We all worry about things from time to time—finances, your health or that of a family member, feeling safe or a situation at work. However when that worry interferes with your daily life and relationships, and it doesn’t go away, it crosses the line and becomes anxiety.
There are actually different kinds of anxiety, called anxiety disorders. They include:
Generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD.
This is when the everyday situations and issues that cause most people to worry grow out of proportion and become the source of chronic and severe worry that lasts for months or longer.
Panic disorder describes anxiety that is severe enough to cause panic attacks. A panic attack is an extreme but irrational feeling of impending doom that causes symptoms such as a racing heart, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, and numbness or tingling in your extremities. What makes panic attacks even scarier is that they often seemingly come out of nowhere, and the physical symptoms increase the feeling of doom. Many people who have had a panic attack describe it as feeling like they are dying, and many end up in the emergency department.
Phobias. Snakes? Spiders? Heights? These are all common fear triggers for many people. However, when you have an intense fear of something that’s not particularly dangerous, that’s a phobia. The difference between a fear and a phobia is the lengths that you’ll go to avoid a phobia. For example, many people have a fear of flying, but a phobia causes you to never step on an airplane, or if you do it becomes the source of panic. In addition, social anxiety can be a phobia if it causes you to avoid social situations or crowded settings.
Experts aren’t sure what causes anxiety disorders, but they have some clues as to what raises your risk for developing one. Early childhood trauma, being shy in general and a family history of mental health increase your risk for developing anxiety. In addition, while social anxiety occurs equally in men and women, phobias and generalized anxiety occur more frequently in women. Anxiety may also have underlying physical causes, such as a thyroid imbalance, irregular heartbeats or adrenal gland issues.
If You Have Anxiety, There’s Help
Conventional treatments for anxiety may involve therapy to help you control how you react to anxiety triggers, and anti-anxiety medications and some classes of antidepressants may also provide relief. For people who are looking for a more natural approach to their anxiety, our team at BodaHealth has a lot to offer:
- Several reviews of the research have concluded that acupuncture treatments can be beneficial in treating anxiety. Acupuncture increases the circulation of neurotransmitters in your brain that are responsible for regulating your mood and instilling feelings of calm. In addition, acupuncture can help balance your body’s hormones, including your stress hormones. Furthermore, acupuncture activates your parasympathetic nervous system—the part of your nervous system linked to relaxation, recovery and digestion.
- Chinese medicine, in the form of herbs is a good way to augment acupuncture treatments and target specific symptoms. Herbs are included in each formula to target your specific needs and symptoms, and they can be modified as your condition changes.
- Dietary therapy is often an important component in dealing with anxiety disorders. Our naturopathic physician, acupuncture practitioners and holistic nutritionist can help assess your diet for any elements that may be aggravating your anxiety. They can also provide dietary guidelines and prescribe supplements to help balance your blood sugar and stress hormones and address any nutritional deficiencies that are contributing to your symptoms. The naturopathic physician on our team is able to run lab tests and prescribe medications, when necessary.
- Massage therapy can be an important tool in addressing anxiety disorders. Beyond feeling good, the physical and psychological benefits of massage can address anxiety in a number of ways. Our massage therapists at BodaHealth are trained and experienced in assessing your needs and providing sessions that are relaxing, relieve stress, produce calm and loosen tight and tense muscles.
Anxiety can be scary, confusing and interfere with your life. However, there’s good news in the fact that there’s help. At BodaHealth, we’ve worked with many people to help them get their anxiety under control and back to living their life again. If you struggle with anxiety, let us help you too. Give us a call for more information.
Dr. Jeda Boughton is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Registered Acupuncturist in Vancouver. She is also a Registered Herbologist and the founder of BodaHealth.