9 Common Causes Of Anxiety and Panic Disorders | Vitality and Wellness Centre

What Is Anxiety

Dictionary definitions often describe anxiety and panic disorders as 'extreme feelings of uneasiness or fear in response to an imagined or real threat.' Which, for a sufferer of anxiety and panic, doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what is really going on inside them.

There are multiple physical and emotional symptoms associated with anxiety and panic disorders; below are some of the more common ones. Whereas one sufferer of anxiety may associate with many of these symptoms, another suffer may only have a few. 

Chest pain Inability to sleep
Choking feeling Increased heart rate
Compelled to perform routines repeatedly Irritability, angry
Crying Loose bowel motions
Depression Muscle tension and pain
Difficulty concentrating Nausea
Dizziness Numbness and tingling
Easily losing patience Perfectionism
Excessive sweating Pounding heart
Excessive thirst Preoccupied or obsessed with one subject
Extreme worry Pulsing in the ear
Fatigue Restless, jumpy
Fear of impending doom Shortness of breath
Feeling like you are going crazy Smothering feeling
Headaches Thinking constantly about worst outcomes
Hot flushes or chills Trembling
Hypertension Upset/nervous stomach
Hyperventilation Verbal or physical aggression

Anxiety and panic disorders are estimated to affect 13 - 18% of the worldwide population. This figure may be misleading as many sufferers don't report their anxiety to their doctor and try to deal with it the best way they can themselves.

What Causes Anxiety and Panic Disorders?

Like the many symptoms associated with anxiety and panic disorders, the causes can vary between sufferers. Below we mention some of the more common reasons people may suffer from anxiety-related conditions.

- Low GABA Levels and The Anxiety - Panic Connection

GABA is the body's naturally occurring tranquillising and calming neurotransmitter. It works by dampening the overactivity of the excitatory neurotransmitters, especially Glutamate. When GABA is low, excitatory messages shoot unimpeded throughout the brain, leaving a person feeling stressed, overwhelmed, suffering from irrational worry, and feeling out of control with a million thoughts racing throughout their mind. Low GABA is a major cause of Anxiety, Panic Disorders and Night Time Waking. [1]

- Social Isolation Leads to Anxiety

Loneliness isn't a medically diagnosed condition, but the isolation from human contact can lead to negative and depressive thoughts, which can contribute to anxiousness and panic. Loneliness can affect people in many different ways, and symptoms range from low energy to insomnia, depression, feelings of self-doubt, body aches and anxiety. The recent isolation experienced with the COVID 19 outbreak has lead to a dramatic rise in mental health problems, including higher numbers of people feeling anxious. [2] If we know someone alone or lonely, a simple hello can make a magical difference to their day. 

- Insomnia a Hidden Cause of Anxiety and Panic Disorders

Not getting enough sleep is often a forgotten cause of anxiety and panic disorders. Both anxiety and insomnia can be a catch 22 as not getting enough sleep can lead to anxiety, while chronic anxiety can cause insomnia. The longer the duration of poor sleep, the worse anxiety can become. [3] Multiple causative factors contribute to insomnia, including low GABA levels, stress, stimulants, pain, poor diet, gluten, digestive disorders and nutritional deficiencies such as magnesium. Trying to sort this out by yourself may be a daunting task. Sometimes asking for help can make a significant difference to insomnia and anxiety. Speaking with your health care provider is an important step forward in getting a good nights sleep or better still contact us today for an appointment

- Stress, Adrenaline and Cortisol - Common Causes of Anxiety

Adrenaline is produced by the adrenal glands as a stress response when the body perceives that it's under threat. This survival mechanism was essential for our forefathers in helping them to avoid a warring tribe or escaping the deadly clutches of a Sabre-Toothed Tiger. However, for most of the time, this stress response laid dormant, awaiting the next trigger. Fast forward to the 21st Century, where stressors harass us constantly; money problems, traffic, too much work, bad news, scary movies, electromagnetic frequencies, nutrient dead food, lack of sleep, rushing from A to B, being late for an appointment.....the list goes on. This overstimulation of adrenaline causes the body to become hyper-vigilant. Which, in turn, creates symptoms such as a racing heart, an overactive mind, insomnia, being overwhelmed, excessive worry, shortness of breath, feelings of being unable to cope and feeling out of control. Sound familiar? Excessive stimulation of adrenaline causes anxiety, panic disorders, insomnia, and allows stress to flourish. [4]

