by Jaspreet Mundeir on Aug 09, 2022
Anxiety is a very common health complaint, with an estimated 40 million adults affected in the United States annually. While anxiety disorders are treatable, most adults do not reach out for treatment.
Anxiety presents as a variety of symptoms:
- Inability to concentrate
- GI upset
- Chest pains
- Shortness of breath
When our body experiences long term physical or emotional stress, our adrenals produce too much cortisol and over time can become exhausted and produce too little cortisol. High levels of cortisol can contribute to anxiety, insomnia, restless legs, joint pain, high blood pressure and abdominal weight gain . Overexposure to cortisol disrupts the body's ability to function properly .
High levels of stress in our lives can contribute to anxiety, sustained stress and increased cortisol levels can contribute to intensified anxiety [2,3]. Supporting our body and the adrenal glands, through times of stress can help in managing anxiety and recovering from stressful situations in our lives.
Stress management is key in helping our body:
- Eat a healthy diet, decrease intake of sugar and stimulants such a caffeine
- Exercise - do whatever physical activity your body allows - gentle exercises such a yoga, walking
- Meditation, deep breathing, or gentle massage
- Journal - writing your thoughts and emotions down
- Do activities the bring you joy
- Spend time building a healthy support network
People suffering from anxiety would benefit from finding a purpose and meaning in life and also planning their day or week to help feel in control. People who view their life as predictable, manageable and meaningful generally experience less anxiety . Research has also shown that we detect threats on different levels based on our level of anxiety. People with an anxious predisposition detect social threats in a much faster manner . While anxiety may serve a purpose, long term and increased anxious states can be debilitating and should be appropriately addressed.
- Stress effects on the body. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/body.
- Boudarene M, Legros JJ, Timsit-Berthier M. [Study of the stress response: role of anxiety, cortisol and DHEAs]. L'encephale. 2002 Mar-Apr;28(2):139-146. PMID: 11972140.
- Schiefelbein VL, Susman EJ. Cortisol Levels and Longitudinal Cortisol Change as Predictors of Anxiety in Adolescents. The Journal of Early Adolescence. 2006;26(4):397-413. doi:10.1177/0272431606291943
- Kenneth E. Hart, James B. Hittner, Kerry C. Paras, Sense of coherence, trait anxiety, and the perceived availability of social support, Journal of Research in Personality, Volume 25, Issue 2, 1991, Pages 137-145, ISSN 0092-6566, https://doi.org/10.1016/0092-6566(91)90010-N.
- Marwa El Zein, Valentin Wyart, Julie Grèzes. Anxiety dissociates the adaptive functions of sensory and motor response enhancements to social threats. eLife, 2015; 4 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.10274