Anxiety: Underlying Causes and Reduction Techniques.
We all experience some anxiety and in small, appropriate doses it is a necessary and normal response to stressful situations.
The problem starts when anxiety becomes chronic and pervasive. When it starts to impact multiple areas of your life, health and enjoyment.
Anxiety disorders affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their life, yet less than 40% of people seek treatment for their anxiety.
And for women, who face cyclical hormones, fluctuations in anxiety can be life-altering.
What could your underlying causes of anxiety be?
If you experience spikes in your anxiety before your period (maybe you’ve been calling it PMS), you may be experiencing low progesterone levels. Progesterone stimulates GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors in your brain, the neurotransmitter that reduces anxiety and stress. If you are not experiencing a normal rise in progesterone after ovulation, your brain isn’t getting the signal to release GABA so you aren’t getting the extra help in staying calm and relaxed.
The adrenal glands are responsible for hormone production, including cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine. You may have heard of fight or flight – that’s the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine in stressful situations. In other words, the hormones that make your body panic (but hopefully only when it needs to/is faced with a real threat). This would be great if you were running from a bear in the woods…but today, our stressful lives (work, social media, diet) trigger a stress response from our adrenals. Your body thinks it is in danger at the sign of any (real or perceived) stressor and shuts down the calming hormones (like progesterone and therefore GABA) in favour of the hormones that will prepare you for battle (cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine).
Do you feel irritable? Too much or too little estrogen is not good for your body – you need the right balance. High estrogen and low progesterone (estrogen dominance) can lead to anxiety and irritability.
Get the right tests so you can balance your hormones and heal your body and mind.
Hypo- and hyperthyroidism can lead to anxiety and depression. These thyroid problems are associated with increased heart rate and palpitations, fatigue and insomnia – which all relate back to anxiety or worsening symptoms.
Prolactin is another hormone that is associated with anxiety (and hypothyroidism). Women with high levels of prolactin often report anxiety as well
Is the Pill making you anxious? There is evidence of the birth control pill affecting B vitamin levels and therefore the production of serotonin and GABA – both are critical to keeping calm and preventing anxiety. The pill can also impact gut health, leading to inflammation, poor ab
sorption of nutrients and a spike in anxiety.
Mood disorders and regulation issues are one of the most common reasons for stopping the birth control pill for a lot of women. If you are looking for a safe way to transition off of the pill, while protecting your mood and keeping hormones balances, book and appointment.
So, now what?
These might seem scary, all the different ways our body and hormonal cycles are contributing to women’s experience of anxiety. But, the good news is, when these underlying conditions are addressed, the anxiety that goes with them is often dulled as well.
In the meantime, try these anxiety reducing techniques the next time you feel the panic coming on:
- When you’re anxious, getting a long, hard work-out in may be the last thing you want to do, but activity is a proven way to alleviate anxious feelings. Anything helps!
- Spend 5 minutes tuning into what and how your body feels. Think about the sensations you are experiencing, from your feet planted on the ground to your hands touching your knees.
- Focus on your breathing. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold it for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold it for 4 seconds. Repeat.
- Magnesiumhas been linked to easing anxiety. Eat magnesium rich foods (avocado, nuts, seeds) or ask your naturopath about the right Mg supplement for you (not all are made equal).
- Sleep is when cortisol declines and melatonin rises. If anxiety is getting in the way of your sleep, try getting some blue light blocking glasses, read before bed (not on a screen) instead of watching TV and stretch before getting into bed.
If you are looking for more ways you can combat your anxiety, book a free strategy call now. There is help!