The adrenal glands produce cortisol to buffer the toxic effects of adrenaline. Where cortisol can initially be a friend, constant stress drives up levels, leading to multiple health problems. Excessive amounts of cortisol contribute to anxiety by depleting the amino acid glutamine; the precursor to GABA and tryptophan the precursor to vitamin B3 and Serotonin; our happy brain chemical. Also, elevated cortisol increases the urinary excretion of the anti-stress mineral magnesium, which leads to a further worsening of stress and anxiety.

Stress Support

- Anxiety and the Sad News for Coffee Drinkers

Caffeine can reduce brain levels of GABA, which compounds anxiety, especially for those sufferers with lower than usual GABA levels. Tea, on the other hand, while containing caffeine also contains a unique amino acid called L-Theanine, which negates the adverse effect that caffeine has on brain GABA levels. Good news for tea drinkers, but not so good for anxious coffee connoisseurs.

- Alcohol, Long Term or Binge Drinking Leads To Anxiety

Ever wondered why you get a little anxious or panicky a day or two after a big night on the town? Chronic alcohol consumption, or binge drinking, reduces the number of GABA and Benzodiazepine receptor sites within the brain. These are the receptors that uptake GABA, a reduction in their numbers results in lower than usual levels of brain GABA.

- PMS and Anxiety Often Go Hand In Hand

In the second half of a woman's menstrual cycle, the hormone progesterone rises, preparing the uterus for implantation of the egg. Progesterone is also the body's anti-anxiety hormone. Unfortunately, if progesterone levels are low, then another hormone called prolactin increases. One of the roles of prolactin is to inhibit progesterone production. Elevated prolactin can cause PMS and the resultant symptoms of anxiety, poor moods, irritability and hormonal acne in the last two weeks before menstruation. GABA is the natural inhibitor of high prolactin.

- Overstimulation of the NMDA Receptors Leads to Anxiety

NMDA Receptors are required to maintain alertness, learning and long term memory. Similarly, as with low GABA, if these receptors are overstimulated, sufferers feel as though their mind is out of control and they can't quieten their excessive thoughts. Three main contributors can increase NMDA Receptor overstimulation.

Aspartic acid: is an amino acid commonly found in food, but food alone is not enough to overstimulate the NMDA receptors. Two potential sources of aspartic acid that can cause overstimulation are excessive consumption of nutritional supplements containing aspartic acid. i.e. amino acid powders or minerals bound to aspartic acid, including magnesium aspartate, potassium aspartate, calcium aspartate, and zinc aspartate. People suffering from anxiety generally don't tolerate these type of supplements well. By far, the most significant potential cause of NMDA Receptor overstimulation is the artificial sweetener Aspartame, which goes under the brand names NutraSweet, Equal, Canderel or AminoSweet. Aspartame additive (Number 951), is comprised of the two amino acids, phenylalanine, and aspartic acid plus methanol. Methanol in its own right is a highly toxic alcohol, which causes neurological issues, severe health problems and in excess, death.

The take-home message here is to; avoid artificial sweeteners like the plague, re-evaluate amino acid supplementation and look for alternative minerals not bound to aspartic acid.

Glutamate: Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter that helps maintain wakefulness, learning, and memory. When needed, Glutamate converts to GABA, with the help of vitamin B6. However, low levels of vitamin B6 can cause an increase in Glutamate levels, resulting in the overstimulation of the NMDA receptors. GABA is the break for excess Glutamate production. A health condition called Pyroluria or Pyrrole Disorder prevents the body from utilising vitamin B6 and zinc effectively, which can lead to many health conditions, including anxiety and panic disorders.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): is a common food flavour enhancer and label additive (Number 621). It comprises of the sodium salt of Glutamic Acid, which when ingested converts back to Glutamate. Excessive amounts of MSG can lead to excess Glutamate and the overstimulation of the NMDA receptors.

