It is minutes before the big presentation, final exam, or medical test results, and you begin to feel your heart pounding, your palms sweating, and your breath shortening.
Anxiety, though unpleasant to experience, is a natural human emotion that is there to warn us of potential danger.
However, for some, anxiety becomes a crippling condition that impedes their ability to live a normal life. For these sufferers, we must ask the question: Is it more than psychological?
The Varying Degrees of Anxiety
Anxiety manifests differently in people’s lives with varying levels of severity. Some commonly diagnosed conditions associated with anxiety include Panic disorder, PTSD, General Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety, and various phobias.
Those experiencing moderate to severe anxiety can show signs of both physical and psychological struggles, such as:
- Panic, fear, or nervousness
- Uncontrolled thoughts
- Reoccurring thoughts regarding traumatic experiences
- Frequent nightmares
- Compulsive behaviors
- Difficulty sleeping
- Muscle tension
- Sweaty palms or cold hands
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling shaky or hyperactive
- Dry mouth
- Numbness or tingling
Because anxiety can take such a major toll on the physical health of an individual along with their mental health, it is no wonder that many question whether or not a chemical imbalance in the brain has something to do with it.
Is Your Anxiety Caused By a Chemical Imbalance in the Brain?
So, is anxiety a condition completely out of our control? Well yes, and also no.
Here is what we definitely know about anxiety:
- Low serotonin levels increase the severity of anxiety.
- Additionally, anxiety lowers the levels of serotonin.
- Likewise, too many chemicals or misfired neurotransmitters can also cause anxiety.
Therefore, it is very possible that a chemical imbalance in the brain is playing a role in your anxiety. But perhaps the real challenge is deciphering which came first—the anxiety or the imbalance?
It is highly unlikely that mild anxiety is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. For more moderate and severe anxiety, we can link chemical imbalances to anxiety. However, we are more successful in treating it when we consider it as a condition derived from both environmental stresses and biological predispositions.
For example, someone with a family history of an anxiety disorder is more likely to develop anxiety but their environment will also affect their levels of stress, which in turn affects their chemistry.
What many professionals caution against is only treating the chemical imbalance with medication. Rather, many professionals begin a treatment plan to establish coping methods for the patients to help lower serotonin levels.
If the coping skills are not enough, then medication can be introduced in combination with continued therapy.
Treating Your Anxiety Effectively
When tackling your anxiety, consider a holistic approach to lifestyle and therapy plan that promotes healthy coping and healthy brain chemistry.
Poor exercise and sleep are proven to cause chemical imbalances. Likewise, diet can positively affect the function of neurotransmitters.
In addition, a certified therapist might introduce you to therapy centered around mindfulness and cognitive therapy. These therapies examine how our behavior and relationships become established in early life and then work to instill the capacity for positive growth.
The goal of mindfulness, for example, is to examine how your potential becomes stunted by challenges and various obstacles and then begins developing the faculties to overcome these challenges. Often, this form of therapy utilizes an integrated approach of thoughts, feelings, and actions to isolate your struggles and reinforce positive coping skills.
Anxiety can be a debilitating condition that reeks havoc on the mind, body, and daily life of those who suffer from it. Some days, the battle against the emotional and physical symptoms can seem hopeless and far beyond our control. Unfortunately, links between chemical imbalances and anxiety prove true.
Proper therapy that helps establish effective coping skills can improve the chemical imbalances that aggravate anxiety symptoms. If you would like to know more about what anxiety treatments we offer, please click HERE.