a natural tranquilizer, will often reduce anxiety dramatically. See how to treat the “Revved up and Anxious Type” from Mia’s book Female Brain Gone Insane.

Remember!  Vitamins and minerals are the co-factors and co-enzymes that make virtually every biochemical process in your body function.  Without them your body cannot operate at its optimum.

Protein and Carbohydrates

Since we know that unbalanced brain chemistry and neurotransmitters contribute to anxiety, a diet rich in protein which supplies amino acids to support brain function is fundamental.  I recommend that my patients start their day with a protein smoothie, and then eat at least two more servings of protein during the day.

Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables supply the glucose your body needs to provide energy to your brain nerve cells, which also helps balance brain chemistry. Carbohydrates also enhance the absorption of tryptophan.  Tryptophan is converted into serotonin in your brain, which helps promote calm and relaxation and quells anxiety.

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are also necessary to properly nourish brain tissue and cell membranes.  Found in food sources such as nuts, nut butters, olives and avocados, EFAs help in the production of neurotransmitters, insuring they function optimally so your nervous system runs smoothly, and your moods are stable.

Balance Your Hormones

Estrogen is a natural anti-depressant and mood stabilizer, and progesterone is a natural tranquilizer.  When your hormones are in balanced you feel peaceful, calm and well.  The proper amount of estrogen and progesterone introduced at the right time, will not only calm your jangled nerves, but will promote restful sleep, stabilize erratic moods, help you feel calm and in control, and will ease anxiety.

It is important, however, that these hormones are bioidentical hormones and work with your natural body chemistry and not against it.

Paying Attention to Your Body & Understanding the Role of Stress

As women, we are naturally intuitive and connected to our bodies.  But, when we are under stress, whether chronic or short-term, we may miss very important signals our body is giving off. Chronic, over-whelming anxiety is your body’s signal that your life is out of balance.  If you are to treat it effectively, it is important that you listen to your body and pay attention.

Changing your eating habits, introducing nourishing supplements and balancing your hormones will not bring about the desired results if stress and the causes of imbalance in your life are not addressed.  As an educator and thought-leader in the area of women’s health, and hormone and biochemical imbalances, I can help you, step-by-step, restore a healthy balance and reclaim your life!

If you are interested in becoming a patient, please contact us at The Center for Hormonal and Nutritional Balance.