Get a Grip! – Understanding Anxiety
David M. Marquis, DC, DACBN
Anxiety affects one out of every four Americans. Women have a higher risk and incidence for it, due to developmental, societal, and endocrine factors. Anxiety disorder research in general is progressing but has largely been focused on pharmaceutical intervention which in many cases has proved to be as detrimental as the condition itself. Due to greater understanding of brain plasticity and the ability to facilitate new neural pathways many innovative, non-pharmaceutical-based therapies are now available to actually correct the condition.
Those who suffer with anxiety often feel exhausted, stressed, and overwhelmed. They can’t concentrate due to intense internal focus. Others obsess about specific things. Anxiety is easily detected if someone appears outwardly nervous. However, anxious people might outwardly appear calm but their brain seems to never quiet down and has a sense of constant “noise” in it.
The persistent internal chatter can get so bad that it interrupts their sleep and compromises their quality of life. These people aren’t living in the present, they keep worrying about the future or things from their past.
Anti-anxiety medications are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States. However, medications only relieve symptoms of anxiety, they don’t address the cause. Some causes of anxiety are more obvious than others. Many things we ingest can trigger the response such as stimulants like caffeine, diet pills, energy drinks, or other supplements that are marketed to increase energy. Other times anxiety is due to psychological or emotional stressors, such as having to speak in public or prepare for a major event.
Chronic anxiety however can have lesser-known causes that, if managed, can relieve symptoms and negate the need for medication. The root of anxiety can sometimes beneurologically complex, but other times it can be as simple as making some changes to your diet and lifestyle. Here I have listed a few lesser-known triggers of anxiety.
GAD and anxiety
GAD stands for glutamic acid decarboxylase. This is an enzyme that regulates the brain’s primary calming chemical, called GABA as well as Insulin (which controls sugar). Many people develop an autoimmune reaction to GAD, which means their immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys it. These are the folks that can’t make enough GABA to calm the brain and anxiety escalates. This type of autoimmunity is also associated with OCD, Vertigo, and TIC’s and is identified with specific blood testing and controlled dietarily.
Gluten and anxiety
For many its hard to accept something as innocent as your daily bread or a plate of pasta could cause anxiety, but mounds of research confirm that is the case. Gluten acts as a trigger for inflammation in the brain and creates an autoimmune attack against brain tissue. A gluten-free diet is an important first step, but many people find they also need to eliminate other “cross” reactive foods such as dairy, soy, eggs, and other grains to dampen immune flare-ups and anxiety. An anti-inflammatory autoimmune diet is essential to address brain health.
Blood sugar and anxiety
Chronic health issues secondary to blood sugar imbalance are numerous. The root cause is eating a high-carbohydrate diet. When you consume carbs such as breads, pasta, rice, potatoes, desserts, and soda you send blood sugar and insulin spiking up and then they come crashing down. For many this dietary pattern is a daily event. This creates neurological symptoms, including anxiety, depression, mood swings, irritability, and fatigue. Skipping meals and drinking too much coffee also feeds this cycle. A lower-carb diet with enough healthy proteins and fats can keep energy high and calm anxiety.
Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and anxiety
Five out of every 6 cases of hypothyroidism are autoimmune, meaning the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. When an autoimmune attack begins it can cause symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, and heart palpitations. In these cases managing the autoimmune aspect of the thyroid condition (which thyroid medications does nothing for) can control the anxiety.
Neural-Feedback and anxiety
The beauty of the brain is that if you have cleared out the fundamental metabolic triggers previously mentioned and still note symptoms then QEEG guided neurofeedback has an extremely high probability of solving the problem. This type of therapy literally creates new and permanent neural pathways in the brain to overcome undesirable patterns and traits.
Helping people learn to calm or quiet themselves is by far the best and most effective solution for anxiety. QEEG guided neurofeedback is the quickest and fastest way to permanently change poor neural pathways and create the ability to regain control of your life. These technologies have been used for decades with solid, proven results. One can learn more about how to decrease anxiety through neurofeedback at www.centralcoastclearmind.com.
Dr. Marquis wrote this article and it was first published in the San Luis Obispo Information Press. It can be seen in its original format here.
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Dr. Dave Marquis, DC, DACBN
Oak Park Wellness Clinic
860 Oak Park Blvd. #202
Arroyo Grande, CA 93420