- Your Mouth Could Be The Key To Anxiety

Studies have shown that people with mercury amalgam fillings have a greater disposition to anxiety than people without mercury amalgam fillings. The studies also found that people with fillings had significantly less pleasant, satisfied, happy, secure and steady feelings and had more difficulty making decisions.

Self Help For Anxiety and Panic Disorders

The first strategy for anyone suffering from anxiety is to try and implement a self-help regime.

Breathing: Deep breathing, particularly in and out throughout the nose. This type of breath activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System, which helps to reduce adrenaline and cortisol, while increasing GABA and Serotonin, making it an essential long-term strategy for the management of anxiety. Try the 5 x 5 x 5 technique - breath in for a count of 5, then out for a count of 5 and do this for 5 minutes. You'll be amazed by the results. 

Exercise: Regular exercise decreases adrenaline and cortisol, while increasing endorphins, the little brain chemicals that make us feel good. Don't think of it as a chore, but a chance to reduces stress and manage anxiety. Do the type of activity that you enjoy, whether that be walking the dog, swimming, weights, team sports or running. 

Meditation: Like exercise, meditation reduces adrenaline and cortisol and increases Alpha Brain Waves which have anti-anxiety effects. Meditation is anything that allows you to relax and focus on one thing at any given moment, including Yoga, Ti Chi or watching ants crawl up the wall. As long as you remain immersed in the moment, that's meditation. 

Healthy Diet: Foods found in nature are full of abundant nutrients, which are required to keep the body functioning at its optimal level. A diet high in alcohol, sugar, white flour products, additives, junk, fried and take-away foods, drain the body's nutritional stores, putting it into a constant state of stress. Whereas, a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, grass-fed meats and wild-caught seafood, provide an abundance of nutrients to help the body maintain health, thus reducing stress. 

Nutritional Supplements to Treat Anxiety

For many sufferers of anxiety the constant stress, lack of sleep, reduced exercise and the Standard American Diet (SAD) or Western Pattern Diet (WPD), leaves the body depleted of nutrients essential to treat and prevent anxiety. 

Title: NatroVital Be-Calm product_name_from_nameOrID: natrovital-be-calm-capsules
Title: product_name_from_nameOrID: natrovital-magexcel-orange
Title: NatroVital Cortisol Calm product_name_from_nameOrID: natrovital-cortisol-calm

- Nutrients To Increase GABA

Many nutrients help maintain GABA, but some are essential, and without them, it becomes challenging for the body to sustain adequate GABA levels. These essential nutrients are L-Glutamine, L-Taurine, Vitamin B6 and Zinc and can be found, along with additional GABA preserving nutrients, in the anti-anxiety, GABA producing formula, Be-Calm. To learn more about increasing GABA levels naturally, please read this health article

- Magnesium Anxiety's Wonder Mineral

Magnesium is often referred to as the calming mineral and plays a significant role in reducing the body's stress response. Unfortunately, this is a double-edged sword, as stress depletes the body's magnesium stores, thus dramatically decreasing its calming effects. Eating a diet high in green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes helps to increase magnesium levels. However, for people suffering from anxiety and stress, magnesium is essential and should be supplemented daily. 

- Herbs To Ease Anxiety and Lower Cortisol 

Thankfully, Mother Nature has provided an abundance of medicinal herbs that help with stress reduction, activation of the GABA Receptors and for treatment of anxiety. Herbs such as St John's Wort, Skullcap, Bacopa, Withania and Ginkgo biloba work synergistically to reduce cortisol levels, negate the effects of adrenaline and thus reduce many of the symptoms of anxiety. Cortisol Calm is a non-alcoholic herbal formula containing a variety of herbs needed to reduce stress, lower elevated cortisol and adrenaline, plus provide relief for depression, panic disorder, insomnia and anxiety.

The information provided in this health article '9 Common Causes Of Anxiety and Panic Disorders' is intended for educational purposes only. We make no claims to diagnose, treat, prevent, alleviate or cure illnesses or diseases with any information or product stated. With any health issue, we suggest you consult your healthcare professional before undertaking any health treatment.

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