Anxiety Disorders- PTSD, GAD, OCD, PD, PHOBIAS
- A New 21st Century Medical Treatment
With a special emphasis on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder (PD), and Phobia, which appear to have an overlapping physiological root.
Some anxiety and fear is normal. It’s part of life. But for many people, normal fears can escalate into persistent, irrational fears that interfere with daily life. For them, constant anxiety and fear become an unbearable burden.
Like diabetes or heart disease, anxiety disorders are serious medical conditions that can get progressively worse if left untreated. Fortunately, anxiety disorders are very treatable. The remedy depends on the type of disorder. Most disorders fall into one of five categories:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
*Excessive, unrealistic worry that last six months for more
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
*Persistent, recurring thoughts or obsessions that reflect exaggerated anxiety or fears
Panic Disorder (PD)
*Severe attacks of panic for no apparent reason
*Social anxiety disorder (SAD): extreme anxiety about being judged by others or
*Intense fear reaction to a specific object or situation (such as spiders, dogs, or heights)
*Exposure to a traumatic event
FACTS ABOUT ANXIETY DISORDERS
*Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive worry about everyday things.
*Unlike those who are anxious from time to time, individuals with anxiety disorders are plagued by excessive worrying over a prolonged period of time – generally at least six months.
*Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses affecting both children and adults according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
*19,000,000 adult Americans suffer from anxiety disorders.
*Anxiety disorders may develop from a complex set of risk factors – including genetics, brain chemistry, adrenal gland dysfunction, personality, and life events.
*Anxiety disorders are highly treatable yet only about 1/3 of the people suffering from an anxiety disorder receive treatment.
*Anxiety disorders are commonly misdiagnosed and under – treated.
*Anxiety disorders can mimic physical illnesses – causing fatigue, restlessness, sleep problems, insomnia, muscle tension, sweating, nausea, cold hands, difficulty swallowing, jumpiness, gastrointestinal discomfort, or diarrhea.
ANXIETY DISORDERS AND NEUROTRANSMITTER LEVELS
Anxiety disorders are among the most common neurotransmitter – related conditions. Others include depression, compulsive behaviors, insomnia, and migraines.
Neurotransmitters are chemicals that relay signals between nerve cells, called “neurons.” They are present throughout the body and are required for proper brain function. Serious health problems including anxiety and panic disorders can occur if certain neurotransmitter levels are too high or too low.
Every neurotransmitterbehaves differently. Some are inhibitory, meaning they tend to calm the brain. Others are excitatory and have the opposite effect. Extensive scientific research has revealed a close link between imbalances in gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA, the central nervous system’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter) and anxiety disorders. Elevations in a number of excitatory neurotransmitters including: epinephrine, norepinephrine, PEA, glutamate, and histamine may also be associated with anxiety disorders.
Environmental and biological factors – including stress, poor diet, neurotoxins or genetics – can cause the imbalances in the levels of neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain. These imbalances can trigger or exacerbate anxiety disorder symptoms.
Most of the drug – based methods used to treat anxiety include chemicals that either imitate neurotransmitters or redistribute existing neurotransmitters (such as SSRIs). Many affect serotonin, and some affect other neurotransmitters like GABA, norepinephrine, or dopamine. It is generally believed that drugs supporting serotonin signaling will be beneficial when anxiety results from a lack of serotonin and that GABA supporting drugs will be affective when a person’s symptoms are caused by lack of GABA. While the idea of matching a drug to a chemical imbalance is generally supported, the vast majority of healthcare practitioners prescribe psychological drugs based only on an individual’s symptoms and very few actually try and match a drug to a biochemical imbalance. This may explain why drugs are ineffective for most individuals.
