Anxiety is part of stress

Posted by Melissa Callaghan on

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Anxiety is part of stress

Anxiety occurs as part of a normal stress response

So why has it become such an issue affecting both adults and children and fast becoming our most common mental health concern?

It is a component of our 'fight or flight' response that is regulated by our adrenal glands. Our bodies are wired to handle stress and anxiety.

The stress response system is known as the HPA axis. It is called this because it involves the Hypothalamus, the Pituitary gland, and the Adrenal glands. The hypothalamus is constantly keeping a lookout for danger and is ready to respond. When it senses danger, the hypothalamus sends a signal to the Pituitary gland which then signals the adrenals to respond. The adrenals then release stress hormones to handle the situation.

There are several areas of the brain that control our emotions which can become affected by the release of stress hormones.

They include:

- The basal ganglia which gives us the correct physical response to match our feelings and how we perceive the environment. If this area becomes inflamed it can cause chronic (long term) anxiety.

- The Limbic system which stores our emotional responses to the environment. It stores highly charged emotional responses to past events. When this area is functioning correctly we are positive and happy. When it is out of balance due to unusual stress hormone releases we can easily spiral into depression affecting our thoughts and behaviour.

- The anterior cingulate gyrus which affects our cognitive thoughts. This area is directly connected to serotonin production which is directly connected to gut health. When this area is out of balance it can lead to thoughts of worry and obsessive-compulsive behaviour.

In addition to the effect on the emotions, anxiety can show in other physical ways:

- Lower immunity 
- Lower bone density
- Increase weight gain
- Increase blood pressure
- Increase cholesterol 
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Muscle tension
- Headaches
- Insomnia 
- Irritable bowel syndrome 
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
- Asthma

Children can get anxiety too; their signs and symptoms can be slightly different to that of an adult. It can be seen in many was such as:

- Avoidance of situations 
- Headaches or stomach aches when they have to do something or go somewhere 
- Sleeping difficulties 
- Strong need for reassurance 
- A need for things to be perfect 
- Lowering their standards to lower the risk of failure
- Fearful of assessments 
- Separation anxiety
- Phobias

Catching anxiety early in both children and adults helps to reduce the risk of physical affects. There are many ways to treat anxiety naturally. These can include both herbal and nutritional medicine.

Who am I?

I am a Bachelor qualified Naturopath who specialises in improving metabolic processes in the body. Major areas for improvement include gut, thyroid, kidney, skin and liver health. Conditions such as hypothyroidism, fatty liver, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, & irritable bowel conditions. I help my patients by giving them symptomatic relief while working on repairing the underlying causes of metabolic stress and waste accumulation. Patients experience amazing results which are seen in their blood tests with improved thyroid markers, cholesterol, and liver markers.  As well as lower blood pressure and see relief from improved gastrointestinal symptoms like the ones that mean you need to know where every single toilet is before you leave the house.

Melissa Callaghan ND, BHSc, BTeach
Clinical Naturopath


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