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6 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Anxiety and Panic Attacks

It’s normal to feel anxious every now and then. But anxiety disorders are different. They can cause interference with your ability to lead a normal life. For some people, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming, and can be disabling.

General symptoms of anxiety disorders include:

Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
Problems sleeping
Cold or sweaty hands or feet
Shortness of breath
Heart palpitations
Not being able to be still and calm
Dry mouth
Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
Muscle tension

6 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Anxiety and Panic Attacks

1. Inadequate levels of the B vitamins, especially B12, B6 and folate, may play a role in mental disorders. Vitamin B6 helps produce neurotransmitters and serotonin and norepinephrine (the mood-regulating hormones). Folate with B6 and B12 create the pleasure hormone, dopamine. You must consistently eat folate-rich foods or take a supplement because our bodies do not store folate. Vitamin B deficiency can make you more vulnerable to anxiety and panic disorders because it causes symptoms from irritability to paranoia.

2. Researchers now believe that panic and anxiety disorders may be caused from insufficient or poor-quality sleep. The National Sleep Foundation reports that “those with persistent insomnia have a significantly increased risk of psychiatric disorders like anxiety”. During a sleep study conducted by Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine, they found symptoms of anger, reduced optimism, sadness and stress in those who slept only four hours a night.

3. Calcium supports the health of the brain and central nervous system. A calcium deficiency may cause symptoms of an anxiety or panic disorder. Make sure you support your parathyroid gland by making sure you have adequate dietary or supplementary calcium so that it can continue to regulate and function properly.

4. Magnesium deficiency can also contribute to feelings of irritability, anxiety and depression. A 2006 study showed that magnesium supplementation improved neurological dysfunction, such as depression, in magnesium-deficient individuals.

5. Researchers have found the balance of bacteria in your gut may have a correlation to your mood.

“To confirm that bacteria can influence behaviour, the researchers colonized germ-free mice with bacteria taken from mice with a different behavioural pattern. They found that when germ-free mice with a genetic background associated with passive behaviour were colonized with bacteria from mice with higher exploratory behaviour, they became more active and daring. Similarly, normally active mice became more passive after receiving bacteria from mice whose genetic background is associated with passive behavior.” -Collins

6. According to the latest medical research, 95% of the mood-controlling hormone serotonin resides in your gut. The gut communicates to the brain through the vagus nerve (fibers that connect your brain down through the neck and chest then into your belly).

When we think about something that makes us nervous, we often have a physical reaction in our stomach, usually referred to as getting “butterflies in your stomach” but science suggests it also works the other way around. If your gut isn’t happy, your mood won’t be either.
Patients who suffer from IBS (unexplained GI discomforts) are far more likely to suffer from mood-related disorders. In a recent study of generalized anxiety disorder among IBS patients, were found to be 5 times as high as the rate in the general population. And IBS was 5 times more common in anxiety patients than mentally healthy people. Unfortunately, this can be, in of itself, a self-perpetuating cycle. Anxiety and stress can set off IBS symptoms which usually increases the stress level in return.
Dangers of modern day anxiety medications
According to research published in the April 2011 edition of the Journal of Clinical Psychology, in many cases, these drugs are given as a way to suppress general mood issues or sedate people with insomnia. About 25% of people who are given these dangerous medications do not have a proper diagnosis.

Anti-anxiety medications are among the most prescribed in the United States According to a report in the 2010 Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, “people who use anti-anxiety medication have a 36% increased mortality risk” (risk of death) than people not using these medications.

The most common side effects of anxiety medications:Hypotension (low blood pressure)Decreased sex drive/libidoNauseaLack of coordinationDisinhibitionDepressionAggresion and violenceMemory lossDifficulty thinkingDecreased IQHeart problemsPersistent pulmonary hypertension (possibly fatal lung disease)Increased bleeding riskInteractions with other medications

Incorporating these items into your diet may help reduce the symptoms of anxiety:
•Calcium rich foods: such as dairy products, kale, spinach, broccoli, sesame seeds and kelp will help your body maintain a regular heart rate during panic attacks.

•Vitamin B6: Avocados, walnuts, brown rice, sunflower seeds, eggs, poultry, potatoes and broccoli are rich sources of vitamin B6. Whole-grain products are also rich sources of B vitamins. All of the B vitamins help regulate the function of the central nervous system, which is essential for the management of anxiety and stress. It also helps your body absorb and use protein and fats for nervous system and brain cell repair.

•Zinc: consuming foods such as black beans, fish, lentils, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds and alfalfa will increase your zinc intake. This mineral may help calm your central nervous system.

•Whole Grains: whole-grain pastas, breads, bagels, tortillas and muffins contain carbohydrates which are thought to increase the amount of serotonin in your brain. This has a calming effect on the brain and body.

•Omega-3 fatty acids: lower anxiety levels. Nutritionists recommend including wild caught salmon and other fish high in Omega-3s to your diet several times a week.

•Tryptophan can be found in a variety of foods: turkey, chicken, bananas, milk, oats, cheese, nuts, peanut butter, and sesame seeds. Researchers believe that tryptophan, an amino acid, helps your brain produce feel-good chemicals that can have a positive effect on stress. “Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter, helps you feel calm,” said San Francisco nutritionist Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD, a spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Additional food to eat to reduce anxiety and maintain calm state:
Wholegrain cereals
Wheat germ
Brewers yeast
Paw paw
Stone fruit
Stop or reduce consumption of products that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, and chocolate.

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