“In his book, Healing Anxiety and Depression, Dr Amen identifies 7 different types of anxiety/depression, based on thousands of brain scans taken at his clinics” said Paula Curtiss, Founding Director for Healing Hands School of Holistic Health. “Each type of anxiety may respond differently to different remedies, whether pharmaceutical or natural, so understanding the type of anxiety you’re dealing with is the first step to finding relief. Fortunately, Dr. Amen has a questionnaire in his book that can be very useful in determining your anxiety type and starting an important conversation with your doctor about appropriate treatment”, she added.
Called the “feel good” brain chemical, Serotonin is a neurotransmitter associated with sleep, appetite and mood. If Serotonin levels are too low, one might experience pessimism, depression, lack of appetite, irritability, anxiety, and irregular sleep patterns. In cases where symptoms of anxiety are severe, your doctor may suggest a medication to boost Serotonin levels. In cases where symptoms of anxiety are less severe, there are a variety of natural remedies that can substantially reduce or even diminish symptoms of anxiety all together.
Pharmaceutical medications to treat anxiety include SSRIs (Selective Serotonin re-uptake Inhibitors) and Benzodiazepines, which increase GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) that has a calming and stabilizing effect on mood. Other medications include Tricyclic Anti-depressants, which are very effective in treating symptoms of anxiety disorder; MAO Inhibitors, which improve symptoms of anxiety with depression and; Beta-blockers, which can be used to reduce the fight or flight response usually associated with high stress levels.
Unfortunately, all pharmaceutical medications can incur some negative side effects. These include minor effects like: dry mouth, stomach upsets, blurred vision, weight gain, memory problems, difficulty concentrating and drowsiness. More severe side-effects may include: an increase in aggressive and/or suicidal thoughts as well as potentially fatal spikes or drops in blood pressure. So, be sure to discuss all your anxiety symptoms with your physician and explore the pros and cons of each medication before deciding on a course of action.
The good news…. there are a number of holistic practices one can enlist to help them boost Serotonin levels in the brain and relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. In addition to the biochemical benefits, taking action to help yourself feel better is empowering and goes a long way toward facilitating the healing process. Natural remedies to reduce anxiety and depression include but are not limited to the following:
Vitamin B6 –B6 taken as a supplement can help with GABA synthesis. GABA – (gamma-aminobutyric acid) occurs naturally in your brain, where it functions as a neurotransmitter and has an inhibitory function – it tends to slow down neuron firing.
Magnesium -is great as a muscle relaxant, and also has a calming effect. Low levels of magnesium are associated with a whole range of disorders, including high blood pressure, diabetes and thyroid imbalances as well as anxiety.
Theanine – Not only does theanine boost GABA (an inhibitory neurotransmitter), it also tones down some of the stimulating neurotransmitters that make you anxious. It also boosts Dopamine – which is one of the “feel good” neurotransmitters.
L-Tryptophan – L Tryptophan is available as a supplement to boost serotonin levels. The recommended dose is 1000-3000 mg per day, taken on an empty stomach with a small amount of carbohydrate for best absorption.
5-HTP – 5 –HTP is another supplement that can increase your brain’s serotonin levels. The recommended dose is 50-10 mg for adults taken two to three times a day. Children would take half this recommended dosage. Taken at night, 5-HTP can help you sleep better as well.
St. John’s Wort – an herbal remedy that can be effective in boosting serotonin levels more gently than prescribed medications. The starting dose for adults is 600 mg taken 2-3 times per day. Be sure to select one with a minimum of 0.3 percent of the active ingredient Hypericin.
Diet/Nutrition – Most types of anxiety will respond well to a high protein low carbohydrate diet. This is because protein will tend to boost dopamine and norepinephrine levels, which are low in some types of anxiety and depression (another reason knowing your anxiety type is important). But people who have Type 4: Over-focused Anxiety/Depression, need to enhance their brain serotonin levels and may respond better to a high carbohydrate diet.
Exercise – Regular exercise is an excellent way to boost your serotonin levels, naturally and safely. Exercise also boosts other feel good neurotransmitters such as dopamine and endorphins, so you’ll reap immediate benefits as well as long term benefits from your efforts.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – In essence, CBT involves identifying your dysfunctional thoughts and then challenging them, with questions such as: Realistically, what are the chances of that happening? And….What other ways are there of looking at this situation?
Healing Hands School of Holistic Health (HHSHH) has been serving residents in Escondido and Laguna Hills for over 24 years. To date, HHSHH’s staff of highly qualified Instructors have prepared more than 6,500 students for successful and rewarding careers as Massage Therapists and Holistic Health Practitioners. To learn more about HHSHH or the 80 + classes offered, please visit us online at www.HealingHandsSchool.com or call us at (949) 305-2722 in Laguna Hills or (760) 746-9364 in Escondido.