At our Natural Therapies clinic on the Gold Coast we see a lot of patients with Anxiety. Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. Up to 1/3 of women and 1/5 of men will experience anxiety at some point in their lives.
It is often caused by a combination of factors including stressful events, genetic predisposition towards anxiety, substance abuse including alcohol & drugs, physical health problems, other mental health conditions including depression. Doctors talk about biological causes, such as genetics, brain chemistry and personality. Or they might talk about life events, such as the death of a loved one, long-term stresses, trauma and abuse. Often, a combination of these things can lead to anxiety.
What can anxiety feel like?
- Physical: panic attacks, hot and cold flushes, racing heart, tightening of the chest, quick breathing, restlessness, or feeling tense, wound up and edgy
- Psychological: excessive fear, worry, catastrophizing, or obsessive thinking
- Behavioural: avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious which can impact on study, work or social life
What can you do to help?
- Psychological treatments (talking therapies with a psychologist or counsellor)
- Self-help and alternative therapies including Naturopathy, acupuncture, exercise, diet, breathing techniques, avoiding or reducing triggers
- Prescription medications (Consult your GP or health care practitioner to see if this is right for you – adverse affects can be common for some people, so it is advised to do your research).
Did you know your diet can play a major role in how you feel?
With research now suggesting that about 90% of your serotonin is being made in your gut, it’s no surprise that what you eat really does affect how you feel. Serotonin is famously known as the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter, however it also affects hormonal regulation, your bowels (peristalsis), cognition, reward, learning, memory, and numerous physiological processes such as vomiting and vasoconstriction (think hypertension!).
So the first place to start if you are feeling anxious is your diet because, it is essential to feed the gut microbiome a variety of nutrient dense foods – particularly seasonal and organic/spray free (Checking out the ‘Dirty Dozen’ is a good place to start).
Highly processed foods & sugars can feed the ‘bad’ bacteria and therefore have an impact on how you feel.
Support gut health with pre biotic rich foods (which ‘feed’ the good bacteria) and probiotics.
Prebiotics: garlic, asparagus, leek, dandelion root, apples, Jerusalem artichoke and onions
Probiotics: Greek or natural yoghurt (no sugar), sauerkraut, miso, tempeh & kefir
Also consider your environment & what is triggering your anxiety that you can remove or reduce your exposure to- social media, television programs, people in your life that aren’t helping you
Moving your body, meditation in some form or breathing techniques are also great ways to get some control of your mind back. There are plenty of free apps to help with meditation or breathing techniques and they are easy to do & when you can start to incorporate them into your daily life you will find things are easier to cope with. Try some deep breathing while you are driving or going for a walk. Take a few minutes before you go to sleep to check in with your body from your toes to your head and take big breaths as you do this. When you are concentrating on breathing, it is really hard to think about anything else!
Get some sunshine! Vit D can really help with how you feel and surprisingly, a lot of Australians are actually low in Vit D…so take a walk outside in your lunch break & get some fresh air and sunshine on your face. 5-10 min in the middle of the day is adequate in the middle of summer.
If you would like to discuss your anxiety or anything else about your general wellbeing and how we might be able to help, you can book in with one of our practitioners. Make a booking online here or call us on 5531 6461.
Written by Amanda Flower, BHSc Naturopathy © 2020
References & more information:
Lifeline 13 11 14