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Anxiety: Is it All in Your Head?

*What is anxiety, and when is it more than natural worry?

We all feel anxious and worried at times. Our bodies are naturally wired with the so-called fight-or-flight mechanism which is triggered in response to stressful situations. It is normal to feel anxious before an important business meeting or final exam, or when you are awaiting the results of a medical test. But when worry and fear become so constant and overwhelming that they are interfering with your ability to function normally, it is possible that you have an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are the most common forms of mental illness, affecting an estimated 18% of adults in the United States alone. There are several different types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder, as well as specific phobias (irrational and overwhelming fears). While each type of anxiety disorder has specific characteristics, they all share many similarities in the effects they have on the body and brain.

* Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder

The typical symptoms of an anxiety disorder include the following:

– Unfounded fear, worry, or panic;
– Obsessive thoughts;
– Nightmares and insomnia;
– Chest palpitations;
– Shortness of breath;
– Numbness in the extremities;
– Nausea;
– Dizziness;
– Dry mouth;
– Inability to remain calm.

* Causes of Anxiety

Unfortunately, many people tend to view emotional disorders such as depression or anxiety as a sign of personal weakness; however, medical research has shown this assessment to be completely false. While the precise causes of anxiety and other emotional disorders are not yet fully understood, it is clear that changes in brain chemistry and environmental stressors play a tremendous role.

We know that extreme or long-lasting stress can cause imbalances in the neurotransmitters which control mood and behavior; in addition, certain structures in the brain tend to show abnormalities in people with anxiety disorders. Since anxiety and depression appear to run in families, it is understood that there is also a genetic factor.

* Treating and Preventing Anxiety Disorder

The good news is that, with greater understanding of the causes of anxiety disorders, most people who suffer from them can be successfully treated and enjoy a normal, satisfying life.

Medications and psychotherapy are often used in the treatment of anxiety disorders; however, changes in diet and lifestyle, along with the use of natural neurotransmitter boosters, are increasingly preferred for dealing with mental issues.

Eating a healthy diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and lean protein, while avoiding refined and processed foods provides your body with the nutritional building blocks for maintaining healthy body and brain function. Anxiety supplements can help to maintain the correct balance of the neurotransmitters which affect mood and thought; exercise is critically important for improving blood flow to the brain and stimulating the neurotransmitters which provide a sense of calm and well-being.

Lifestyle changes are also in order for treating and preventing anxiety. Do your best to avoid stressful situations, and make sure that you take the time each day to engage in a soothing, relaxing activity that you enjoy. Yoga, meditation, or simply listening to soft music are of great benefit in helping you to cope with the stress of daily life.

Find out more about the causes of anxiety and the natural anxiety remedies available by visiting Valerie Balandra NP is a nurse practitioner that takes a holistic approach in treating patients. She can be reached for consultations by calling 941 371-7997.

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