What’s the Problem, Dr. Korman?
by Dr. Laura Korman, DC
Q: Can I reduce anxiety without the use of medications?
A: It is estimated that 18 percent of Americans suffer from anxiety, and half of those Americans also suffer from depression. One main contributor to the onset of these mood disorders is a traumatic life event. We all know that 2020 was a year of fear, isolation and uncertainty which, for some people, resulted in loneliness, depression and anxiety.
Genetics dies play a role in a person’s susceptibility to mental health issues, as well as the environment in which that person was raised or how they were nurtured by those around them. However, it’s recently discovered that a traumatic life event is the main cause of unmanageable anxiety and depression. Perhaps even more surprising, this is not just a the result of a stressful situation itself, but the perception of not being able to cope with a traumatic life event.
While psychotropic medication might be able to help in the short-term, when dealing with an acute unexpected life event, medications slowly deplete the body's natural production of the neurotransmitters they are designed to improve. Long-term nutrition and lifestyle solutions are the best ways to optimize mental health.
Another positive strategy to handle life’s unexpected stresses is to practice visualization with prayer, meditation and affirmations. The brain cannot hold onto two different thoughts at the same time, so as a result, you can train the brain to believe in your own abilities to handle fear in a new and constructive way.
The nervous system, which controls thoughts and emotions, can be trained to align with your “chosen” affirmations through a practice called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). This is a form of psychological acupressure which uses light tapping with your fingertips at specific meridian points on your head, face, rib cage and wrists.
Verbally expressing a fear, problem or traumatic event, while you perform a tapping sequence, then voicing a positive affirmation can break this circuit of emotional pain and allow a more balanced mind-body connection to restore optimal health. One place you can learn this simple technique to quickly lower fear and anxiety, is by watching EFT Tapping with Julie Schiffman on YouTube.
You might also notice that your gut is often negatively affected under stress, but you might not understand the reason why. All the neurotransmitters that the brain uses for mood, motivation and sleep are manufactured, in large part, in the gut by foods you eat and the presence or absence of healthy microbiota (friendly bacteria). The gut is actually considered a second brain because of the direct influence the two have on each other.
According to Dr. Joe Mercola, unhealthy gut flora alone can lead to mental health issues including anxiety, depression, autism and more. Research has shown the probiotic Lactobacillus Rhamnosus had a marked effect on raising GABA levels. This neurotransmitter is shown to be low in people with anxiety. This probiotic was also shown to lower corticosterone, a stress-induced hormone which results in lower anxiety and depression.
Avoiding processed foods and refined sugars, while consuming vegetables, fermented foods a high-quality probiotic supplement, will help the gut effectively make neurotransmitters to stabilize your emotional health. You might also consider a gluten-free diet (also shown to reduce anxiety in some people) for a period of two or three weeks to see how you feel.
Other lifestyle factors that can help optimize your mental health include consistent exercise, sun exposure (without burning) to increase vitamin D levels, supplementation with high-quality omega-3 oils (these healthy fats are vital to reducing depression), vitamin B complex and magnesium, seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night, and other stress management techniques as mentioned above.
I hope you found this information valuable. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, please reach out to someone for help. If you would like further one on one direction with lifestyle and nutrition, please feel free to contact me at 941-629-6700 or visit DrLauraKorman.com..