You didn’t plan on it attaching itself to you, but it did. That one event that spurred anxiety so strong… making any later challenging situations feel insanely overwhelming. It's very common to experience some anxiety while coping with stressful experiences or changes-especially if they may have a big impact on your life. However, when anxiety starts to rule over your everyday life, it can turn into a mental health problem.
Developing from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting nearly 1 in 5 American adults each year. Anxiety disorders can also raise your probability for other medical problems such as heart disease, diabetes, substance abuse, and depression. And other health conditions can develop as a result of anxiety. For example: panic disorder is common among patients who have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
The symptoms of anxiety disorders can also resemble various medical conditions. At my Integrative Functional Medicine center, ordering labs for my patients is beneficial in order to rule out the possibility of disease. Labs can be utilized to discover a multitude of underlying issues with hormones, weight loss, adrenals, bone health, heart health, menopause, anxiety, depression, fertility, insomnia, allergies, insulin and sugar management panels, autoimmune disorder panels, nutritional deficiencies, toxins, and more.
With the information from your labs in conjunction with various Integrative medicine protocols, (some outlined below) I gather a holistic view, or a WHOLE understanding of your mind, body and spirit. This is essential to figuring out the root causes for your health conditions as we work together to #rewriteyourhealth .
8 Effective Integrative Medicine Therapeutic Approaches for Healing From Anxiety:
- IMPROVE NUTRITION: This may seem like a no-brainer, but you need to make sure you are fueling your brain with adequate amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids. A deficiency or imbalance in the ratio of Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids in the diet are linked to increased anxiety and depression. Include consumption or supplementation of sardines, mackeral, salmon, (2-3 x a week) or flaxseed oil (1000-2000mg), or ground flaxseed (2 tbspn daily) in your diet. Also, Limit or Cease Alcohol and caffeine use, as alcohol diminishes your levels of essential hormones and neurotransmitters needed for regular, healthy endocrine functions. And long-term use of caffeine has been linked with anxiety as well as depression.
- PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: Many studies show that aerobic exercise has a larger effect on anxiety reduction than weight training or flexibility routines, although all help improve mood. A routine needs to be at least 12 minutes daily for a minimum of 10 weeks to alleviate anxiety, with beneficial effects appearing to be maximal at 40 minutes in each session. Exercise influences the release of endorphins and hormones in your brain that are associated with improvement in mood and enhanced state of mind. And it also provides a sense of independence which can lead to self-confidence…boosting your ability to cope with challenging life events.
- SUPPLEMENTS: Especially important for treating anxiety are B6 and B12 vitamins as they are linked with production of S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) which is a chemical that regulates key functions such as carrying and donating necessary molecules to the brain. Make sure you are also getting enough folic acid, as up to one third of adults who wrestle with depression have borderline or low levels of folate.
- BOTANICALS: Kava and Valerian are options to consider. Kava’s action may be mildly similar to that of drugs that enhance the effect of the neurotransmitter (chemical messenger in the brain) gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), resulting in sedative, anti-anxiety, anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant properties. Valerian has been used traditionally in Europe for thousands of years as a calmative and sleep aid. Combination with other botanical such as St. Johns wort, Passion flower, or Lemon balm and hops may be considered for supporting reduction in anxiety.
- SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors): SSRIs increase levels of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is one of the feel-good chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) that carry signals between your brain nerve cells (neurons). They block the reabsorption (reuptake) of serotonin into neurons, which makes more serotonin available to improve communication of messages between neurons. Based on various factors and drug side effect profiles, a conventional therapeutic option for GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) may be the use of these antidepressants. And SSRIs may be a better choice for patients with heart disease as there is less cardiotoxicity associated with SSRIs than with tricyclic antidepressants.
- BEHAVIORAL & COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL THERAPY: Behavioral therapy helps patients focus on changing the specific unwanted actions by utilizing several techniques to stop unwanted behavior. Cognitive-behavioral therapy supports you towards become mindful of inaccurate or negative thinking so you can view challenging situations more openly and respond to them in a more effective way.
- RELAXATION TRAINING: Techniques such as relaxation training and breath work are proven beneficial for relieving anxiety. And therapies that can invoke a sense of calm for relief of anxiety are sound therapy, massage therapy, aromatherapy, guided interactive imagery, and hypnosis. *Add this blend of essential oils to your diffuser to invoke a sense of calm: 10 drops Rosemary, 10 drops Lemon, 10 drops Basil, 12 drops Peppermint and 7 drops Vetiver.
- TRADITIONAL MEDICINE: Other options for treating anxiety can be found through auricular acupuncture and Ayurvedic medicine as they may help to balance the autonomic nervous system. Auricular acupuncture may have a strong function to calm the mind, as well as treat other chronic issues. Ayurvedic Medicine approaches may incorporate the use of herbals, specific diet for dosha types, meditation and massage techniques that can result in more calmed balance between mind and body.
I hope you find inspiration and motivation to live your best life and stand up against chronic health conditions such as anxiety. I am here, cheering you forward. As with all therapeutic approaches to healing, seek the guidance of your doctors and always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
To Your Health,
Kiran Grewal MD
"My goal is to share my knowledge with the world. I believe in delivering valuable and ethical content that changes the lives of my patients." -Kiran Grewal MD