STRESS vs. ANXIETY vs. DEPRESSION
Stress happens to everyone in varying degrees and is caused by everyday living and stressors. It can result in dozens of symptoms. The ability to manage stress will vary depending on the individual. Those who live with above normal stressors that affect energy, motivation, mood, and health and are already applying lifestyle changes (such as exercise, nutrition, mindfulness), but could still use help managing their stress response may want to consider natural stress support.
Anxiety affects roughly 18% of the population and is caused by stress, fear or apprehension (real or perceived). It results in extreme and often debilitating symptoms and is difficult to manage without treatment. It is characterized by excessive, irrational fears of everyday situations, panic attacks, persistent and unrelenting worry that is difficult to control and interferes with cognitive, physical and behavioral functioning.
Depression is described as persistent sadness that interferes with daily life and normal functioning. Characteristics include depressed mood, irritability, diminished interest and pleasure, significant changes in weight/appetite, insomnia or excessive sleep, fatigue & low energy, feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or excessive guilt, diminished ability to think, concentrate or make decisions, recurring thoughts of death and/or suicide.
5 KEY SUGGESTIONS
1. Eliminate Triggers
- Avoid toxins in environment, personal products, cleaning supplies and food
- Control underlying issues if necessary – such as inflammation, candida overgrowth, constipation, hormone imbalances (thyroid/estrogen), etc.
- Minimize sugar, caffeine, alcohol, processed/refined foods and sensitivities
- Consider a liver cleanse and drink plenty of water!
2. Improve Gut Health
The brain and the gut are on a two-way street of constant communication. Gut bacteria communicate with and influence brain function. The gut brain produces a wide range of hormones and neurotransmitters of the same classes as those found in the head brain. Gut brain problems such as bacteria imbalance can cause mental health symptoms. Digestive health is of utmost importance. Consider the following suggestions:
- PROBIOTICS– replenish good bacteria and support gut/brain connection
- Fibre – ensure proper elimination, blood sugar balance and toxin removal
- Digestive Enzymes– needed to break down and absorb nutrients
3. Correct Nutrient Deficiencies
- MULTIVITAMIN made up of highly absorbable vitamins, trace minerals, amino acids and anti-oxidants to help support/balance brain chemistry. Key nutrients include Magnesium, Vitamins D, C and B complex.
- OMEGA Fatty Acids (i.e. Fish Oils) are required by brain cells to transmit signals that enable proper thinking, moods, and emotions.
- Choose to consume whole, raw, nutrient-dense, naturally-grown, organic, single-ingredient foods as much as possible.
- 5 HTP – Direct building block to serotonin (our “happy hormone”) and helps improve mood, cravings, insomnia.
- John’s Wort (Hypericum) – traditionally used for the treatment of nervous disorders such as restlessness, anxiety, and depressive moods.
- GABA – reduces acute stress and nervousness, quickly restores mental calmness, promotes clarity, physical relaxation and improves cognitive functions and cravings.
- L-Theanine – reduces stress, tension and PMS symptoms, improves sleep quality, promotes relaxation, heightens mental acuity and reduces side effects of caffeine. Top of Form
- L-Tyrosine – alleviates both the mental and physical effects of stress, helps balance mood and maintain focus, normalizes heart rate and blood pressure under conditions of stress.
- Kava Kava - promotes relaxation, helps calm nervousness and anxiety, supports mental focus, restful sleep and minimizes negative effects of stress.
- Passionflower – known as a “calming” herb for anxiety or nervousness and insomnia.
- Lemon Balm – helps decompress by reducing anxiety-like reactivity under stressful situations and increases availability of GABA in the brain.
Your ability to adapt to long term stressors depends on optimal function of the adrenal glands and cortisol regulation. ADAPTOGENS are herbs that assist the body in adapting to stress by supporting the adrenal glands and enhancing resistance to stress. Example include Siberian Ginseng, Rhodiola, Ashwaghanda, Holy Basil, etc.
5. Lifestyle Factors
- Exercise Regularly & Balance Blood Sugar Levels
- Consider Light Therapy/Increase Sun Exposure
- Try Acupuncture!
- Emotional Support Group/Counselling
- Stress Management Techniques (laughing, journaling, stretching, simplicity, aromatherapy, etc.)
Be sure to consult a Health Care Practitioner in addition to considering natural supplementation when assessing mental health concerns.
This column is sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach -