Most of us feel anxious from time to time, especially if you are facing a stressful event—like giving a big presentation at work, taking an important test, or maybe getting into a fender-bender.
But for the 40 million or so adults in the US that suffer from anxiety disorders, those gut-wrenching, white-knuckled, shaky feelings are a regular part of their reality.
Same goes for depression.
Most of us feel depressed at one point or another in our lives, especially when faced with significant events like divorce, a job loss, a serious illness or the death of a loved one.
But about 19 million people in the US feel blue more than just occasionally.
And sometimes the conditions exist together! According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), at least half of the people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Of course, the key to feeling better is to get to the root of the problem and do what you can to turn it around.
But that’s much easier said than done.
Although counseling can be extremely effective for many people and even medications have been shown to be helpful in certain cases, sometimes that’s not enough.
Sometimes despite going for therapy and/or taking medications, many people still continue to suffer.
And there’s a very good reason why… actually eight good reasons.
You see, sometimes the cause of a mental health problem isn’t “mental” at all—it’s physical.
Here are 8 possible physical causes behind anxiety and depression. If you’ve suffered from more than just occasional anxious feelings or the blues and nothing seems to help, see if any of these may apply to you:
1- Blood sugar imbalances
Fluctuating blood sugar levels are a common trigger of mental health challenges. If you find yourself craving sweets, coffee and/or cigarettes (all of which can affect your blood sugar levels) then this may be an issue for you.
Common symptoms of spikes and drops in blood sugar include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Palpitations or blackouts
- Chronic fatigue
- Mood swings
- Angry outburst or crying spells
The fix: Get your blood sugar level tested by a doctor.
Also, make sure you have a diet of real foods (like vegetables, fruits, meats, poultry, whole grains and dairy) and ditch the refined carbs. Real foods result in a much slower, even, steady supply of glucose to your bloodstream.
Not only will you get a collection of scrumptious good-for-you recipes, but you’ll learn how to pair foods together to help encourage more comfortable digestion.
2- Drug dependence
When most people see the words “drug dependence” they think addiction to things like painkillers, cocaine, crack, heroin, marijuana or Ecstasy.
That’s very true, and using these substances can bring on anxiety, paranoia, altered perceptions and depression.
But drug dependence also includes alcohol and tobacco.
The fix: This one’s pretty straight-forward. Stop using “recreational” drugs, drink alcohol only in moderation and quit smoking.
If you need help with any of those, get it. Now.
Your physical AND mental health depend on it.
3- Food allergies and intolerances
If you suffer from mood swings for no apparent reason, one possible reason is that you may be reacting to something you’re eating.
One of the most common food substances that’s been linked to mental health problems is gluten—a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. People suffering from a gluten allergy can actually feel like they’re losing their mind after eating gluten.
Other offenders that can cause reactions include milk, oranges, eggs, grains, yeast, shellfish, nuts, beef, pork and onions.
The fix: You can try an elimination test by omitting the foods above from your diet (plus any others that you suspect may be a problem), seeing if you notice an improvement, then reintroducing them back slowly one by one. If you notice symptoms returning after you’ve put a certain food back into your diet, chances are good you have some degree of sensitivity to it.
You can also consult a doctor for a quantitative IgG ELISA allergy test which will examine your allergic reactions to over 50 foods and chemicals.
Once you know what you may be reacting to, then avoidance is crucial.
And if it’s gluten that’s got you going, then Great Taste No Gluten can be just what you need.
In addition to giving you sound advice for eliminating gluten from your life, you’ll also get a collection of scrumptious gluten free recipes and suggestions for creating meals that are delicious, nutritious, gluten free AND easier for your body to digest!
4- Underactive thyroid
A sluggish thyroid can be the culprit behind many feelings of depression, irritability, fatigue and memory problems.
The fix: If you suspect low thyroid function, then have yours tested by a doctor.
But note that all thyroid tests are not created equal.
The “standard” test for thyroid functioning is a TSH test, but sometimes the TSH can miss a sluggish thyroid and here’s why:
Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is actually secreted by your pituitary gland—so to test TSH secretion is not a direct test of thyroid…and is more of a measure of pituitary function.
Plus the TSH test measures your blood level of thyroid hormone at that one split second in time when your blood is drawn.
But your thyroid hormone levels are constantly changing as your body requires—so a “snapshot” blood test is not necessarily an accurate representation of what’s really going on 24/7 with your thyroid.
A FAR more accurate and sensitive test that assesses thyroid health is the “TRH challenge test” also known as the “TRH Stimulation test.” If you’re being checked for thyroid problems your doctor is not familiar with the TRH test, many labs (including Quest Diagnostics) offer it. The CPT code is 83519.
