Stressed and anxious feelings are normal from time to time. However if your level of stress is higher than warranted by the circumstances, and these feelings don’t subside, this is called anxiety.
- Symptoms of anxiety can range from mild apprehension to fear or panic. The common feature is that the emotional response is disproportionate to the level of threat that is present
- Some people experience panic attacks, low mood or other mood problems (e.g. irritability) in conjunction with anxiety
- Other symptoms can include palpitations (rapid heartbeat), difficulty breathing, headaches, muscle tension and insomnia
- Stress (including work, relationship or financial difficulties) may contribute to anxiety
- Deficiency of magnesium may be involved, especially as these nutrients are required in greater quantities during times of prolonged stress
- Several forms of hormonal imbalance can cause or trigger anxiety. These include premenstrual syndrome, menopause, and thyroid problems. Blood sugar imbalances may also contribute
- Stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine and recreational drugs can lead to or exacerbate anxiety
Nutritional & Herbal Support
- St John's Wort has been clinically proven to relieve low moods, anxiety and stress.
- Valerian is an effective but gentle sedative with properties that may provide symptomatic relief of anxiety.
- Magnesium is involved in many of the body's mechanisms for coping with stress, and also helps tense and contracted muscles to relax. We need more of it when we're under pressure, so it's easy to become deficient during stressed or anxious times
- Vitex or chaste berry is a herb that has traditionally been used to balance female hormones for regular experiences of anxiety, low moods or other mood problems as a symptom of premenstrual syndrome. Vitex is sometimes combined with other herbs and nutrients that provide PMT support.
Diet & Lifestyle advice
- If anxiety is causing relationship problems or is interfering with your ability to perform your daily activities or enjoy life, seek counselling or other professional support to help you cope. Meditation, yoga or relaxation classes may also be beneficial
- Regular exercise and activity are vital for mental health, and can help to improve stress levels, low moods and anxiety. Even a brisk 30-minute walk has health benefits, but other options include swimming, yoga and going to the gym. Exercising with a friend offers a valuable opportunity to combine socialising with physical activity; talking to someone you trust can help you to let off steam and explore solutions to your problems
- Avoid the use of stimulants such as coffee, tea, chocolate and other caffeine-containing substances, as well as cigarettes. In addition to stimulating your adrenal glands to produce more Stress hormones, these substances further deplete your body's nutrient levels
- Your requirements for key nutrients increase when you're under pressure, so avoid junk foods and refined sugars and carbohydrates, and don't skip meals. Instead, eat plenty of whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, and high quality proteins
- Oily fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines are an excellent choice because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are needed for healthy brain function. Inadequate consumption of omega-3s may contribute to mood imbalances
If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional. Information provided is of a general nature and should not replace that of your healthcare professional.