Manage Your Anxiety Naturallyby Lauren Deville on Apr. 05, 2012, under Natural Medicine Tips
Anxiety is an adaptive response that signals potential danger. As a physiologic adaptation, it can lead to better preparation to meet that danger, and can therefore lead to better decisions.
(For instance, as a student, anxiety over a difficult exam may cause you to study harder.)
Excessive anxiety, however, is maladaptive: in this case, anxiety is either out of proportion to the situation, or it may be present even in the absence of any sort of danger.
Traditional treatments for anxiety include classes of drugs like benzodiazepines (like Xanax and Ativan), SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, like Paxil, Lexapro, Zoloft, and Prozac), and SNRIs (like Cymbalta). These drugs mediate either neurotransmitters or neurotransmitter receptors in the brain.
Think of a neurotransmitter and its receptor as a lock and key, respectively. Without the lock – the receptor – the key cannot perform its function.
These medications have their places and can be helpful, but they also have their share of side effects and cautions, as you probably know if you’ve been on them for any length of time. SSRIs can significantly impact sleep, digestion, and sexual function. Benzodiazepines are very addictive and can be dangerous in combination with other medications. Some anti-anxiety medications can even increase the incidence of anxiety itself for certain patients.
The Naturopathic Approach:
First we will start by eliminating certain processed foods and additives from your diet that can worsen anxiety symptoms. Then we will focus on rebalancing your neurotransmitters from the production side, rather than blocking their breakdown or stimulating their receptors. (I use a similar approach in cases of depression.)
To increase production of some of the calming neurotransmitters, we focus on nutritional supplements that cross the blood brain barrier (BBB) in order to provide the necessary building blocks. At the same time, we will provide the vitamin cofactors required by the biochemical pathways.
Certain botanicals can also be very effective in decreasing anxiety symptoms, and a well-chosen homeopathic remedy can work wonders if we choose the right one for you.
I also believe it’s critical to learn some self-help techniques in order to regulate your stress response. Come in for a consultation, and together we will devise a strategy to help you regain a sense of balance in your life!
Are there topics that you’d like me to cover in future articles? Email me your suggestions!
Dr Lauren Deville is board-certified to practice Naturopathic Medicine. To receive her free e-book, “Ten Nutritional Supplements Everyone Should Have,” or to receive her monthly health and wellness newsletter, please sign up at www.drlaurendeville.com.