Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States alone. Many people in the scientific community have spent their lives researching the role anxiety plays in our lives, and why it is so prominent in today’s world.
Despite their success in research, we are still not entirely clear on what causes anxiety to develop, or what makes it reoccur in our lives.
Healthline says this:
“In the case of an anxiety disorder, the feeling of fear may be with you all the time. It is intense and sometimes debilitating.
This type of anxiety may cause you to stop doing things you enjoy. In extreme cases, it may prevent you from entering an elevator, crossing the street, or even leaving your home. If left untreated, the anxiety will keep getting worse.
Anxiety disorders are the most common form of emotional disorder and can affect anyone at any age. According to the American Psychiatric Association, women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.”
Anxiety can severely impact every aspect of your life, preventing you from completing even the most mundane, everyday tasks.
“Anxiety feels different depending on the person experiencing it. Feelings can range from butterflies in your stomach to a racing heart. You might feel out of control, like there’s a disconnect between your mind and body. Other ways people experience anxiety include nightmares, panic attacks, and painful thoughts or memories that you can’t control. You may have a general feeling of fear and worry, or you may fear a specific place or event,” reports Healthline.
Psychologists, as well as physicians, have many theories about the root causes of the condition. A range of factors can work together to cause an anxiety disorder. People with anxiety disorders regularly have a genetic predisposition towards them, and physical factors, such as an imbalance of hormones and chemical messengers in areas of the brain, also play an important role. However, nothing has been proven to be the sole cause of anxiety.
There has been one study which has come close to confirming the link between anxiety and vitamin deficiency.
One Japanese study found an important connection between nutritional deficits- specifically, iron and vitamin B6 deficiencies- and poor mental health. It suggested that low levels of these crucial nutrients can trigger neurochemical changes in the brain, causing an onset of panic and hyperventilation.
21 participants who presented with varying levels of anxiety-related episodes were assessed by the research team, who analyzed their nutritional levels. The anxiety levels within the group varied, with some experiencing fairly minor attacks and others warranting a trip to the hospital emergency room.
They simultaneously examined the same nutritional values in a control group. Data analysis revealed that those who experienced anxiety had lower levels of iron and B6 compared to the control group.
So what’s the connection? Many theorists agree that serotonin, a powerful neurotransmitter, plays a huge role in anxiety. Known as the ‘happiness hormone’, depletions in serotonin are thought to trigger anxious and nervous responses in the brain.
Both iron and B6 are known to play a vital role in the synthesis of serotonin, leading researchers to conclude that an absence of these nutrients could reasonably be one of the culprits behind anxiety and panic. In fact, many of the antidepressants prescribed today are formulated based on this theory, working to boost serotonin levels in the brain in order to balance out its chemistry.
Do you or someone you love suffer from anxiety? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to spread the word: the key might be in your diet.