The most exciting treatment modality is Orthomolecular Medicine, founded by well known psychiatrists Abram Hoffer, MD and Carl C. Pfeiffer, MD PhD, as well as two time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling who were all instrumental in developing this innovative and effective style of medicine. Neurotransmitter function can best be supported via Orthomolecular Medicine using targeted-amino acid therapies, specific herbs, minerals and megavitamins as neurotransmitter precursors, enzyme cofactors and receptor modulators necessary to help maintain normal neurotransmitter levels.
ANXIETY DISORDERS AND ADRENAL GLAND FUNCTION
The adrenal gland, as the name implies, is a major producer of the stimulant called Adrenaline (also known as epinephrine). It plays a major role in the physiology of stress acting like a “sprinter” able to support a short burst of energy and capable of dealing with the flight or fight response of acute stress. When released, adrenaline has been known to give a person that “super-human” strength capable of lifting a car. Like a sprinter, it is short acting yet powerful. However, when the stress persists, the hormone that takes on the role of the “long-distance” runner is Cortisol, providing energy and clarity to get you through those prolonged periods of stress. If this hormone is elevated for too long, however, it can lead to tissue breakdown, diabetes, cataracts, weight gain and osteoporosis to name a few. Another hormone produced by the glands is DHEA, responsible for the ability to take in the noises and sights of stress and channel them appropriately to the brain. It is also necessary in stimulating the immune system to thwart off any foreign invaders, especially if the tiger happens to bite you.
“ADRENAL FATIGUE”- THE “TIPPING POINT” LEADING TO THE “BREAKDOWN”
Ever wonder what ever happened to the good old fashion “nervous breakdown?” Well, it still exists… we just call it something different today. And as smoothly as stress enters our busy lives, that is the unrelenting chronic stress, along comes “that event” – the son lost at war, the tragic accident, the unforeseen health issue, the divorce, the bankruptcy, etc- and soon those same glands that were there to save our lives, have now become fatigued and unable to see us through the next stressful experience.
The picture of Adrenal Fatigue can be summed up in the following set of symptoms: difficulty getting up in the morning (three alarms and you still don’t feel awake enough to lift your head off the pillow); continuing fatigue not relieved by sleep; craving for salt and sugar; lethargy or lack of energy (everything seems like a chore, even things you enjoy); increased effort to do everyday tasks; decreased sex drive; decreased ability to handle stress; increased time to recover from illness, injury, exercise, trauma; light headed when standing quickly; low blood pressure; depression or low mood; less enjoyment or happiness with life; increased PMS (bloated, tired, crabby, cramping and craving chocolate); symptoms increase if meals are skipped or inadequate; thoughts less focused, more fuzzy; memory less accurate; decreased tolerance (people seem a bit more irritating than they use to be); don’t really wake up until 10:00am and afternoons between 3–4pm are low (like you’ve been drugged with sleeping pills); caffeine dependent; feel better after evening meal (after dinner you start to feel alive again); decreased productivity (it takes you longer to complete tasks and it is harder to stay on task); sensitivity to light; and sensitivity to sound.
THE DASILVA INSTITUTE DIFFERENCE
At the DaSilva Institute, we measure the levels of Neurotransmitters and Adrenal hormones in order to provide a more exact treatment strategy. If needed, test for other medical issues that may be compounding the stress levels in your body including immune dysfunction, infection, gastrointestinal disturbances, inflammation, hormonal imbalances, heavy metal and other toxins- and rid the body of all underlying stressors through the practice of Anti-Aging, Regenerative & Functional Medicine.
As always, the main objecting of treatment is to replace what is missing with physiological (not pharmaceutical) doses of mainly bioidentical chemicals, providing balance of all the body’s biochemistry and a means for natural & optimal healing of the body.
If you are struggling with anxiety or other mood disorders we encourage you to give us a call so that we can help you Take Back Your Health.
Guy DaSilva, MD has recently written a chapter entitled “The Physiology of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder“ in the book Surviving the Shadows, bycritically acclaimed authors Bob Delaney (NBA Referee) and Dave Sheiber, also known for their book Covert- My Years Infiltrating The Mob .
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