Roughly 40 million Americans are suffering from anxiety disorders.
That is 18% of the population. If you are sitting in a room with 5 other adults, chances are at least one of you is struggling with this condition.
So what exactly is anxiety? How should it be treated? Is it a stand-alone condition or a possible symptom of a larger issue? What if it can be both?
The conventional approach to anxiety is that it is caused by a neurotransmitter imbalance and you need a medication so that you can have normal function restored. This treatment is effective for some, but not for others. What the medication is actually doing is masking the uncomfortable symptoms of anxiety. If your anxiety is not an acute condition, you would need to take medication long-term to keep the symptoms at bay. The medication actually does nothing to restore balance within your neurotransmitters… If you are currently on a medication for anxiety—you are doing nothing wrong!
The functional medicine approach to anxiety is a bit different. Instead of masking the anxious symptoms with pharmaceuticals, the anxiety is treated as symptom with a root cause. The end-goal of functional medicine is optimal health and healing. In order to obtain healing, the root cause of the health issue must be uncovered and remedied. Here are three, common root causes for anxiety.
1. Adrenal Fatigue
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been stressed out. Usually, this is when all hands in the room go up. Modern-day stressors are not only increasing in multitude, they are affecting us very differently than stress of the past. We are now stressed out over our performance in board meetings, defensively driving down the road, thinking about balancing a 50-hour work week with our personal responsibilities at home… just to name a few. None of these things are putting us in immediate danger, but our bodies still react the same way. These constant feelings of stress and strife can easily cause our adrenal glands to exhaust themselves due to a chronic activation. This disruption in our neurochemistry can result in anxiety.
2. Nutrient Deficiencies
There are so many reasons for us to have nutrient deficiencies. The quality of our food is not what it used to be due to the decline in the quality of our soil and other environmental factors. Often, we are taking medications that are also inhibiting the way nutrients in our food are absorbed. Sometimes we are supplementing with a low-quality multivitamin that’s not being properly absorbed. Let’s not even get into the fact that the food with little to no nutritional value is the cheapest and easiest to access.
Here are a few common nutritional deficiencies that… SURPRISE… all have a direct impact on mood:
Vitamin D, B6, B12, DHA, Inositol, Zinc, Magnesium, Folate, Omega 3s, EPA.
3. Gut Issues
So besides having to worry about our food being less nutritious than it used to be, we also have to worry about an unhealthy gut impeding the absorption of those scanty nutrients. Studies show that 74% of Americans are living with digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. These symptoms could be an indicator that there are mild-serious issues with the condition of the gut.
Common gut issues include SIBO, parasites, H. pylori, bacterial dysbiosis, and yeast overgrowth. All of these issues cause inflammation in the gut that are directly reflected in your brain. Science has proven the gut-brain barrier is real. This means that whatever is going on in your gut is mirrored in your brain. An inflamed brain is never a good thing.
Did you know your gut produces 400 times more serotonin than your brain? When you gut isn’t functioning as it should, this could inhibit your serotonin production. The healthier the gut, the happier you are!
So how does one start to narrow down the root cause of their anxiety? The functional medicine approach is to start with a medical provider doing an in-depth review of a patient’s medical history, lifestyle, symptoms, and current medications, and a physical exam. This should give the practitioner all the info they need to start recommended specialized lab tests that will reveal the root cause of the condition so that it can be treated.
If this particular way of addressing symptoms and health issues makes sense to you, it could be a great time to schedule a free, 15-minute consult call to learn more about how Integrative Health Matters can help with whatever is prohibiting you from being in optimal health.