Understanding what happens in the brain during anxiety is the crucial first step in taking control (part 1). Recognizing the role of hormonal changes or imbalances as significant factors in anxiety can be an enlightening moment, particularly for women experiencing perimenopause.
When a woman with anxiety seeks help in my clinical practice, our aim is to identify the root causes and develop a comprehensive plan to address or support those issues. Sometimes the solution is as simple as addressing deficiencies in iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D, or uncovering an underlying thyroid condition. Other times, a thorough intake or hormone testing through blood or urine, such as the DUTCH test, may be necessary to reveal the true nature of the problem.
Managing anxiety, like most health concerns, requires a multifaceted approach to regain a sense of control.
1. Exercise: Regular exercise reduces muscle tension, increases serotonin and GABA levels, and activates the part of the brain responsible for executive function, aiding in the regulation of the amygdala (refer to part 1 of Hormones and Anxiety).
2. Restorative sleep: Research shows that brain activity after periods of sleep deprivation resembles patterns seen in anxiety disorders. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep as an adult.
3. Alcohol consumption: Engage in an honest conversation with yourself about your alcohol consumption. Alcohol not only causes blood sugar spikes but also depletes the body of GABA, a calming neurotransmitter.
4. Blood sugar/insulin sensitivity: Recognize the significant role of blood sugar regulation in overall health, inflammation, aging, and mental well-being. Focus on managing blood sugar levels throughout the day to alleviate mood and anxiety disorders.
5. Seed cycling: Support estrogen and progesterone balance by incorporating 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed from day 1-14 and 2 tablespoons of raw sunflower seeds from day 15-28 (or with the moon’s cycle if irregular or in menopause).
6. Cruciferous veggies: Consume a serving of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, or kale daily. These vegetables aid in estrogen metabolism, leading to fewer hormonal fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle.
7. Supplementation and herbal medicine: A personalized approach is essential here, considering the wide array of effective tools available. Magnesium and taurine are supplements commonly used to support the nervous system and the brain. Additionally, GABA, theanine, chaste-tree, lemon balm, lavender, kava kava, lemon balm, or homeopathy may be employed to address acute or chronic anxiety based on the individual’s root cause.
8. Soothe your parasympathetic nervous system: Engage in activities such as hugging a tree, socializing, interacting with animals, taking slow exhales, finishing showers with cold water, and maintaining regular physical activity. These practices help slow down and calm the nervous system.
For a comprehensive assessment of your hormonal balance and its relationship to anxiety, I encourage you to book an initial consultation with me. Together, we can develop an individualized plan of action tailored to your specific needs.
We recently came back from a weekend vacation and I was pleasantly surprised by the teens on the beach and at the pool that were enjoying the sun and their families and not on their phones. Proof it happens, albeit probably not without challenges.
Here are some tips to encourage and motivate teens to engage in more outdoor and offline activities.