If your doctor is unable or unwilling to do the TRH test, then at least ask that he run the following other tests (in addition to the TSH) to give a more complete picture:
- Total T4
- Total T3
- Free T4
- Free T3
- T3 Uptake
- Reverse T3
- Thyroid Antibodies
5- Heavy metal toxicity
The main culprits here are mercury, lead and cadmium.
- Having a high level of these in your system can bring on symptoms such as:
- Anxiety, extreme fears
- Poor concentration or confusion
- Angry or aggressive feelings
- Emotional instability
- Headaches or migraines
The fix: A hair analysis or urine analysis is key here to detecting heavy metals.
If you find your levels are high, a healthy diet and sound digestion are crucial (see #1 above).
In addition, chelation therapy helps clear heavy metals from your body. It can be done by an IV or with oral chelators. Chelation pulls the metals out of your cells, tissues and organs and puts them into general circulation so your body can eliminate them.
6- Histamine excess
Histamine is the neurotransmitter that is released in connection with an allergic reaction; hence the typical allergy treatment with antihistamines.
However, some people just produce too much histamine, and that can cause a lot more than a stuffy nose and watery eyes. Some of the symptoms of excess histamine are:
- Abnormal fears or compulsions
- Depression or suicidal thoughts
- Obsessive tendencies
- Cry, salivate or feel nauseous easily
- Inner tension
The fix: Have your doctor do a blood test for histamine. If your levels are high, supplementing with 1,000-3,000 mg. a day of Vitamin C can help.
7- Low levels of Vitamins B3, B6 and B12
These three B vitamins are ESSENTIAL to proper mental health, and without them your brain can actually produce chemicals that make you feel out of your mind. Lacking in these vital nutrients can lead to a whole series of disturbing symptoms including:
- Feeling unreal or disconnected
- Hearing your own thoughts
- Anxiety and inner tension
- Suspicious of people
- Inability to think straight
- Frequent mood swings
- Seeing or hearing things abnormally
- Having delusions or illusions
The fix: Make sure you get adequate sources of these B vitamins as follows:
Vitamin B3 (niacin) is found in Crimini mushrooms, tuna, beef, cheese, chicken, salmon, asparagus, lamb, turkey, shrimp, tomatoes and green peas. Suggested supplement doses are 25-300 mg. a day.
Food sources of Vitamin B6 include chicken, spinach, bell peppers, eggs, garlic, tuna, cauliflower, bananas and broccoli. Supplement doses are usually 25-300 mg. a day.
Now, Vitamin B12 is a not quite as straight-forward as the other two B Vitamins in this trio.
First of all, food sources are very limited—animal kidneys and livers, plus beef, herring, fish and eggs all contain small amounts of B12.
Plus B12 absorption through your digestive tract can vary—it depends upon your stomach’s ability to produce enough acid and a compound called intrinsic factor which is necessary for the B12 to be effectively absorbed.
That’s why B12 shots have been recommended so often in the past. Since the B12 is injected directly into your bloodstream, it bypasses any absorbency shortcomings in the GI tract.
But another option has emerged and is gaining popularity because of its relatively low cost and convenience of use—Vitamin B12 sprays!
With a B12 spray, just like an injection, you are able to bypass the GI tract issues since the B12 can instead be absorbed through the mucus membranes under your tongue.
If you suspect you’re low in B12 and you and your doctor agree that supplementation is right for you, then look no farther than Hydroxaden 2.5 B12 spray !
Hydroxaden 2.5 is a Vitamin B12 spray that you simply spritz right under your tongue once each day. In addition to a crucial dose of B12, Hydroxaden 2.5 also gives you niacin (Vitamin B3), Vitamin B6, riboflavin (Vitamin B2).
8- Adrenal imbalance
Excesses of the adrenal hormone adrenaline can result in a state of high anxiety, while low levels can trigger depression.
The fix: Have your adrenal functioning tested by a doctor.
It’s also vital to do what you can to reduce stress, since chronic stress can cause over-secretion of adrenal hormones (excess) and eventually lead to adrenal exhaustion (low functioning).
Plus getting sources of Vitamin C (citrus, tomatoes, bell peppers) and B Vitamins (as shown in #7 above) can help support proper adrenal functioning
If you suffer from anxiety, depression of other mental health challenges, it’s time for you to start feeling better.
Working with a skilled doctor or therapist is very important, but also explore what else may be behind your symptoms and do what you can to naturally help turn that around and support better mental health.
You just might surprise yourself (and your doctor!) and start seeing some welcome changes very soon.