Anxiety can manifest in many forms ranging from mild to severe and can significantly impact one’s normal routine and quality of life.
Anxiety may take the form of panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder or social anxiety disorder.
Severe anxiety can lead to panic attacks, rapid heart beat, chest pain and difficulty breathing. In these cases, patients are often taken to the hospital emergency room only to be given anti-anxiety medication to decrease these symptoms. But these medications only provide temporary help and do not get to the root of the problem.
Conventional Treatment of Anxiety
Anxiety is typically treated with anxiolytics, or anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines, beta-blockers or antidepressants.
Functional Medicine Management of Anxiety
While there are effective nutritional and herbal treatments for symptomatic relief for anxiety, in Functional Medicine we strive to determine the cause of the anxiety and address these underlying causal factors.
A comprehensive approach to the management of anxiety must take into consideration many aspects of health, including gut barrier integrity and imbalances of gut flora, liver detoxification capacity and toxic burden, hormone imbalances, energy production capacity, nutrient status and immune imbalances which promote inflammatory states. More generally, Functional Medicine approaches anxiety by supporting normal physiology of the body which can impact brain function and may contribute to the development and progression of anxiety.
There are several areas of management of anxiety in the Functional Medicine approach:
- Restoring normal gut barrier integrity, digestion and gut microbial balance
- Supporting liver detoxification processes and decreasing toxic load
- Supporting restoration of physiologic hormone levels, including estrogen and progesterone levels throughout the monthly menstrual cycle in women
- Supporting restoration of brain neurotransmitters and neurotransmitter function responsible for mood, relaxation and anxiety
- Restoring normal blood-brain barrier function
- Restoring healthy levels of nutrients in cases of nutritional deficiencies (especially vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, folate, essential fatty acids, vitamin D, minerals such as Mg, Zn, Fe and other key nutrients for the brain)
- Identifying and removing food sensitivities which can trigger neuroinflammation and anxiety
- Identifying and managing signs of chronic inflammation