Today I’m writing about one of the most common things I see in my practice: feelings of anxiety. Let’s explore what it is, what you can do about it, and when you need to see a doctor for it.
Anxiety is a feeling of worry or nervousness, often about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. It’s one of the typical range of emotions that are part of being human, so experiencing anxiety occasionally is expected. Anxiety disorders are diagnosed when a person has frequent, intense, excessive and persistent worry about everyday situations. Sometimes they have repeated episodes that peak within minutes; these are known as anxiety attacks.
There are many causes for frequent anxiety, and some of them are treatable at home. Here are some common, easily treatable causes of anxiety.
- Magnesium deficiency: magnesium is an important nutrient for brain, cardiovascular, and mood function. It can be found in many foods, such as oatmeal, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and broccoli. A minimum of 400 mg/day is required for healthy functioning. Some people supplement with products like Calm powdered magnesium. While this can be beneficial, it is best to eat a varied diet that meets the majority of your nutritional needs. If you try a supplement, start at a low amount and then work up, because too much too fast can cause loose stools (another reason why food is better!).
- Over-caffeinating: caffeine can be helpful for mood and brain function, especially on these gray winter days! Part of how it works is by stimulating the release of stress hormones in the body. However, for a person that is already feeling stressed or prone to anxiety, or a person that consumes too much, this can cause or worsen feelings of anxiety. The maximum daily recommended (not required) amount is 100 mg per 100 lbs of body weight. This may vary depending on age, medications, and other health concerns. One cup of fully caffeinated black coffee or a shot of espresso contains about 80-150 mg of caffeine, depending on varietal and roast. As far as teas go, white teas have the least amount, the green, then oolong, and black teas have the most. Similar to coffee, the amount of caffeine can vary due to it being a natural, unstandardized product.
- Insomnia: studies have shown that too little sleep, or not enough quality restful sleep, can heighten feelings of anxiety in susceptible individuals. Sleep seems simple enough, but it is actually something that many people struggle with. The recommended amount is 7-9 hours per 24 hour cycle. Some people need a little more or a little less, and some people do best when it is split between two sleep periods. Stay tuned, I’ll be posting a blog with more info on sleep soon!
These are the 3 most common, easily treatable reasons for anxiety. There are also more complicated medical reasons for anxiety, such as thyroid disorders, genetic SNP’s, mold exposure, and heavy metal toxicity, among others. It is time to consult with a doctor when anxiety is frequent and intense enough that it is interrupting your ability to function happily and consistently in your daily life.
As usual, this blog post is provided for general information and is not a personal medical recommendation. For personal, naturopathic medical assistance with anxiety or another health concern, consider scheduling an Optimum Healing New Patient Package.