As nature intended it, anxiety serves a useful purpose. Characterized by the fear or worry that something bad will happen, normal anxiety occurs occasionally in response to situations that threaten our sense of security. This helps us avoid harm and remember not to put ourselves in the same potentially dangerous situation in the future. Anxiety is a normal stress response that has been conserved throughout human evolution and is evident in all other animals.
However, when anxiety occurs inappropriately in response to normal everyday events, it can become a debilitating condition known as anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders cause a person to be constantly "primed," or "tense" in expectation of an impending threat to their physical or psychological well-being. Symptoms of anxiety disorders are often chronic, and can include difficulty concentrating, irritability, tense muscles, sleep disturbances, and trouble overcoming worries.
The conventional health care model typically attempts to alleviate anxiety with an array of psychoactive drugs that either mimic or manipulate neurotransmitter signaling. For instance, medications for anxiety might either increase the recycling of existing neurotransmitters or bind directly to neurotransmitter receptors and block or activate them, artificially altering mood. However, psychoactive drugs fall short of addressing the underlying causes of anxiety—hormonal and metabolic imbalances that emerge as our bodies attempt to adapt to chronic stress.
Recognizing and responding to underappreciated risk factors for anxiety disorders, such as elevated homocysteine and sex hormone imbalances, is an important aspect of any treatment regimen. Sadly, mainstream physicians often fail to address these subtleties, an oversight that undoubtedly contributes to the paltry 50% success rate of conventional anxiety treatments.
Anxiety is a multifaceted disorder and must be addressed as such in order to achieve symptomatic relief. Clinical studies indicate that nutrients such as omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, magnesium, and adaptogenic herbs like rhodiola can synergize with healthy eating habits and stress management techniques to effectively optimize the body's stress response mechanisms and support healthy neurological communication. Moreover, compounds such as B-vitamins and amino acids can provide the raw materials the body needs to ensure proper neurotransmitter synthesis and signaling.